Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Friday, 22 May 1936

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - Some honorable senators may be alarmed unnecessarily at the startling remarks to alleged breaches of the Commonwealth Constitution, of the Ottawa agreement, changes of front, and political marriages of convenience which have fallen so lightly from the lips of the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Collings). The Ottawa agreement was entered into between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth Government, and ratified by the respective Parliaments. Of whatever responsibility there is in the matter, this Parliament must take its share. I still regard the proposed modification as a breach of the Ottawa agreement.

Senator Foll - If that is so, I do not intend to support the motion.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Such a breach was contemplated when the agreement was adopted, because it contains a provision for consultation between the Government of the United Kingdom andthe Commonwealth Government.

SenatorCollings. - Has the Government conferred with the British Government on this point?

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The. British Government will not object to the action proposed, if we adhere to the spirit of the agreement. Does the honorable senator suggest that the agreement has been violated because for a few months the duty imposed on this commodity is to be higher than that recommended by the Tariff Board. Those engaged in the industry naturally require a little time to overcome the difficulties confronting them, owing to the abolition of the duty on British cement. Article 16 of the Ottawa agreement reads -

In the event of circumstances arising which, in the judgment of His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom or of His Majesty's Government in the Commonwealth of Australia as the case may be, necessitate a variation in the terms of the agreement, the proposal to vary those terms shall form the subject of consultation between the two governments.

This matter will be the subject of consultation between the two governments, and I feel sure that the British Government will realize that in principle we have adopted the recommendation of the Tariff Board, and that delay of a fewmonths will not seriously affect Great Britain. If therehas been a technical violation we shall not be held responsible. Personally I think that a breach of the agreement has been committed, but under article 16 there should be no difficulty in settling the matter to the satisfaction of the two contracting parties.

Suggest corrections