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Wednesday, 15 August 1906

Sir JOHN QUICK (Bendigo) .- I quite agree with the amendments suggested by the' Prime Minister upon matters of detail which involve no .serious or vital principle. But I am sorry that the honorable gentleman wishes to reduce the amount of protection proposed to be granted to blended brandy. The Commission unanimously recommended that the preferential advantage given to manufacturers of that class of spirit should be 3s. per gallon, and now the Prime Minister proposes t® reduce the preference to 2s. per gallon.

Mr Deakin - The manufacturers previously had a preference of only is. per gallon.

Sir JOHN QUICK - I am quite aware of that. The Prime Minister now proposes to give effect to what was suggested by the Minister of Trade and Customs last night. I cannot say that the Prime Minister is responsible.

Mr DEAKIN -I am responsible.

Sir JOHN QUICK - The Minister of Trade and Customs last night gave away the whole position, and prejudiced the case against blended spirits by imparting an adverse tone to the criticism directed to that class of product.

Mr Deakin - The officials have advised us that the course we propose to take is the proper one.

Sir JOHN QUICK - I do not believe in government by officials. This is a matter which should be decided by responsible Ministers. I do not know that the officials are competent to advise Ministers upon fiscal questions. They mav furnish estimates of revenue and so' on, but it is not their duty to advise Ministers upon questions of fiscal principle. I protest against the proposed alteration, which would impair the unity and consistency of the scheme recommended by the Commission. That body includes free-traders and protectionists, and now a so-called protectionist Ministry intends to give away the protectionist recommendation of the Commission.

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