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Wednesday, 7 July 1920

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) . - The British Act to which the honorable member has referred is not yet in operation. The British authorities have found themselves up against very much the same class of difficulty that we have experienced here. The abnormal conditions arising out of the war have not entirely passed away, and they have been unable to proclaim their Act, just as we have been unable to proclaim ours. We are pressing on as rapidly as possible with all the preparatory work, but a great deal has yet to be done to place us in a position to proclaim the whole Act. It is the intention of the Government at the first possible moment to bring the whole Act into operation. I can give the honorable member the further assurance that, as our preparations to take over from the States the whole administration of navigation are completed, and we find ourselves in a position to proclaim any portion of the Act which can with advantage be brought into operation, we shall immediately do so. As I pointed out in my second-reading speech, the position is still abnormal in many directions, and we could not with advantage to the country as a whole, notwithstanding our desire to put this Act into operation at the first possible moment, proclaim it just at present. I can, however, give the Committee the definite assurance that it is the desire and intention of the Government to proclaim the Act at the first possible opportunity.

Mr Ryan - What are the difficulties in the way?

Mr GREENE (RICHMOND, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - There are quite a number of matters which we are not ready to handle. A great deal of preparatory work has to be done, and officers have to be appointed. We are proceeding with ' the making of those appointments as rapidly as we can. We have also to make all the necessary preparations for taking over so many of the State servants as are required in the circumstances. The Director of Navigation is now busily engaged on those things, and I hope it will not be long before we are in a position to proclaim practically the whole Act.

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