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Thursday, 22 October 1931

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL (Warringah) . - I confess that I am unable to follow the arguments advanced by the honorable member for South Sydney (Mr. E. Riley). The only issue before the committee is whether Parliament shall have an opportunity to discuss prohibitions; whether they shall be effected by regulation or proclamation. All that the amendment seeks is an 'enlargement of the powers of Parliament to give it some control over importation. What objection can there be to allowing the Parliament to express its will as to what items shall be dealt with by proclamation? Although eighteen months have elapsed since some of these prohibitions were proclaimed. Parliament has had no opportunity to discuss them. Tho amendment proposes that regulations shall be substituted for proclamations; if that is agreed to, the rights of Parliament will be restored. I am amazed at the querulous opposition displayed by the Prime Minister. Obviously, he fears that the amendment may be decided against the Government. For that reason he entered the chamber in a state of flurry and excitement - not unusual on his part in certain circumstances-

Mr Scullin - Talk sense!

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL - I draw the attention of the committee to the dignified manner in which the right honorable gentleman is, and has been interjecting. The Minister for Trade and Customs sought to justify the proclamation by reference to the adverse trade balance. The object of the proclamation was not so much to restore the balance of trade as to reward the protectionist followers of the Government for their services.

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Hon R A Crouch - I ask that that statement be withdrawn.

Mr ARCHDALE PARKHILL - I withdraw it. The Prime Minister stated that the prohibitions were not part of the protectionist policy of the Government; but the Minister for Trade and Customs pointed out. this afternoon the extraordinary advantages which had accrued to the peanut industry and similar industries through the Government's protective exercise of its power of proclamation. The trade balance could and would have been redressed without resort to tariff prohibitions. Three things would have restored the balance: (1) the reduced purchasing power of the people which has prevented them from importing goods from overseas; (2) the adverse exchange; and (3) the stoppage of loan money, from overseas. The committee is now asked to decide whether Parliament shall have the right to discuss what goods shall be prohibited, or whether Cabinet shall continue by proclamation summarily to prohibit imports, and Parliament thus be prevented from expressing its opinion except by a motion of censure. The matters listed in the Customs Act, which, up to 1913, were dealt with by proclamation, relate almost entirely to quarantine and health.

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