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Tuesday, 8 March 1932

Mr LYONS (Wilmot) (Prime Minister and Treasurer) .- The Tariff Board's report on tobacco affects, it is true, only one item on the tariff schedule, but it is an item which has aroused a great deal of interest throughout the country, and the Government has been asked that members might be given an opportunity to discuss the proposed tobacco duties. I promised the Leader of. the Opposition (Mr. Scullin), and also the Leader of the Country party (Dr. Earle Page), that time would be found for such a discussion. I said that a day would be set aside for it. The Government cannot afford to allow more time than that, because there are other urgent matters to be disposed of. As the honorable member for Darling (Mr. Blakeley) has said, the Government promised to allow a discussion; but no promise was made that a vote would be taken.

Mr Forde - Why not allow the House to vote?

Mr LYONS - Honorable members will not have to wait so long to vote on this issue as they had to wait in regard to the tariff schedules introduced by the honorable member when he was Minister for Trade and Customs. If honorable members will bring this matter to a vote, the Government will not object.

In reply to the right honorable member for Cowper (Dr. Earle Page), I may. say that the Government intends to stand by its proposals. It is, however, prepared to listen to the statements that will be made during this debate, and if, in the course of the discussion, anything is said to convince us that some alteration is justified, we shall not act so stupidly as to refuse' to do what is right. Had I not moved the suspension of the Standing Orders, honorable members would have had only two hours in which to discuss this matter, of which one hour would have been taken up with the Minister's statement in explanation of our proposals. Honorable members, therefore, ought to be grateful to the Government for having moved the suspension of the Standing Orders. At present, we stand by our proposals, and unless very strong arguments are brought forward, we shall not agree to any alteration of them.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Tariff Board's Report.

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