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Tuesday, 8 November 1938

Mr FROST (Franklin) .-I move -

That the following new sub-clause be added : - " (8.) Any person who has applied for a licence under this section may, in the prescribed manner and subject to the conditions prescribed, appeal to a police stipendiary or special magistrate from the refusal or failure of the board to recommend that a licence be issued to him.Upon such appeal the police, stipendiary or special magistrate shall re-hear the application and decide upon the matter and theboard shall give effect to any decision made by him in accordance with this subsection.".

It is my aim in the proposed amendment to prevent any possibility of the victimization of an exporter by the refusal of the Minister, on the recommendation of the board, to grant a licence to export. If it should happen that the board were prejudiced against any exporter it could ruin his industry by causing him to be refused a licence. From experience of other Commonwealth marketing legislation, we know that it is possible for a man to be refused a licence to export produce. Under this bill, a person who was refused a licence would have no opportunity to appeal against the refusal. The Minister would be guided by the board, and, if the board recommended that an exporter should be refused a licence or should have his licence cancelled, the Minister would act in accordance with its recommendation.

Mr Archie Cameron - A Minister who would do that should not hold his job.

Mr FROST - The Minister who will administer this bill is not to be the Minis ter who is piloting it through this chamber, the honorable member for Barker (Mr. Archie Cameron), who has gone to another department. I am sorry that he has been taken from the Department of Commerce, because he has done a great amount of work not only in connexion with this bill, but also generally in the department. Now that he has been made Postmaster-General, we shall have as the Minister, who shall administer this measure, a Minister who is not sympathetic towards the fruit industry.

Mr Archie Cameron - Who is that?

Mr FROST - The right honorable member for Cowper (Sir Earle Page) who, in his capacity as Minister for Commerce, has hitherto had the invaluable help of the honorable gentleman himself. That right honorable gentleman is not sympathetic towards the fruit-growers. Only last year, when I approachedthe right honorable Minister on behalf of the small fruit-growers, he turned them down with resultant ruin to thousand? of growers. He is the Minister who is to take the administration of this legislation in hand. Not only is too much power given to the board by this bill, but also the exporters are given no right of appeal from its decisions, and, for that reason, I trust that the Government will accept the amendment. It should not cause any trouble, because any person who did approach a magistrate's court, in pursuance of the amendment, with an appeal against the Minister's cancellation of his licence or refusal to grant him a licence, would have to bear the expense. If, however, he could show, to the satisfaction of the magistrate, that there had been victimization, he would receive the justice of a court of law and be enabled to retain his licence or to obtain a licence, whichever be the case, whereas the intention of the bill, as it is at present drafted, is that the last word shall rest with the Minister, who will be guided by the recommendations of the board.

Mr Lane - The honorable gentleman apparently does not have a great deal of faith in the proposed board.

Mr FROST - Exporters have been victimized in the past, and it is possible for them to be victimized in the future. I say nothing now about the board, but it could happen that an exporter would come into conflict with it, and that, in retaliation, it would recommend to the Minister that his licence be cancelled. The Minister would act on the board's recommendation. That is what I seek to prevent. Such victimization could be preventable, if a man, who felt that he had been victimized, was able, at his own expense, to take his case to a magistrate, who would investigate the circumstances of the cancellation and, according to his findings, revoke the cancellation, or allow it to stay in force.I feel that a provision of the nature contained in my amendment was not intentionally omitted when this bill was being drafted; because the existing provisions make the Minister a dictator in whose power lies decision as to who shall send fruit abroad. I commend the amendment to the committee.

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