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Tuesday, 23 October 1956

Mr OSBORNE - Much as I would like to oblige my friend, the honorable member for Calare, with a favorable decision on the matter about which he asks me on this, my last opportunity to deal with it as Minister for Customs and Excise, I am sorry to have to tell him that I have written to him informing him that I cannot agree to the request that he put to me. As a matter of fact, in this instance the decision had nothing to do with the views of the Board of Trade, because the question was whether Australian manufacturers could supply articles of a like class or kind suitable for the purpose. I was satisfied that they could and, where that condition exists, a person who wishes to import goods of a like class or kind, instead of purchasing the Australianmade articles, has to pay a duty on them. As to whether I, in the capacity of Minister for Customs and Excise, am bound by the views of the Board of Trade about whether things of a like class or kind can be supplied from the United Kingdom, or they should not be imported duty free or at reduced rates from other countries, 1 can rell him quite definitely and affirmatively that 1 am not, and never have been, bound by the views of the Board of Trade in London, and that the widespread views to the contrary held in pertain commercial circles in Australia are quite wrong. Senator O'sullivan, my predecessor in this office, laid it down firmly in 1954 that the decision in this matter should be made by the Australian Minister concerned. I have followed, and applied, that view equally firmly, and [ am quite confident that my successor in this office will do the same. We are, however, obliged, under our international agreements, to consult the Board of Trade and ascertain its views. We carry out discussions with the Board of Trade to complete lengths but, ultimately, the decision is made in Australia, and 1 am quite sure that it will continue to be made in Australia.

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