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Thursday, 13 October 1910
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Royal Commission on Sugar Industry - Kanakas - Semi - Official Post - Offices : Salaries.

Debate resumed from 12th October (vide page 4388) on motion by Senator Pearce -

That this Bill be now read a first time.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [3.54] - Perhaps it would be as. well in all the circumstances, and as the question is to be discussed when we are dealing with the Sugar Bounty Bill, if this debate were again adjourned until to-morrow.

Senator Pearce - No, let us take the first reading. Let us carry this Bill to the same stage as the other Bill.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - I do not know whether honorable senators desire to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by the motion for the first reading of this Bill to discuss grievances, because this is a Bill upon the first reading of which we are entitled to refer to matters which are not relevant to the measure itself.

Senator Keating - Should we not be practically in the same position to-morrow if the debate were adjourned ?

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - Personally, I do not intend to take advantage of this opportunity to discuss grievances, but other honorable senators may desire to do so.

Senator Pearce - They have all had full notice.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - 1 am aware of that. As the Minister is anxious that the Bill should be advanced a stage, I have no objection to the course proposed. I am glad that the Government have recognised the necessity oi taking some action in this matter, and have afforded honorable senators an opportunity to debate the questions involved as fully and as completely as possible. I am aware that some time ago it was contemplated that a Royal Commission should be appointed to inquire fully into the whole questions dealt with in these Bills. I believe it would have been better if the inquiry had been made before this legislation was proposed. The evidence and report of the Commission would have been of the greatest assistance to honorable senators, and would have enabled them to become fully seized of the. difficulties surrounding the question. We are now called: upon to deal with it in the absence of information which would have been of great value to honorable senators who are not so intimately acquainted with the details of the sugar industry as are the representatives of Queensland. I have noticed also that there is a proposal to anticipate legislation. Certain provisions are contained in a cognate Bill to enable the Minister to withhold the bounty under certain specified conditions. We know that when, in connexion with another Excise Bill, a similar proposal was made, the measure was afterwards claimed to be ultra vires of the Constitution. I do not see the advantage of proposing legislation which may land us in difficulties, because, even assuming that a proposed amendment of the Constitution should be carried, if this law is passed prior to the amendment, very grave questions affecting its validity may arise. I do not propose to say any more on the subject now, as we can debate the whole question on the second reading of the Sugar Bounty Bill.

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