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Tuesday, 22 November 1910

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I would seriously suggest to the Honorary Minister that the further consideration of this Bill should be postponed. It is quite evident that, although the Department has had years in which to determine what should be classed as anomalies, it has failed to present its recommendation in a satisfactory form. Even after the Bill was introduced in another Chamber, the Minister came down with a printed list of further amendments ; and now the Honorary Minister has brought forward still another amendment. If the debate upon this measure were adjourned until to-morrow, I am quite sure that some more amendments would be forthcoming.

Senator McGregor - The same thing might be said if we adjourned the debate for a hundred years.

Senator MILLEN - We were assured that the proposals contained in this Bill related to office anomalies, the rectification of which was required by our Customs officers. But the amendment which is now proposed is not one of that class of amendments. It has been secured by the importunity of some persons who live - where? Some exception was taken to a remark made by Senator Givens. It is obvious that when amendments are proposed on the floor of the Senate, without there being time to. get them into print, the people interested, whose ready lips are near to the Minister's ear, are not living at the other end of Australia. If this Bill be intended merely to deal with anomalies, let it be confined to them. But if the Government are going to give relief to certain industries and individuals, and to remove anomalies which are troublesome to some firms, we ought to go further, and take the whole of the anomalies into consideration. But the only anomalies which the Government are prepared to deal with now are those affecting Melbourne businesses.

Senator Findley - This affects industries all over Australia.

Senator MILLEN - Those engaged in industries all over Australia have not had an opportunity of making representations. Let it go forth to the world that any firm that can get near to the Minister's private room can secure an amendment in the Tariff. Let it be generally understood that, the Government, having put off certainpeople with the assurance that while they have full sympathy with them, time does not permit of dealing with matters- in the Tariff affecting their industries, and that the only thing they propose to deal with are those anomalies the removal of which will permit of a smoother working of the Tariff, nevertheless, finds time and opportunity to extend kindly consideration to the interests of some lucky individuals who may happen to have approached the Minister within the last hour or two.

Senator McGregor - The honorable senator ought to have been Scotch. He is a great humourist.

Senator MILLEN - This is not a matter of humour to people who are just as much entitled to consideration as are those for whom the Government show such solicitude.

Senator Findley - This is proposed in the interests of Protection.

Senator MILLEN - Is this the greatest contribution which the Honorary Minister is prepared to make in the interests of Protection? Let honorable senators recollect the attitude which Senator Findley maintained on the public platform before 13th April ! Let them turn up the reports of his speeches then, and compare his large promises with the fulfilment here made ! Then they can realize how much' he has done in the interests Of Protection !

Senator Findley - The honorable senator ought not to turn my remark inside out. I say that this amendment is proposed in the interests of Protection.

Senator MILLEN - The Government have not brought in this Bill as a contribution to Protection. They have shirked that portion of their obligations. They say they have brought forward the Bill to remove certain anomalies in the working of the Tariff. Representatives of the Government have said time and again, " We are not attempting to deal with the Tariff as a whole; all that we want to do is to get a little of the sand out of the departmental machinery." But this amendment is unnecessary from that point of view. The officials of the Department have not asked for it. If they had done so it would have been included in the Bill originally. This is merely another instance of the success of importunity. The Government are going to allow that importunity to succeed. They are going to allow a few people to have their grievances redressed whilst the rest of the people of Australia are to remain unsatisfied.

Senator McGregor - They will get what they want next year.

Senator MILLEN - Why should they wait until next year, when a few persons in Melbourne can secure immediate relief? The Minister has pretended to tell us the reason for this amendment, but I venture to say that if there had not been somewhere close to the Minister's office persons who are immediately interested in this amendment, it would not have been proposed.

Sitting suspended from 6.30 to 8 -p.m.

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