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Wednesday, 23 November 1910

Senator SAYERS (Queensland) . - The explanation given by the VicePresident of the Executive Council has made it clear that . if these goods are brought in in packages of 14 lbs. and over, they are charged a lower duty than if they are brought in in packages a few lbs. less in weight, and the small man, who may require a few tins of paint to paint his house, has to pay more for it.

Senator McGregor - The honorable senator is always troubled about the widows and orphans.

Senator SAYERS - I am not speaking about the widows and orphans. I have heard the Vice-President of the Executive Council speak of them often enough to make me sick of the subject for the rest, of my life. Under this proposal, the person who wishes to purchase a small quantity of paint will have to pay 2s. per cwt. more for it, on account of the duty, than will the individual who -requires to purchase a large quantity. There are thousands of persons in Australia who only need to buy 6 lbs. or 7 lbs. of paint at a time, and they will be required to pay an increased price for it proportionate to the duty, in addition to the profit which is charged upon it. But the question which arises in my mind is - Upon what authority has the Department of Trade and Customs been doing this during the past two years?

Senator McGregor - It has not been doing it. '

Senator SAYERS - The Honorary Minister said that it had.

Senator Findley - No.

Senator SAYERS - In reply to a question by Senator St.. Ledger, the honorable gentleman distinctly stated that it had been the invariable practice of the Department.

Senator Findley - I referred to paints in packages.

Senator SAYERS - The honorable gentleman referred to paints in packages of 14 lbs. It seems to me that the Department has exceeded its powers, and that the Government are now endeavouring to validate its illegal action.

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