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Friday, 12 June 1914

Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) . - I have no desire to delay the passing of this Bill, because, to my mind, it is like other measures which have been supported by the Labour party in previous Parliaments, when Liberal Governments were in office, although those Governments differed from the present Ministry, who describe themselves by the same title. The Labour party have always supported any legislation which was in the interests of the people, or which even appeared to be in the interests of the people. When the Australian Industries Preservation Act was passed, and when the Commerce Act was passed, we supported them because they appeared to be in the interests of the people. But we always emphatically declared that they were of absolutely no value. Honorable senators will recollect that perfectly well. We are in exactly the same position to-day. We are prepared to support this Bill because it looks as if it will accomplish some good, but we still maintain that there is nothing in it. The Government have appointed a Commission to inquire into the existence of a ring, or combination, or trust, in connexion with the export of meat. After that inquiry has been held, what are the Government going to do? Every member of the Ministry, and particularly the Attorney-General, knows very well that if the Commissioner is successful in securing information which is detrimental to the existence of a trust, or combination, the Commonwealth Parliament has no power to deal with it effectively. We have always declared that. Six Bills have been sent from the Senate to another place, which, if they became the law of the land, would endow this Parliament with that power, and yet the Government are not prepared to assist in their submission to the people. It is only to give expression to this opinion that I have presumed on a measure of this kind to detain honorable senators for a minute or two. The thing is humbug from beginning to end, just as has been every other measure which the present Government have attempted to pass.

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