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Thursday, 3 December 1914

Senator BAKHAP (Tasmania) . - I wish to draw the attention of the Minister of Defence to a matter about which I have spoken on several occasions during the last nine or ten days, and regarding which I asked him a question even so late as this afternoon. Regarding this matter of Inter-State wheat shipments, and the embargo laid upon them by certain State action, I would like the Minister to see that the obtaining of the necessary legal opinion as an initiative in connexion with possible Commonwealth action be obtained as quickly as possible, because the matter is one of supreme urgency in regard to the interests of the State I assist to represent in this Chamber. I will have no other opportunity of referring to the matter, perhaps, for the next couple of months, as it is an open secret that the two Bouses of Parliament axe about to make a- long adjournment. Procrastination in regard to the- obtainment of legal opinion will be most detrimental to the - interests of the people of Tasmania. I would like- the Administration to recollect that the Commonwealth was instituted primarily because of two supreme desires on the part of the people of the- Colonies, namely, to secure a system of' national defence, ' and to obtain- perfect freedom of trade between the States: The Minister will, I feel sure, recognise that this is a matter of very great importance to the people' of the Commonwealth, and that it is almost' as important as the matter of defence, because, if the people are not fed, there can be no sound system of defence. This position has arisen out of something which is very unsatisfactory, namely, a bad wheat harvest, and our State is at all times in rather a precarious position in this regard. It is doubly so this year because of the leanness of the harvest, and anything like delay in connexion with any action which the Commonwealth- may contemplate taking is something which we certainly do not desire. I hope that all possible expedition will be used by the Government in obtaining the necessary legal opinion, with which they may fortify themselves before taking action, if - action is right and proper on the part of the national Administration.

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