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Thursday, 21 July 1921

Senator WILSON (South Australia) . - If the proposed Board was to be an administrative one, I would be in perfect agreement with the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell). But it is to be constituted for the purpose of making inquiries into certain matters, and of reporting to the Minister, who, in his turn, will report to Parliament. The honorable gentleman's argument that every party in politics will desire to be represented upon the . Board if politicians are appointed to it will apply with equal force if its members are chosen from outside. If a Customs officer be appointed as chairman, that fact, in itself, will largely tend to continuity of service on the part of the Board. The Vice-President of the Executive Council, also stated that if the amendment be carried the personnel of the Board may be changed as the result of a parliamentary election. My own experience is that it would be a great blessing if, as the result of an election, changes were effected in the personnel of some Boards. As a majority of this Chamber have decided that a Tariff Board shall be created, it is our duty to do everything possible to perfect the' jaeasure, and to assist the Go- vernment to keep faith with the people of this country. Some honorable senators have argued that politicians would not be able to devote the necessary time to the discharge of the duties required of members of the Board. Yet when we " were discussing the remuneration of two of its members, the Vice-President of the Executive Council interjected that the Board would need to meet only about onoe a week. Now we are told that politicians would not be able to devote sufficient time to discharging the functions of members of the Board. I take the liberty of answering that statement on behalf of another section of the Senate, if not the whole of it, by asserting that senators are prepared to render every service within 'their power while they sit in this Chamber, although it is, perhaps, somewhat of a novelty, to find parliamentarians expressing their readiness to have more responsibility and more work cast upon them. The people are crying out from one end of Australia to. the other for public economy, and bodies are being created by public opinion in* the effort to bring it about. Surely it is time we got down to things practical in the matter of controlling expenditure, and offered to render our services, in a private way on a Board' whose only business it will bo to advise the Minister administering the Tariff. It is ridiculous and absurd, to say that, members, of. Parliament have not the necessary time.. For a considerable period, the Senate is in recess,, and five out of- every six of the Inter-State' members who are brought to Melbourne, have the whole, of their mornings at their disposal. They could give these to the community, and, I think, are ready and . willing to render that service. It was stated by . the Minister yesterday that there are in Parliament men conversant with all sections and classes of trade and commerce. We are the elect of the people, and where could you go better than to Parliament to choose the members of an advisory Board, whose duty it will be to assist the Government? This proposal will heip to bring about the economy and efficiency which the public to-day are rightly demanding from the public men of this country.

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