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Thursday, 21 July 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I take this opportunity to complete the remarks which I was making when interrupted by a, at times, very exasperating standing order. I should like the consideration of this Bill to be suspended. The Government might earnestly take into consideration the question whether the proposed ' Board cannot be greatly strengthened and made to comprise practically the whole of the other commercialactivities that the Government are now carrying on. I agree that its chairman should be a prominent Customs official, and hope that, whatever is ultimately decided, there will be no niggardliness so far as his salary is concerned. The Bill* has not been enthusiastically received in either House, and, in conjunction with what has occurred in another place in relation to a further measure relating to the trade and commerce of Australia, I feel that, if we are to have a Board of Trade, or a Tariff Board, or a Board of Commerce land Industry - to my 'mind -these names iiare synonymous - it is better to have one strong organization in which the whole of the people will have confidence. I speak of the whole iof the people, because they are all interested in the trade, commerce, and industry of the Commonwealth. That one Board should be presided over by an 'experienced . and trained official of the Customs Department, : and could consist, if honorable senators liked, of some members of Parliament, and some people from outside. I submit this suggestion in all seriousness. The passing of this Bill this month, or next, or the month after, is not -vital. We shall not finish the Tariff -discussions for 'several weeks, and it is bound to be some little time afterwards before even the incidence of any of the duties that we impose or reduce will begin to be felt. Therefore, after the very exhaustive discussion that has occurred here and in another place, I should like to see the Government consider the position carefully from this stand-point. There is no question that the Committee appointed some years ago to consider the restriction of the importation of luxuries during the war, and the Committee appointed twelve months -ago to inquire into the whole . ambit of taxa- . tion within the Commonwealth, would have been materially strengthened by the presence of members of this Parliament. The Committee -appointed in connexion with the Canberra operations would . have, been strengthened by the addition of members of Parliament, and, certainly, the Murray River Waters Commission would have been materially strengthened by the presence of one or two members of this Parliament from South Australia. I could adduce many other arguments why the amendment should be carried. One is that, if it is . accepted, the Government may see their way clear to postpone the whole of the further clauses pending consideration in the direction of the almost unanimous desire of the Senate. For these reasons, I shall vote for Senator Benny's amendment.

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