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Tuesday, 26 July 1921

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I should like some further information as to what are the functions. * of this Board, and how these can be brought into action. I recognise that clause 15, which, deals with the reference of certain matters to the Board, is not now before the Committee; but the point I wish to raise has some bearing on clause 8. I wish to know, first, who may move the Minister. I take -it that, at any time, if the Minister's own officials point out certain anomalies and advise that certain alterations ought to be made, he may at once refer a matter to the Board, and that it is open to him to take the same course on the application of manufacturers. But is it possible for the unfortunate and unhappy consumer to have the Board put into action in the same way ? In New South Wales some time ago there was a Profiteering Board, and any citizen who thought he was being charged too much for certain articles could demand inquiry. Under this Bill, could an ordinary citizen and taxpayer move the Board in the same way? If an ordinary citizen have that power, it is quite possible that the Board will have a good deal of work to do in the twelve months ; on the other hand, if the Minister is the only person who can refer questions, he may be quite satisfied with the " scientific " Tariff, and initiate no inquiries.

Senator Russell - This is not a " scientific " way of discussing clause 8 !

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I point out that clause 8 deals with the remuneration of members of the Board, and that if any person may, in the way I have suggested, bring the Board into operation, there will be a great deal more work than if the Minister may please himself in the matter.

Senator Vardon - The Board may, on its own initiative, inquire into anything it chooses.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes, the Board may.

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