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Tuesday, 26 July 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- If it is not to be mandatory for the Minister to refer certain matters to the Board for inquiry, what is the necessity for this Bill ? I would not have supported it but that it embraced provision whereby the Minister should submit certain matters to the Board for inquiry and report. There is nothing in this clause which can take away from Parliament the right to move in any direction desired, either in regard to the operations of the Board or the actions of the Minister. Why should the Board be appointed and a specific range of matters set forth for reference by the Minister to it, if the Minister may act independently of the Board ? If the clause were to read, " the Minister may, in his discretion, refer to the Board " certain matters, the Bill would be Worthless.

Senator Duncan - If the honorable senator were to place information before the Senate, on the strength of which it resolved to recommend a reduction of rates, or an increase of duty, the Government would not be able to do anything until that subject-matter had been referred to the Board. Under such procedure the Board would be higher than Parliament.

Senator PAYNE - I cannot see that. In this clause, there is distinct discrimination with respect to the subjects to be referred to the Board. The matters covered . by sub-clause 2 are of a totally different character from those provided for in sub-clause 1. On the introduction of the Tariff, a measure of this kind was promised, in the hope that the Tariff would thus be made more acceptable to the Parliament. We were- told definitely that certain matters would be referred to the Board for inquiry, and not at the discretion of the Minister. I am glad that so many matters are set out in the mandatory portion' of the clause. In my opinion, the instruction should be direct to the Minister from Parliament to refer certain specified matters to the Board for inquiry and report.

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