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Tuesday, 26 July 1921

Senator DUNCAN (New South Wales) . - To certain of the paragraphs of sub-clause 1 I take no exception. I am prepared to agree that the Minister shall refer to the Board for inquiry and report the matters mentioned in paragraphs a, b, c, andh, but there are matters mentioned in the other paragraphs which it is also imperative that he shall refer to the Board which I think should not be so referred. Far instance, paragraph g compels the Minister to refer to the Board - any proposal for the application, of the British preferential Tariff or the "'Intermediate Tariff to any part of the British Dominions or any foreign country.

That matter is, however, primarily the business, not of the Tariff Board, but of Parliament, it being, not a minor matter for Customs administration, but a question of policy for which the Government must be responsible, and for which parliamentary sanction must subsequently be obtained. It is, I think, a matter about which it would bet preferable to say that it may than that it shall be referred to the Board. The amendment proposes to give to the Minister a wider discretion than he has under the Bill.

Senator Payne - Ought not the honorable senator to move the omission of the paragraph which he is quoting ?

Senator DUNCAN - No. The proposal to which it refers, and other matters, may legitimately, in oertain circumstances, be referred to the Board; but, on the other hand, it may not be advisable to refer them to it. A proposal for the application of the British preferential Tariff or the intermediate Tariff to any part of the British Dominions, or any foreign country, might be the subject of negotiation between the Commonwealth and another Government, and it might be inexpedient to refer it to the Board; yet, as the clause stands, it would have to be referred. I- think that the referring of that matter, and of some of the others mentioned in the clause, should be at the discretion of the Minister.

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