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Tuesday, 26 July 1921

Senator CRAWFORD (Queensland) . - I am quite indifferent as to whether Senator Drake-Brockman's amendment is carried or not, because I believe that if the clause is amended as desired, it will have no practical effect. Paragraph d of sub-clause 1 provides that the Minister shall refer to. the Board for inquiry and report matters relating to the necessity for new, ' increased, or reduced duties, and the deferment of existing or proposed deferred duties. We have already sufficient power in the preceding paragraph. Senator Drake-Brockman contends that, although Parliament may find that the Tariff is being used for aiding and abetting the exploitation of consumers, we shall have no power to take, action.

Senator Drake-Brockman - I did riot say anything of the sort, because Parliament has the power.

Senator CRAWFORD - Parliament will have the power, and duties can be amended, if desired. Parliament has the power to tenable the necessary information to be obtained upon which to come to a right decision. Quite a number of inquiries have been held in connexion with Tariff matters, and I know of only one instance in which there was a complete refusal to answer certain questions, or to pursue a certain course of action, and that was in connexion with the Colonial Sugar Refining Company's case. What action did the Sugar Commission propose to take in that case? The company took exception to the proposal of the Commission to send an accountant - who, by the way, was a German - to the company's office with authority to go through the whole of the books and accounts, to make investigations, not only in connexion with its Australian trade, bub in regard to its operations outside Australia. The company, I think, very properly resisted. But in investigations such as this Board will be called upon to make, questions of that sort will not' be likely to Arise. It is my intention to vote against the amendment, although I hope that, later, the Committee will agree to strike out sub-paragraph" iv. of paragraph h, sub-clause 1.

Senator Drake-Brockman - I have already intimated that I shall move to that effect.

Senator CRAWFORD - It would be impossible to follow goods all over the Commonwealth to insure that in all parts, near and remote, only certain prices were charged, especially as the expenditure of :the Board has been limited to £4,000 per -.annum.

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