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Tuesday, 26 July 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) .- Senator Elliottis responsible for causing me to speak for the second time upon the amendment, in that he included Senator Earle and myself as enemies of the manufacturers. I admit that he perceived his mistake in having said so, and that he partially withdrew the accusation. I am no enemy of the manufacturers. I have always been associated with the business section of the community, and I have always wished our manufacturing interests well. At the same time I recognise my public duty, not only to the manufacturing section, but also to the consumers. The honorable senator has evidently neglected to read the clause. He suggested that, immediately upon the passage of the Bill, a system of persecution would be launched against manufacturers by the Government, at the instigation of certain parties. This clause provides that the Minister shall refer to the Board for inquiry and report any complaint that a manufacturer is taking undue advantage-of the protection afforded ' him by the duties which Parliament has imposed. Before the Minister can act, complaint must be lodged. The Minister would not refer to the Board every paltry complaint. He must first be satisfied that the allegation is reasonable.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister " shall report."

Senator PAYNE - A complaint must be lodged before any inquiry can be held.

Senator Elliott - Lodged by any one - by a manufacturer's business rival.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will not this Bill encourage blackmail?

Senator Drake-Brockman - And Bolshevism, and every other kind of extremism ?

Senator PAYNE - When the Bill becomes operative it will insure to consumers a fair deal. There will be no need to investigate the operations of a great majority of manufacturers. Parliament does not legislate for the majority. Laws are not passed to keep the majority of the people within bounds, but to cope with a minority which is not prepared to obey the law. Whether men are manufacturers or consumers, there are always those in the community who are prepared to take down their neighbours. Parliament must deal with persons of that class. If a manufacturer is taking undue advantage of the protection which has been given to him by the Tariff, it is right that the Minister should possess the power to institute inquiries about his conduct. The Tariff cannot be what we want it to be unless machinery is provided to make it beneficial to every section in the community. I hope that the amendment will be defeated.

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