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Wednesday, 27 July 1921

Senator REID - Any one who has had experience in approaching Ministers knows that the information on which he acts is supplied by his officers. . If the Tariff Board discovers information that may be of service to the Government it will pass it on to the Minister. I do not think any Minister would object to a Board submitting requests for inquiries if there were sufficient reasons, because the Board would be able to support its suggestions with evidence. There is such a thing as political influence.

Senator Vardon - Would not the Board be subject to political influence?

Senator REID - Members of the Board would be less liable to be influenced than a Minister who is a member of a political party.

Senator Wilson - I doubt it.

Senator REID - I do not. My political experience supports my contention that it does not matter how independent a Minister may endeavour to be, there are occasions when he has to consider questions of political advantage.

SenatorPratten. - Why not use the word " expediency " instead of " advantage " ?

Senator REID - The honorable memtor can use whatever word he desires; but Ministers are at times subjected to pressure, and do certain things in consequence of political influence. Senator Pratten paid a very high tribute to the capabilities of Major Oakley, who, we understand, is to be the chairman of the Board ; and if a gentleman with the qualifications of Major Oakley is to occupy that position, he should not be compelled to act merely at the request of the Minister, but should be allowed some freedom. The Minister should be guided largely by suggestions of the Board, and in most cases would support the recommendations of experienced business men. Senator Wilson, apparently, wishes to kill the Bill.

Senator Wilson - Theonorable senator isquite wrong.

Senator REID -That is what the amendment means.

Senator Wilson - I haveaccepted vote of the Committee in favour of a Board, and, as there is to be such a body, I now wish to protect the interests of the taxpayers.

Senator REID - The amendment will not do that.

Senator Russell - I cannot remember the honorable senator voicing his disapproval of South Australia's extravagance in the Northern Territory.

Senator Wilson - This has nothing to do with the Northern Territory.

Senator REID - Senator Wilson's efforts to protect the taxpayers may be all right from his point of view, but it is a reflection on the Board to suggest that they will waste the taxpayers' money, and that a Ministerial check is necessary to prevent them taking free trips. If the Board put up a fair 'case, no Minister would refuse to adopt their recommendation. If a Minister acted in defiance of a unanimous recommendation by the Board, he would show that he was not fit for his position, because the members of the Board will have experience which in nine cases out of ten the Minister will not have.

Senator Wilson - The honorable senator is making out a good case for the amendment.

Senator REID - I. am defending the clause, and am trying to show how foolish is the effort of Senator Wilson to save the taxpayers' money. His proposal will not help one iota. .

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