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Tuesday, 9 August 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - It is not often I find myself in agreement, on a matter of principle, with Senator Gardiner, but mymany and varied experiences of the working of the

Tariff and departmental by-laws lead me to believe, from the representations that have been made to me, that it would be as well to eliminate, wherever possible, the reference to the departmental by-laws, and to set out what we mean in clear, simple, unmistakable, English. I do not suppose that anything in the Tariff has given so much trouble and caused so much inconvenience, and, at times, loss, as the constant alteration of departmental bylaws. I think I can speak for the Sydney commercial community, and I can say that time after time complaints have reached me that goods, once free under departmental by-laws, have suddenly become dutiable on the recommendation of some one inside the, Department, indorsed by the Minister. These matters never come before Parliament; in fact, extra taxation is thus raised through the Customs House on the dictum of the Minister and not on the dictum of Parliament. These words " subject to departmental by-laws " occur in scores, if not in hundreds, of cases ; indeed, on the next two leaves of the Tariff there are five distinct repetitions of the words. What would be wrong in substituting the word " regulation " for the words " departmental by-laws ?" In those circumstances the regulations would have to be laid before Parliament; and, unless they were objected to within a certain period, they would become law. The important consideration is that members of Parliament would be given opportunties of knowing what was going on . and could intervene.

SenatorKeating. - The honorable senator's purpose would be served by retaining the words, "As prescribed." That phrase, under the Acts Interpretation Act, would involve the framing of regulations rather than the mere gazettal of by-laws.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I thank the honorable senator, and move, accordingly

That the House of Representatives be requested to amend sub-item (a) by leaving out the words, "by departmental by-laws."

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