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Tuesday, 9 August 1921

Senator EARLE (Tasmania) .- I do not desire to in any way assist in depriving Parliament of its authority, but by adopting the suggestion made by Senator Pratten and Senator Gardiner serious difficulties may result. In dealing with a commercial enterprise it may be necessary for the Government to act promptly, without waiting for the approval of Parliament. Some genius may be able to produce a new commodity from the coconut, and after doing so would approach the Government and inform them that a syndicate had been formed in which there was a prospect of investing, say, £25,000 or £30,000 for the development of an industry. Insuch circumstances, he would ask the Government if they would be prepared to assist by allowing a product ofthe ' coconut to be admitted ' free, and the Minister, af ter consulting his officers, would probably agree, because there would be the prospect of establishing a new industry. On the other hand, if a regulation had to be framed and submitted to Parliament for its approval, a delay of six months might elapse, and members of a proposed syndicate might not be prepared to go on, because investors would not be willing to subscribe capital under such conditions. That is the main objection to framing regulations for dealing with Customs matters. I have no knowledge of instances in which departmental by-laws have been put into operation to protect tax dodgers, or those who were avoiding legitimate duties. I believe it is necessary to have the departmental power to deal with such persons; but, in connexion with the question now under consideration, grave difficulties might arise, and the establishment of important industries be interfered with simply because the' Government would not be' able, on the spur of the moment, to give ' the assurance desired. The present practice is not unreasonable.

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