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Wednesday, 24 August 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - It is all very well for the matter to be passed over in that way. I remind the Minister (Senator Millen) that there were two or three " stiff " debates on the question whether the departmental officers should have the power to impose duties, or whether they should be fixed by Parliament. I am sorry the VicePresident of the Executive Council is not here- we regret his indisposition - because he practically assured us that he was waiting for information, on receipt of which he would make a statement. The departmental officials naturally desire to have the power to impose duties, although that is the function of Parliament. At present everything proposed by Customs officials is accepted by the Minister controlling the Department, and it is then agreed to by Parliament. I think it is time Senator Prat ten realized that this verbiage means that Customs officials shall have the right to impose new duties when it suits them, suspend duties when they desire, or omit or include items when they feel so disposed. I do not see the necessity of waiting for any further information, as the Government have already decided that these words shall remain.

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