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Thursday, 17 November 1921

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Repatriation) . - The last thing I propose to do now or at any future time is to ask Senator Lynch to take my word. It makes it extremely difficult, if what we have just listened to is to be the experience of' the Minister in charge of the business for the time being, to give information to any one. When a Minister is asked for information, every reasonably-minded man in this Chamber assumes that he honestly gives it from facts supplied to him in good faith by one Department or another. It has been made a . personal accusation against me that the information I have supplied on this item is more or less incorrect or incomplete. I think I have a legitimate grievance in the circumstances, when I gave literally the information given to me by responsible officers in good faith, that it should be . made a personal grievance on the part of Senator Lynch. The question was raised as to whether these welding sets are made in Australia. [Because I recognise that these things are not always simple, and knowing the difficulty of supplying information gathered hurriedly, from one party to others, I suggested to Senator Lynch that he should go down to the office of the Minister for Trade and Customs, confer with the officers, and see the papers in the possession of the Department, to discover what the position really is. The honorable senator did not accept my suggestion.

Senator Lynch - I was quite reasonable until, the Minister charged me with twisting words.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - -It was only during the honorable senator's last speech that I made that interjection, and not during his original statment at

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What about the Minister and Senator Lynch going together and making personal investigations ?

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The matter is no concern of mine. It is for Messrs. Bryce and Company to explain to the manufacturers for whom they distribute these welding sets how it is that, when they were called upon for a quotation, they quoted only English manufactures. I have given honorable senators all the information in my possession, and, if that is an offence, I plead guilty. I understand that Senator Lynch, dissatisfied with the information which has been provided, proposes to delete such general reference as is contained in sub-item d bearing upon these machines, and to move for the insertion of a new sub-item, specifically naming the electric welders, and proposing their admission free ofduty.

Senator Lynch - I can do nothing else, with the facts in my possession.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then I invite the honorable senator to do so forthwith, so that the Committee may proceed with further business.

Senator Lynch - It is my intention to move that the request be modified to provide for the inclusion of a new sub-item " e, Electric welding sets, free."

The CHAIRMAN (Senator Bakhap - I understand that the subject-matter of the proposed new sub-item is referred to generally, though not specifically, in subitemd. It will be competent, therefore, for the honorable senator to move in the way he has indicated. But, if his proposed new sub-item embraced some new subject-matter, it would not be within the competence of the Committee to make such a modification. To clarify the position, I now put the question -

That the words " not pressed," proposed to be left out, be left out.

Amendment agreed to.

The CHAIRMAN - The question now is -

That the words proposed to be inserted be inserted.

Amendment (by Senator Lynch) proposed -

That after the word " modified " in the amendment the following words be inserted: - "by inserting a. new sub-item, (e) Electric welding sets, free."

Senator Gardiner - I desire a ruling whether it is in order for an honorable senator to move for the insertion of a new sub-item at the present stage. If one such may be included now, any number of new sub-items may similarly be added to the item. In my view, the stage at which additional sub-items may be added has passed, but it is still competent for the Committee to modify any request. If Senator Lynch's purpose were successful, the way would be opened for an interminable discussion based upon entirely new matter.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Although Senator Lynch has proposed what is technically a new sub-item, the effect is merely to divide an existing item into two parts. A precedent for this has been established both in previous Tariff sessions and in the course of the original discussion by this Committee of the present Tariff.

The CHAIRMAN - I have already indicated that the subject-matter of the proposed new sub-item isnot new . but is covered actually, though not in so many words, in sub-item d. I rule, therefore, that the amendment is in order.

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