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Wednesday, 29 April 1936

Senator COLLINGS (QUEENSLAND) - The honorable senator should read what I said on that subject.

Senator LECKIE - A Labour government could follow the same procedure as the present Government has adopted, and keep the reduced duties in force for six or twelve months, or even longer before they were dealt with by the Parliament, with the result that the industry would be ruined. An unscrupulous Minister, or government with such power, could easily ruin an industry. It could say to those concerned in a dispute, " See what happened in such and such an industry. The Government took the risk of men being thrown out of employment, because it wanted to teach certain fellows a lesson. If you are not careful, it will do the same to you ". The sooner the provision that lower duties become operative immediately a tariff schedule i3 tabled in Parliament is repealed, the better for Australia and industry generally.

This subject is complicated by reason of the fact that the Tariff Board has been vested with powers greater almost than those of the Parliament itself. So long as the Government adopts the policy that no duty shall be either increased or decreased except on the advice of the Tariff Board, so long will the power of this Parliament be nullified. It is absurd that Parliament should throw away its powers by vesting them in an outside body, arbitrarily chosen. The Tariff Board was appointed, in the first place.' to advise on the scientific encouragement of Australian industries; but it has developed into a " funk hole " for the Minister for Trade and Customs, the Government, and oven Parliament itself.

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