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Wednesday, 18 November 1936

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for External Affairs) [9.33]. - I appeal to Senator B.adman, who has expressed a desire to see the Constitution altered, to withdraw his amendment. I do so, first, because it imposes an undesirable limitation. If the honorable senator really believes in orderly marketing, and thinks that it has been of benefit to the primary producers, why should he seek to limit that benefit to the marketing of foodstuffs? Why should the primary producer who is engaged in the rearing and breeding of livestock get the benefit of a marketing scheme in respect of meat, but not in respect of hides? What infraction of the rights of the States would there be in inaugurating a marketing scheme for hides ? In the past Australia has had a very valuable export trade in timber. So far, there has been no marketing scheme in connexion with this product, but it is possible that such a scheme will he needed some day. When amending the Constitution to give to primary producers the opportunity to organize marketing schemes, why should we deny to some producers the right to such a scheme? Listening to the honorable senator, it seemed to me that he moved his amendment, not because he himself was dissatisfied with the proposal of the Government, but because he desired to allay the fears of others. -Those fears are based on imagination, and, apparently, centre in the word "marketing". I understand that in South Australia there is some suggestion that the word "marketing" has a sinister meaning in that the desire is to extend the powers of the Commonwealth unduly. That point was d!ealt with effectively by the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan) when he pointed out that the word "marketing" in the Government's proposal, conditioned as it is by the remaining Words of the proposed alteration, clearly means " marketing " within the limits of the Constitution. That explanation should remove any fear. Webster's Dictionary gives to "marketing" the following meaning : - "To deal in a market; to buy or sell; to expose for sale in a market;1 to traffic in; to sell in a market, and an extended sense, to sell in any manner ". In regard to one kind of marketing - as the selling of goods in a market in, say, Adelaide - the proposals of the Government for altering the Commonwealth Constitution will not extend the power of the Commonwealth. Even if this alteration is carried, the Commonwealth will have no power to regulate, or in any way deal with, marketing within a State. Its powers can be exercised only when marketing is interstate in character. Therefore, there is nothing sinister wrapped up in the word " marketing. " I draw attention to the conditioning words of the Constitution. " with other countries and among the States". Let us suppose that a decision in a case before the court hinged on the meaning of the word " marketing ". As a layman, I should say that, first, the court would have recourse to the dictionary in order to ascertain -the meaning of the word, and, after that, to the Constitution. It would say that the dictionary meaning of the word was " to buy or sell " but that, so far as the Commonwealth is concerned, the Constitution limits the dictionary meaning to " buying or selling with other countries or among the States ". That must be the meaning of the word " marketing" as employed in any Commonwealth legislation. Indeed, any Commonwealth legislation that went beyond that meaning would be invalid.

I make another suggestion to the honorable senator. Even if the court were to disregard both the dictionary meaning and the constitutional meaning, it would seek to ascertain the commonly accepted meaning of the word " marketing " in this community. There we have a clear guide, because several States, and the Commonwealth also have legislated in regard to marketing, and, therefore, this community has repeatedly expressed in statute form what it means by the word "marketing". Thus, we have three guides in the interpretation of the word - the dictionary meaning, the constitutional meaning, and the accepted meaning of the word by this community as employed in its statutes. In his endeavour to calm fears which have arisen in the minds of others because of mistaken ideas of what is meant by " marketing ", the honorable senator has attempted to impose a limitation that will, if accepted, hamper development in relation to some forms of primary production which are just as worthy of assistance by means of a marketing scheme as are any of those which have been assisted hitherto. In the light of what I have said, I ask the honorable senator not to press his amendment.

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