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Thursday, 19 November 1936

Senator GRANT (Tasmania) .- The Minister in charge of the bill (Senator Brennan) objected to the amendment proposed by Senator Payne on the ground that its meaning would be difficult to ascertain. I find, however, that the Constitution Act, section 51, uses almost identical words - (xxxviii) The exercise within the Commonwealth, at the request or with the concurrence of the Parliaments of all the States directly concerned. . . .

The words employed by Senator Payne in his amendment, although not exactly identical, have the same meaning. Section 51 contains the word " concerned ", and also " at the request of the States". Senator Payne would probably agree to the wording of his amendment being altered to read " at the request or with the concurrence of the Parliaments of all the States directly concerned ".

Senator Hardy - Does the honorable senator fear that the Commonwealth will have power to act on its own ?

Senator GRANT - I shall support any amendment by which the power of the Commonwealth to do anything which might be detrimental to any State is restricted. I fear that the proposal of the Government, if carried, would empower the Commonwealth to force on Tasmania conditions not asked for by that State, and, indeed,, detrimental to it. The Commonwealth could absolutely stop interstate freetrade with Tasmania.

Senator Hardy - What could the Commonwealth do under the 1920 judgment?

Senator GRANT - I do not know what it could have done, nor do I think that the honorable senator could give an answer to his own question. The decision of the Privy Council means that the Commonwealth may not interfere with interstate freetrade. I have a strong objection to any interference by the Commonwealth which may be detrimental to the interests of any State. I speak particularly of Tasmania, an island State dependent on ocean or air transport. In the past the Commonwealth has prevented the other States from trading with Tasmania, simply because some of the larger States have wished it to do so. On one occasion, because of a request from a body without statutory authority, the Commonwealth Government prevented interstate trade in butter between Tasmania and the mainland States.

Senator Collings - What has that to do with the amendment?

Senator GRANT - Everything ; it strikes at the root of interstate freetrade. I am opposed to anything which may act detrimentally to the interests of any State; and as the amendment moved by Senator Payne seeks to limit the powers of the Commonwealth to do mischief in that respect, I shall support it.

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