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Thursday, 3 December 1936


Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES (South Australia) . - This would appear to be the appropriate clause on which to raise the subject of delegating to a Minister the power to fix an arbitrary rate of duty. I protest against the introduction of a provision which allows a Minister to determine what goods shall or shall not be permitted to enter Australia, and if they are admitted, the rates of duty to be imposed. I believe that if the members of this Parliament expressed a genuine opinion, an overwhelming majority would object to the imposition of embargoes, yet by this clause we are reverting in a comprehensive way to a most undesirable system which was discarded several years ago. Under this provision we are taking away from the Parliament the power to impose duties in respect of imports from any foreign country, and placing exceptional discretionary authority in the hands of a Minister who will be able to determine what goods shall be admitted, and the duties to be imposed.


Senator Dein - Would not a. Minister exercising such discretionary power take his instructions from the Cabinet?


Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES - Possibly, but does the honorable senator suggest that all matters of minor importance are referred , to Cabinet for decision? Judging from recent experiences, I imagine that Cabinet has a number of important points to determine quite apart from deciding whether imports from, say, the United States of America, Czechoslovakia, or France, shall be admitted on a preferential basis.


Senator Dein - Does the honorable senator regard this as a minor matter?


Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES - Perhaps not; but it is a most objectionable procedure to delegate to the Minister the power which the Parliament should exercise.


Senator Hardy - Even in the event of a crisis?


Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES - In war-time, the position is different, because definite action may have to be taken.


Senator Hardy - Suppose the currency of one country depreciated heavily, enabling it to dump goods into Australia ?







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