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Friday, 25 June 1937

Senator E B JOHNSTON (Western Australia) .- The Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) is quite wrong in saying that my amendment, if carried, would result in a duplication of the work of the Tariff Board.

Senator Sir George Pearce - I said that would be its effect.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - My sole purpose is to give the Inter-State Commission the duty and the right to make inquiries concerning all disabilities which may be suffered by a State as the result of federal legislation. All similar tribunals are vested with wide authority. The five economists appointed by the Bruce-Page Government some years ago to report on the economic effect of the tariff, pointed out that certain States, particularly Western Australia and Tasmania, suffered definite and severe disabilities under federation, whilst other States benefited from the incidence of Commonwealth tariff policy and other forms of legislation. Even with the partial measure of relief given at certain seasons of the year to Tasmania, that State has suffered definite injury from the operation of the Navigation Act. The same may be said of citizens of the north-west of Western Australia. I have received many complaints from constituents in that portion of my State that they are not permitted to travel by or receive goods from British-owned vessels which touch at the north-western ports of Western Australia. These complaints have been brought under the notice of the Assistant Minister (Senator Brennan), who has very courteously given them his attention. For the reasons given I am anxious that the Inter-State Commission shall have full power and a direct responsibility to investigate, on behalf of the smaller States, any unjust incidence of the tariff or other Commonwealth legislation.

Senator Sir George Pearce - The commission could do that.

Senator E B JOHNSTON - I am indebted to Senator Arkins for his kindly interest in the welfare of the smaller States, and I appreciate the help which he has given to us. But we may not always have in this chamber sympathetic representatives from the eastern States, and I wish to be quite sure that it will be the duty of the InterState Commission to investigate their disabilities, particularly these resultant from federal legislation. It is fitting that the bill should be introduced in the Senate, which is the States' House. I hope that the amendment which I have moved will be carried so that we may be quite sure that this independent tribunal will investigate all disabilities and do justice to the smaller States.

Amendment negatived.

Clause verbally amended, and, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 19 - (1.) The Governor-General may cause any report made under paragraph (a), (b) or (c) of sub-section (1.), the last preceding section to be laid before each House of the Parliament and shall, before any proposed law relating to the subject of the report originates in the Parliament, cause the report to be laid before each House thereof.

Senator Sir GEORGEPEARCE (Western Australia - Minister for External Affairs) [12.8].- I move-

That the letters (c), (d) or (e) be left out with a view to insert in lieu thereof the letters (c), (d) or (e).

These alterations are consequential on those made in clause 18.

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