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Wednesday, 25 June 1941

Senator FOLL (QUEENSLAND) - No; hut he has power to ascertain whether they are legitimate.

Senator CAMERON - On a pre-war basis ?

Senator FOLL - On any basis. The honorable senator must know that the Government has vested the Prices Commissioner with absolute powers to investigate, all charges. If he finds that the distributors of tea, or of any other commodity, are unduly loading their overhead charges, he may take that into consideration when fixing the retail price at which the commodity must be sold. The Prices Commissioner is in no way subjected to Government interference.

Senator CAMERON - I suggest that instead of being passed on to the consumer, exorbitant overhead charges should be reduced.

Senator FOLL - The Prices Commissioner investigates all charges before approving an increase of price. Therefore, additional overhead charges are taken into consideration.

Senator Cameron - I do not suggest that there are additional overhead charges, but that the distributors are maintaining the status quo charges which enables them to increase the price of tea.

Senator FOLL - It is only fair to point out to the honorable senator that, as the result of the establishment of our price-fixing machinery, it has been possible in Australia to maintain the prices of commodities generally at a lower level than those charged in any other belligerent country.-

Senator Cameron - That may he true in respect of commodities produced or manufactured in Australia, but it does ' not apply to tea.

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