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Tuesday, 5 December 1905
Page: 6250

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) -! confess that I was one of those individuals who were under the impression that the Attorney-General was departing from the agreement he made the other day. When I read the. statement which appeared in the Argus fo-day, I certainly agreed to the full with all the comment consequent upon the declaration of that alleged fact. I do not hesitate to say that I should have considered it to be a breach of the agreement had there not been any undertaking of the kind given, by the Attorney-General. I am glad to hear to-night that the honorable and learned gentleman did make that intimation to the Committee.

Mr Isaacs - Several members of the Opposition remember it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - So I believe; but I was totally unaware of it until I heard of it to-day, and even to-day I was told that there was no mention of it in Hansard. I am therefore glad to have heard the statement read from Hansard by the Attorney-General. With regard to the time at which this Bill shall come into operation, six months after its passing was contended for, and agreed to, not so much in order to suit the convenience of those inaugurating this Department, and the convenience of the Minister of Trade and Customs, who is to undertake the administration of the measure-

Sir William Lyne - Not my convenience; the convenience of the officers who will have to administer it.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is the same thing. That was not the idea prevalent in the minds of honorable members who asked for a six months' postponement of the operation of the measure, but that we should have some consideration for the merchants, traders, and exporters of Australia, who will have all sorts of accommodations to make in connexion with their businesses consequent upon the passing of this Bill. It prohibits certain goods coming into the Commonwealth, and makes it an offence to import them. Time will therefore be required to enable importers to make all their importing arrangements conditioned by the provisions of this measure. Six months' notice was deemed to be the minimum reasonable time which ought to be allowed. Now the Attorney-General proposes to cut that period down to three months, and it is easily conceivable that all sorts of trouble will arise by reason of the shortness of the notice. I strongly urge the honorable and learned gentleman, even now, not to insist on cutting the time down to three months, unless he can show some further reasons than those relating merelyto the accommodations to be made for the administration of this measure. We should remember always that there are consumers, importers, and the proprietors of these marks to be considered. As we intend to make them work under a new set of conditions, the least we can do is to give them ample time to accommodate their business arrangements to meet them.

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