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Tuesday, 14 August 1906

Mr DEAKIN (Ballarat) (Minister of External Affairs) . - The intention 'of the Government is either to embody a proposal of the character submitted by the honorable member for Bland in the Bill, or to bring it into operation by issuing a suitable proclamation under the existing Customs Act.

Mr Watson - Let us put it upon the face of the resolutions.

Mr DEAKIN - It cannot be put more upon their face than it will be if embodied in the Bill itself. This proposal has been foreseen from the first. The officers of the Customs Department have called attention to the difference between the treatment which would be accorded imported spirits and that to which locally - produced spirits would be subjected under these resolutions, and they have advised that the evil should be rectified either by the issue of a proclamation under the existing Customs Act, or by the insertion of a specific provision in the Bill itself.

Mr Watson - If it be incorporated in the resolution it will begin to operate at once.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - How does the honorable member suggest we should act in the interval which must elapse before it will be possible, for foreign distillers to adjust their shipments to the operation of his proposal?

Mr Watson - The spirits can be kept in bond.

Mr DEAKIN - I am not opposed to the main proposal of the honorable member. But until I have examined the manner in which it is proposed to be framed, I am not prepared to meet the objection which has been raised by the honorable member for North Sydney.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the Government power to impose such a condition at any time?

Mr DEAKIN - Evidently, according to the recommendation of the Customs officers.

Mr Watson - The sooner we stop the importation of spirits of inferior quality the better.

Mr DEAKIN - We are all agreed upon that point. It is only a question of the way in which we shall effect our object. I doubt whether the honorable member's proposal will be sufficient to cover the period which must necessarily intervene before the distillers in 'England become aware of the restriction, so that thev may regulate their shipments accordingly.

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