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Tuesday, 28 August 1906

Mr GLYNN (Angas) .- I think that there are provisions in the Customs Act, and also in the Australian Industries Preservation Bill, to much the same effect as that which the honorable member for Lang desires to insert. The honorable member for Hindmarsh raised a question as to our power to pass this legislation. When the Distillation Act was under discussion, two or three years ago, I and other honorable members expressed doubt as to our power to prescribe certain standards of purity and strength for wine .and spirits, except for the purpose of checking the collection of duties. Although we have power to prescribe certain standards of purity, as we have done in the Excise Act, I doubt very much whether we "can go beyond that. This Bill contains provisions that have nothing to do with the collection of duties, and the same remark applies to the Distillation Act. In one case, in South Australia, our power to prescribe certain standards that were not required for the collection of duties was questioned. I do not think that that point was absolutely decided, because another question was raised. The information had to be laid by the State Collector of Customs under the State Act, and the question was whether the State Act had not been abrogated by the Commonwealth Distillation Act. It was decided that there was no Collector of Customs appointed by the State, inasmuch as the State Collector had been superseded by the Commonwealth officer. I argued on, a previous occasion that our legislation was ultra vires, in so far as it exceeded our power to prescribe standards required to enable us to protect the revenue. I _ think that the Attorney-General, as a private member, then took a similar view. The difficulty could best be overcome by the States stepping in and passing an Act under which information could be laid by someone else, or by the Common- wealth laying an information under some Commonwealth Act. I think that our legislation is ultra vires to the extent I have indicated, and no doubt the question will be raised at the very first opportunity.

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