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Thursday, 22 October 1931

Mr D CAMERON (BRISBANE. QLD) . - I regret that this bill does not contain another amendment, which the business community had every reason to expect would be included in any measure to amend the Customs Act. As honorable members are aware, that act has not been amended since 1925. Each year since then the Chambers o.f Commerce throughout the Commonwealth have been urging that the Customs Act should be amended to provide that, as soon as an overseas vessel has reported to the customs at its first port of call in the Commonwealth, the rate of duty leviable on that day shall be the legal rate for the whole of that ship's cargo if entered for home consumption. At the annual conference of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, in 1925, 1926 and 1927, resolutions affirming that the act should be so amended were carried unanimously. In 1926, the late Mr. Pratten, then Minister for Trade and Customs, advised the chamber to seek legal advice on the subject, and it was referred to Mr. T. S. O'Halloran, E.C., of Adelaide. That gentleman submitted the opinion that there was nothing in the Constitution that prevented section 132 of the Customs Act from being amended to give effect to the desire of the Associated Chambers of Commerce. I understand that Mr. Pratten conferred with the then Attorney-General (Mr.

Latham) on the subject, and that the latter supported Mr. O'Halloran's opinion. On the 30th August, 1928, I asked the then Prime Minister (Mr. Bruce) what action had been taken to provide for a uniform duty being levied throughout the States. The right honorable gentleman replied that the matter had received consideration, that an amendment of the Customs Act had been drafted to give effect to the request of the Associated Chambers of Commerce, and that the Government intended to proceed with the amendment as soon as possible. In a letter dated the 5th October, 1928, the Prime Minister reiterated the advice that he had given me on the floor of the House. Later, the honorable member for Henty (Mr. Gullett) visited Queensland in his capacity of Minister for Trade and Customs, and he also gave an assurance that a bill was being drafted to give effect to the request of the Associated Chambers of Commerce. The following letter, written to the then Minister for Trade and Customs (Mr. Fen ton) by the president of the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce, and dated the 25th November, 1929, states the position concisely: -

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