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Tuesday, 8 November 1938

Mr BLACKBURN (Bourke) .- A crucial portion of the clause is the phrase " uniformly throughout the Commonwealth ". With the retention of those words, it seems to be quite clear that the standard of the last three years' production for export could not be applied, because the only effect of its application would be to arrive at a basis which did not apply uniformly throughout the Commonwealth. The object of applying that standard, suggested by the honorable member for Franklin (Mr. Frost) and approvedof in some degree by the Government, is to obtain a basis which would not apply uniformly throughout the Commonwealth. According to my view, if the words " uniformly throughout the Commonwealth " were deleted it would be possible to apply the standard suggested by the honorable member for Franklin, either in his absolute and inelastic form, or subject to the modifications proposed by the Minister. But if the standard is to apply uniformly throughout the Commonwealth I cannot see any sense in giving, in the form proposed by either the honorable member for Franklin or the Government, the direction that the board shall take into account the figures for the last three years preceding the year in which the basis is fixed. I cannot see how that would operate if a basis is to be fixed throughout the Commonwealth - either that a given number of tons or that a given proportion of the production of each State, has to be exported or sold.

Mr Prowse - That is why other factors have to be taken into consideration.

Mr BLACKBURN - The honorable member for Franklin proposes, first, to omit certain words, and then, if those words be omitted, to insert certain other words. I agree that the words which he proposes to omit should be omitted, because I think that the board should be free, if it thinks fit, to depart from the principle of uniformity, provided that it does not depart from that principle as between the States. Section 99 of the Constitution would prevent the board from giving preference to any one State over any other State, but it would not prevent the Commonwealth or its delegate from giving preference to one part of Australia as against another part of Australia, so long as that part was not taken as representing a State or part of a State. As I said in this committee last week, the position in Elliott'scasewas that regulations made under the Transport Workers Act applied to some parts of the Commonwealth and not to others. Those regulations were attacked on the ground that they discriminated between States or parts of States. The High Court held that there was no such discrimination because it was between ports, which were not considered as parts of States; they were different regions or districts. I should say that Section 99 would prevent discrimination . between States as such, but that there is nothing to prevent discrimination between different parts of Australia.

Mr Lane - The bill has not been well drawn.

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