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Thursday, 11 August 1921

Senator RUSSELL (Victoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) . - When this matter arose earlier in the week I undertook to make inquiries concerning whether it would be advisable or feasible for the Government to accept an amendment of the phrase. Regulations ordinarily laid upon the table of Parliament deal with legislative matters. In the present instance, however, the Minister for Trade and Customs has been given certain powers. To cite an example, calico used for making bags in which to export flour may be imported free. Every care has to be taken, however, to insure that this special permission is not abused. Guarantees are required from millers that the calico which they desire to import free of duty shall be wholly exported as flour bags.

Senator Senior - My requested amendment does not propose to interfere with necessary safeguards taken by the Department. The words, "as prescribed " are not sought to be deleted. The sole intention is to have the by-laws laid before Parliament in the form of regulations.

Senator RUSSELL - But there are probably thousands of decisions of this character throughout the year. If every by-law had to be laid upon the table of the Legislature in the form of a regulation, the work would be endless. Parliament would be flooded with documents. The Governor-General would never be free from the task of affixing his signature to them. If the words "as prescribed " remain alone, the effect will probably be to give the Minister much wider powers that those to which he is limited to-day. Every time an individual in the commercial (community sought to evade the Customs laws, to meet which evasion the Department framed a new by-law, there would be required an Order in Executive Council. Altogether, the situation would be chaotic. The same phrase to which some honorable senators are now objecting appears in practically every Tariff in the world ; and, so far as is known, neither abroad nor in Australia have there been complaints on the part of the commercial community.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - There have been very many.

Senator RUSSELL - Then, before speaking further, I should like to hear the honorable senator's facts.

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