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Thursday, 14 May 1936

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) (Postmaster-General) . - I appeal to Senator Duncan-Hughes to withdraw his amendment. I am not in a position to disclose the reasons foi making this request, but the honorable senator, being a man of affairs, will understand when I inform him that this discussion is causing the Government embarrassment. I am- not at liberty to acquaint honorable senators with the details of the negotiations which are now proceeding between the Commonwealth and another country. If honorable senators support the ^proposal of Senator Duncan-Hughes, to leave in the intermediate column the bare margin of duty allowed by the Ottawa agreement - metaphorically handing the reduction on a platter to the representatives of countries with which the Commonwealth Government may be negotiating - what will remain to the Government for bargaining purposes? More than that I cannot say. Honorable senators are accustomed to the carrying on of business negotiations; trade treaties are business negotiations. I am aware that a considerable amount of impatience has been expressed over the delay in completing new trade treaties, but I feel constrained to point out that such agreements are not negotiated. in a few minutes, or a few weeks, or, in some cases, a few months. The best interests of Australia are not being served when I am obliged to speak in this strain. Overtures are proceeding and documents have been prepared in regard to trade matters at issue between a certain country and the Commonwealth. When some hostility to the Government's proposals was in evidence during the discussion on the duties on glass, I was not so perturbed; but in this instance I ask honorable senators not to press the amendment. Later on they may have an opportunity to deal with the matter in another way which will appeal to those honorable senators who hold certain opinions in regard to foreign trade.

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