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Thursday, 14 December 1905

Mr STORRER (Bass) - I propose to test the feeling of the Committee on the question whether or not it is wise to proceed further with this Bill at the present time by moving -

That the clause be postponed.

I am strongly opposed to all trusts that are calculated to injuriously affect the people. I hold that we should have a law dealing with combines who send their goods to Australia, as well as with local combinations; but I am anxious to see a Bill passed that will be in every way effective. We have been told that the anti-trust legislation of the United States has proved a failure, and, that being so, we should endeavour to profit by the experience of that country. It seems to me that by postponing the further consideration of this Bill until next session we shall be enabled to make it more effective. The honorable member for Darwin spoke of the failure of the anti-trust law of the United States to cope with the conditions created by the beef trust, and it seems to me that he furnished a strong argument for the postponement of this measure. Some remarks have been made as to the delay in bringing it forward. It must not be forgotten, however', that the Government took office shortly after the opening of the session, and consequently did not enjoy the advantage of a recess in which to prepare the necessary measures for our consideration. Nevertheless, we have been kept closely at work, and our record of legislation is better than is that of any previous session. As we are likely to meet again in a few months,

I think we may well delay the consideration of this measure until then. That will not only enable us to give further attention to it, but will afford the people of Australia an opportunity to become fully seized of its purport. So far, most of the people of the Commonwealth have not learned of its provisions. I do not suppose that a copy of the Bill has yet reached the State of which I am a representative, and whilst I am a protectionist, I wish to fairly represent the free-traders in my constituency, and to give them an opportunity to express their views in regard to it. It would be much better if all Bills were circulated throughout Australia a few weeks before we are called upon to deal with them. We are legislating, not for a small State over which the mails can be distributed daily, but for a vast continent, and we should, therefore, give the people ample time to learn the effect of the measures with which we are called upon to deal. I am not blaming the Government for having introduced this Bill so late in the session. They have undoubtedly done good work. I recognise that they have succeeded in passing many measures, but I am extremely anxious that a Bill for the preservation of Australian industries shall be a thoroughly effective one. It is only because of that desire that I have been induced to submit this motion. If it be the intention of the Committee to deal with the Bill this session, I hope that the discussion will be brief and to the point. But, on the other hand, if the majority of honorable members support my motion, I trust that the Government will take it as an indication that, in our opinion, the further consideration of the Bill should be delayed until next session.

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