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Thursday, 14 December 1905

Mr HARPER (Mernda) - I think that it is desirable to adjourn the discussion of this measure. It is perfectly clear that the whole object of the Bill is to deal with an alleged abuse on the part of the great harvester trust of America.

Mr Isaacs - Not the whole object.

Mr HARPER - The Prime Minister, only a few minutes ago, distinctly stated that that was the reason why it was forced upon the attention of the House at this stage of the session.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - lt is a very good reason.

Mr HARPER - I do not say "that it is not. But I have no evidence before me as to the facts upon which these allegations are made. It seems to me that there are very grave reasons why the protectionists' of this country should take cognizance of the operations of the harvester trust. If the Government had brought down an enabling Bill to deal with that specific case, and if they had appointed a Justice of the High Court to take evidence from representatives of the trust, and also to examine the books of the firms which have made these allegations-

Mr McCay - But the Tariff Commission is inquiring into this very matter.

Mr HARPER - I am quite aware of that. But certain allegations have been made, and I say that we could have vested the Government with extraordinary powers to deal with this special case. Subsequently we could have considered the general question of trusts. As it is, we are being rushed into legislation which the Minister of Trade and Customs himself admits is very far-reaching. During the past two days I have endeavoured to ascertain how far it will reach, but I have beenunable to "do so. It mav interfere with every business enterprise in the country, and we ought to have time to consider it in all its bearings, and to deal with it calmly and judicially. If the harvester trust threatened to ruin our local industry, I believe that the House would arm the Government with plenary powers to meet the case.

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