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Tuesday, 14 August 1906

Mr FULLER (Illawarra) .- Whilst, in common with the other members of the Tariff Commission, I am perfectly prepare3 to justify and stand by the unanimous report to which we agreed after the hearing of much evidence, and a lengthy and earnest consideration of all the facts, I am not willing to do so after the flaunting manner in which the Minister of Trade and Customs has dealt with the subject. A few years ago, the Prime Minister used to say that the politics of the Federal Parliament would be on a higher plane than those of any State Parliament, and I ask him if the speech of the Minister this afternoon had the effect of placing our proceedings on a higher plane than those of a State Parliament? The honorable gentleman has admitted that he has not yet made up his mind in regard to the proposals which he has placed before the Committee, and he asks us to amuse ourselves by discussing them while he finds time to consider whether he is justified in what he has done. I sympathize deeply with the Chairman of the Tariff Commission in the humiliating position in which he was placed by the Minister, and, as a member of the Commission, I feel that our report has been flaunted. The Minister, on his own acknowledgment, does not understand its nature and tenor. Apparently, he will not stand by his motion, but intends later to introduce more mature proposals. Because of some outside agitation, and because of letters written to and interviews held with the Minister by persons who had every opportunity during, several months to place their case before the Commission, the honorable gentleman tells us that he has not given the subject full consideration, and asks us to waste our time in discussing what he has brought forward, although he may later propose something quite different. I resent this treatment, both as a member of the Commission, and as a member of the Committee, and I ask the Prime Minister whether, as leader of the Government, he should not do something to place our proceedings on the higher plane of which he was so fond of speaking in years gone by, and which they do not now occupy.

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