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Thursday, 22 October 1931

Mr FORDE (Capricornia) (Minister for Trade and Customs) . - In my reply, during the second-reading stage of the debate, I said that I could not accept this amendment, which had been foreshadowed, because its constitutionality was in doubt. It is true that one King's counsel has expressed the opinion that it would be constitutional, but others have said the opposite, and a royal commission which inquired into the matter stressed tho administrative difficulties which would be raised if such a change were effected. There are some arguments in favour of the proposal; but, on the other hand, it would mean that, if duties were reduced after a ship had called at Fremantle, traders in the eastern ports would not obtain the benefit of it. Those who favour this proposal have asked that, instead of there being a uniform rate of duty all over Australia, duty shall . be payable at the rate applicable to the goods at the time they first arrive in Australia. Under such an arrangement it would be possible to have two ships discharging at the same time similar goods upon which two different rates of duty were payable. Such a situation would be fantastic, and I cannot accept the amendment.

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