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Thursday, 3 March 1932

Mr NELSON (Northern Territory) . - Honorable members . might reasonably have expected that, when eminent lawyers addressed themselves to this bill during the second-reading debate, they would have made its legal provisions clear, but instead of that they succeeded only in making confusion worse confounded. I understand that a law student, when seeking his degree, must write a thesis. After listening to the speeches of honorable members opposite, who are learned in the law, I am convinced that they are well-qualified to write an admirable thesis on the art of apology, if on nothing else. They sought to justify this bill, but how would they be received if they were to ask His Majesty to agree to a proposal that the judges of the courts should be both accusers and judges in one. His Majesty, [ am. sure, would turn a deaf ear to any such advice. It is no wonder that the people of this country are beginning to lose their respect for the law, when they see its chief ornaments paying such little regard to the principles of common justice. The honorable member for Martin (Mr. Holman), the honorable member for Perth ((Mr. Nairn), the honorable member for Darling Downs (Sir Littleton Groom), and the Acting Treasurer (Mr. Bruce) have all spoken in defence of this bill, a measure which, even if legally valid, is repugnant to British sentiment.

The title of this bill should be changed. It should be called " The Record Bailiff Bill ", because it will create about 2,500,000 bailiffs in New South Wales. Every ratepayer and every taxpayer becomes a bailiff. I ask some of the legal luminaries opposite what will be the position of a taxpayer of New South Wales, whether he resides in New South Wales or not, if the Commonwealth Government succeeds in attaching the revenue received by New South Wales from taxation? It is well known that these taxes must first of all be assessed by the Taxation Department, and until then the individual taxpayer will have no idea of the amount due. If a taxpayer wishes to appeal against his assessment, he must, under the laws of the State, first lodge his tax; but under this bill he is required to pay both Federal and State taxes. What would be the position if the Commonwealth authorities attached the revenues received by the State from, say, butchers, storekeepers, wine, tobacco and motor licences? Suppose the State authorities informed the persons so licensed that unless they paid their licence-fees to the State, the licences would be withdrawn, and they would be prevented from continuing in business. Confusion would result as soon as an attempt was made to give effect to this legislation. What legal power has the Commonwealth to declare if New South Wales does not meet certain obligations, that those licences shall be issued. I say advisedly that this legislation was handed to the people of Australia as if it were a bouquet, but when the people realized its true significance, they found that it was only a posy of noxious weeds. This bill is but a smoke-screen to hide the insidious legislation that is to come in the form of tariff and other proposals. The Country party cannot escape its share of the blame for this action. Time after time it has abused the last Minister for Trade and Customs for the tariff schedules brought down by him. Let the members of the Country party now come forward and make amends for their shortcomings in this direction in the past. They have got the girl into trouble, and should stand by her. In the corner occupied by them, they have cried " wolf " ; but to-day the wolf is in that corner, and they now desire- the Opposition to help them to save the primary producers. This measure should have been served up with spaghetti, because it has a distinct Mussolini flavour.

The CHAIRMAN (Mr Bell - The honorable member must confine his remarks to the clause.

Mr NELSON - I appreciate the latitude which has been granted to me ; it was about time somebody told the members of the Country party the true significance of this bill, lt is merely designed to cause a smoke-screen to enable the Government to escape from the promises made by it at the last election, and, therefore, 1 hope that the clause will be defeated.

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