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Wednesday, 27 July 1921

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) . -I am rather pleased that the Minister intends to stand by the clause. The Bill itself is rather a useless one,but the absence of this particular clause would render it still more useless. One reason which has been advanced forthe creation of the Board is that as certain Customs duties have been imposed for the purpose of protectingour manufacturers from outside competition, it is necessary to- insure, as far as possible, that our consumers shall not be charged unduly high prices. What individual ismost likely to bring a case before the Board? Obviously, it is the consumer.

Senator Vardon - Howwill the clause give him that opportunity?

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - It will certainly afford him an opportunity to present his case to the Board, whose membersmay thereupon inquire into it.

Senator Vardon - Presumingthat they intend to inquire into that particular matter.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Decidedly. Senator Wilson has stated that it is quite possible that the present Minister may not always be in office.

Senator Russell - There may be a more virtuous Minister.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - The time may come when it may suit the Minister not to have an inquiry into a certain matter. In such "circumstances, if this clause were deleted, the Board would not be able to inquire into that matter. Seeing that we are to have a Board, we should most certainly retain this clause.

Senator Wilson - I cannot follow the honorable senator's argument, seeing that he is of opinion that the Board will be quite a useless body.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - There are some honorable senators who desire to make the Bill as stupid as possible, with, a view to rejecting it upon the motion for its third reading.

Senator Wilson - Who has made that suggestion ?

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Some honorable senators are of that opinion. As a mat- ter of fact, I am a little inclined to view the matter in that light, myself. But it is quite possible that we may not be able to reject the Bill upon the motion for its third reading. Consequently, we ought to make it as good a measure as we can. The clause is one of the few useful portions of the Bill, inasmuch as it will ensable the Board to discharge certain duties without reference to the Minister. I am very glad that the Vice-President of the Executive Council (Senator Russell) is opposing the amendment, and I trust that his action will be supported by a majority of the- Committee.

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