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Wednesday, 27 July 1921

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia.) . - If Senator Pratten is present when a division is taken, I shall claim his vote in support of the. proposed new. clause. The. amendment seeks only to establish a principle which Parliament has thought wise to insert in the Arbitral tion Act. The Minister has stressed profiteering as an argument in opposition to the clause, but there are conceivable cases in which the person concerned would be desirous of keeping secret, not profiteering, but his acute financial embarrassment. Senator Elliott has proposed that whenever an individual tenders evidence about the finances of his concern, the Board must keep such evidence secret if the witness so requires. That is the practice in the Arbitration Court. The principle has been longrecognisedby this- and other Parliaments, that every Tribunal is entitled to arrive at a con- clusion,asmuchontheevidence, it re- ceives in camera as on the evidence it receives in public. That principle has been in operationso many years, that it cannot be ignored now.

SenatorRussell. - It is a right principle. But if a manufacturer is making; 100 per cent. profit, as some men have been doing, he should be exposed.

Senator LYNCH - In the Bill as drafted the non-publication of evidence is entirely in the discretion ofthe Board.

SenatorRussell.If any member of the Board, made public the evidence he had heard, he would bebreakinghisoath.

Senator LYNCH - I desire that the wifelesswhodoes not wish his evidence to be madepublic shall be master of the situation:. I am not in favour of giving the Board discretionary power.

Senator Payne - The Board can only submit the evidence to the Minister.

Senator LYNCH - Somes honorable senators: are inclined tolook on the Board, as likely to be possessed of almost angelic virtues; to. believe it willdo nothing wrong, and will be, in, fact, slightly above the. calibre of ordinary men. I believe that it will have the. human liability to. err. The Minister's argument is. that we must trust the Board, but I say that any manufacturer or other witness before the Board shouldhavepowertodemandthat his evidence shall not be published. I am not content to give the Tariff Board any greater power than is given to the Arbitration Court. A witness should have the powerto prevent himself or his business being publicly injured.

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