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Friday, 13 November 1936

Senator GUTHRIE - Does Tasmania supply its own requirements of butter? T understand that in the winter supplies aru obtained from Victoria.

Senator GRANT - Yes. Butter is exported from Tasmania in the summer time and in the winter when the production in Tasmania is low we import from the mainland. At the conference of Commonwealth find State Ministers held in Adelaide in August last, the representatives of the weaker States opposed the proposals of the Commonwealth. At that conference, Mr. Butler, the Premier of South Australia, said -

Yesterday the Prime Minister informed us that the Commonwealth would never delegate to a State the right to impose an excise duty: yet under certain marketing schemes it has delegated to outside authorities - the Butter Board and so on - the right to impose excise charges.

Tt delegated to a non-statutory body the right, to impose excise duties in Tasmania for a time. Mr. Butler continued - 1 am certain as T stand here that if ever the imposition of the levy is tested it will he declared to be illegal. On principal I object to any Parliament delegating to an outside authority the right to tax the people of Australia. This is what Iws happened under various schemes which have been adopted in the past. No restriction was placed on the Butter

Board concerning what the excise should be. it has been said that the Board had complete power to impose a levy on the people which, in effect, is an excise.

He went on to say that he was opposed to the proposal to be submitted to the people by means of a referendum. Mr. Millington, the Minister for Works in the Labour Government of that State, said -

The Commonwealth says that there is no alternative to an amendment of the Constitution that will be considered; but I maintain that there is an alternative which will mak-i a solution of the problem possible. I shall not be convinced if the federal authorities object to an excise and bounty plan merely because it is unpopular. The Commonwealth Ministers do not say that help cannot be given to the producers in that way but there are serious political difficulties. There are serious difficulties in the way of everything a Government has to do if it shoulders its responsibilities. We encounter them in our State. We are being asked to scrap the Financial Emergency tax and if we were weak enough, 1 suppose we would agree.

Mr. Millingtonalso objected to the Commonwealth's proposal.

Senator Sir George PEARCE - He objected to any increase of the powers of this Parliament, but at that time the present proposal had not been put forward.

Senator GRANT - Mr. Millington said -

T do not believe any of the people oi Western Australia desire to be fed on products grown under sweated labour conditions . . . I shall not agree to the weaker States taking upon themselves the responsibility of giving to the Commonwealth Government additional powers that it does not require in order to solve this problem.

I maintain that additional power is being asked for, although the intention may not be to use it. Mr. Ogilvie stated at the conference -

Finally, and I think I am correctly interpreting the views of the people of Tasmania as a whole, we feel that a referendum would be overwhelmingly defeated. Much as I am opposed to an amendment of the Constitution, however, 1 would go back to the people of Tasmania and advise their acceptance of it if it were necessary and there were no alternatives.

As the amendment foreshadowed by Senator Payne sets out in clear and unmistakeable language such as that used in section 92, that no additional power shall be sought beyond that claimed to have been enjoyed prior to the decision of the Privy Council in the James case, I shall be prepared to support it, but I cannot accept the bill in its present form, and intend to vote against the second reading.

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