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Wednesday, 8 June 1904

Mr POYNTON (GREY, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - If the matter has not been brought under the notice of the Prime Minister, will he make inquiries on the subject, to see whether steps cannot be taken to remove this interference with Inter-State free-trade ?

Mr WATSON - The Minister in whose province the matter comes has been considering it, but has taken no action, pending the result of the consideration given to the cognate subject of preferential railway rates. Although the two are not interdependent, they are related, in view of the fact that the same authority - the Inter-State Commission - would deal with both. If it is demonstrated that the appointment of the Inter-State Commission can be obviated by an agreement between the Railways Commissioners of the States affected so far as preferential railway rates are concerned, we hope that we may be able to obtain a mutual arrangement between the Governments of the States for the abolition of preferential wharfage rates. The matter has not been- overlooked by the Government.

Mr Deakin - Action has already been taken in the States - in Victoria, for instance.

Mr-. WATSON.-Yes. I think that the late Minister of Trade and Customs took some action, and the members of the present Cabinet are looking into the matter. We hope that there will be no need to go to the length provided for in the Constitution.

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