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Tuesday, 9 August 1904

Mr WATSON - Some little time ago I stated that it was the intention of the Government to take whatever steps were possible to persuade the various States authorities - whether the States Governments or bodies acting under their authority - to so regulate their wharfage charges, and to so harmonize them, that no distinction would be drawn between the produce of any of the States ; the idea being, of course, to obviate the necessity for appointing the Inter-State Commission, so far as that aspect of. the matter is concerned. Since then my honorable colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs has, in one or two cases, asked to be relieved of the work of collecting differential rates, as a preliminary to further action being taken by the States Governments themselves. That has occurred in Victoria. My" honorable colleague holds that we have no power to collect the differential rates, and I believe that the Victorian Government proposes to take action in the direction of equalizing the charges. I have addressed letters upon the subject to some of the other States Governments. I am not yet aware of the detailed proposals which they intend to carry out ; but I am satisfied that there should be no great difficulty in arriving at some arrangement for getting rid of the existing anomalies.

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