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Thursday, 6 September 1928

Mr FENTON (MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA) - The annual report of the Tariff Board which was tabled in the House yesterday contains a number of statements to which exception may be taken. I draw attention to the following -

It has happened, after the Tariff Board has held an inquiry, at which over 100 witnesses were publicly examined on oath, has carefully studied the whole of the public and confidential evidence, and has presented a recommendation to the Minister, that a few men, parties to the application, have made representations to members of Parliament and to the Government which have resulted in the setting aside of the weight of public evidence and the studied recommendation of the board. Different' industries have been developed to a particular degree in the different States of the Commonwealth. It has been a practice of persons working in parliamentary lobbies in the interests of their concerns to procure assistance for their project by bargaining for reciprocal aid - one State group with another. This practice has been rather successful to the parties, but it has proved one of the strongest factors in preventing the enactment of a well-balanced tariff. I ask the Minister for Trade and Customs whether it is within the province of the Tariff Board to make comments of this character regarding the conduct of members of Parliament and their relations with those who come to the House to give information to them when a tariff schedule is under consideration? In regard to the tariff and all other matters, is not the Commonwealth Parliament the highest and final tribunal?

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