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Wednesday, 8 November 1905

The PRESIDENT - Order !

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I say that these cheap sneers and insults are contemptible. I propose to make one or two quotations from the report of the Sydney Chamber of Commerce on this Bill.

Senator Givens - I shall give the honorable senator an independent opinion by and by.

The PRESIDENT - I must ask honorable senators not to interject. The practice does not lead to any good result.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- The Sydney Chamber of Commerce say in their report -

In the majority of instances it is impossible for an importer to know of his own knowledge, say, for instance, the " measure " or " purity," the " country " or " place " in or at which goods were made, by whom they were selected and packed, the " material " or " ingredients." Yet any error or omission under clause 8 renders an importer liable to a fine of £100 or three months* imprisonment, under the Customs Act 1901.

I will ask honorable senators to say who is better able to state whether it is possible to comply with the requirements of clause 8 than the men who are absolutely earning their living in carrying on the trade and commerce of the country ?

Senator Givens - Would the honorable senator ask a body of burglars to pass an opinion on a Bill to suppress burglary?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I do not suppose I should.

Senator Givens - I did not suppose the honorable senator would, either.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- But if I required a little information as to how to manage a burglary, I should expect to get more from a burglar than I suppose I would be able to otherwise obtain myself, or than any honorable senator could supply. The report further points out that -

It is, however, provided in the same section - " it shall be a defence to a prosecution for an offence against this section if the defendant proves that he did not knowingly import the goods in contravention of this section." » Senator Millen. - I think, sir, that we ought to commence the evening sitting with a quorum. [Quorum formed.']

Senator Lt Col GOULD - In their report to the Chamber of Commerce of Sydney the committee go on to say : -

But the onus of proof is on -the defendant, and under the Customs Act 1901, with which this measure has to be read, the proof must be to the satisfaction of the Customs. That is a most difficult task at the best of times, but under certain conditions it is absolutely impossible.

They proceed to point out the liability to forfeiture, as well as the punishment which is provided for, where a person does not give the required trade description; and. then they go on to say -

The Council fear that under clause 5, which provides that an officer shall inspect and -examine all prescribed goods; and clause 6, which provides that notice of intention to export must be given, the export trade will be seriously hampered, and the expenses incurred in the supervision for carrying out the provisions of the Act will fall very heavily on the producing interests of the State.

Previous speakers have indicated how difficult it would be to observe the obligation with regard to the export of perishable commodities. It has been pointed out how necessary it is to ship apples with great rapidity, and how difficult it would be to have the whole of the fruit examined before it was put on board ship. If a ship had to be detained for a considerable time in order that this examination might be made, she would have either to charge a very greatly enhanced rate, or to leave the cases on the wharf. It would mean ruination to the producer if his produce had to be left on the wharf to take the chance of a later steamer picking it up, and of course there would be the difficulty of making a satisfactory arrangement with' that vessel after he had paid for the space which he had contracted to take in the previous vessel. I do not wish to weary the Senate by reading all the reasons which are given in this report. I find that the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce have also raised their voice in protest against the Bill. They say : -

Under clause 3 it would be absolutely impossible for an importer to give the details enumerated from A to F, and it would appear that many pitfalls are provided for traders; and they object to the effect of this Bill, which will be to standardize goods.

They conclude their report with the following words : -

To sum up, your committee is of opinion that this Bill is unnecessary, ample powers in the same direction being already possessed by the different States^ that the effect of the Bill would be to interfere with and restrain trade, that the standardization and grading of manufactures and products would be harassing and inimical to progress and improvement, and that the cost of proper administration would be enormous.

If I could be convinced that in the interests of Australia it is necessary that a Bill of this character should be enacted, I should not raise any objection on the ground of cost. The Brisbane Chamber of Commerce also entered a protest against the Bill, on the 1 6th August, when they passed the following resolution : -

That, in the opinion of this Chamber, tlie Bill relating to commerce with other countries, introduced by the Honorable Sir William Lyne in the House of Representatives, is an unnecessary embargo on the trade of the Commonwealth, and its tendency will be to restrict the free exchange of commercial commodities to the detriment of the producer, manufacturer, and importer.

The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce have made some representations, but I am not in a position to say that thev have expressed an opinion so definitely in opposition to the measure as have the similar bodies in Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. The Adelaide Chamber of Commerce is also against the measure, and to-day the representatives, of Tasmania have made strong objections to its enactment. I find that a petition to the Senate from the president and honorary secretary of the Fruit-growers' Union of New South Wales contains the following statement: -

The provisions of the Bill requiring exporters to give notice of the particulars of articles for export, as well as that regarding the inspecting of such articles, will prove most harassing and injurious to the exporters of perishable articles, such as fruit, and will also, we believe, be to a great extent unworkable. We, therefore, respectfully and earnestly pray that you will see fit to reject the measure, or, failing that, to so amend it as to cause it to press as lightly as possible on traders.

I have quoted from the bodies in each State who are peculiarly able, from special training and knowledge, to say whether the Bill is necessary or not. There is a universal objection to its enactment. I asked the Minister to say whether any petition has teen presented in its favour. Although it has been generally known that the Chamber of Commerce in each State has been protesting against the Bill, yet not a single petition in its favour has been presented to the Parliament. I do not profess to have a special knowledge of the subject with which it deals, but I am prepared to listen to the opinions of those honorable senators who know what they are talking about before deciding whether it shall have my support or not. If I were asked by an honorable senator this question: "Are you in favour of insisting upon honesty in connexion with trade?" I should at once answer "Yes"; but I do not believe in unnecessarily hampering trade. We have been asked to say why we should allow goods to be exported which bear the impress of an incorrect description. We have no business to require a description to be impressed upon any goods when it is unnecessary. If this Parliament is going to attempt to teach the nations of the world how they arc to carry on trade, it is, taking on a very .hard task. We are all seeking to obtain trade. We know that trade in the East requires certain conditions to be observed. We cannot dictate in the matter of conditions. We may say to our own people-. "We shall not allow you to sell 12 oz. of an article to people in the belief that they are getting 16 oz." But if a buyer from the other side of the world says : " We want you to forward to us certain articles packed in a certain way," we ought not to hamper the trade by imposing unnecessary restrictions. Let it be borne in mind that Australia is not the only country which can export goods. We heard some remarks to-day in regard to the jam trade. 'In their letter, Messrs. Jones and Company say: -

Firms in Africa are in the habit of having jam specially manufactured for them, the conditions of the order being that the label shall not stale where the goods are actually manufactured, and that the labels shall bear no name beyond that of 'he actual importer and distributor of the goods in Africa. We enclose you labels used for such business. If this Act were carried through it would mean an actual loss in this business, not only to our firm, but to the Commonwealth at large, because the firms referred to are large importers, and if they cannot have their business carried on on their own lines, anil purchase supplies in the manner they desire, they will simply go somewhere else where they can have "their instructions carried out.

Why should we say to this firm: "If you Wish to export your jams your name must be placed on the tins, and the place of manufacture"? That will not guarantee the purity or the value of the goods. If the firm were to attempt to say that their marmalade was made out of Seville oranges when it was really made out of some other material, we might very properly forbid its export under that trade description. But suppose that the firm were to receive an order to forward marmalade made of turnips or carrots to another part of the world for the purpose of being labelled and distributed there.. What concern is it of ours? We do not sanction or counsel any misrepresentation. But surely we are not going to hamper the men who are really bringing money into the country and who are employing labour. Surely, as sensible men, we are not going, to place restrictions upon their trade. It was originally understood, from the statement of the Minister in charge of the Bill, that the system of grading and marking fruits was followed in Tasmania and South Australia. The Minister has now admitted that that statement was made under a misapprehension, and that the grading is purely a voluntary matter. People cam please themselves whether they grade their goods or not. I believe that the Minister made his original statement in all good faith, and I accept his correction. He corrected it as soon as he found he had made a mistake, as he was bound to do. But do honorable senators imagine for a moment that men who are growing fruit in Australia will send it away to Great Britain with the prospect of having it condemned? I am informed that it costssomething like 7s. per case to get fruit placed upon the London market. If the growers get us. or 12s. per case they consider it a very good price. Is it expected that sensible men - and I take it that these growers are sensible men - will send stuff to London if it is unfit for sale? I recognise that honorable senators who are supporting this Bill do so because they believe that it is honest legislation which would benefit the Commonwealth. We all want honest legislation passed. But do not let us make our legislation an instrument of oppression of such a character as to hamper, instead of facilitating, trade and commerce with other nations. If the Chambers of Commerce are mot reliable bodies to guide us in matters of this kind, who are? When we were dealing with the black labour and the sugar bounty questions, we received petitions f rom, persons who were able to speak with authority. They were considered to be men whose views were worthy of acceptance by Parliament. We relied upon them. I am sure that no member of the Commonwealth Parliament would claim that we are experts in everything as towhich we are called upon to legislate. But, as men who are possessed, presumably, of good, sound common sense, if we have noi expert knowledge, we have, at all events, sufficient knowledge to put to good use the expert knowledge of other people in regard to the subjects we have to consider. The opinion of the Attorney-General of New South Wales has been quoted. Some of us thought that that was pooh-poohed by some supporters of the Bill, as though they considered that it was a piece of impertinence on the part of a State Minister to express an opinion on the Bill. But I welcome an expression of opinion from any State Ministry upon proposed legislation that would affect the whole Commonwealth. «We meet here to pass legislation that will operate throughout Australia. We do not wish to hamper any particular State ; and if each State will give us the benefit of its opinion, we shall have a fund of information which will enable us the better to discharge the duties cast upon us under the Constitution. We ought to be careful not to do anything that will cause friction Or do injury.

Senator Henderson - Why make any taws at all? Why not let people do as they like?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - We make laws because we think it is necessary under certain, circumstances to legislate for certain purposes. But we do not pass laws upon every subject we have power to deal with at one time. It is only as circumstances arise that we should attempt to pass laws, and when we do so we should be careful to ascertain how 'they will affect various interests. If Senator Henderson were interested in something that affected his constituents, would he not take the opportunity of ascertaining their views as to how it affected them?

Senator Henderson - Decidedly.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- So ought we to ascertain the opinions of the various States upon proposed legislation that affects them.

Senator Keating - Does not the honorable and learned1 senator think that Mr. Wade misconceived the whole purpose of this Bill?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I do not believe that he misconceived it.

Senator Keating - Does Senator Gould think that he even read it?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I am quite sure that he read it.

Senator Keating - It does not look like it; it looks as if he gave his opinion upon a precis of the Bill as it appeared in the Sydney press. -

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I am sure that Mr. Wade would not have given his opinion on such information. It will be noticed, for instance, that he mentions the definition of trade description, and criticises it as particularly comprehensive, so that evidently he had read as far as clause 3 of the Bill. ' Mr. Wade at a later date, in writing about the Bill, says -

As the Bill is drawn, the Minister may, in a proclamation, declare that unless certain goods have applied to them a description of such character as is prescribed by the proclamation, these goods may be excluded from entering or prevented from leaving the country. For instance, it is open to a Minister to prescribe in a proclamation that the trader must state the mode of manufacture, either whether the method is by machinery or by handwork, or under the provisions of the Factories Act, or an Arbitration Court award, and also whether the goods are made by union labour or non-union labour. He may state that unless the goods comply with those conditions, they shall be prohibited goods, liable to forfeiture, and the owner thereof be liable to punishment.

Senator Pearce - Does the honorable and learned senator believes that that is a fair interpretation of the Bill?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I do.

Senator Pearce - Then he is very gullible.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- If Senator Pearce will read, the Bill with an open mind, he will find that any one of these things may be prescribed by the Minister; and if a man fails to comply with' a particular requirement, his goods are to be subject to forfeiture, and he is to be liable to a penalty. It is monstrous that we should seek to preclude men from dealing honestly and fairly with their own goods in their own interests ; and measures that do so are oppressive. There can be but one justification for such an enactment, and that is to show that it is absolutely necessary in the interests of the community at large. That has not been done in regard to this measure. I will read another paragraph from the same statement by Mr. Wade -

Another indispensable matter is that the Merchandise Mark- Act of £887 in no way deals with the quality, purity, class, or grade of goods. Here, again, these matters are introduced into the .Commerce Bill. As the measure is drawn, I see no reason why the Minister, perhaps, in all good faith, may not lay down a standard of purity for any article. That standard may be of such a character that the trade cannot comply with it, or it may be that the local manufacturer can comply with the standard, yet it would be impossible for the importer to do so, and in this way I see it is possible under this Bill, when the duty under the Customs has failed to exclude manufactures, to lay down a standard which the importer -cannot comply with, and so drive that particular kind of trade away from the Commonwealth.

Do honorable senators not realize - and I especially appeal to Senator Pearce in this matter - that this Bill contains a power under which the Minister may give more direct protection to a particular class of goods that may be. made in Australia than he could do by any Customs Act that Parliament could pass ? If a Customs Act imposed a duty of 100 per cent, upon particular articles, it would not give a greater power of exclusion than this Bill does. Some honorable senators may say that that is rather a far-fetched instance. We are aware, however, that there has lately been a great agitation with regard to harvesters. It has been suggested that a duty of ^25 should be placed upon these machines, in order to protect the locally-made harvester, or, as the Minister of Trade and Customs puts it, to prevent these goods from being dumped down and destroying an industry of the Commonwealth. But under this Bill the Minister could prohibit the importation of those articles by exercising the power of making regulations.

Senator Pearce - Under this Bill ?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- Yes; and the honorable senator should also bear in mind that even now in Western Australia there is an Act dealing with diseases in fruit, which is used more for the purpose of keeping out fruit from other States than for anything else.

Senator Pearce - I deny that.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I say that in the administration of that Act an effort has been made simply to keep out certain classes of fruit, in order to protect the local products.

Senator Henderson - A diseased class, unfit for human consumption.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I will call Senator Playford as a witness of the accuracy of my statement.

Senator Pearce - He is biased, .because he is an exporter.

Senator Henderson - They were probably his apples.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I am afraid that Queensland has been doing something of the same kind.

Senator Higgs - The same thing is done in New South Wales.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - No State is immaculate. Some time ago there was some talk of establishing an Inter- State Commission to stop such interference with trade by States. We, however, are proposing to give power to a Minister to interfere with trade far more seriously. Though the Minister may be the most honest man who ever existed, it is an evil to place such drastic powers in the hands of an individual. No doubt a Government that exercises power wrongly may be turned out of office. These regulations become law at once unless, on appeal, the High Court declares them ultra vires. True, the. regulations have to be laid on the table of either House if the Parliament is in session^ but, in recess, we have to wait until Parliament meets, when, within the prescribed time, they have to be submitted. These regulations have force until they are disallowed by either House, and in the time which elapses, an industry may be ruined. Where there are such drastic powers under regulations, time ought to be allowed so that we may know what we are doing. Regulations should be made only in reference to subsidiary matters which cannot conveniently be dealt with by this Act under which they are framed, and should in no way interfere with the objects of the legislation. I take it that no Minister or honorable senator will attempt to say that the Bill is for any other than the honest purpose of protecting the trade and commerce of the country, both import and export. It is perfectly plain that the Bill can be absolutely prostituted from the purpose which it is. designed to serve, and I hope that honorable senators, if they are prepared to accept it, will make such amendments in Committee as will render it more acceptable to the people of this great country. I hope and trust that Ministers - whether of this or any future Government - will, when considering legislation of this kind, have regard to the views and opinions of the various States affected ; otherwise we may do damage that it will take many years to remedy. If we are struggling now for trade in the outside parts of the world it behoves us to exercise every possible care that we do not unduly or improperly interfere with people who are prepared to do business with us. I take it for granted that we all desire to make Australia a great nation, and to promote the prosperity of ever\ individual by assisting in the expansion of our trade and commerce. Earlier in the evening I expressed the belief that

Australia could not live on herself, and I desire to disabuse the minds of people in other parts of the world of the idea that we have here no room for any one else or do not wish to trade -with the people beyond our own borders. We ought, by our legislation, to show that we desire to do everything we can to increase the greatness of Australia, and with that end in view to assist to the fullest possible extent both our export and import trade.

Senator Henderson - Will honesty prevent our achieving that end?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - If the honorable senator merely desires to have honest dealing, I am with him.

Senator Henderson - That is what we do want.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - But this Bill goes further.

Senator Playford - No, no.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- Why could we not follow the English Act?

Senator Givens - Why slavishly follow any Act?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - There is no reason to slavishly follow any Act, but we ought to take into consideration the reasons which actuated those who framed the English legislation.

Senator Best - There are obvious reasons why we could not slavishly follow the English Act. For instance, the word "quality" was found defective, and we framed our Trade Marks Bill to meet the defect.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- We dealt then with a particular provision.

Senator Best - And cured the defect.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- This Bill calls upon us to deal with the nature, number, quantity, quality, purity, class, grade, measure, gauge, size, and weight of goods. There are only half of those requirements in the English Act, and, as we cured one defect in our Trade Marks Act, we do not need to re-enact a similar provision here.

Senator Best - What is the objection to the .provision in this Bill?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I object to going beyond the limits which this Bill ought to observe.

Senator Best - There were obvious defects in the English Act, as shown by the provisions of our Trade Marks Act.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I do not consider that these are necessary provisions in a Commerce Bill.

Senator Givens - Does the honorable senator think that honesty in business is necessary ?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - Yes..

Senator Givens - Then why not support the Bill?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - Because the Bill, in my opinion, gives an opportunity to work gross injustice.

Senator Givens - Because the Bill is in favour of honesty !

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- The Bill also provides that the "trade description" shall give information "as to the country or place where the goods were made or produced." I have already pointed out that, p.o far, at any rate, as jam manufacture is concerned, there is very serious objection to this clause.

Senator Best - That is English legislation.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- There has been ample reason given why we should not insist on this provision.

Senator Best - That provision was inserted in the English Act on the recommendation of a Select Committee of the House of Commons.

Senator Millen - Is clause 7 of the Bill English legislation?

Senator Best - We are not talking about clause 7.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - If an order came to Australia for goods of a certain quality, I ask whether it would be dishonest to send those goods without information as to the place at which they were manufactured ?

Senator Best - The House of Commons Committee held that to be so.

Senator Millen - The Committee held it to be undesirable, but not dishonest.

Senator Best - The House of Commons recommended, for instance, that German goods should be labelled " Made in Germany."

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- That was in order that people should not buy German goods when they thought they were buying English goods.

Senator Best - The object was to prevent adulteration.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I have heard it stated that the label " Made in Germany " was one of the best possible advertisements for German goods.

Senator Givens - Why object to telling the truth?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I do not object to telling the truth, but there is no need to call upon a man to make a statement which cannot in any way affect the purity or quality of the goods. I quite agree that a man has no right to say that goods are of a certain quality when they are not.

Senator Givens - That is all the Bill seeks to do.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- The Bill seeks to do a- great deal more, for instance, information has been given as to the mode of manufacture, and 1 quoted Mr. Wade's opinion on that point. Senator Pearce seemed to regard it as ridiculous that the view of Mr. Wade should be entertained, but it is supported by experts. There is no honorable senator who would say that he desires to hamper the export trade of the country, or that he is not willing to do anything possible to increase trade. But it has been pointed out by experts that the Bill is likely to inflict an injury on our export trade, and there is not one tittle of evidence in support of the Bill, except the views of honorable senators, whom I decline to recognise as authorities in a matter of this sort.

Senator Givens - Are mercantile experts of the same class as mining experts ?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I know that mining experts have not the best .reputation in the world, but we are not now discussing them. The experts whom I have mentioned have a good reputation for honesty and straightforwardness, and I have, personally, always found them willing to discuss questions of the kind from all points of view. One of the bodies whose opinions I quoted to-night, would have been accepted by Senator Givens and others on the question of cool storage for goods in transit; and I suppose it is the old position, that when experts agree" with us, they are right, but not otherwise. In regard to imports, certain information is required under the Bill, or may be required, that it will be absolutely impossible to supply, and it may be worked by an astute Minister in such a way as to involve a departure from the honest object we have in view. It is exceedingly dangerous to pass a Bill under which that is possible, and, if it be passed, it ought to be amended. I have called attention to the danger of allowing a Minister to prescribe all the regulations contemplated under the Bil?. According to clause 7, which deals with imports, the regulations may prohibit the importation or introduction into Australia of any specified goods, unless there is applied to them " a trade description of such at character, relating to such matters, and applied in such manner as is prescribed." Clause 11 empowers similar regulations in. regard to exports, and clause 14 provides -

Any goods intended for export which have beer* inspected in pursuance of this Act may in manner prescribed be marked with the prescribed trade description.

Why cannot we have a Bill of a simple character. A Bill of that kind would,, doubtless, do a certain amount of good, if there was a recognised necessity for it, and if it did not cover the whole ground, it could speedily be amended.

Senator Best - There could not be a much more simple and direct Bill than this.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- No Bill would more readily give an opportunity to a Minister to work it to the detriment and injury of Australia. We cannot say that it is impossible to find a Minister who would administer a measure of the kind in such a way. This Bill has to be read with the Customs Act, and the latter has to be read with' the Tariff Act.' Are We to have a hotch-potch, composed of Customs, Tariff, and Commerce Acts? I suppose that before long we shall have half-a-dozen other measures, all to be read with, and controlled by the Customs Act. Why should this Bill be read with the Customs Act? Is it because there are certain drastic powers under that Act which honorable senators aire prepared to see exercised by the Minister? We have had experience of the working of the Customs Act.

Senator Playford - It has been fairly administered.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - Nothing could have been more discreditable than the working of the Customs Acf in its early days, when it was used as an instrument of oppression.

Senator Playford - Nothing of the sort. Senator Lt.-Col. GOULD.- The Customs Act was the means of working gross injustices on the people of the community, and when protests were raised in Parliament against the powers proposed to be given to the Minister Ave were lulled into a sense of false security - or, at any rate, a majority were - on being told that it was necessary to rely on the discretion of the Minister.

Senator Givens - Give one instance of bad administration under the Customs Act?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - Instances innumerable were given in Parliament.

Senator Givens - Name one.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - Before the honorable senator came to this House, instances were quoted in which a simple error, which it had been sought to rectify even before the ink was dry, had led to legal proceedings and a fine, and the trader was held up to those outside Australia as a dishonest person. ,

Senator Givens - How is it that all the mistakes were on the one side?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- Men of the highest reputation in this community were brought before the Police Courts for merely nominal offences, and although the Minister knew perfectly well that they had no intention to commit an offence, and that the errors of inadvertence committed by their clerks were rectified as soon as possible.

Senator O'KEEFE (TASMANIA) - Are such cases brought before the Police Courts now?

Senator Lt Col GOULD - I am pleased to be able to say that I have not noticed any recently. But what I have stated was done constantly. If a clerk .went to a Customs House officer and said, " I am in a little bit of a fog as to how I shall pass this entry," the Customs officer would say, " I can give you no assistance, you must find out how to do it for yourself," and then, if the man made a mistake, his employer was fined.

Senator Givens - The man who initiated that system is the best man in Australia, bar none.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - He may be. I do not wish to discuss that point. Mr. Kingston is a man who came here with a very great reputation, but the right honorable gentleman is not well now, and I prefer not to say anything about him. I have no desire that my remarks should be regarded as an attack upon any particular Minister, but I say that to place such' powers as are included in this Bill in the hands of any Minister is most dangerous. They might be exercised unfairly, and to the detriment of the Commonwealth. My voice and vote will never be used to confer such powers on any Minister, even though he should be appointed from my own side in politics. If I were a Minister, I should be sorry to have such powers placed in my hands, though I might exercise them in a manner different from that which would be adopted by other Ministers. Judging by the way in which the debate has gone on, the Minister of Defence evidently considers that this Bill is quite safe, and we are onlybeating the air in opposing it.

Senator Playford - It is quits as safe as is the Customs Act, and it is not more drastic.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - The intention evidently is that the Minister under this Bill shall have the same powers as he has under the Customs Act, otherwise it would not be necessary that it should be read as one with the Customs Act. Again I say that I regret that the present Government should be doing just what some of their predecessors have done, and that somehow or other, whether by accident or not, they are proposing legislation which has the effect of setting the whole of the States of the Commonwealth by the ears. There are many matters of importance and urgency which we might discuss rather than this measure, and which would not give rise to all this friction and trouble.

Senator Best - Has there been any protest from any State but one against this Bill?

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I have read protests from the Chambers of Commerce of Sydney, Melbourne, and Brisbane. I understand that the Chamber of Commerce of South Australia has also protested against the measure, and that the Chamber of Commerce of Western Australia is not satisfied with it.

Senator Best - I was referring to the States Governments.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - We referred only to Mr. Wade's statement.

Senator Playford - - And that expresses only his private opinion.

Senator Lt Col GOULD - Do we not know that certain members of this Parliament consider it an impertinence on the part of a State Minister to offer an opinion on proposals submitted in this august Commonwealth Parliament? It really appears to be the idea of some members of this Parliament that we are superior to those men in power, position, and intelligence. I wish honorable senators would bear in mind that not a single public body in any of the States has said a single word in favour of this measure, whilst many of them ha%'e spoken against it. Senator Best will bear me out when I say that the members of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce are intelligent, honest men.

Senator Best - Their views are certainly entitled to consideration.

Senator Lt Col GOULD .- I say. they are also, and members of this Senate will do well to be guided by them in dealing with this class of legislation.

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