Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 9 November 1905


Senator BEST (Victoria) - I am sure we must all be in sympathy with' the special representations made on behalf of Tasmania by honorable senators from that State. I think, however, that those who are opposed to this measure proceed on a wrong hypothesis. %They take it for granted that some Minister is going to act detrimentally to Australian trades and industries.


Senator Mulcahy - I never suggested anything of the kind.


Senator BEST - The very object of the Bill is in the opposite direction. Any Minister who attempts t© deal with any of the industries coming within clause 15 must necessarily do so on the advice of those who are experts in the particular industry affected. The responsibility of the administration of this Bill will be felt very keenly, and the Minister will act with the greatest care and circumspection, with the knowledge that any mistake on his part may result in injury to our most flourishing industries. Unless there is suggested some mala fides on the part of Ministers, we may rely that every representation made in the interests of an industry, with a view to its encouragement, will receive full consideration.


Senator Mulcahy - The honorable senator's faith is very great!


Senator BEST - I am only laying down general principles, in the full belief that those responsible for the administration of the Bill will feel the greatest anxiety not to injure trade.


Senator Millen - How can it be said that Ministers will listen to representations when in the harvester case a decision was given on the statements of Mr. McKay, without waiting for the rejoinder of the Massey-Harris Company ?


Senator BEST - That is a temporary decision, which, in my opinion, meets with the concurrence of the majority of the people of Australia.


Senator Millen - That does not answer my question.


Senator BEST - I am not in a position to say what inquiries were made by the Minister in that particular case, but I think that what he determined was in accordance with the public opinion, not only of Australia, but of Australasia.


Senator Millen - Then the honorable senator would condemn a man without hearing what he has to say ?


Senator BEST - Nothing of. the kind. The manner in which this Bill has been received strikes me as very extraordinary. There appears to be something underlying the strenuous opposition from a certain quarter thatis known to adhere to a fiscal faith. of the remote ages. It seems to be forgotten that the larger number of the provisions of the Bill are founded on English experience and legislation, having been taken almost verbatim from the Merchandise Marks Act, and altered only when found to be defective. These provisions of the English Act have specific objects in view, namely, the protection of honest trading, the protection of the consumer, and securing and maintaining the high reputation of English products. These, too, are the objects of the Bill nowbeforeus, as applied to Australia, and they are sought to be enforced by more severe penalties than are provided for in the Merchandise Marks Act of Great Britain.


Senator Millen - The English Act is permissive, and does not compel a man to brand his goods.


Senator BEST - The honorable senator is very restive under my remarks.


Senator Millen - I do notwant the honorable senator to mislead the Chamber.


Senator BEST - My honorable friend is not speaking generously, nor is he justified in what hesays. I am now referring, as he well knows, to those provisions of the Bill which are founded on English legislation, and I am inquiring why they are met with such strenuous opposition. I am all the more surprised at the criticisms advanced against the Bill, when I remember that more than half of its provisions were discussed by this Chamber, and, after the utmost care and thoughtful deliberation, embodied in a Bill and transmitted to another place. These questions were all discussed in connexion' with that other measure, and we, therefore, have the same foundation for the Bill now before us. It was on a former occasion argued that a number of matters could not be completely and successfully dealt with in the Merchandise Marks Bill, which we were then discussing. It was pointed out that assistance might be received in this connexion under the Customs Act, but even that measure has been found to be insufficient for the purpose. The Government, yielding to the expression of opinion of the majority in this Chamber, have introduced the Commerce Bill, with a view to curing the defects complained of by honorable senators. That seems to be the genesis of the measure; and if the objects be those I have indicated, it is for honorable senators to work together to secure their most efficient accomplishment. None of us candeny for a moment that the objects are desirable. Is there an honorable senator who will say that it is undesirable that those objects should be accomplished?


Senator Millen - Does the honorable senator mean the objects stated by himself, or the objects set forth in the Bill ?


Senator BEST - The objects stated by me.


Senator Millen - Then I am with the honorable senator.


Senator BEST - No one can deny that those objects are most desirable. It is recognised by legislation of this character that the purchaser is to a large extent at the mercy of the seller. For instance, it is quite impossible for a woman, on visiting a draper's shop, to carry a microscope in order to ascertain whether the goods she purchases are cotton, or wool, or linen, as the case may be.


Senator Mulcahy - Does the honorable senator think that this Bill will help such a purchaser?


Senator BEST - I am certain it will.


Senator Mulcahy - I am now speaking of my own business, and I am certain that the Bill will not help in the least degree.


Senator BEST - I quite admit that, devise what legislation we may, there will always be found means of evading it to some extent. Our anxiety, however, is to modify the evils which occur, and that is the object of all English legislation of this character. All we can hope to do is to mitigate the evils ; no more than mitigation can be accomplished by the Bill. In order to show what takes place in every-day life, I shall give only oneillustration. We have a particularly capable analyst in Victoria - Mr. Percy Wilkinson - who induced the head of the Health Department to send round persons to purchase goods in the ordinary way, for the purpose of analysis. One purchase was of certain handkerchiefs, collars, and serviettes, and in each case linen goods were asked for. In the case of five collars purchased, every one was cotton, while of the handkerchiefs, two were cotton and one was flax.


Senator Millen - Does the honorable senator contend that under the Bill it will be possible to brand every handkerchief with the Government mark?


Senator BEST - Certainly not.


Senator Millen - Then what the honorable senator is describing cannot be stopped.


Senator BEST - The honorable senator fails to realize that every precaution will be taken "at the gate," so that only goods which are what they purport to be shall be admitted. No doubt inferior articles may slip in, but the object is to have inspection on their entrance to the Commonwealth.


Senator Styles - And there will always be the penalty hanging over the head of an offender.


Senator Millen - Such articles will still be imported.


Senator BEST - Of course, but not to the same extent or volume as they otherwise would.


Senator Gray - We cannot stop ships from coming in.


Senator BEST - Of course not; we only seek to get control over the goods.


Senator Mulcahy - Those collars of which the honorable senator speaks were made up in Melbourne.


Senator BEST - That is immaterial.


Senator Mulcahy - But the Bill does not affect such goods.


Senator BEST - But the Bill will affect goods which are imported. We do our duty as the Federal body, and expect the Statesto do their duty.


Senator Gray - It is very likely !


Senator BEST - The honorable senator suggests that the States will not do their duty ; but we must not forget that, at this very moment, the Victorian Parliament is enacting a complementary measure to this Bill. As tothe serviettes, two were cotton and flax, and the third was flax. In regard to woollens, it was stated by the inspectors that the articles were sold in response to demands for woollen clothing, including, amongst twenty-five samples, socks, sweaters, under-shirts, under-pants, tweeds, and flannels. The result of the analysis was that seven of the twenty-five articles consisted entirely of wool, while the other eighteen contained cotton- in amounts varying from 5 to 66 per cent., the average being 44 per cent.


Senator Mulcahy - How would it be possible to discriminate between those varying grades in -mixed goods?


Senator BEST - I am merely giving an illustration of commercial or trading conditions prevailing in our every-day life. It will be admitted that the percentages shown in connexion with these purchases are alarmingly serious.


Senator Gray - Does it not show that this is an impracticable Bill ?


Senator BEST - No; it shows that our former legislation on this subjecthas not been sufficiently drastic and that it is necessary to do something more to protect the purchaser from the avarice and greed of unscrupulous traders.


Senator Gray - Does the honorable senator mean to say that all these are unscrupuloustraders?


Senator BEST - I say that every trader who sells an article by means of a misrepresentation is an unscrupulous trader.

SenatorGray. - Knowingly.


Senator BEST - I remind the honorable senator that, so far as the purchaser is concerned, the result is the same. If I enter a shop, and ask for linen handkerchiefs, and pay the price for them, and the proprietor of the shop sells me cotton handkerchiefs, he takes my money under false pretences. The question we have to consider is whether by thisBill we make a substantial advance towards the achievement of the object to which I have referred.

There is bound to be a difference of opinion on that point; but how can any reasonable exception be taken to clause 3, which but for a few verbal alterations is taken- bodily from the British Act passed to accomplish the objects I have referred 16?


Senator Playford - With the exception of three or four words, the whole clause is taken from the British Act.


Senator BEST - I have said that it is taken almost verbatim from the British Act, and I believe it is actually a verbatim copy of a clause already passed by the Senate, and, consequently, no reasonable objection can be taken to it. That applies also to clause 4. Then there is to be a power of inspection of imports and exports, and T may have a word to say about that later on. The most serious opposition is raised with respect to the terms embodied in clause 7. I have already urged the point that whilst the British legislation and ours is directed towards the same object, it must not be taken for granted that because we prefer to adopt somewhat more drastic provisions to achieve the same object we are therefore wrong. The Senate must take the responsibility of deciding whether the means suggested in this Bill will lead to the more effectual accomplishment of the object aimed at. Regulations may prohibit the importation or introduction info Australia of anyspecified goods unless there is applied to them a trade description of such a character relating to such matters, and applied in such manner as is prescribed. I am aware that strong exception is taken to this clause, and I therefore point out that a trade description has a very definite meaning in this Bill, and, as has already been urged by Senator Pearce, it will not lae competent for the Minister to go outside of that meaning. It will not be suggested for a moment that the whole of the definition in clause 3 of a trade description must necessarily be applied to every article. The idea is that a trade description has a certain- meaning, and the Minister must ascertain which of the characteristics set forth in clause 3 is applicable to the particular article to be dealt w"ith, and he must apply them accordingly in preparing a description'" as prescribed." He has a wide range of discretion in this direction. As regards the object of this particular clause, it may be said generally that it purports to protect the purchaser from fraud, and to compel vendors of goods to sell according to the trade description of the goods. It provides that, as far as possible, it shall be insisted on that, as regards quantity, purity, measurement, and so on. goods sold shall be as represented. That is the aim and object of the clause, and I contend that it is most desirable. If any one attempts the importation of goods in contravention of the provisions of the Bill, such goods may be detained.


Senator Mulcahy - Suppose a man imports a roll of tweed ?


Senator BEST - If it is discovered that it is not as represented, it will be competent for the Comptroller to say that the tweed may be exported elsewhere, or must be branded with its true description.


Senator Millen - Branded all over?


Senator BEST - No, not branded alf over, but branded at the port before it' is put into consumption ?


Senator Mulcahy - Branded what?


Senator BEST - Branded as to its quality.


Senator Mulcahy - What is tweed?


Senator Gray - How can it be branded as to its quality ?


Senator BEST - Senator Mulcahy wi 1 know that an invoice is sent with goods, and that under the Customs Act, the Customs entry must truly describe the particular goods.


Senator Mulcahy - So it will.


Senator BEST - So far as we are concerned " at the 'gate," we insist that goods shall be in accordance with the Customs entry passed for them.


Senator Guthrie - " Wool " or "' shoddy " ?


Senator BEST - Exactly. Then when it gets into the State, as I have already pointed out, -it wilt be the subject of complementary legislation to secure internal protection. We take the precaution at the very outset to have only truly branded goods introduced into the Commonwealth. Surely nothing could be more reasonable? As to the suggestion that this is most tyrannical, provision is made that the goods may be branded, while- here, in accordance with a prescribed description, or may be exported elsewhere, so that' the importer need not suffer unduly. So far as imports are concerned, it is provided that they shall not bear a false trade description. Could anything be move fair or reasonable? Could anything be more fair than to provide that the trade description affixed to goods shall not be calculated to mislead in a material respect as regards the goods to which it is applied, and that every alteration of a trade description, whether by way of addition, effacement, or otherwise, which makes the description false or likely to mislead in a material respect, shall be prevented so far as it is possible to prevent it? These, in my opinion, are desirable objects. In connexion with exports, the same provisions apply. By clause 11, it is proposed, so far as we can do so, to protect the reputation of our products. In this connexion I need give but one example. Our exports last year of eucalyptus oil amounted in value to something like £18,000, or double the value of the export for the previous year. The oil has become very popular in the English market, but it has latterly been found that since it became so popular inferior, stuff is being placed on the market, with the result that the standard of our export has been alarmingly depreciated, and, what is worse, by reason of that depreciation, we cannot hope for any considerable increase in the export of this product. What might be urged in connexion with this example could be repeated in regard to butter, cheese, poultry, and food-stuffs generally. As regards exports we enact a similar provision prohibiting the application of false trade descrip-tions. It may be said that we shall fail to achieve the great things we are attempting to accomplish by this Bill, but that should not discourage us from making the attempt. It is only by experience in this direction that we can hope to learn the defects of our system which require to be remedied. It may be taken for granted that if we made no attempt in this direction we should never acquire the experience necessary to enable us to remedy the evils to which I have referred. Great exception is taken to clause 14, which provides that -

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

It has been said that this clause is unjust and tyrannical, but I pointed out that nothing novel is proposed. It is well known that all goods in the form of carcasses of cattle and hogs, and portions of those animals, which are introduced -into Great Britain from the United States are most carefully branded by the United States Department of Agriculture, which is one of the most useful institutions of that country. In this connexion I may say that a report was made in 1901 by a commercial agent, Mr. Sinclair, who represented Victoria in London.


Senator Styles - A good man.


Senator BEST - A very good man indeed. In the interests of Victoria he visited America, with a view to ascertain the means adopted by the Agricultural Department there in dealing with meat inspection. He furnished a report on this subject, and I will trouble the Senate with a few extracts from it. If honorable senators desire to peruse the report it will be at their disposal. Mr. Sinclair says -

A conversation with Dr. Salmon on the work of meat and live slock inspection by his division soon revealed its great extent, thoroughness, and value to the United States. He told me that their trade in animal products and live stock could never have been built up on the sound commercial basis on which it now stands, or have made such progress, had it not been for the existence of their State system of inspection, which being thorough in character, gave absolute confidence to foreign buyers and consumers.


Senator Gray - Have not buyers confidence in Australian meat?


Senator BEST - They would have greater confidence if it were branded, as the experience of the United States has shown. Mr. Sinclair further says -

An Act of Congress, approved 30th August, 1890, provided for the inspection of meat for exportation, but this was supplemented on 31st March, 1891, by an Act " For the inspection of live cattle, hogs, and the carcases and products thereof, which are the subject of inter-State commerce, and for other purposes."

Mr. Sinclairvisited the vast establishment of Mr. Armour in Chicago, and later on in his report, he says -

So that I should have better evidence of the results of this inspection, the Doctor took me into the " condemned chamber," which was adjoining the large one in which they were then at work. . . . There were thirty-two carcases of cattle, each bearing the yellow condemnation tag, the majority being animals affected with tuberculosis, some to a slight extent, others very bad indeed. One animal was condemned for emaciation. The wisdom of the inspection as a safeguard to the consumer was apparent at a glance, and the possibility of any of these animals being sent out for food, or canned for that purpose would contribute towards destroying any oversea trade being largely developed.

This is particularly interesting, as it gives hopes that in Queensland and New South Wales in particular - as well as. perhaps, in Victoria - there is a possibility of a large trade ultimately being done in live and dead cattle.


Senator Gray - In live cattle? It has been tried, and has failed.


Senator BEST - To some extent in live cattle, but particularly in dead cattle. Later on he says -

With a desire of obtaining an expression of opinion from Armour and Company's superintendent as to the action of the States Government in carrying out this system of meat inspection in their establishment, I asked him how they like this procedure, and the presence of so many officials in their killing and packing houses. His reply was that they could not but regard it with favour, as it enabled them to furnish a Government guarantee as to the sound condition of their meat and meat products exported to foreign countries ; further, that they took care to advertise the fact.....

This system of inspection of meat, which I saw in operation in Chicago, is carried on throughout the United States, the Federal Government dealing with the whole question as a matter affecting the interests of the whole nation. Had it been left to the various individual States to deal with, it could not possibly have been made so thorough and effective, and would have lacked uniformity, and in consequence would have failed in benefiting in such a marked degree their foreign export trade in meat products.

Further oni he says -

In regard 'to the exportation of meat and meat products from Austrafia, now one of the Commonwealth chief sources of wealth, and a trade in the further development of which many thousands of its pastoralists and farmers have to depend so much upon, considering that the United 'States is one of our great rivals in supplying the requirements of Great Britain and foreign countries, and can furnish such a perfect State guarantee of the quality and conditions of its products, I think its action in reference to system of federal meat inspection should be adopted by the Commonwealth of Australia.

There is recorded the opinion of a man who has given close attention to our export trade, and, indeed, to the encouragement of the various industries of the State of Victoria. I refer especially to food exports. This is the result of his examination of the United States system.


Senator Gray - Has the honorable and learned senator any proof that the meat imported from the United States is any better than that imported from Australia?


Senator BEST - Undoubtedly. First of all there is the testimony of Mr. Sinclair, and there is also the fact that the American exporters take care to advertise that their meat has been inspected. In Smithfield, Liverpool, Manchester, Glasgow, and all the leading meat markets of Great Britain that fact is advertised, and is a source of the greatest confidence to the consumers. Violent objection has been taken to this grading system. But honorable senators have ignored the fact that the system has been adopted in several of the States at the instance of the producers themselves, and for their protection. It would be idle for me to attempt to deal at length with this matter, but I would draw attention to one or two facts . The branding of rabbits for export . has been a splendid success in Victoria.. Rabbits are packed in crates, and affixed to every crate is the Government stamp, "Approver! for export." They are graded into the classes, "large," "young," "small," "size 1," "size 2," "size 3." The rejects are picked out and put together, as well as those which are unwholesome.


Senator Walker - How do they stamp the crates?


Senator BEST - It would not interest honorable senators if I were to read a report on the subject, but I will hand a copy of it to' my honorable friend. The report which I have here is by Mr. R. Crowe, on "The Grading of Rabbits for Export"; and if Senator Walker wall look over it, he will see exactly the process that is followed.


Senator Gray - There is no grading of rabbits as to quality ; they are simply graded according to size, and as to whether they are sound and healthy.


Senator BEST - Suppose that what the honorable senator says is true ; and I do no doubt it, still, there is a process of inspection, for the benefit of the producer, and for the protection of the consumer. The principle which is embodied in this Bill is the recognised principle of inspection and grading. But what is more interesting, is what has been done in regard to other products. Let . me refer particularly to the grading of butter. Some time ago an expert was sent from Victoria to New Zealand to see if any of the processes followed there were different from our own. He furnished a report on the subject. He states that though he met hundreds of buyers, agents, and producers, he found only three who objected to the grading system, and one of them qualified his objection. But the general public opinion was favorable. He says -

Although a great number of dairymen, butter factory managers, secretaries, and directors were either much averse to the innovation at first, or looked upon it with a good deal of misgiving and doubt, now there is not one to be found who does not admit the pronounced success of the grading system.

Agents and buyers say, "Why, we simply Base all our bargains on it; we could not do without grading now. It acts on the managers just the same as giving marks to boys at school." Dairymen state, " We would be nowhere but for our grading system." " The best thing that ever happened for our dairy industry." Managers usually answer, " I know that if any one else is higher, I never rest till I get up to him." "My word, it keeps us up to the tick all right." Directors say, " The grading system is acknowledged by banksand buyers in London, and advances are made, according to grade, on bills of lading with grade certificates attached." " The great advantage we find is in selling; it prevents disputes, and there is never any question as to the quality or standard, the Government graders' verdict and stamp being final and binding." " If the grading system were dropped to-morrow, the quality would drop also."

Experts assert, "They all like it now; it used not to be so ; people were frightened at first, but they quickly recognised the advantages once it got started."

The Produce Exchange in England has recently embodied in its rules that the Government grade certificate shall be accepted by them as final in regard to quality ; and another that Government certificates of weights shall be binding. Such an acknowledgment, coming as it does from perhaps the most conservative element of the trade, should be convincing.

I will read a few lines from the report upon the grading system in Victoria. I am quoting from page 915 of Vol. II., part 9, of the. Victorian Journal of Agriculture - At the commencement of the season some of the butter factories requested the Department to grade and stamp their export butter as either "approved for export,1st grade," or "approved for export, 2nd grade," and so on. As some exporters appeared unaware that the Department would undertake to grade in the absence of legislation a circular was sent to all shippers informing them that it would be done whenever it was desired. Twenty-two factories applied to have their consignments graded and stamped prior to shipment. This was done, and certificates sent to the companies weekly showing the result, many factories expressing themselves as highly pleased with the value of these detailed reports, and all requesting that the grading should be continued.


Senator Keating - This season sixtyseven factories applied to have their butter graded in Victoria, as against twentyseven last year.


Senator BEST - I am thankful to the honorable senator for the information. This system of grading, which has been objected to so violently, has been proved by experts to have produced magnificent results in the interests of both producers and consumers. Surely it may be relied upon to be of the same advantage in regard to other producing interests.


Senator Dobson - In Victoria, it is only the first grade that is marked.


Senator BEST - It does not matter whether it is the first or second grade. I am contending for a principle. It will be for the Minister to frame regulations to accommodate the circumstances of the trade. Senator Pulsford and others declared in very strong terms that certain of the provisions of this Bill were most tyrannical, and that no Minister ought to be intrusted with the administration of them. Reference 'has been made to clause 5 of the Bill, which provides that it will be competent to make an inspection of imports and exports ; and sub-clause 3 says that for the purposes of the section, the officer may enter any ship, wharf, or place, and open anypackages to enable him to carry out his powers and duties. We are enacting nothing new in this connexion. The provision is simply a repetition of a principle which we have already adopted. Let me draw attention to section 186 of the Customs Act, which provides that - any officer may open packages and examine weigh mark and seal any goods, subject to the control of the Customs, and the expense of the examination, including the cost of removal to the place of examination,shall be borne by the owner.

Therefore, the provision of this Bill, which is objected to, is not novel in any sense. The same power is contained in the Customs Act.


Senator Dobson - In connexion with protecting the revenue - quite a different thing.


Senator BEST - It is immaterial whether it is for the purpose of protecting the revenue or of protecting the purchaser. There is the fact that this alleged tyrannical power is one which is embodied in every Customs Act throughout the British dominions.


Senator Dobson - Yes, after they have got through the gate. The honorable and learned senator wants to stop them from coming through the gate.


Senator BEST - We wish to make quite sure that only honestly-branded goods shall pass through the gate.


Senator Dobson - The importers cannot be stopped from dishonestly branding them afterwards and sending "them to other States.


Senator BEST - Honorable senators complain that the Bill empowers the GovernorGeneral in Council to make regulations for all sorts of purposes; but it has already been pointed' out that the regulations must come strictly within the four cor- tiers of the Bill. We are only re-enacting a principle which is contained in the Customs Act.


Senator Gray - Why should it be reenacted then?


Senator BEST - For the purposes of the Bill, the draftsman has deemed it necessary that the principle should be re-enacted, and no doubt he is right. Section 52 of the Customs Act says: -

The following are prohibited imports : -

(g)   All goods the importation of which may be prohibited by proclamation.


Senator Millen - Read paragraphh.


Senator BEST

(h)   All goods having thereon or therewith any false suggestion of any warranty guarantee or concern in the production or quality thereof by any persons, public officials, government, or country.

The same object as we have in view in this Bill.


Senator Millen - It isnot the same legislation.


Senator BEST - It is not exactly the same legislation. The principle is embodied in the Customs Act, and is simplybeing effectively carried out in this Bill.


Senator Keating - In the Customs Act we only prohibit imports, but in this Bill we penalize those who endeavour to bring in prohibited imports.


Senator BEST - That is the distinction. Section 56 says: -

The power of prohibiting importation of goods shall authorize prohibition subject to any specified condition or restriction, and goods imported contrary to any such condition or restriction shall be prohibited imports.

In the face of those provisions involving, precisely the same principle, is it a reasonable criticism of this measure to say that it is tyrannical and dangerous in the extreme? I think not. I had not the pleasure of' being present when the report of the interview with Mr. Wade by a Sydney newspaper was read; but I took an opportunity to glance down the report, and I trunkthatMr. Wade would be very sorry to stake his reputation as a lawyer on the light and airy opinions which he then expressed.


Senator Keating - He shifted his ground in the interview from that which he took up in his first letter to the newspapers.


Senator BEST - I should think he would. I could not help being amused when I learned that he invited the Sydney public to realize what was going on in far- off Melbourne. Amongst other things, he charged this Parliament with infringing State rights. He said that we were prescribing how goods should be made, that that was essentially the duty of the States, and that we had no right to interfere. There is only one answer to his allegation, and that is that we are not attempting to infringe States rights in any possible form. What we say is that the transportation of imports and exports shall be done in a particular way, and subject to certain conditions and restrictions. We are not attempting to prescribe how the goods shall be manufactured. Then Mr. Wade said that the duty of the State is to protect the safety, the health, and the morals of the people. Am I to understand from this remark that he is jealous of the Federal Parliament attempting to legislate, so far as its jurisdiction extends ? He knows as well as we do that the Federal Parliament has not the power to go beyond a certain point. All we can do is to legislate to the extent of our jurisdiction, because, if we were to exceed our powers our legislation on appeal would at once be declared ultra vires by the High Court. We propose to protect the people, so far as our Federal power will permit us, and we expect the States to pass the complementary legislation. We are acting in this way because we are anxious to secure uniform legislation throughout Australia. The misfortune is that in one State there is one class of legislation concerning the component parts of certain products and manufactured articles, and that in other States there is either no legislation on the subject or different legislation. We are proposing to lay down certain restrictions in regard to the importation and exportation of manufactured articles,and thus protect the safety, the health, and the morals of the people to the utmost of our power. We desire to protect the honest trader, the innocent consumer, and, what is more, to build up the highest possible standard for our industries, for by that means alone can we hope to succeed.

Senator MILLEN(New South Wales).With all due deference to you, sir, I feel disposed to express the opinion that it is time we discussed the Commerce Bill. I have listened to the discussion for two nights, and I have heard a great deal about some very nicely sounding principles, to all of which I subscribe. But every honorable senator, who has spoken in support of the measure, seemed to me to purposely abstain from addressing his arguments to its crucial points.


Senator Guthrie - The honorable senator asked them, often enough, to deal with clause 7.







Suggest corrections