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Thursday, 9 November 1905


Senator MILLEN - I shall come to the point now, as honorable senators ( seem to wish me to do, because it does not make very much difference to me whether I quote the English Act now or later on. We have been told that the Bill is founded on the English Act.


Senator Best - I said that most of its provisions are.


Senator MILLEN - In the first place, the Bill contains the principle of absolute compulsion, but in the English Act there is not a word about compulsion. The very title of the Act is -

An Act to consolidate and amend the law relating to fraudulent marks on merchandise.

It imposes no obligation upon a man to mark his goods.


Senator Keating - What has been the interpretation of the Act by judicial decision. ?


Senator MILLEN - The Minister had better obtain the judicial decision, because I cannot tell him what it is.


Senator Keating - If the honorable senator intends to discuss the effect of the Act, he must not only take the Act as it was drawn in 1862. but the judicial decisions given thereunder.


Senator MILLEN - The Minister can deny what I am going to state if he dares to do so.


Senator Keating - I cannot, because I do not know what the honorable senator is going to say ; but there is more in that Act than appears on its face.


Senator MILLEN - Of course there is. When a lawyer gets hold of an Act he will soon find more than appears on its face. If there is not a 'brief on its face he will soon get one. What I said was that there was not a word of compulsion in the English Act.


Senator Best - -Nobody said there was.


Senator MILLEN - Honorable senators come here and ask " What is there extraordinary in this Bill when it is founded on the English Act?" The sole effect- -I shall not say the sole purpose - of a statement of that kind is to instil into the minds of other honorable senators the fact that the Bill corresponds with the English Act. It does nothing of the kind.


Senator Best - Most distinctly it does as regards most of its provisions.


Senator MILLEN - If Senator Best will repeat the assertion that the Bill corresponds in principle with the English Act, I can only say that I am absolutely amazed.


Senator Best - I never said so. What I said was that, as regards most of its provisions, it is founded on the English Act.


Senator MILLEN - What was the purpose of the honorable and learned senator in referring to the Act?


Senator Mulcahy - He said it was based on the English Act.


Senator MILLEN - The sole purpose of that observation was to convey the idea that in principle it corresponds with the English Act, and that, as that Act had been worked, there could not be anything very extraordinary in this Bill. We had a statement by Senator Best that, with the exception of one or two words, the interpretation clause corresponds with that in the English Act, and in lids genial way Senator Playford went a little -'further, and I think made am interjection which, at any rate, confirmed that statement.


Senator Best - What I said was that the Act was amended where it had been found to be defective.


Senator Playford - In England, it is necessary to turn to more than one Act.


Senator MILLEN - I am aware of that fact; but I ask Senator Best or Senator Playford to tell me in what English Act he will find a provision corresponding with paragraph' c of clause 3 of this Bill ?


Senator Playford - It is to be found word for word in one of the Acts.


Senator MILLEN - Will the Minister quote me the Act?


Senator Playford - I cannot quote the Act; I am informed by my secretary that the provision corresponds word for word with a provision in an English Act,and I believe his statement to be true.


Senator MILLEN - While the Minister is consulting his secretaryon the point, I wish to impress upon honorable senatorsthat the purpose of the English Act was merely to leave it optional with the owner of the goods to brand them or not. It says to a man : " If you put on your goods a mark indicative of quality, contents, size, or weight it shall be a truthful one, but we do not compel you to do so, much less do we give any Minister the right to say what description you shall put on your goods." We have heard generally that this Bill is going to stop fraud, to protect the consumer and the honest trader, and to help the. trade of Australia.


Senator Best - That is the object of the Bill.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable and learned senator now says " that is the object of the Bill." All I can say is that, if that is so, it is a monumental failure. I wish to traverse the several arguments, and see whether or not the clauses to which I object - I am not objecting to the entire Bill - have anything to do with the reasons which honorable senators put forward for supporting the second reading. I want to stop fraud, to protect the honest trader, to help the trade of Australia, but I wish to see how far the provisions of the Bill are necessary or useful for this purpose, and how far they go beyond it. If that be their desire, what do honorable senators want more than clauses 5, 9, and 13 ? Of course, I do not mean the clauses complementary to them. Clause 5 gives the power of inspection. Clause 9 says -

No person shall import any goods to which a false trade description is applied.

Clause 13 says -

All goods to which any false trade description is applied are hereby prohibited to be exported.

If it is merely honest trading which honorable senators wish to secure, those three provisions say that any goods coming in or going out shall be honestly described. If the Bill commenced there and ended there it would give honorable senators what they say they want - protection against fraud, and I would support it. I am prepared to support those provisions now, but it is clear that that does not satisfy honorable senators. They want something more, and I want to see what underlies the support given to these additional and extraordinary provisions in the Bill. That brings me to clause 7. I have already pointed out that in other clauses there is ample provision to see that all goods are correctly described. What further protection do honorable senators want who say that they wish to stop fraud, to protect the honest trader and the importer, and to help the trade of Australia. What more can be wanted than that goods imported or exported shall be honestly described. Those clauses embody the principle of which we have heard so much, and which nobody desires to dispute; but not one of the honorable senators who have advocated those sound and high principles of commercial morality have attempted to justify clause 7, which contains a provision very different from those with which I have just said I agree. Clause7 is not a mere request that a man shall correctly describe his goods - it is something far more. If honest description is all that is wanted, I call on honorable senators to help me to strike out clause 7. What clause 7 provides for is a description which need not necessarily be a true one, but which may, on the other hand, be absolutely false.


Senator Playford - No.


Senator MILLEN - Then it may be a description that is absolutely incorrect, though it is one which the Minister has to approve, and which he may by regulation ordain. I ask the honorable senator if that clause is necessary for the protection of the honest trader or of the consumer? Surely it is sufficient to say that when goods are exported or imported they shall be honestly branded, without providing that the Minister may issue a mandate as to the particular description which the goods shall carry.


Senator Playford - The object is to have a standard, so that goods of the same quality may bear the same marks.


Senator MILLEN - These latter-day assurances that the Bill is intended for grading reminds me of the simplicity and ease with which in the early days the measure was understood by the members of the Cabinet, as shown by the fact that three different Ministers made three different statements on this very point. The VicePresident of the Executive Council then said that no sane man could call this a grading measure. I do not know whether the Vice-President of the Executive Council desired to reflect on the sanity of


Senator Playford - I am sure I do not - but it is quite evident that the criticisms which greeted the first appearance of the measure were justified by the fact that the Ministers themselves did not understand the extent of the powers they were seeking. I have already pointed out that the English Act is optional in its operation. Senator Best, in reply to a question interjected by me as to whether he could point to any parallel provision elsewhere, referred me to the English Act, and then went on to speak of Victorian grading. So far as i have been able to ascertain, there is no parallel to clause . 7 to be found anywhere in English legislation. There is no section in the English Act which gives the Minister power to decree the full particulars which are to be supplied on a multiplicity of points, and shown on every package of goods which is imported or exported. A statement was made last evening that under this extraordinary power it would be possible for the Minister to require particulars equivalent to a union label. Senator Pearce instantly denied the statement, but I ask his attention now while I refer him to the interpretation clause. Clause 7 is as follows: -

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 a character, relating to such matters, and applied in such manner, as is prescribed.

To ascertain the meaning of " trade description " I have to turn to the interpretation clause, where I find that amongst other things, according to paragraph c, it means particulars - as to the manufacturer or producer of the goods, or the person by whom they were selected, or in any way prepared for the market.

Under that interpretation, in conjunction with clause 7, it would be possible for the Minister to demand particulars of the widest possible character. He might demand to know whether the manufacturer employed union labour, or whether the packer was a member of a union.


Senator Playford - No.


Senator MILLEN - Can the Minister deny that the Minister is empowered by these clauses to ask for particulars as to the manufacturer? There is no limit to the particulars whichmay be asked. The Minister may go so far as to ask whether the manufacturer is married or single.


Senator Pearce - The Minister is just as likely to ask for that particular as for the other particulars suggested.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator may have a more modest opinion than I have of the power that may be exercised by his party under certain circumstances.


Senator Playford - The English Act asks for particulars as to the mode of manufacture or production of the goods.


Senator MILLEN - That is the section of the English Act which the Minister saysisword for word with the clause in the Bill. But in the Bill " mode of production" becomes "manufacturer," and " production" becomes "producer." The Bill asks for particulars about the persons, which is a very different matter from asking for particulars about the mode of production.


Senator Keating - The Bill uses practically the same words as the English Act. in sub-clause d of the interpretation clause, which provides for particulars - as to the mode of manufacturing, producing, selecting, packing, or otherwise preparing the goods.


Senator MILLEN - Any one with the most rudimentary knowledge of language must see the wide distinction between the English section, and the clause of the Bill ; and I have a right to ask why the difference has been made. Surely it is not accidental. If there is any intention at all, it is to give the Bill a wider scope, and confer a power which is not conferred in England, and which the Minister is not "game " tosay he seeks to obtain. If the Minister, who is responsible for this Bill - I do not mean merely in this Chamber - does not want the power which this clause confers, why not accept the words of the English Act? I say that there was an object when' it wasdecided to ask for particulars as to persons.


Senator Keating - Hear. hear.


Senator MILLEN - And the object is clear enough.


Senator Keating - The provision is the result of the eighteen years' experience in England since the passing of the Act.


Senator MILLEN - It is the result of the Minister's eighteen weeks' experience of office.


Senator Keating - There is a Bill containing similar provisions before the English Legislature.


Senator MILLEN - In the face of thismarked difference between the Act and the Bill, we were assured that there had been only one or two slight departures from the wording of the English section. Will anybody but a Minister say that the alteration is slight? The sole purpose of the clause is clear to my mind ; it is that the Government, if they desire, shall have the power to insist on a stamp showing whether or not goods are the product of union labour.


Senator Story - A very useful provision!


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator is honest. Why is the Bill not equally honest ? I am not now discussing whether or not it is desirable that goods shall bear a stamp indicating the class of labour by which they are produced : but when we are asked to sanction a Bill, we ought to know what we are doing. If the intention is what I have indicated, it ought to be clearly shown in the clause, and not presented in a form apparently harmless, but conferring a most pernicious power. There is another matter in connexion with the interpretation clause, and clause 7, to which I desire to call attention. It is claimed that under the Bill the Minister will have power to determine the sizes of the cases to be used forthe carriage of fruit. I am not allowed by the rules of the Senate to refer to the debates in another place, but as the authority for my statement I refer honorable senators to page 2424 of Hansard, where they will see that claim made by the Minister responsible for the Bill. Are honorable senators prepared to go that length? Surely it is reasonable to leave the grower of particular classes of fruit at liberty to use the kind of cases which he deems most suitable tohis business. But the Minister claims a power which would enable him to compel a producerto order fresh cases. I am so clear on this point that I remember one remark made by the Minister in another place on this very subject, when he said that if importers or exporters declined to use cases of the regulation size they could be "dealt with."


Senator Playford - I understand the desire to he to prevent the use of fraudulent cases.


Senator MILLEN - What has such a claim as I have described to do with the protection of the honest trader, helping the trade of Australia, or all those fine objects we have heard so much about? Honorable senators will understand that I am entirely with them in the lofty principles they have enunciated ; but I object to a Bill which places in the hands of the Minister a power so great and injurious.


Senator Stewart - Who fixes the size of the cases now?


Senator MILLEN - I should imagine those in the trade.


Senator Givens - It is necessary for the purpose of freight charges to have a uniform size.


Senator MILLEN - A uniform size is all right, but I think that the fruit-growers might be left to decide the size of case best suited to their requirements.


Senator Givens - A few fruit-growers might upset the arrangements of all the others.


Senator MILLEN - A few could not do that.


Senator Mulcahy - The fruit-growers voluntarily adopted a differently-shaped case in Tasmania recently.


Senator Keating - The size of the case has been fixed by Statute in Tasmania.


Senator Mulcahy - That was done afterwards.


Senator MILLEN - When it is proposed to confer these enormous, and yet vague, powers on the Minister, it is not unreasonable to ask from the Government a statement as to what they propose to do under the Bill, and how they propose to do it. At present they simply ask us to pass the Bill and to trust to them to administer if. To what extent do the Government propose to exercisethe powers they seek? In spite of the statement of the Vice-President of the Executive Council, there is no doubt this Bill does provide for grading, but I want to know to what extent the Government propose to grade. Is it proposed to set up departments throughout Australia in order that there may be grading at every port? And what articles is it proposed to grade? As pointed out by Senator Pulsford yesterday, although 'there appears to be a limitation in clause 15 as to the articles which come within the scope of clauses 7 and 11, that limitation is nominal rather han real. Before I agree to legislation of this kind I wish to know to what extent the Government propose to exercise their powers. Do they propose to have a perfect army of expert graders inevery particular line at every port in Australia?


Senator Playford - No.


Senator MILLEN - If the Government do not propose to carry out the Act in that whole-hearted way, what limits are they going to place upon themselves in its administration? What do they propose to do? The Minister is silent; and obviously so.


Senator Playford - Because it would take me too long to reply.


Senator MILLEN - Senator Playfordhas not gained his parliamentary experience without knowing that an certain circumstances "silence is golden." I commend him foi it, but whilst it may be wisdom on the part of the Minister to keep silent it is not the duty of the Senate to assent to legislation conferring drastic powers without some idea of the extent to which they are to be exercised ? Are we to have a numerous army of experts at every port for the purpose of grading every article which can be brought within clauses 7 and 11? The Minister shakes his head; and I therefore ask which articles are to be left out and which are to be dealt with ? Is it to be one article to-day and another to-morrow? Is the selection to be determined by Ministerial caprice? Is it to be because some Mr. H. V. McKay, in a particular industry, comes along and lobbies the Minister ? These are questions which occur to my mind, and which I think should be answered. Without some definite statement as to the lines on which, in this respect, the Bill is to be administered, we should never be asked to consent to pass clauses 7 and 11.


Senator Higgs - It might be spirit importers who would lobby somebody.


Senator MILLEN - Exactly ; but I wish to know the lines on which the Bill is to be administered. What I object to, and what 1 fear, is that when any particular individual, or combination of individuals, find some trade rival interfering with their business they may bring a little pressure to bear upon the. Minister - and how successfully that can be done we have had recent instances to show - with the result that whilst to-day an article may not be graded, the Minister may see fit to grade it tomorrow, and for all I know not to grade it the day after.


Senator Playford - If the men seeking the Minister are in the same business their goods will be graded also.


Senator MILLEN - Is there no difference between the local manufacturer and the importer? The goods of the local manufacturer are not graded.


Senator Playford - We cannot grade the goods of the importer.


Senator MILLEN - It is the importer I am speaking ot.


Senator Playford - We can grade exports, not imports.


Senator MILLEN - I point out that the Minister can exercise his powers under clauses 7 and 11 in such a way as to affect imports as well as exports. He can prescribe a trade description which will have the effect of restraining imports. If we are to have limited grading we should be given some idea as to the extent of the limitation within which the powers conferred by this Bill are to be exercised, and as to the lines on which it is to be administered. This is one of the particulars wherein this Bill differs from any of the legislation to which reference has been made. If we consider the Tasmanian Act, to which Senator Mulcahy has referred, the Victorian Grading Act, or the New Zealand Act, we shall find that they are definite as to their purpose. They do not simply provide that !the Minister may grade under regulation anything and everything he pleases. They . definitely set out the articles to be dealt with, and the way in which they are to be dealt with.


Senator Dobson - The South Australian Act is absolutely voluntary.


Senator MILLEN - So is the Victorian Act.


Senator Playford - There happens to be no Act dealing with the subject in South Australia.


Senator Dobson - I refer to the system adopted in that State.


Senator MILLEN - The Victorian Act is entirely voluntary.


Senator Playford - So far as grading is concerned, that is so.


Senator MILLEN - And it is a fact that Senator Best carefully lost sight of.


Senator Playford - I do not suppose we should make it compulsory in very many cases.


Senator MILLEN - Here is another admission. The Minister says : " I do not suppose we should make it compulsory."


Senator Playford - No; what I said was that I did not suppose we should make it compulsory in verv many cases. There is no necessity to duplicate work, and we could accept the grading of a State.


Senator MILLEN - Does not this make it abundantly clear that the Senate should be informed of the intentions of the Government in this matter? I cannot claim a long parliamentary experience, but in the ten years during which I have had the honour of a seat in Parliament somewhere, I can remember no instance in which a Bill was ever passed through a Legislative Assembly with such scanty information as to what is to be done.


Senator Pulsford - By regulation.


Senator MILLEN - I have known a great deal of power to be asked for under regulations, but always with some guide and information as to the purposes for which regulations are to be used. We have absolutely no guide here, and the Minister declines to give any information. All we know is that the Bill gives the Minister the right to exercise powers of inspection and grading over an enormous number of articles, involving the greater portion of the commerce inwards and outwards of the Commonwealth. The Minister has admitted that the Government are not likely to make grading compulsory in very many cases. Where do we stand? Is there going to be favoritism?


Senator Playford - I told the honorable senator, in moving the second reading of the Bill, as he will find if he takes the trouble to read my speech.


Senator MILLEN - I have troubled to read it, and it did not take me long. I also listened to the speech, and the idea in my mind when the honorable senator resumed his seat was that it was a case of " least said, soonest mended.?' I never remember a Bill which has excited so much public attention throughout Australia, and which has given rise .to fierce controversy elsewhere, introduced and thrown on the table of a legislative chamber with such a scanty introduction as this one received at the hands of Senator Playford.


Senator Gray - The only matter the honorable senator referred to was apples.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator drew an interesting picture of the little apples of Tasmania grading themselves, and I do not know that he told us verv much more on the subject. In view of the indefini'teness of clauses 7 and 11, and the Ministerial attitude, it is instructive to remember the history of those clauses. When the Bill was first introduced, it was intended that those two clauses should cover everything under the sun.


Senator Playford - That was in the original Bill which we found in the pigeonhole.


Senator MILLEN - I have been waiting for that explanation all the evening. We have here another of those statements which can be made only with the one object of conveying to the minds of honorable senators something , other than the facts. We know that last' evening Senator Playford dramatically waved the Bill about! and suggested that it came to the present Government from their predecessors. What are the facts of the case? It has been stated by Mr. Allan McLean, the mention of whose name will carry weight with it, that the Bill found in the office which he vacated had been prepared by officers of the Department, but had never been revised by him as an individual Minister, much less submitted to the Cabinet. Who prepared the Bill ? Was it not the very same officers who are advising the present Government ? Is there anything very extraordinary in the fact that, having the same advisers, the present Government take up the same pernicious measure ?


Senator Playford - We do not.


Senator MILLEN - I am not saying that the Bill would be better or worse on that account; but it is utterly wrong for Ministers to attempt to convey to the minds of honorable senators that this measure has had the sanction of the previous Government, when the members of the previous Government have stated time and again that it never had the sanction even of the Minister who had charge of it.


Senator Playford - I did not say it had their sanction ; I said it was found in the pigeon-hole.


Senator MILLEN - Last evening the honorable senator waved the Bill about like some flag of a forlorn hope, and said, " This is the Bill- of the previous Government - of our predecessors."


Senator Pulsford - The honorable senator only applied a false description to it.


Senator MILLEN - I think that the honorable senator should be brought under clause 7 of this Bill.


Senator Playford - We found it in the pigeon-hole. I do not know how it came to be drafted, unless it was at the instigation of previous Ministers.


Senator MILLEN - I propose to trace the history of clauses 7 and n. The Bill as originally brought forward by the previous Government provided that clauses 71 and 11 should cover everything - that is. to say, that the Minister should have power to declare what description should be placed upon imports and exports of every kind.


Senator Playford - That was in the original Bill.


Senator MILLEN - In the Bill as originally introduced by the present Government?


Senator Playford - In the Bill which we found in the pigeon-hole.


Senator MILLEN - I am beginning to understand the reason for the loose character of the legislationintroduced by the present Government. It is evidently not the product of Ministerial wisdom, but something which Ministers have found in the departmental pigeon-holes. The source of their inspiration has been the pigeon-holes of the Departments. However, I am inclined to think that the Bills which they take out of the pigeon-holes of the Departments may be very much better than anything which they could be expected to hatch out of their own inner consciousness. I make a third effort to trace the history of these pernicious clauses 7 and 11. I have stated that, as the Bill was originally introduced by the present Government, clauses 7 and11 applied to everything. A little later, when those largely concerned in the matter, the representatives of trade and commerce, interviewed Sir William Lyne, that honorable gentleman promised to limit their application to foods,, medicines, and manures. That largely disarmed the criticisms directed against the Bill, and tended to allay the alarm which its appearance had excited. When it got on its legislative way again the Minister in charge of it agreed to include apparel, but said that that was not to include piecegoods.A little later it was made to include piece-goods and material generally. It is evident, from the various changes which have come over these clauses, that even those who drafted the Bill have hardly understood its scope. All through the course of the Bill there has been evident a measure of doubt, even in the minds of its sponsors, as to how far the Bill will go. In view of that doubt, there is an obligation cast on the Senate to ascertain to what extent the Government propose to exercise the powers conferred by clauses 7 and 11. I come now to deal with the contention - I cannotcall it an argument - of which we have heard a great deal, to the effect that this Bill is necessary to protect the consumer. I am glad that Senator Best is present, because he had a great deal to say upon this subject. We all desire to protect the consumer, but when

I put the question to those who have raised this cry as to how this Bill is going to do it, no one so far has given a satisfactory answer. I take Senator Best upon the very goods he mentioned, and the particulars of which he furnished to the Senate. The honorable and learned senator related the history of the purchase of certain articles supposed to contain linen, and found upon analysis to contain less costly materials. I ask the honorable senator now how this Bill is going to stop the importation and sale of those goods ?


Senator Best - I explained that it would diminish it.


Senator Playford - We do not desire to stop their importation or sale, but we do desire that they shall be properly described.


Senator MILLEN - Senator Playfordhas given Senator Best his answer. The honorable senator says that it is not desired to stop the importation and sale of these articles. That is lucky for the honorable senator, because by this Bill it could not be done. Unlessa trade description is applied to every particular article - a manifest absurdity - there can be no protection for the consumer under this Bill. The articles which Senator Best mentioned would be imported in bulk, and the only trade description required would be affixed to the outer package.


Senator Best - Every collar might be branded "linen," "cotton," or "union," as the case might be. As a matter of fact, in many cases they are so branded.


Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator now shifts his ground. While he was speaking I asked him whether he proposed that every article should be branded. He replied, " No," and not without some scorn. Are we to have every table-napkin - one of the articles referred to by Senator Best - branded with the full trade description which the Minister by regulation may prescribe? It might cover the whole article, and possibly children at table might learn their alphabet from it. What protection will the consumer get in this case? The man who sells these articles in Melbourne is not taken in with what he buys. He is the importer. He imports these goods from abroad in bulk, with a correct trade description attached, and then breaks up the bulk and sells the articles in detail, under any description he pleases, to persons like Senator Best.


Senator Givens - What about the case which I quoted last night, of the company that imported condensed milk, and was fined for selling it?


Senator MILLEN - Would this Bill help the honorable senator in reference to such a case as that? It would not prohibit the milk from being brought into the country. The honorable senator himself said that it was good, wholesome stuff when used in a certain way, though not when used for infant food. There is nothing whatever in this Bill to interfere with the importation of such an article.


Senator Givens - It was not milk, and therefore was not food of the quality demanded.


Senator MILLEN - It does not matter whether it was milk or not. There is nothing in this Bill to prevent its importation.


Senator Givens - It should be properly described.


Senator MILLEN - So it could be. If there is to be milk of that kind imported and sold at a lower rate than a higher class article, that stuff will find purchasers as long as the State laws allow it to be sold ; and nothing in this Bill is going to stop it. I will take a few of the articles which have been referred to in the course of the debate, as to which the consumer ought, it is said, to be protected. Take, first, the case of adulterated leather. It has been said that a great deal of shoddy leather has been imported into Australia, and that a great deal has been exported. Both statements are correct. Recently samples of very wretched stuff which had been imported into Australia have been exhibited in the precincts of Parliament House. It was nothing better than brown paper. But there is nothing in this Bill to prevent its importation, and nothing to prevent its being made up into boots which could be sold to_ the public as leather boots. All that it would be necessary for the importers to do, would be correctly to describe the stuff for what it really was at the Customs. So that, for the few minutes while it was passing through the Customs, that shoddy leather would bear an honest appearance. But as soon as that was done, what would happen? It goes into the hands of the manufacturer, arid is afterwards sold to the consumer. There is nothing in this Bill to stop it. Now take tobacco. Senator Pearce referred to an answer to a question put by Senator Pulsford, which illustrated the fact that some rather curious ingredients were apparently employed by the tobacco manufacturers of this country. The revelations were enough to make a less hardened smoker than myself pause and consider his ways. But there is nothing in this Bill to prevent that stuff from being sold as good tobacco. Suppose that alleged tobacco, made of the most rubbishy stuff that one can imagine, comes to the Custom House and is correctly described. It comes in, not in individual tins and cakes, but in bulk, and is afterwards made up and sold anyhow the importers like. It is there that the deception on the public is practised, not at the Customs-house, where the importer knows very well what he is doing. He is not taken in ; he is the one man who is well able to look after himself. There is a case before the Law Courts at the present time which supports my contention. The evidence has disclosed that the ingredients used in the manufacture of certain pills are brought out to Australia in barrels of considerable size. The pills are put up and bottled here. The ingredients may be of the most injurious character you like, but if they are properly described they may pass the Customs. After they have been honestly described there, they leave the control of the Customs officers', and there is nothing to prevent their being circulated and sold to the public. What protection does this Bill give to the consumer there? Take wine. Senator Pearce referred to the fact that Australian wine was exported in bulk to Great Britain or France, matured - probably blended - and sent back to Australia again. There is nothing in this Bill to stop that. The thing can go oni just as merrily as ever. All the Bill says is that, if the wine comes back to Australia, the country of origin must be described. Is it supposed by the framers of this Bill that it is possible to earmark wine that goes out of Australia in a cask and comes back im a bottle? While I can see no protection to the consumer in this Bill, I can, however, see a considerable amount of protection to the manufacturer. And it is just here that I view this Bill with suspicion, in view of the fact that the Government has never given any definite information as to the extent to which it proposes to use the powers contained in clauses 7 and 1:1. The Government has not told us what particular articles it is proposed to bring within the purview of those clauses. In view of that ominous silence - and when the members of the Government are not silent they are speaking with divided tongues - I cannot resist the conclusion that this Bill is being introduced and pushed through with the sole object of securing, not directly, openly, and above board, but far otherwise, an additional measure of protection, and an additional weapon by which the local manufacturer can be assisted at the expense of the importers.


Senator Higgs - It is a great crime to assist the local manufacturer, is it not?


Senator MILLEN - It is a crime if, instead of doing it openly, the Government does it in an under-handed way.

SenatorPlayford. - If we did anything of the sort, we should have to do it by regulation. The Bill cannot work without regulations.


Senator MILLEN - I have heard of this matter of regulations before, and I know, as every honorable senator learnt before he had been in Parliament six weeks, that when it becomes a question: of dealing with regulations, and the fate of aGovernment is wrapped up in them, members of Parliament stand a great deal. It will never be possible to secure a fair and honest vote on such a thing as a regulation when the fate of a Government hangs upon it.


Senator Playford - What an awful opinion of human nature the honorable senator must have.


Senator MILLEN - The opinion which I have of human nature is probably no worse than that entertained 'by the Minister. But we know perfectly well that when an act of a Government is. brought forward for censure, members of Parliament consider not merely the particular question on which they are called upon to vote, but the ultimate effect of their votes. If I were supporting a Government, it would be an idle thing for me to record a vote which might turn: them out of office because they had made some mistake - not, perhaps, in a matter of first-class magnitude - when theresult of so doing might be to bring into office another Government that would be ten times worse than the one which Ihelped to displace. I say that, when Parliament comes to deal with the regulations, we know perfectly well that we shall never be able to get a fair and clear-cut vote upon them. I have not to go very far for an illustration. See what happened in regard to the harvester matter.


Senator Playford - There was no regulation affecting that affair.


Senator MILLEN - There was a regulation, and the Minister of Trade and Customs acted upon it. There was an act of Ministerial power. The particular point in regard to that matter is, not that the Minister raised the duty; I am taking no exception to that, but that the papers- laid upon the Library table disclosed the fact that a rival in trade, or a number of rivals, entered into communication with the Minister with regard tothe value at which imported harvesters paid duty. It was suggested that a letter should be written, calling upon the importers - the Massey-Harris Company - to show cause why action should not be taken. That letter was never sent. The official papers disclose that no further facts were brought to light, but that the Minister acted upon the information supplied by these trade rivals, without calling upon the importers to explain. I am not saying whether the Minister was right or wrong, or whether the increase of theduty was right or wrong. But I do say that if there is one principle which, more than another, is supposed to bedear to those who speak the AngloSaxontongue, it is that no one shall be condemned before he has been heard. The papersshow that although at first it was intended to send a letter calling upon the MasseyHarris Company to show cause why action should not be taken, that letter wasnever sent, but, instead, the Minister came along and absolutely increased the price for duty purposes. In view of that, I have a right to know what is intended by this Bill. It gives us some justification for suspecting that the same sort of thingwill happen here, and that this Bill will be made the means and the instrument of carrying out without a direct mandate from Parliament an increase of protective duties. I shall have no possible objection to a higher measure of protection being conferred upon this country,if the thing is constitutionally ordered, and Parliament approves of it. But I do object to it being sneaked in. The first protectionist Minister we had in New South Wales, by a slip of the tongue, described protection as being sneaked in like a thief in the night." We do not want to see protective duties increased in that way. We have a Parliament elected by the vote of the people. If we are to have the protective policy of this country increased, added to, solidified, it ought to be done in the regular constitutional way, and not by means of machinery Bills of this kind, which place it in the power of the Minister to repeat adinfinitum his action in regard to the harvester business. I have just one other matter to refer to, and it is this : One defect of this Bill, to my mind, amounts to an absurdity- Whilst it pretends to protect the consumer, it fails in that it is inapplicable to the Inter-State trade. The very omission to which I have referred, how.ever, strengthens the suspicion which I have previously expressed. It 'is quite obvious that if the consumer's interest were held in view, the Inter-State trade would have been brought within the four corners of the Bill. If the Bill had been designed, as we have been told, to protect the consumer, it certainly ought to have included Inter-State traffic. Then the goods would have been followed into the country ; and not only that, but the manufactures of one State would have been followed to the consumers of another State. But the Bill does nothing of the kind ; and that omission. I say, adds to my suspicion that the Bill is intended to be used as a complement to the protective policy of the present Government. It is obvious that the omission of all Inter-State provisions in no sense detracts from the value of the measure, if it is sought to make it a protective one, because the only purpose for which the Bill is useful is at the Customs House, as a measure of protection. It will be inoperative upon the borderline of the several States ; and it is that, again, which makes me view the Bill as being not a measure for the regulation of commerce, not a Bill for securing honest trading and the prevention of fraud, but as primarily intended still further to hamper the importation of goods into this country. Whilst I, as a free-trader, object to that, still, if the opinion of the country is in favour of protection as a policy, I shall accept it; but if we" are to have any further instalment of protection it ought to be as the result of an appeal to the ballot-box by means of which the country can speak through its representatives in the other Chamber and here; and until such a mandate has been given, I consider it to be my duty, and that of every one who holds the views* that I do, to resist as far as parliamentary procedure will allow the placing upon our statute-book pf a measure of this kind, which, while purporting to do one thing, is obviously aimed at another.







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