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Thursday, 9 November 1905

Senator WALKER (New South Wales) - I have listened with considerable interest to many of the speeches made on this Bill.

Although I am not strictly a commercial man, I am beginning to understand rather more of the subject than I did at first. I understand now that this Bill is really introduced on account of the revelations of the Butter Commission that sat in Victoria. It appears to me that perhaps the proper name for a Bill of this kind would be " Fraudulent Trade Marks Bill," instead of what it is called - " Commerce Bill." I see that it is to be incorporated and read as one with the Customs Act of 1901. It may, therefore, be considered aa am addition to the Customs Act. I fear that this is another instance of over-legislation. Unfortunately, during the last year or two Australia has earned a somewhat uncomplimentary character from the nature of the legislation which we have passed1. I fear that not a few will consider that we are really filling up the cup of legislative iniquity by proposing to pass some of the meddlesome, inquisitorial, and arbitrary clauses of this Bill. I mention particularly clauses 5, 6, 7, 11, and 14. It seems to me that in all these clauses there is much with which fault oan be found in the interests of freedom of trade. It was observed by Senator Gray that under this Bill opportunities would present themselves to officials for dabbling in what might be called blackmailing. I fear there can be no doubt about that. A dishonest trader may think it worth his while to contrive that officials who. have to examine his exports or imports may become sufficiently blind to let things pass. The Minister under this Bill ought to be an Admirable Crichton. Unfortunately, very few Ministers are. Also, unfortunately, it is quite possible that we might have a Minister administering this Bill who will be the very embodiment of crass stupidity and pig-headedness. Some of us have a very clear recollection of the passing of the Customs Act, and the manner in which it was for a time administered!. Those of us who live in New South Wales will never forget the consternation created by the extraordinary manner in which that Act was at first administered. My honorable friend, Senator Givens, spoke very vigorously last night with regard to this measure. He adorned his remarks by making a quotation from Heinrich Heine, a gentleman whom he called " Héeney.' I began to wonder whether the honorable senator was about to quote an Irishman ; but when my honorable friend called this man a moral philosopher, I wondered whether he knew that morality certainly was not a strong point in Heine's life. He was certainly a lyric poet, a critic, and' a satirist, but as for being a " moral philosopher," that he certainly was not. This man had the audacity to imagine that Mercury - or Hermes, as we used to call him, and whom we always considered to be the messenger of the gods - was practically a thief, or, as he put it, assumed the garb of a merchant. It was represented that a merchant was a sort of glorified thief. While going along Collins-street today, my attention was directed to a statue of Mercury over the office of a leading newspaper, and I began to wonder whether that journal chose the emblem of Mercury on account of his being the messenger of the gods, or because he was described as the prince of thieves.

Senator Lt Col Gould - What newspaper was that?

Senator WALKER - I believe it is called the Age. I began to wonder whether that was a newspaper that stole the reputation of people; whether it reported speeches properly; and there was brought to my mind a certain occasion when an action was brought-

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