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Tuesday, 14 November 1905

The CHAIRMAN - Does the honorable senator intend by these remarks to reflect upon the votes given on Friday last, because, if he does, I would draw his attention to standing order 401, which says -

No senator shall reflect upon any vote of the Senate, except for the purpose of moving that such vote be rescinded.

Senator PULSFORD - I am not reflecting upon the votes given by honorable senators, but drawing attention to the spirit in which representatives of the Government and certain honorable senators met amendments proposed from these benches last week.

The CHAIRMAN -I am anxious to ascertain what relation the honorable senator's remarks have to clause 5, dealing with imports and exports.

Senator PULSFORD - The relationship of my remarks to the question before the Committee is very direct. The matter we are dealing with is of great importance, and when it was before the Senate last year we were met with even a request that we would help to improve the Bill, and I am now suggesting that it would be well if the Government would meet us to-day in a similar spirit, and would believe that we are actuated by a desire, not only to improve the Bill, but to promote what, I suppose, is their object - the interests of Australia. I am putting forward a plea for fair consideration of the remarks which we may have to make, or the amendments which we may feel it our duty to submit. This clause raises the question of empowering the Minister, under prescription, to deal with exports. I donot refer at once to the matter of imports, because the clause begins with again asking for power on the subject of imports which is already conferred by the Customs Act. This is, therefore, a clause specially dealing with exports. I wish honorable senators to be seized of the grave importance of the powers which! are now asked on behalf of Customs officers. Power is asked for them to interfere in practically all directions, to enter any ship, wharf, or place, and open not merely prescribed packages, but any packages, and do anything which, in their judgment, they may deem to be necessary in order to carry out the provision. I believe it would be well if Parliament would confine Customs authorities to the power which they already possess under the Customs Act, and that is the power of dealing with all goods under Customs control. When the question is put I shall vote against the clause. Meanwhile, if any honorable senators wish to submit an amendment, with a view to its improvement, it can be considered by the Committee.

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