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Tuesday, 14 November 1905

Senator STEWART - Senator Gray has not been keeping himself abreast of the times. There has been a great difficulty, not in connexion with only one export, but in connexion with several. We have heard, for instance, that a very large quantity of inferior butter has been exported from Australia and placed on the English market.

Senator Gray - Does the honorable senator desire to stop all that?

Senator STEWART - Yes, I do. We have been told that the worst class of butter has been sold in the English market as Australian butter, while the best Australian butter is on many occasions sold as Danish, Irish, or English butter.

Senator Gray - How can we prevent that?

Senator STEWART - We can prevent butter that is under a certain standard of quality leaving Australian shores unless it is distinctly marked as what it is.

Senator Gray - That will not affect the English public. They do not deal direct with Australian producers, but through the interveners.

Senator STEWART - I am aware of that. We have great difficulty with the intervener. He is not on] v the enemy of enterprise and production in Australia, but also in Great Britain.

Senator Mulcahy - Surely not always.

Senator STEWART - Very often. Have not honorable senators read the report of the Victorian Butter Commission, and are they not aware that it may be applied to almost every other industry ? We have abundance of proof that not only is our export trade killed by the intervener, but that a large number of industries within our own borders are killed by the persons whom Senator Gray calls the " interveners."

Senator Gray - This Bill does not touch the interveners.

Senator STEWART - It sets up a standard of quality. Instead of the result being, as Senator Symon seems to anticipate, that this measure will have the effect of branding Australian goods as inferior in all the markets of the world, it will have exactly the opposite effect.

Senator Playford - Hear, hear; it would brand them as superior.

Senator STEWART - The people in other markets of the world will say, " The Government of Australia oversees the production of these goods, and see to it that no inferior articles leave Australian shores."

Senator Gray - This Bill does not provide for anything of the sort. It provides merely that a person can export anything he pleases, so long as his goods are properly marked.

Senator STEWART - So long as he states exactly what they are. Is not that something ?

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Suppose he brands butter with the words "Inferior butter "?

Senator STEWART - Then it will be sold as inferior butter.

Senator Gray - How will that affect us?

Senator STEWART - At the present time, and without this legislation the same goods may be sold as first-class Australian butter. The measure is not by any means as perfect as I should like to see it ; I think it should be made much more stringent, but it is at least a very substantial advance on the present condition of affairs. At first blush I felt inclined to support Senator Symon's amendment, but on thinking the matter over, I believe it would not be wise to adopt such an amendment.

Senator Mulcahy - If we had a schedule of the goods we should know what we are dealing with.

Senator STEWART - The schedule would require to be prepared now, and added to the Bill before it was passed, whereas if we leave the matter to regulation, whenever the necessity arises a regulation can be framed to at once apply the Bill to particular goods which are being dealt with under a false trade description. If we adopt the course of adding, a schedule of goods to the Bill, we may omit some that should be included, and include some which it may not be .necessary to include. I intend to support the clause as it stands.

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