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Tuesday, 14 November 1905

The Committee divided.

DIVISION:NOES 12 (1 majority) AYES 11 PAIRS 0

Majority ... ...1






Question so resolved in the negative.

Amendment negatived.

Senator Sir JOSIAHSYMON (South Australia). - I move -

That the words " or which are entered for export or brought for export to any wharf or place " be left out.

The mischief that may be done by this Bill in relation to exports is much greater than that which may be inflicted in the case of imports. Asthe clause stands at present, with the word " prescribed," it simply gives the Minister a roving commission, without restriction, to inspect every article exported from the country. That is a senseless and futile roving commission, as established by what the Minister of Defence himself said a few minutes ago. The honorable senator told us that, with the power of inspection, there is no power to prohibit or impose a penalty - that there is no standard of quality, of purity, or of any sort, which under clause 5 can be prescribed by regulation. The Minister admits that the power to inspect and take samples is,' in one sense, merely a power to gratify curiosity, without any penalty to enforce, or, if there were a penalty, without any means to enforce it. A sewing machine, a steam-engine, and a harvester have been given as illustrations of imports, and in each case, if the Minister, for any reason, be dissatisfied, his only remedy is to tell the merchant that he must not import that particular kind of commodity again. That is a confession of absolute weakness and impotence on the part of the Minister. As I have already said, the clause may work infinitely more mischief in regard to exports. Oil, wool, or any other commodity may be inspected and samples taken, and if the Minister is not satisfied with the quality, there is no power to stop the export then or at any time. All the Minister can do is to go to the exporter and say that such goods must not be exported again. The Minister of Defence feels the weakness of the position, which, indeed, is really ludicrous ; and, in order to show that some kind of sanction or pressure may be exercised, he declares that if an exporter does export such goods again theGovernment "will show him up." That is the kind of legislation that is proposed ! There is no provision in the Bill enabling the Minister to "show up" the exporter.

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