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Tuesday, 14 November 1905

Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales) - The Minister's statements are getting quite comic. It is really amusing to hear him! say that in the case of a shipment of 100 cases of apples from Hobart the inspector could have one case opened on the wharf, and decide in an instant whether or not it contained "prime ripstone pippins." How could an officer - perhaps a man who until he was sent to Hobart only knew apples by name - decide at once a question of that kind? It must be remembered that apples are of all sizes and quality, and that it would need an expert to decide whether a shipment of 100 cases could be considered to be of prime quality by merely taking the lid off one case, and looking at its contents. I observe that the power given in this clause is permis- sive, but there was nothing permissive about the Minister's observations. He seemed to suggest that the safety of Australia almost depended upon one case being opened, and its contents examined. He led the Committee to believe that it was absolutely essential for the proper conduct of the apple trade to have only prime fruit sent away. Although the clause only gives a permissive power to the officer to inspect, still the Minister made it very clear to us that it was intended to have a system of grading by officers who might or might not know what they were doing. I shall support the amendment.

Senator O'KEEFE(Tasmania).Hitherto I have not spoken on the Bill, and have voted with the Government, because the amendments did not seem to me to be necessary. Certainly this amendment appeals to me with greater force than the others did. It is feared bv Senator Macfarlane that the shipment of perishable produce is likely to be greatly delayed if it is to be subject to inspection under regulations. Inspection is necessary in order to maintain the good1 name of our produce in parts beyond the seas, and in some cases hardship may be inflicted. I take it "that none of us wishes to inflict hardship upon any producer unless it is necessary. It is only in the case of perishable produce, however, that a delay caused by inspection could be injurious. We all know that the leather trade of Australia was very much injured through the fraud practised in this State by one individual using barium. In the case of such a product not very much injury would be done by a little delay for the purpose of making an inspection. But' in the case of perishable produce very great' injury might be done to the producer by delaying its shipment. I think that the object which the Minister has in view could be effected if Senator Macfarlane would agree- to insert after the word " export," in his amendment, the words " and where such goods aire of a perishable nature." If my suggestion be adopted, no officer, unless he had reason to believe that such goods were fraudulently marked and described, would interfere. The inspection is not to be mandatory, unless we declare that "may" means "shall." I understood trie Minister to say that according to the clause it is not abso lutely necessary that goods shall be inspected, and that the inspector would not cause any injurious delay without good reason - unless he felt reasonably sure that some? fraud was intended. If that be so, I cannot see that any harm will follow the amendment of Senator Macfarlane, if the words I have suggested be inserted. It appears to me that only in the case of perishable products would injury occur through delay. If Senator Macfarlane will amend his amendment in the way I have indicated I shall be able to support it.

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