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Tuesday, 4 September 1906

Senator PLAYFORD (South Australia) (Minister of Defence) - - I only wish to say that, with the exception of the last point which has been taken by Senator Drake, I have heard his arguments over and over again, until I am sick and tired of hearing them, and, therefore, we do not propose to agree to his request.

Senator Mulcahy - What do we sit here for?

Senator PLAYFORD - I do not know that we sit here to listen to unnecessary repetition.

Senator Mulcahy - There has been no repetition. This is quite a new feature in the discussion on the Bill.

Senator PLAYFORD - We have had a free and fair discussion. A necessary amount of repetition can be passed over, but the measure has been thoroughly threshed out, and in speaking at great length on the question of recommittal - which, of course, he was entitled to do - Senator Drake appears to me to be wasting time to a very considerable extent.

Senator Mulcahy - The Minister had no right to say that he was " sick and tired " of hearing the arguments.

Senator PLAYFORD - SenatorDrake has referred to the preference which the Government propose to give to British goods over foreign goods, and also to the treaty which we have entered into with New Zealand. Of course, he fought shy of the treaty with New Zealand, because he could nor connect it in .any way with the Bill.

Senator Drake - Evidently I did not talk long enough.

Senator PLAYFORD - The honorable senator put supposititious cases. His contentions all rested on the word "if." "If," he said, "a treaty were made a certain result would follow." I contend that no such result would necessarily follow.

Senator Clemons - Have not the Government induced him to believe that a treaty will be made with Great Britain?

Senator PLAYFORD - No. Not at the present time.

Senator Clemons - Have the Government merely advertised themselves?

Senator PLAYFORD - Exactly as Canada has advertised herself for a great many years. I think that without asking for a quid pro quo, we have sufficient love of the mother country to do as our sister Canada has done, and say, " Where you and foreigners, who set up hostile Tariffs against us, come into competition in our markets, we shall give you a preference over the foreigners and ask for nothing in return."

Senator Clemons - Is that the measure of our affection?

Senator PLAYFORD - We are perfectly justified in taking that course. So far as I can see, we are not asking for or proposing a treaty with Great Britain. I anticipate that Great Britain will alter her policy so far as free-trade is concerned, and that if by-and-by she should, give us a first preference it would be a matter of treaty. At the present time, however, we are not asking her to give us any preference. We are giving a preference to her out of real good-will - out of what we' might call our love and affection for the mother country.

Senator Clemons - That is the measure of it?

Senator PLAYFORD - Whether that is the .measure of it or not it is not a bad one. It is a very good preference. It is contended that if we entered into a treaty certain things would happen-.. I contend that Senator Drake's anticipations will not be realized unless there should come from the mother country goods with the intention of destroying an Australian industry in an, unfair way. Surely the Government with which we had a treaty would not deny to us the right to prevent an injury to our own manufactures attempted in an unfair way !

Senator Fraser - Even under a treaty.

Senator PLAYFORD - Even under a treaty. The treaty will not be made until the Bill is placed upon the statute-book, and then everybody will know all about its provision.

Senator Drake - The treaty with New Zealand has been made.

Senator PLAYFORD - We had many supposititious cases argued in Committee, and now we have had a number of them put to the Senate itself. Senator Millen, for instance, put a supposititious case so plausibly thai I could not see the answer for the moment. It had reference to the following new paragraph, which, at the instance of Senator Best, was inserted in clause 6.

If the defendant, with respect to any goods or services which are the subject of the competition, gives, offers, or promises to any person any rebate, refund, discount, or reward upon condition that that person deals, or in consideration of that person having dealt, with the defendant to the exclusion of other persons dealing in similar goods or services.

Senator Millensaid that he knew of a case where a gentleman had made an offer to a number of dairy farmers in a district that if they would agree for a period to sell all their milk to him to the exclusion of everybody else he would build them a creamery - I do not know what the condition as to price was - and help their industry. He contended that that person would come under the operation of the new paragraph. Senator Best pooh-poohed the contention. I, as a layman, could not see the answer to the proposition, exactly ; but I promised to refer the point to the draftsman of the Bill, and, if necessary, to the Attorney-General. I had the facts of the case laid before the AttorneyGeneral, and I have his opinion, in his own handwriting, as follows -

In the opinion of the Attorney-General, the amendment could have no application to the class of cases mentioned by Senator Millen.

In a similar way, we could dispose of almost all the supposititious cases. It has been argued dozens and dozens of times that such and such would be the effect if the Bill were passed, when it would not have that effect at all, It has been pure imagination on the part of honorable senators. Senator Drake has allowed his imagination to run riot, and the cases upon which he has laid so much strength, and spoken with so much earnestness, will not- occur. The Government must oppose the recommittal of the measure.

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