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Thursday, 27 September 1906

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - The road having been cleared by the unfortunate loss of my previous amendment, I wish now to invite the' attention of the Minister and of Senator Drake to what is, perhaps, a matter of phraseology, but might lead to possible complications. The objection I urge to the use of certain words will apply equally to Senator Drake's amendment and to the Bill as it stands. I find that the phrase "goods of a description not liable to Customs or Excise duties " is used, and it seems to me that what is wanted is to make available for the special duties all goods not liable to Customs or Excise duties on the 1st January, 1907. The use of the words "of a description " may possibly lead to complications. For instance, many articles come under the description of apparel that are not liable to duty, but if the Bill became law as it stands, or if Senator Drake's amendment were adopted as now framed, and the attempt were made to levy a duty for a special purpose upon one article of apparel not now liable to duty, the objection might be taken in the Courts that that particular article came under a description of a general class of goods which were liable to duty. In support of my contention, I quote from the Century Dictionary the following definition of the word " description " -

The qualities expressed in a representation. The division and qualities which go to constitute a class or individual, and would be mentioned in describing it, hence a variety, sort, or kind.

We have in our Customs Tariff many articles which are taxed, and are yet of the same kind and description as others which are free. In order that it may be abundantly clear that we are asking power to levy taxation for special purposes upon goods not liable to Customs duty on the 1 st January next, and are not exempting all goods which by a Customs interpretation or trade usage might be held to be goods of the same description as goods which are already taxed. I move -

That the amendment be amended by leaving out the words "of a description."

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