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Wednesday, 3 October 1906


Senator MULCAHY (Tasmania) . We are attempting by means of this clause to do that which is impossible - to regulate prices. Whilst I voted for the second reading of the Bill because it provides for an increase of duties with which I am in accord, Senator McGregor has rightly interpreted my attitude. I am totally opposed to this clause, because I believe that it is absolutely impossible to regulate prices. We do not even attempt to define what harvesters or strippers are. With the advance of science, what now constitutes a harvester may become a totally different piece of mechanism.


Senator McGregor - The GovernorGeneral would then step in.


Senator MULCAHY - He would have no power to do so. We are going to assume that these machines will not be improved and that the cost of manufacture some time hence will be the same as it is today. In other words, it is proposed to place on the statute-book a Bill to fix prices which must certainly vary. Senator Trenwith has moved an amendment showing that he has anticipated this very point. I. detest obstruction, but I shall assist honorable senators to reject this clause, and if I fail in that attempt, I shall feel justified in voting against the third reading of the Bill.

Senator Sir JOSIAHSYMON (South Australia) [12.2]. - I do not think there is any occasion for the extraordinary attitude taken up by Senator McGregor, who informed us that he was out for a row.


Senator McGregor - Not for a row, but for fun.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - If the honorable senator is out for a row the rest of us are not, and his attitude is scarcely that which should be assumed by the leader of a party. Senator Trenwith has candidly confessed that this clause needs very great amendment.


Senator Trenwith - I have not made that confession.


Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - The honorable senator admits that it is imperfect, and would be difficult to administer. In moving my amendment, I said distinctly that my sole object was to insure that this provision, which is intended for the protection of the users of these machines, shall afford real protection, and not be a sham. I stated that I was prepared to accept any modification of my amendment that would more effectively carry out my object. I am not here for fun. My object is to secure something that will realize the expectation of the farmers that they will derive some benefit from the concessions granted to these manufacturers. I do not pledge honorable senators to vote for the amendment that I shall subsequently submit but I repeat that Senator Trenwith ought to vote for that which I have moved, in order to indicate his opinion that the clause as it stands will be difficult to administer, and should ask the Minister to re-cast it so that a real protection will be granted to the farmers. There is no doubt that these words make the clause absolutely unworkable. The Governor-General is empowered to reduce the duty by 50 per cent., but a condition is imposed which prevents him from doing anything at his own discretion. How is the Governor-General to satisfy himself that this condition has been complied with? Is he to issue his proclamation when he is satisfied that one stripper-harvester has been sold at a price in excess of that specified ? If that is what the provision means, it is open to exactly the same criticism that has been levelled against my amendment. I do not pretend that my proposal is a perfect one, but, at least, it is workable. It has been urged that some unprincipled person might sell a machine at a price in excess of that set out in the Bill, in order to bring about a reduction of the duty, but that assumes a fraudulent sale. If a proclamation were issued without sufficient warrant, the person aggrieved would have the right to appeal to the law. Courts. I would prefer that the clause should be amended so as to leave the Governor-General entirely free from any hampering conditions. That is to say, if at any time it is brought to the GovernorGeneral's notice that a large proportion of the machines were being sold at prices in excess of those stipulated, he might reduce the rate of duty.







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