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Wednesday, 3 October 1906

Senator Best - The Senate inserted that clause.

Senator Sir RICHARD BAKER - It did, and that is the worst part of it. But the Government opposed it. I find, on looking up the records of the Senate, that Senator Findley moved in Committee on the Excise Tariff (Spirits) Bill-

That it be a request to the House of Representatives to add the following proviso to the clause : - " Provided further, That if the distillers -

(a)   do not after the expiration of one year from the passing of this Act pay their employes a fair and reasonable rate of wages per week of forty-eight hours; or

(b)   employ more than a due proportion of boys to the men engaged in the industry ; the Governor-General may, in pursuance of a joint address by the Senate and House of Representatives, impose an additional Excise duty of one shilling per gallon on each of the items mentioned in the Schedule."

I say that is very similar to the clause with which we are now dealing, lt was inserted in the Tariff Bill with an object foreign to the imposition of the duties - to obtain for the employes engaged in the industry a certain rate of wages - and in my opinion its insertion was not warranted by the provisions of section. 55 of the Constitution. It does not deal with the imposition of duties, and the Government opposed it on that ground. How could Ministers oppose the insertion of that clause in that particular Bill on the ground that it ought not to be inserted because the Constitution in section 55 provides that no such clause can be inserted in a Bill dealing with the imposition of duties, and now agree to the retention of this clause in the Bill before the Committee. The matter has been debated at considerable length, and I do not wish to repeat the arguments that have teen adduced, but I ask honorable senators to consider the question from the constitutional point of view - from the point of view that the Senate should uphold its own rights, powers, and privileges - and to subordinate the particular issue and the particular question raised, by the clause itself.

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