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Friday, 29 November 1912

Senator RAE (New South Wales) . - The reasoning of the Minister is scarcely worthy of his capacity. He tells us in so many words that we should pass this Bill in such a form as to leave scope for an amendment to be made afterwards. The Minister himself would throw the strongest ridicule upon such an amendment if it were advanced by an opponent.

Senator Findley - The Minister said that an amendment could be made if the danger did arise.

Senator RAE - The inference from his observation is that we may as well leave the Bill in such a form that there will be more work for us to do later on.

Sitting suspended from i to 2.30 p.m.

Senator RAE - I am sure that the general sense of the Committee is in favour of making this measure as perfect as possible while we are dealing with it. It is unsound to leave a clause loose because we may have an opportunity in the future of amending it. The only argument of the Minister against Senator Guthrie's amendment is that cargo is sometimes overcarried on account of being badly stowed. If such mistakes are made the shippers should bear the cost of their own carelessness. A large body of trade is not affected by such errors, and . we do not want to pass exceptional legislation to meet cases due to mistakes of that kind. But there is a danger that some of the big lines may cut into the Australian trade to a considerable extent if we leave a loophole for transhipping cargo, and thus enable them to evade the conditions laid down in the Bill. Surely we do not want to make the measure so rigid as to enable provisions to be systematically evaded. There is not a scintilla of evidence to back up the contention of the Minister that it is reasonable to wait until an evil has grown to sufficiently large dimensions before we try to meet it. Surely the adage that " prevention is better than cure " applies to a case of this kind.

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