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Wednesday, 27 June 1906

Mr ROBINSON (Wannon) .- I regard the amendment as strictly relevant, and one which those who desire information on the whole subject dealt with by the Bill should support. The Royal Commission on the Tariff has been sitting for eighteen months. I do not grudge the expenditure of the large sum ofi money which1 this inquiry has entailed, but I think that we should not legislate on this matter until we have at our disposal the information which has been gathered for us. The Minister, in his second-reading speech, dealt with some of the matters coming before the Tariff Commission, . and quoted the evidence of those interested in one side of the case. He made no attempt to give the evidence of those on the other side. Although evidence, both pro and con., has been taken by the Commission, we are asked to legislate entirely upon the evidence of one set of witnesses.

Mr Wilks - The course which the Government are taking is a slap in the face to the Tariff Commission.

Mr ROBINSON - The members of that Commission, having devoted time- and trouble to its inquiries, and. no doubt, having been out to considerable loss and inconvenience in attending its sittings, it seems extraordinary that we should be asked to consider this Bill before we are in possession of the valuable evidence which its reports will shortly give to us. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo informed the House this afternoon that the

Commission's reports on the effect of the Tariff on the industry which has clamoured most for legislation such as has been introduced, will be laid before Parliament within a very short space of time. Why, then, should not the further consideration of the Bill be postponed until we have those reports in our possession, and know what evidence has been given on both sides of the question. As I have pointed out, the Minister asked us to act on evidence coming wholly from one side, and dealing with one industry only. Although he interjected a few nights ago that he has other evidence to show that Part III. of the Bill is necessary, that evidence has not been placed before us. Therefore, it is highly desirable that we should postpone the consideration of the measure until we get it. The least we can do, in decency, is to pay some attention to the work of the members of the Tariff Commission. By negativing the amendment, we shall be branding the Commission as inefficient, and its work as useless. Although I do not promise to vote for every 'recommendation that the Commission may make, its conclusions, and the evidence which it has taken, will be worthy of the most serious consideration, and will be much more informing than the ex parte statements of the Minister. I hope that the amendment will be . carried.

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