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Friday, 6 July 1906

Mr FOWLER (Perth) .- In supporting the amendment of the honorable member for Fremantle, I wish to say that in watching the attitude of the Government towards the Bill, my suspicion is being confirmed that this particular gun is not loaded with shot, but is merely intended to go off at election time with a g,?eat deal of noise and smoke, for the special benefit of those electors who are satisfied with that sort of thing.

Mr Mauger - It is very easy to say that.

Mr FOWLER - Seeing, however, that the Government intend to persevere with the Bill, I think we should make the very best possible' use of it by introducing provisions dealing with such matters as the honorable member for Fremantle has brought under our notice, in order that when it has been tried and found wanting, the 'fact of these provisions having! been . inserted with a view to remedying existing evils may lead to more effective measures being ultimately adopted. So far as the shipping ring is concerned, I believe a separate Act of Parliament will be required to bring it down to its proper level. At the same time I think that in this Bill we ought to indicate to the public that that combination is one which is injurious to them. So far as Western Australia is concerned there is not the least doubt that the combination in connexion with the Inter-State sea-borne traffic is exceedingly, disadvantageous to the interests of consumers. Fur-

Australian Industries[6 July, 1906.] Preservation Bill. 11 33 ther, I say - after having listened to the testimony of a great many business men who have appeared before the Tariff Commission - that the effect of this shipping combination upon Australian industries - and especially upon those industries which are endeavouring to obtain an Inter-State trade - has been much more injurious than has any foreign competition which has been brought against them. Time and again witnesses who have appeared before the Commission with a request for the imposition of higher duties, have urged, as their justification, the fact that more is charged by way of freight between two Australian ports than is charged for bringing cargo from the other side of the world. Under these circumstances, something requires to be done, and that as early as possible. So far as the rates of freight are concerned, there is no doubt that this Bill cannot touch them. In that respect it would absolutely fail, even assuming thatit were brought into play against the shipping combine in other respects. But as the Government intend to press on with the Bill, by all means let us make it as effective an indication of the need for stringent legislation upon the subject as we possibly can. For that reason I hope the Committee will agree to the amendment.

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