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Thursday, 2 August 1906
Page: 2273

Mr REID (East Sydney) . - The Government intend to make certain proposals for the alteration of the duties on spirits, and in order to protect the revenue they have to suddenly come down and submit a proposal which will be their constitutional warrant for collecting the duties to-morrow. Of course, no one can possiblyobject to that. It is one of the difficulties of our system of Government that if that course be not adopted all sorts of frauds on the revenue may be perpetrated.

Mr Fisher - It would not be a fraud.

Mr REID - The honorable member is perfectly right in correcting me. I have been on an electioneering tour, and my language is, perhaps, a little too strong for my present environment. It would be a perfectly legitimate operation for merchants to increase their clearances if they knew what was going to take place. In support of the remarks of the honorable member for North Sydney, I would point out that, whilst for obvious reasons the Government could not allow any one outside the Cabinet to know what their intentions were until the Customs House was closed, I think that it would have been courteous for them to subsequently communicate their intentions to the leader of the Opposition or his representative. No harm could ensue from any such action on their part. It stands fairly to reason, and is in accord with precedent, that when the Government propose to make any alteration in the Tariff they alone have the right to make such a proposal, and that the House must, for the protection of the revenue, allow the resolution to be tabled. I feel sure, however, that my suggestion will be adopted in the future.

Mr Deakin - Hear, hear !

Mr REID - If notice is given, as I suggest, all the requirements of the case will be satisfied. As one of those responsible for the appointment of the Tariff Commission - I see that it has cost a considerable amount of' money, which, I think, has not been mis-spent - I desire to saw that I am absolutely sure that the Commission will make a number of valuable suggestions which can be acceptedby both sides. I feel no sensation of regret at the appointment of the Commission. Honorable members on this side of the chamber have a sincere desire to facilitate the removal of any anomalies that the Commission may bring to light, and so far from the Government encountering any obstruction, I believe that, upon all matters that do not raise serious fiscal controversy, they will find the Opposition prepared to cheerfully assist them in improving the Tariff.

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