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Thursday, 2 August 1906
Page: 2275

Mr REID (East Sydney) .- After all the clamour which we heard in favour of remedying the misfortunes of Australian manufacturers, it really takes my breath away to hear one of the champions of the distressed Victorian manufacturers deprecating a proposal to provide them with a remedy without delay.

Mr Salmon - -That is not so. I am prepared to deal with the Tariff to-night.

Mr REID - That is a wonderful sort of fiscal valour to exhibit. The honorable member knows perfectly well that it is impossible to proceed with the consideration of the Tariff proposals to-night, because we have not the reports of the Tariff Commission before us.

Mr Salmon - I am prepared to deal with them in the absence of those, reports. The right honorable member has no right to misrepresent me.

Mr REID - I never dreamed in my wildest moments that the honorable member would suggest that the Government should deal with the Tariff without having the recommendations of the Tariff Commission before them. That is an imputation which I would not level against even my bitterest opponent.

Mr Salmon - I deprecated a piecemeal treatment of the Tariff.

Mr REID - It is very singular that the honorable member does not welcome the efforts of the Government to deal at the earliest possible moment with subjects which can be dealt with. The reports of the Tariff Commission in reference to spirits have been in the hands of the Government for some time, and I think that the latter are acting sensibly in putting all the recommendations to hand in a business form before the Committee.

Mr Salmon - The very fact that the adoption of that course suits the right honorable member is the greatest argument against it.

Mr REID - That is worthy of the eloquence of the honorable member upon the subject of patent pills. I do not think that that is quite a dignified attitude for him to adopt in reference to my remarks. I should like to add to what the honorable member for Wide. Bay has said that there is no doubt a difficulty in the way of the Government - I refer to the danger of speculation in view of possible Tariff proposals. That danger, however, is one which is insuperable in connexion with any alteration of the Tariff.

Mr Fisher - I referred to speculation consequent upon decisions of the Tariff Commission .

Mr REID - That is one of the special difficulties of the position.

Mr Fisher - It is a difficulty which has largely arisen from the declarations which have been made from both sides of the Chamber.

Mr REID - But so far, the Minister has assured us that he has seen no movement at the Customs House in the direction indicated.

Sir William Lyne - Besides, the commercial community do not know whether or not the Government intend to accept the recommendations of the Tariff Commission.

Mr REID - That is so. Very frequently the Customs Department gets the benefit of .these commercial speculations. It secures thousands of pounds that it would not otherwise obtain. If the Government contemplate any changes, and if they note any movement in the Customs in the direction of the withdrawal of goods from bond, I am quite sure that we can look to them to act with great promptitude. They can come down to this House upon any day - with the exception of the period between Friday and Tuesday - with proposals to protect the revenue, and I am quite sure that honorable members will support them in taking any such action. Even if they took action for the purpose indicated, upon any day between Friday and Tuesday, I am satisfied that honorable members would stand by them. We must look to the Government to watch the transactions at the Customs House, and if they detect any evidence of an attempt to forestall them we must rely upon them to put the matter upon a right footing. I am thoroughly convinced that honorable members would support the Government in giving, prompt attention to the public interests in such circumstances.

Progress reported.

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