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Friday, 10 August 1906

Mr FOWLER (Perth) .- I presume that, as a necessary corollary of the Minister's pronouncement, he will at once publish the full reports of the Tariff Commission's recommendations regarding these items. Otherwise a certain portion of the recommendations of the Commission will still be unpublished.

Sir William Lyne - I have the report here, and I propose to lay it upon the table of the House the moment that I get a chance to do so.

Mr FOWLER - I am very glad to hear that. I would further suggest that the evidence which wag hande'd \'to the Prime Minister last evening should be published.

Mr Deakin - I have given instructions for it to be circulated at the earliest possible moment, and I hope that honorable members' who leave by the' train this afternoon will be in possession of the'ir copies before they go.

Mr FOWLER - I join with the Minister in regretting very deeply indeed that such a communication as appears in the Argus this morning should have been published. It came upon me as an astounding shock. Looking at the matter very carefully, I wish to express the opinion that, although the information appears in a free-trade newspaper, iti is not a freetrade pronouncement. It is a distinctly protectionist pronouncement upon certain recommendations which have been made by the Tariff Commission.

Mr Fisher - Might not "that fact merely be used as a cover?

Mr FOWLER - I am not discussing that. I say it is very singular that a free-trader should have emphasized the phase of the question contrary to that which he would naturally be expected to emphasize. Be that as it may, the Tariff Commission intend holding a meeting this afternoon to see whether some understanding cannot be arrived at with regard to the origin of the particular series of paragraphs which appears in the newspaper to which reference has been made. I feel sure that if it is at all possible to trace the source pf that information, the Commission will endeavour to vindicate itself in the eyes of the public. Personally, I think that the Commission as a whole is too fully seized of its responsibilities to have wilfully made public what is undoubtedly confidential 'information at the present time.

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