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Tuesday, 14 August 1906

Mr DEAKIN (Ballarat) (Minister of External Affairs) - We are unwittingly, it appears to me, drifting into a complex position. We were discussing, first of all, the general proposal to impose a duty of 15s. instead of a duty of 14s. Apparently, that discussion was closed, for the question was about to be put when the honorable member for Bland, assuming the general discussion to have terminated, or, at all events, in the exercise of his undoubted right, submitted his amendment. That amendment must be disposed of before we can reach the question whetheror not a duty of 15s. shall be imposed. I think it will be admitted that the question whether the duty shall be 14s. or 15 s. or 13s. has nothing to do with this proposal as to the time which shall be allowed for the maturing of imported spirits, in order that the same restrictions may be imposed in this connexion as are intended by the Tariff Commission, and by the Government to apply to spirit manufactured in Australia.

Mr Kelly - The Chairman has allowed a general discussion.

Mr DEAKIN - And, perhaps, quite rightly. But, at the same time, when I am asked to enter into the question of revenue, while we are confronted with the amendment of the honorable member for Bland, it appears to me that we shall only increase rather than diminish the confusion. We should not turn to the revenue phase before we have disposed of that amendment.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - There is only one resolution before us.

Mr DEAKIN - But there is an amendment.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That amendment need not diminish the discussion in any way.

Mr DEAKIN - It ought to.


Mr DEAKIN - When I use the word " ought " I mean if we adopt the best and quickest method of transacting our business.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Prime Minister told us that one part of the discussion was closing before the amendment was proposed.

Mr DEAKIN - And so it was ; then we came on this new line of rails. I ask the Committee to deal with the amendment of the honorable member for Bland at once. If honorable members turn to the report of the Tariff Commission they will find that the eighth recommendation is as follows : -

That no spirits imported into the Commonwealth shall be permitted to go into human consumption within two years from the date of their first shipment, unless the Minister of Trade and Customs be satisfied that a period of two years has elapsed from the date of distillation of the same.

That is the recommendation of the Tariff Commission, and if the honorable member for Bland can see his way to put his amendment in that form, which is the form proposed to be adopted in the Bill, T shall be perfectly prepared to accept it here. We could then dispose of this question. I admit that it would be necessary to follow that up with some interim proposal to cover spirit already shipped. I have had some consultation with the officers of the Department, but in the meantime, in order that we may deal with one thing at a time, if the honorable member for Bland accepts for his amendment the form suggested by the Tariff Commission, we can dispose of it,, get face to face with the vital question as to whether the duty should be 15s. or 14s., and concentrate our attention upon that. That will meet the wishes of the honorable member for Boothby that we should deal with one point at a time, especially as the current discussion is quite foreign to the question of revenue or the amount of duty to be imposed.

Mr Batchelor - So long as we know what we are dealing with,.

Mr DEAKIN - Just so. I understand that the honorable member for Bland consents to move his amendment in the form suggested ?

Mr Watson - Yes, I have no objection to do that.

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