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Wednesday, 15 August 1906

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Are we to understand that, if it is decided that the Minister has power. to increase the valuation, the Government will oppose the application for a Commission to take evidence in Canada?

Mr ISAACS - The question as to whether there shall or shall not bea Commission is entirely in the hands of the Court. I have had no notice of these questions, and the papers dealing with the case are complicated ; but, speaking from recollection, I understand that the learned Judge who granted the , Commission to some extent expressed the opinion that it might prove unnecessary, making a special order as to costs ; but, inasmuch as the plaintiff insisted on the appointment of the Commission, he did not find it within his province to refuse it. I understand, moreover, that the Full Court has refused to interfere with his exercise of his discretion, though one ofthe Judges would have been disposed to make a different order. That is' how the matter stands. It is of the highest importance to have the point 'of law decided whether the Minister under the circumstances of difficulty already indicatedby Parliament, can, by virtue of section 160 of the Customs Act, fix a valuation for duty which cannot be impeached or set aside as anullity.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Has the High Court ordered the Commission?

Mr ISAACS - The Victorian Supreme Court. The matter has not come before the High Court. As things stand, the Commission will go,but in the meantime the Question of lawmay or may not be determined in another action now pending in South Australia. We desire to have that question of law determined. If the Commission goes, it will be an unnecessary expense.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Minister of Trade and Customs said that he would not take such action as appears to have been taken by the Government.

Mr ISAACS - I am not aware that my honorable colleague has done . so. If he has made, any such statement, the fact can be easily demonstrated. We simply rely on the pleadings as they stand. That is how the matter rests.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the AttorneyGeneral aware that yesterday, in the Supreme Court of South Australia, an application was made to the Full Court to compel a defendant - the Minister of Trade and Customs - to give particulars in a similar action touching the duty on harvesters, that the Minister refused, and that the Court ordered the particulars to be given ?

Mr ISAACS - Isawsome statement in regard to the matter in to-day's newspapers, but I deprecate the course of conduct which is now being pursued. Nothing could be more calculated to prejudice the fair trial of actions which are pending, and I must therefore decline to answer further questions on the subject.

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