2nd Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– The following cablegram appears in this morning’s Argus, and is published in almost identical language in the Age:-
Addressing the electors of the West Division of Birmingham, Mr. R. L. Outhwaite, late of Mel- bourne, who has been chosen as Liberal candidate for the constituency in opposition to Mr. Chamberlain, referred to “ General “ Booth’s proposals to send 5,000 emigrants to Australia. He characterized “ General1” Booth’s proposals as farcical, and declared that land monopoly in Australia had gone so far that shortly no land would be left for the sons of Australian farmers.
In view of the fact that the Government of New South Wales is now offering in England farms to intending settlers in the State, will the Prime Minister take steps to at once authoritatively correct the very false impression which this slander would give?
– I hope that the replies furnished by the Premiers of the States will enable us. to repel a large part of the insinuations conveyed by that statement. In Queensland, not 15 per cent, of the area of the State has yet been alienated.
– That is not the point.
– That answers the point made by Mr. Outhwaite.
– In Queensland the Government have had to buy back land in order to settle people on the soil.
– The assumption in England will be that Australia possesses very little land which is not alienated, and in the grasp of monopolists. Our reply should be, first, that in Western Australia and Queensland there are enormous areas of unalienated Crown land, and, next, that where land monopoly exists in Australia it is due to defective local laws, which can be amended. I hope that the evil will be remedied at the earliest possible moment.
– I would also like to ask the Prime Minister if he is aware that the
Age of Saturday last reports him as having spoken on the subject of immigation’ in the following terms: -
But what would tempt them to come was something which they, in this Parliament, had not the power to offer - the land. It was the land laws of this country which were the real obstacles to immigration….. Even our own people cannot get the land ; our farmers’ sons - the people who ought to be the first to be considered - cannot get it. This it was that drove people to America. Why were their Victorian farmers’ sons going to Queensland, to Canada, to America? Simply because they were land starved.
Will he see that tha,t statement receives the same authoritative contradiction as he has given to Mr. Outhwaite’s?
– The report of the Age is necessarily ari incomplete condensation. The statement made by me in this Chamber needs not the slightest contradiction or qualification. It was absolutely true.
Farmers’ sons have left Victoria by hundreds, because suitable land is not available in the State, and I am informed that many more farmers’ sons have left at least two of the other States for the same ‘ reason. Within the limitations I laid down, it is unfortunately true that Australia is losing population because of her defective land laws.
– Is it the intention of the Government to withdraw advertisements from newspapers which stoop to misrepresent, vilify, or discredit the Commonwealth ?
– Our advertisements are . distributed by the Government Printer, and the Commonwealth has adopted the Victorian practice of allowing no political interference with their distribution. The press, as a whole, is treated merely as a “commercial agency for making known to the public what the Government desire to make known.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to. -
That leave of absence for one month be given to the honorable member for Bendigo on theground of absence on public business.
The Clerk laid upon the table the following paper -
Return to an order of the House, dated 1st September, relating to correspondence on silver and decimal coinage.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice -
Whether he is aware -
– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. Yes, the statements referred to have come under my notice, but are not mine.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 19th September, vide page 2470) :
An officer shall inspect and examine all prescribed goods which are imported, or which are entered for exportor brought for export to any wharf or place.
The officer may where practicable take samples of any goods inspected by him pursuant to this section, and the samples so taken shall be dealt with as prescribed.
For the purposes of this section an officer may enter any ship, wharf, or place, and may break open any packages, and may do all things necessary to enable him to carry out his powers and duties under this section.
– I think that the Minister of Trade and Customs should now tell us what particular goods he proposes to include in the schedule. . The clause gives him absolute power to say what goods shall be inspected, and provides that such goods must be inspected. Whether the Department could carry out such wholesale inspection is another matter ; I do not think it could. It has been already pointed out that a tremendous staff of experts would be required to do the work provided for by the Bill. Under this clause there is no limitation as to what goods shall be prescribed, and the officers must inspect and examine all prescribed goods. A great deal of discussion would have been saved last night if we had been informed whether the Minister’s promise to the deputation from the Chamber of Commerce which waited on him would be carried out, and I think debate will be saved now if the Minister will at once say whether he proposes to limit the Bill to the extent indicated in his reply to the deputation.
– I propose to circulate this afternoon notice of a new clause, of which I intend to move the insertion. I made a certain promise to the deputation referred to, and I intend to keep it by submitting this clause. The new clause which I have had drafted will stand as clause 13A, and reads asfollows : -
Sections seven and ten of this Act shall not apply to any goods other than -
articles used for food or drink by man, or used in the manufacture or preparation of articles used for food or drink by man; or
medicines or medicinal preparations for internal or external use ; or
– What about apparel?
– When the insertion of the proposed new clause is moved, honorable members can take their own course in regard to it. So far as I can judge, there is some need for dealing with’ wearing apparel ; but I intend to propose this new clause to carry out my promise to the deputation, and its wording substantially embodies that promise so that I may not be accused of making one statement at one time and another statement at another time. I shall have something to say in reference to the application of this provision to apparel and other articles when the proposed new clause is under consideration, which will not be until the remaining clauses of the Bill have been dealt with. Several honorable members last night wished to obtain detailed information in regard to the proposed method of administering the measure after it has become law, and I am now prepared to give a rough outline of the procedure which it is intended to follow. In order to avoid expense and duplication of work, arrangements will be made in those States, where grading or inspection is now being carried on - and there are several States in which this work is being done to a limited extent - either to take over the staffs now employed by the States, in which case the States Governments will be saved further expense, or to make the States officials Commonwealth officers for the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this measure. In the latter case, these officials will continue to do their work as at present, and their grading, inspection, &c, will be accepted by the Commonwealth Department, if satisfactory arrangements can be made. No extra expense need be incurred in either case, and the Governments of the States will be asked which course they prefer to see adopted. I emphasize that statement to show That the intention is to interfere as little as possible with the working of the States Departments.
In those States where no machinery now exists for carrying out inspection, it will have to be created, chiefly in connexion with the Customs Department, but in every State there is some inspection, and in most of the States certain articles of export are graded. The wishes of each State as to the articles of export to which the measure shall be made to apply will be fully considered.
– Will not section 99 of the Constitution prohibit the differentiation between the States ?
– The States Governments are as anxious as is the Commonwealth Government that the reputation of their productions shall be fully main- tained. I had a discussion with the ComptrollerGeneral of Custom’s this morning as to the method which he would be likely to suggest for the adoption of similar trade “ descriptions for the various States, and I do not think that the Constitution Act will prohibit slight differences in regard to the various States. If it is afterwards held that it is the duty of the Commonwealth Government to see that the exact provisions exist in each State, the States Governments will be asked to harmonize their work with that which falls within the province of the Commonwealth. If the States authorities desire that the work shall still be performed by their own officers, we shall meet them by appointing their officers to carry out the provisions of the Act. If, on the other hand, they desire that the Customs officers should do all that is required, we can so arrange matters. I hope that I have madeit abundantly clear that it is intended tofully consult the wishes of the States, and I place this statement on record so that it: may be referred to in future in the event of my being called upon to administer theAct. The honorable and learned memberfor Northern Melbourne suggested that it might be necessary to make some amendment to meet the objections raised by thehonorable member for North Sydney with, regard to trade descriptions appearingin and swelling Customs entries. The honorable member for North Sydney said that trade descriptions would weight the: Customs entries to such an’ extent as *to make them even, more complicated andi difficult to deal with than they now are.. I have here ai statement from the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs with regard tothat matter. It reads as follows .- -
The provision as to Customs entry applies only where there is no trade description on the goodsthemselves.
Where these goods comply with the prescribed conditions they will be marked,, either by means of labels on the goods or by brands on the cases. Such additions-, will not be dealt with in Customs entries.. The memorandum proceeds -
In cases where there is a trade description or* the articles, under section 7 or 10 of the Bill,, nothing more is necessary or can be required.
The Comptroller-General is verv emphaticon that’ point. He maintains that nothing more can be required so far as the Customsentries are concerned -
The wording of the Customs entry would notbe affected by any such proclamation. There isno power under the Customs Act or this Bill torequire a trade description to be placed in theCustoms entry. Thus we might have a proclamation which required the exact ingredients of all’ patent medicines to be set out on the goods. TheCustoms entry would say only “ Patent Medicines “ as now - nothing more.
The Comptroller does not think that the provision in the Bill will have the effect that the honorable member for North Sydney supposes. I wish also to place these matters on record, so that there can be no mistake as to what is intended. The memorandum continues -
The provision as to the Customs entry would’ apply only in cases like this. Goods have notrade description on them. They are entered at the Customs under the Tariff heading (no more, no less) as “Carbonate of. Ammonia.” If they happened not to be carbonate of ammonia in thetrade sense, but rubbish, we could th<-n say,. “You have described your goods as carbonate, when they are not so ; consequently, you have given a false description.”
I brought with me a Customs entry which will serve as an illustration -
Paragraph 5 onthe back of the entry form reads as follows : -
The statement proceeds - .
The proclamation under sections 7 and 10 can only require a description on the goods themselves; it says nothing about the Customs entry. The wording of the sections shows this emphatically ; see the words “unless there is applied to them (i.e., the goods, not the entry) a trade description,” &c. The proclamation cannot affect the entry, and we cannot require on the Customs entry more than the law requires now. Though there is no necessity for any amendment yet to meet any objections, the following words- new clause- might be inserted : - “ In any Customs entry no further description of any goods shall be necessary other than such as may be required under any Customs Act in force.”
I am prepared to agree to that if any honorable member wishes to move an amendment in that direction. I think that I have made the position as clear as possible.
– I understand from the Minister that he does not intend that the Governor-General shall have power by proclamation to dictate what is to appear in a Customs entry.
– Certainly not.
– Then I would ask the Minister to see that the draftsman makes that clear in clause 7, because I have not the slightest doubt that clause 7, taken in conjunction with clause 3, confers power to dictate as to what shall appear in a Customs entry. The question dealt with in the clause now under consideration is the inspection of imports and exports, and I would ask the Minister whether the provision has been brought under the consideration of the Attorney-General or of the Law Officers.
– It was drafted by the Attorney-General.
– I should like to know whether the Attorney-General has considered the constitutional aspect of the provision. It purports to empower Customs officers to inspect and examine all goods entered for export, or brought for export to any particular place. Not only so, but the Customs officials are empowered to take samples of such goods, and for that purpose to enter any place in which the goods are stored. They arefurther authorized to break open packages, and to do everything necessary. Now, judging from the decisions of the High Court, that tribunal is disposed to follow American decisions, and it has been held in America, throughout a very long line of cases, that the Federal jurisdiction does not extend to goods which are intended for export, that the goods must have actually been started in motion on their way to parts abroad, or from one State to another. The American Courts have gone so far as to decide that timber cut in the hills of New Hampshire, and broughtdown to a wharf for the purpose of being sent to Maine, was not subject to the ‘Federal jurisdiction because it had not started in motion towards Maine. Of course, this is quite a novel line of thought for us - this conflict between the State and the Federal jurisdiction ; but it may be brought home to us very emphatically before long. According to those decisions, if a Customs officer broke into a store on a wharf where goods were lying for export, and took samples of such goods, an action for trespass would lie against the Commonwealth. In connexion with that action, the question would arise whether this clause was valid. The first impression the clause has produced upon my mind is that in America it would be held to be invalid. The American Courts have gone so far as to declare that if goods are intended and are marked for export, and are to start upon their export journey the very next day, or even the next hour, they are still within the State, as distinguished from the Federal jurisdiction. They must have actually been put in motion before the Federal jurisdiction commences. I would not venture, in the face of what the Minister has said, to move an amendment until the matter has been further considered, but I suggest that the Minister should undertake to bring the clause under the notice of the Attorney-General and the Law Officers, and that he should consent to its being recommitted in the event of any honorable member desiring that it should be further considered. I am strongly with the Minister in the object that is sought to be attained, but I do not desire to see the Commonwealth rendered liable to an action for damages arising out of an insufficientlyconsidered provision. The clause as it stands applies to goods which are not in movement from Australia to parts beyond it. It is sufficient that they should be entered for export or brought for export to a particular place. Under clause 6 every person who intends to export has to give certain notice. If the American cases apply, and I see no reason why they should not, the mere intention to export does not bring the goods within our jurisdiction. I consider this is a very grave matter, which should be looked into before we proceed further.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Minister of Trade and Customs).- I should scarcely feel justified in refusing the very reasonable request of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, whom I recognise as one of the highest constitutional authorities in this Chamber. As I said, the Bill was drafted under the supervision of, if not by, the AttorneyGeneral. At the same time, the point referred to by the honorable and learned member may not have been specially submitted to my honorable colleague for his consideration.
– I directed special attention to it during the second-reading debate.
– If the clause is agreed to I will undertake to bring it under the special notice of the Attorney-General, and, in the event of there being any doubt with regard to its validity, I will consent to its recommittal.
– That is if we ask for it.
– I listened to the statement of the Minister with a great deal of satisfaction. It was very good so far as it went, but it still left the provisions relating to exports in the same position as formerly. Every one will be gratified to know that the Minister intends to restrict the operation of the Bill so far as imports are concerned.
– And also with regard to exports.
– But only to the extent of modification. That is the point of my complaint. I think that we should merely look after our imports as to their purity, and let other countries look after our exports. That is the rule all over the world. I object to the Minister having power to examine exports and prescribe the descriptions that should be attached to them. I do not consider it is proper that Customs officials should have power to go into a ship’s hold, break open packages of fruit, and condemn the contents, if they are not in accordance with the standard prescribed by the Minister. The Minister does not propose to in any way modify the provisions of the Bill in that regard. I shall heartily support the amendment he proposes, but my point is that we ought to leave our exports alone, unless with the full concurrence of the States. The Minister has told us that he intends to consult the States as far as possible, but the point is that the States do not desire his interference in any way. The Government were told that very plainly at the Hobart Conference. The States declare that they can manage their own export trade better than can the Commonwealth. Therefore, I suggest that the Minister should confine the operation of this Bill to the protection of infant life, and of the consumers of the community generally. He should be content with insuring that goods imported are true to name and description, and in every way fit for human consumption. The suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, if it were incorporated in the Bill, would achieve that very desirable object. Why should the Minister fetter a health proposal of this kind, by taking unto himself power to interfere with the trade of our ports, both inwards and outwards? I ask the honorable gentleman not to apply to the export trade of Australia the drastic powers proposed, unless he first obtains the consent of the various States to do so. I think that we ought to let well alone in this matter. It has already been thoroughly thrashed out. The States assert that they do not desire our interference, so far as their exports are concerned. In no other country in the world are things mixed up in the way that the Minister is now proposing. I wish to particularly emphasize that point. We are constantly endeavouring to come into closer contact with the rest of the Empire. Then why cannot1 we follow the example which the Imperial Parliament has set us in .the Merchandise Marks Act? Why cannot we do, as is done in every other part of the world - look after our imports, and leave other countries to adopt the same practice in regard to the goods which we export? That seems to me so elementary a proposal that I wonder why the Minister wishes to step aside from :it and enforce the drastic powers provided for in this Bill. Let rae take the case of fruit to illustrate my meaning. This Bill provides that a shipper must give notice of his intention to export fruit The fruit is sent ‘to the wharf, and under the Bill it would then be obligatory on the part of a Customs officer to inspect it. For the purpose of examination, he might follow that fruit to the ship’s hold, and under clause 5 he might “break open any packages and do all things necessary to enable him to carry. out his powers and duties.” I say that such a course of - procedure cannot be necessary. The provision in question must be evaded if our fruit and butter industries are to be carried on. Why, I ask, should we enact impossible provisions in any Bill ?
– In what way is the provision impossible?
– As I have already pointed out, fruit may be growing upon the tree this morning, and may be shipped to-night for New Zealand. How is the Minister to be notified that a shipment is to be made, and how is the fruit to be assembled on the wharf for inspection before it is shipped? It is impossible to carry out trie provision without unnecessary interference, which may possibly lead to the destruction of the trade. I think that we ought, as far as possible, to make provisions which, by their very reasonableness. :may be easily carried out. This cannot be the case in regard to many articles of perishable produce. If our trade is to continue, this Bill must remain a dead-letter, and we ought not to aim at any such result.
In order to give effect to the views which I have indicated, I move -
That the words “or which are entered for export, or brought for export to any wharf or place,” be left out.
– I think that the Minister is to be congratulated1 upon having made to the Committee, even at this late stage, a statement which should have accompanied the introduction of this Bill. That statement has removed some of the clouds through which we have been endeavouring to grope our way in considering the provisions of the measure. I ‘am glad to see that in regard to the particular matter which was raised bv me last evening - I refer to the question of whether the full trade description which might be required from importers of any article should appear in the Customs entry - there is a proposal indorsed by the Comptroller-General to amend the Bill so as to make it clear that that shall not be a requirement. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne - whose opinion upon a legal question is infinitely to be preferred to my own - that under the proposal to combine the provision in respect of the Customs entry with clause % of the Bill; there is no doubt whatever that the proclamation could require a full detailed trade description to appear in that entry. Now the Minister states that the only intention is that if there is no other trade description, then the trade description should be included in the Customs ‘entry.
– Order ! I would point out to the honorable member that we are now adopting a rather unusual procedure. The honorable member is, upon a. statement made by the Minister, apparently about to discuss a matter which was really debated last evening. The Minister has arranged that this question of the Customs entry shall come up for consideration at a later stage, and if I allow the honorable member to proceed upon the lines he is now following, I shall, of course, have to extend the same privilege to every other honorable member, and I am afraid that the adoption of that course would not tend to facilitate business. Consequently, I ask the honorable member to confine his remarks to the question under- consideration. I did not prevent an incidental reference to the matter in question ; but it seems to me that the honorable member is about to enter upon a detailed discussion of a subject which will come up for consideration at a later stage.
Mr.DUGALD THOMSON.- I have no desire to transgress your ruling, sir. I was merely alluding to a question which was raised By the Minister, and to which reference has been made by other honorable members. In concluding my remarks, I only wish to say - and I mention the matter now, because the Minister has to consider the proposed amendment of the clause - in reference to the allusion by the ComptrollerGeneral to the importation of an article alleged on a Customs entry to be carbonate of ammonia, when it was not true to name, but was in reality rubbish, that there is no necessity to deal with such a matter in this Bill. Under section 234 of the Customs Act, any person passing a Customs entry false in any particular is liable to punishment. Incidentally, I would also draw the Minister’s attention to the fact that the services of State officers are availed of by the Commonwealth, and paid for by the States.
– The Commonwealth will partially pay for those services.
– On the other hand, where State officers are not available, the Commonwealth would provide all the staff that is necessary. The salaries paid to these officers would constitute “ new “ expenditure, and would be charged against the States upon a per capita basis; therefore some of the States, already paying for their own services, would also be called upon to partially pay for the services rendered in other States by Commonwealth officers. I think that the point raised by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne deserves the serious consideration of the Minister. It is very questionable whether the Commonwealth can treat goods as exports until they actually come under the control of the Customs authorities as exports. If the opinion expressed by the honorable and learned member be correct, the notice which it is necessary to give under a subsequent provision cannot be demanded by the Commonwealth. In any case, I think that the requirement to give notice is a very serious matter.
– Which clause are we discussing ?
– Clause 5.
– The honorable member is discussing clause 6.
– I am discussing the first and last paragraphs of clause 5, upon the question as to where the powers of the Commonwealth begin in regard to exports.
– The question only arises in respect of clause 6.
– It arises in connexion with the words “ which are entered for export ‘ ‘ in paragraph 1 of this clause. The question at issue is as to whether the power of the Commonwealth begins when goods are entered for export, or when they are actually being exported.
– They may be entered for export and not exported.
– I admit that it is a very proper thing not to impede in any way the operations of trade, but to facilitate them as far as possible. At the same time, it is very necessary that we should do something better than merely follow the practice of the Empire in this connexion. The deputy leader of the Opposition has affirmed that we should be content with looking after our. imports and that we should allow the other portions of the Empire to look after our exports. But what, I ask, is the practice whichthey usually adopt? It is to hurl upon usevery conceivable species of rubbish that they can. If we wish to follow their illustrious example in this respect, well and good.; but if, on the other hand, we desire to acquire in the markets of the world some reputation for selling decent goods, it would be just as well for us to have the assurance which the Government imprimatur can give that those goods are what they purport to be. Nothing upon earth differs; more widely than do the labels uponcertain goodsfrom the goods themselves. It appears to me that the illustration given by the honorable member for Parramattaas to fruit being on the trees in the morning, and on the ship in the afternoon, is remarkable one. As a matter of fact, half the apples shipped from Tasmania are picked at least a week - and. in some cases, a month, and even six weeks - before they are shipped.
– I will guarantee that there are hundreds and thousands of apples stored to-dav in Tasmania.
– Because the appleseason closed months ago.
– The honorable member for Parramatta must have had citrus fruits in mind ; but I should like to ask him whether New South Wales has exported any citrus fruits during the past five years.
– Any quantity have been exported to New Zealand.
– That may be so, but New Zealand is about the only place to which they have been exported. The honorable member has had more experience in such matters than I have had; but I do know that if a ship with a cargo of potatoes, onions, or fruit on board, comes in to port at 6 a.m., that cargo is inspected and passed twenty-five minutes after it has been placed on the wharf. That is done day after day.
– Inspection of that kind is only a farce.
– The honorable member may apply that term to any duty that may be well or indifferently discharged. This inspection, however, is properly regarded by the Health Board as a very important work. Under section 52 of the Customs Act, exhausted tea, and tea adulterated with spurious leaf, or with exhausted leaves is deemed a prohibited import whilst -
All goods having thereon or therewith any false suggestion of any warranty guarantee or concern in the production or quality thereof by any person public officials Government or country - are also prohibited.
– Is notice given of the inspection to which the honorable and learned member has referred?
– No; because there are powers under the Customs Act that have to be exercised in respect of various matters.
– Then why should we provide for a notice in this case?
– Because it will facilitate the work. I hold that the amendment ought not to be carried, for the simple reason that it is possible now for a man to ruin our markets in England by a shipment of inferior fruit.
– It cannot be done.
– It can be done. If a man in England purchased twenty-five tons of butter from New South Wales, and found that it was “cheesy,” that fact would operate prejudicially to other consignments from the same State.
– But what if it were sent as “pastry” butter?
– Can the sale of butter that is unfit for human consumption be justified on the ground that it is sold only as “pastry” butter? I presume that a man does not expect to obtain the best factory butter when he buys pastry butter.
– He inspects the consignment that he proposes to buy.
– He might buy it on the guarantee of the Government stamp. One would imagine, from the interjections of Honorable members opposite, that all sales of butter were perfectly bond fide. The man on the box has to earn his living by selling the butter consigned to him, and he will sell it whether it is oleomargarine or axle-grease. The sooner he clears the various lots catalogued the better it is for him. It is very important that our produce should have a reputation on the English market, because competition is very keen. It is all very well to say that the Danish supply of butter has reached its limits, but we cannot overlook the fact that the Siberian, Russian, and other European sources have yet to be tapped. Those places ate only a few days’ journey from England, and we ought to do our best to put the best article on the market, so that a buyer will accept the Australian brand as an assurance that he is getting a good article.
– This Bill does not provide for a brand being put on the goods.
– It would prevent one man from ruining the whole market by an inferior shipment. I do not hesitate to say that the most conservative and ignorant people in the Commonwealth are those who send their goods to England.
– And some of those who try to regulate the trade are far worse.
– As an illustration of the way in which apples are packed in Tasmania, I am informed that one man, 15 stone in weight, stands on a case while a fellow worker nails down the lid.
– I have also seen that done.
– If such consignments are found to be bad on reaching England, an attempt is made to show that the fault is due to defective refrigerating machinery. I have good evidence that apples are packed in Tasmania in the way I have stated. We are here to look after the interests of the Commonwealth, and we cannot give special consideration to the position of Tasmania. We desire to establish a high reputation for our produce in the markets of the world, and it appears to me that the passing of this Bill will materially help us to do so.
– I have a prior amendment to move.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That the word “ shall,” line 1, Be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ may.”
During the debate on the motion for the second reading of this Bill, I showed what effect legislation of this kind was likely to have on our export trade. While in Tasmania a few days ago I found that the fruit-growers and shippers of that State viewed with alarm the passing of the Bill, and after the remarks made by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, one can understand why they should dread the passing of such legislation by a Parliament, many of the members of which display an ignorance of the very rudiments of the trade which they dare to criticise. The honorable and learnedmember for West Sydney has spoken of fruit being stored for weeks and months before being shipped from Tasmania to England. As a matter of fact, he has confused shipments of fruit to the mainland with consignments to the English market.
– Does the honorable member say that apples are not stored for a month in Tasmania?
– I say that not an apple stored to-day in, Australia will be shipped to England. The honorable and learned member has based his opposition to the amendment on a wholly wrong foundation. Every argument that he has advanced is applicable only to the Inter-State trade, to which he, as a member of the legal profession, ought to know this Bill will not apply.
– I accept the honorable member’s word that apples for export are not stored in Tasmania, but I do say that apples are stored, and that some will be found there to-day.
– There are probably hundreds of thousands of apples stored there to-day, but not one of them would come under the operation of this measure.
– But is it not possible that, with the growth of the apple trade, the fruit will have to he stored as I have said?
– No ; because our only chance of success in shipping apples to England lies in the fact that we are able to put them on the English market when Americanand European supplies are not available.
– It is proposed that this Bill shall apply to the Inter-State trade.
– But as it stands it will not apply to it. I can assure the honorable and learned member for West Sydney, who appeared to doubt the accuracy of the statement made by the honorable member for Parramatta that apples are on the trees in the morning, and on the ship at night, that they are on board the ship within twenty-four hours of their being picked. The vessels by which fruit is consigned from Tasmania’ go there under special contract. A shipper purchases a certain amount of space, to fill which he may require 30,000, 40,000, or even 50,000 bushels of apples. But because of wet weather, or for some other reason, there may be a shortage, and he will then telegraph to his agents in the country to at once send down 2,000, 3,000, or even 5,000 bushels. Sometimes apples are hanging on the trees only two days before being sent away by the English steamers. They are picked, packed, and conveyed from-, say, the Huon to Hobart by small steamers, which run alongside, and transfer them to the English steamers, without any attempt on the part of the State to grade them, the State Government having found it impossible to carry out what this clause makes mandatory. But it does not pay to ship awav faulty apples, because, even with the reduction of 33 per cent. which we now enjoy, the freight and charges are much more than the value of inferior fruit. I am convinced that the Minister wishes to assist this industry, and that he will not insist on the provision if we can show that it will seriously hinder exportation. I have always advocated that every case of fruit shipped to England shall have branded on it in letters1½inches long the name of the grower. That would give the best guarantee obtainable as to its quality.
– But a man may send inferior fruit, expecting only an inferior return.
– There is always a great rush to send away fruit by the first boat of the season, because the early shipments’ obtain the highest prices. An inspector who did not know this would, no doubt, condemn the fruit as unfit for export, because it is fruit which no one in Tasmania or Australia would buy, being immature. But it is most valuable to the grower, because it reaches England when no other apples are on the market. The average price of the fruit shipped from Hobart this year has been over 5s. a bushel clear, which is the best answer that can be given to the statement that inferior fruit is shipped. If the Minister agrees to the substitution of the word “ may “ for the word “ shall,” he will still ‘have power to interfere when he thinks that an attempt is being made to defraud, or to carry on improper practices. I do not care how high a penalty is imposed on the man who ships as first class what is second or third class, or deleterious.
– “May” - at whose discretion?
– At the discretion of the Minister. As I am not a lawyer, I shall not discuss the point raised by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, and mentioned during the secondreading debate by the honorable and learned member for Angas. Practically all the wharfs and sheds in Tasmania are owned by the Marine Board, and I do not know if a Commonwealth officer could break into one of those sheds for the purpose of inspecting the fruit stored there.
– I will accept the amendment.
– The clause provides for the inspection of both imports and exports. So far as the inspection of exports is concerned, I think the proposal of the honorable member for Franklin a very sensible one, but, in my opinion, the inspection of imports should be imperative in every case. I suggest that the clause should be amended to read - .
Shall inspect and examine all prescribed goods which are imported, and may examine all prescribed goods which are entered for export.
– I think that the Minister has done well to accept the amendment. I would, however, suggest the omission of the word “ break “ in sub-clause 3. It is sufficient to provide that an officer may “ open “ any packages.
– It seems to me not to make much difference whether the word “may” or the word “shall” is employed. The Minister will have the right to limit his prescriptions to particular classes, and if inspection is a good thing in regard to the goods falling within the prescription, it should be thorough, and carried out with every care. I am not at all impressed by the practical difficulties suggestedby the honorable member for Franklin and the honorable member for Cowper, because the very practices to whichthey object are being followed in some of the States without the slightest inconvenience. The honorable member for Franklin contends that fruit which is packed on one day, and has to be stowed in the ship’s hold on the next day, cannot very well be inspected under the provisions of the Bill. But no real practical difficulty need arise in the rare cases in which fruit would have to be shipped under such conditions. Furthermore, I do not consider that the honorable member would facilitate matters in any way by substituting the word “ may “ for the word “shall,” as he proposed, because his amendment would be made in the wrong place. Throughout this debate I have been endeavouring to arrive at a conclusion as to what can be accomplished by the Commonwealth that cannot be done by the States. If we cannot do better than the States authorities, we should leave the whole matter alone. I require a little more information upon this question. Some of the States are already doing excellent work, and it appears to me that under a Bill of this kind they might be to some extent hampered.
– Does the honorablemember know of any State that has asked for a measure of this kind ?
– No; and, furthermore, I am not aware of any organization of producers or shippers that has asked for such a measure. In connexion with the Sea Carriage of Goods Bill the initiative was taken by the fruit-growers of South Australia, who were keenly alive to the necessity of some legislation to protect themselves against losses through neglect on the part of ship-owners. If any advantage is to be gained by passing such a measure as that now before us, surely those whose living depends upon the success of the export trade might be expected to show a sufficient amount of interest to induce them to ask for this legislation. In the absence of an expression of any wish on their part, we may assume that they do not want the Bill. The Commonwealth could bring; about uniformity in the conditions regu- lating the inspection of exports; but a similar result might be brought about by means of an agreement among the States; I am not sure, however, that uniformity is desirable, because the regulations required have to be adapted to the varying conditions of the different States. Those States which are doing nothing in the matter of inspection, and which allow of the exportation of any goods, irrespective of quality, should be brought into line.
An Honorable Member. - Which of the -States do that?
– I am not aware that New South Wales has any system of inspection for exports.
– Yes, she has a Board of Exports.
– The Board of Exports is of no use, and has never done any good.
– Neither will this Bill Le of any use.
– If Ave cannot accomplish any more good than has been achieved by the Board of Exports in New South Wales, we should allow matters to remain as they are. We want legislation of. a practical character, or none at all. Under present circumstances, I see some difficulty in the way of empowering the Minister to do the work contemplated. The States are extending their operations every year, because the officials are recognising the necessity for more and more inspection and supervision. They are doing the work well now, and we had better leave -them to carry it on for the present. If we are subsequently requested by them, or by any important section of the community, to aid in the work, I shall be perfectly ready to assist in bringing the Commonwealth powers into operation. I have had considerable experience with regard to -the State control of exports, and I have learned that it is best, to move slowly in -these matters. I contend that the good work now being done in certain States is “based upon the result of experience, and I am inclined to support the suggestion of the honorable member for Parramatta that -the provisions relating to the supervision of exports should be eliminated from the Bill.
– I listened with pleasure to the very practical speech of the (honorable member for Boothby. Not only did he evince a desire to improve this ^measure, but he has given us the result of his wide practical experience in connexion with the export trade. I think that the amendment should be agreed to. As the clause stands, the Customs officials would fail in their duty if they did not examine every article imported or exported, and I do not think that we should place trie Minister and his officers in any, such invidious position. I was pleased to hear the state-, ment made by the Minister to-day, which was fully in accord with the promise he made to the deputation representing the Chamber of Commerce. I would suggest that, in view of the very large number of amendments that are being proposed, and of the radical alterations which are being made in the clause, it would be better to postpone it for the present, and recommit it at a later stage.
– I could not consent to adopt that course.
– I regret that the Minister so readily accepted the amendment, because it appears to me that it will be fraught with very serious consequences.
– No, it will not.
– We should take care that any legislation we may pass will prove effective. It is proposed that we should enact legislation which will supersede the laws at present in existence in some of the States. I contend that by substituting the word “may” for “ shall “ we shall be robbing the provision of the only word which is likely to make the administration of the law effective. There is no reason why the inspection of goods should not be made mandatory in this Bill.
– All powers should be used with discretion.
– All power is used with discretion by sensible men. The question at issue is one of supreme importance to the effective administration of this Bill. It has been suggested by the honorable member for Herbert that the proposed alteration should apply only to exports. I do not agree with him. If we are to see that the exports of any State are of a certain quality before they leave our shores, the Minister should have full power to cause them to be inspected. It should not be for him in his discretion to say, “ I will,” or “I will not.” We should make this provision mandatory, and we should then be able to call the Minister to account for any dereliction of duty. I quite recognise that the sympathies of honorable members opposite are in favour of the exporters and importers. With very few exceptions the whole of their arguments have been based upon the protection and preservation of the rights of exporters and importers to impose upon the consumers in the same way as they have done hitherto.
– The honorable member has no right to make that statement.
– I make the statement upon my own responsibility. If the Minister of Trade and Customs knows that in the interests of the consumers fresh legislation is necessary, that fact in itself constitutes a sufficient justification for submitting a Bill of this character. I deeply regret that the honorable gentleman has accepted the amendment proposed without due reflection, and I shall feel it my duty to press the question to a division.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Minister of Trade and Customs). - I think the honorable member for Gwydir ought to know that if I conceived this matter to be an important one I should fight for it strenuously. Before the Bill is passed I may have to sit very firmly in regard to some of its other provisions. That being the case, I am not justified in standing out for small details. Before I agreed to accept the amendment I consulted my officers as to what would be its probable effect. Its effect will be that regulations will be framed and directions issued to the Customs officers, and the Comptroller-General will have power to direct the Customs officers to inspect and examine all goods imported or entered for export, if he thinks it necessary to do so. But I venture to submit that there will be cases in which such a proceeding will be entirely unnecessary. Take the case to which the honorable member for Franklin referred as an example; I allude to the export of apples. I think that he is wrong in declaring that certain classes of apples are not kept for a considerable time before they are exported. But in the case of recognised growers - such as are to be found in the neighbourhood of Hobart, and whose orchards can be seen any day in driving along the Newtown road - where is the necessity for inspecting their apples at the ship’s side? If I were an inspector I could see whether their fruit was all right merely by driving along the road adjacent to their properties or walking through the orchard.
– Fruit diseases are developed very rapidly.
– Not in connexion with apples. The codlin moth is the worst disease, and I do not think it develops very rapidly in the case of that particular fruit. I merely wish to point out that there are certain orchards, which are well known, and in which there is no necessity for any detailed inspection, to be insisted upon. The only inspection which might be required in such instances would relate to the size of the cases, and to ascertaining whether the fruit was properly packed. It is quite true - as the honorable and learned member for West Sydney has said - that fruit has been exported in cases upon which weights had to be placed, in order to enable them to be nailed down.
– That is faulty packing.
– Undoubtedly . I merely wish to impress upon honorable members that the substitution of the word “may” for “shall,” will leave some little discretionary power in the hands of the Comptroller-General. The instructions issued by that officer will, I think, meet every case.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- I am very anxious that the honorable member for Gwydir should be under no misapprehension in regard to this matter, and I would like to show why a little discretion should be left to the Minister, so far as inspection is concerned. I claim that to arbitrarily enforce that inspection would practically ruin some sections of our fruitgrowing industry. Take the export of oranges, as an example. They may be growing upon the trees in the morning, and may be required for shipment to New Zealand upon the evening of the same day. I do not say that that is the rule, but such cases frequently happen.
– It is an exceptional case.
– It is a very common occurrence. The same remark is applicable to peaches and plums. The object of the grower is to keep them on the tree until the last possible moment. If he were compelled to assemble that fruit for inspection at a place decided upon by the Minister, after giving notice to an inspector - who might be engaged elsewhere - it might mean great loss to him. I am sure that the honorable member for Gwydir will recognise that there really is some reason why the
Minister should be vested with discretionary powers in regard to the inspection of fruit. I was very much amused at the honorable member for Darwin rating the honorable member for Boothby upon having become a crusted Tory, merely because he was not prepared to place everything under the aegis of the Commonwealth Government. Recently we have been getting some strange definitions of democracy and Toryism in this House. We are arriving at a singular position when an honorable member may not discuss the desirability of State versus Commonwealth control, without being called a Tory. Honorable members have simply declared that the States have not asked for this legislation. What is asked is that certain police powers should be exercised by the Commonwealth Government in the interests of the health of the community. If the Minister would confine himself to those functions nobody would support him more readily than members of the Opposition. We all know that very serious inroads are being made upon our infantile life, because of the deleterious substances upon which the children are fed.
– By accepting this amendment, I am endeavouring to meet the honorable members as far as possible.
– My complaint is that the Bill goes infinitely further than existing circumstances require. If the Minister would confine the operation of the Bill to the purpose I have indicated, he might do a most useful piece of work; but I venture to say that if he insists upon his proposal he will bring upon himself the obloquy of men engaged in all kinds of business, who may find their operations seriously interfered with, and hampered at every turn. Before the Minister interferes with the export of Australian produce, his first duty ought to be to consult with the Governments of the States in regard to the matter. As the clause stands, it is a clear illustration of the truth of the statement made over 100 years ago by Edmund Burke, that democracy very often legislates on the people, and not for them. In this Bill we are certainly legislating on the people, and not for them. They have made no request for it, nor has any such request been preferred by the States Governments, and I think that the least we can do is to exercise a little discretion in regard to the arbitrary powers that we are taking.
– I regret to find that the Minister is prepared to allow this clause to be so whittled away that it will become absolutely valueless.
– This is the first amendment that I have accepted.
– If the Bill is to be made ineffective by the acceptance of every amendment suggested by the Opposition, who are blind to the progress of the age in which we live, it seems to me that we had better throw it into the waste-paper basket, and make a fresh start. I fail to see how the amendment of the clause in the way proposed would help us to achieve the object that we have in view. We shall have to call for a division, in order that a sharp line of distinction may be drawn between the Tories and the true representa tives of the people. I am satisfied that honorable members of the Opposition are sincere in the views they profess, but they are incapable of keeping step with the march of progress, andunconsciously desire to give to certain traders special privileges that are an encroachment on the rights of the rest of the community. It is more in sorrow than in anger that I make this statement, but I certainly regret to see the Minister surrendering to the Opposition in the way he has done.
Question - That the word “shall,” proposed to be left out, stand part of the clause - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 37
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- I move -
That the words “or which are entered for export or brought for export to any wharf or place,” lines 2 to 4, be left out.
My object is to test the opinion of the Committee as to whether the Bill shall be confined to the exercise of police powers for the protection of the public health, which is what was contemplated when it was originally drafted. I do not intend to argue the matter, because I think we have had enough argument on the subject.
Mr. HIGGINS (Northern Melbourne). - I shall vote against the amendment, but I wish to explain that in doing so I do not commit myself to a recognition of the constitutional validity of the provision. I have already called attention to that matter, and I leave myself free to consider later whether the words will or will not be valid.
Question - That the words proposed to be left out stand part of the clause- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … …11
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move -
That after the word “place,” line 4, the words “or passing from one State to another,” be inserted.
When speaking yesterday I said that I was desirous of having the scope of the Bill extended so that it may apply to trade between the States. It is necessary, not only to prevent the importation into the Commonwealth of goods which are not what they are described to be, but also to prevent the exportation of such goods from one State to another.
– What power have we to do that?
– Paragraph 1., of section 51, of the Constitution provides that-
The Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws for the peace, order, and good government of the Commonwealth, with respect to : -
I know that it is contended by some honorable members that the Constitution prevents us from doing what I propose ; but, as a layman, I am of the opinion that we are not prevented from regulating trade between the States as we can regulate it between other countries and the Commonwealth. However, I shall be very glad to hear arguments on the subject. I do not think that the Bill now goes far enough. Honorable members who are opposed to it say that it will give very little protection to consumers, and therefore it should be the first consideration of the Committee to extend that protection. I desire that the consumer shall not have inferior goods palmed off on him, possibly at high prices.
– Why not try to prohibit that in any State ? We have no more power to dp one than to do the other.
– I acknowledge that we have no power to prohibit it in a State, and no one is more sorry than I am that we cannot pass legislation prohibiting the adulteration within the States of food, apparel, medicine, furniture, jewellery, and many other things. The very fact that this Parliament is evincing a desire to extend the scope of the measure will probably induce the States to do everything in their power to prevent fraud. I hope that honorable members will avail themselves of the opportunity now presented to protect the public and honest traders against fraudulent practices on the part of the manufacturers.
– I thoroughly agree with the object which the honorable member has in view, but I think he has proposed his amendment in the wrong place. I had proposed to move amendments with a similar end in view in clauses 7 and 10. My intention was to propose that after the word “ Australia,” in clause 7, the words “or from one State into another” should be inserted. I think that that is the proper place in which to make the amendment.
– The amendment appears to me to be a reasonable one, if it be desired to give the consumers of Australia some small degree of protection to health. It has been already shown that the local consumer will not be protected by the measure as it stands, and those who have urged this objection have been met with the reply that the States Governments will be able to protect their own people from the operations of any bogus industries. The States Governments, however, whilst they may be able to regulate their own. industrial matters, will not be in a position to prevent spurious goods from being manufactured in other States and transferred to their own. The position is one of some difficulty, because it might appear that we are endeavouring to revive the conditions which prevailed prior to the establishment of InterState free-trade.
– What would be the use of Inter-State free-trade if such an amendment were passed ?
– I admit that the amendment, viewed in that aspect, is a somewhat serious one, but I would point out that some conditions are more important than even the maintenance of ^unregulated trade between the States. I am very much afraid that the conditions inimical to the health of the community will be rather aggravated than otherwise by the operation of this measure, unless an amendment similar to that now before us is adopted.
– This is not a health Bill.
– But we are told by the Minister that it is, for he has to-Bay given notice of an amendment to limit its operation to foodstuffs. The amendment proposed By the honorable member for Hindmarsh is the first indication we have had of any anxiety to protect the health of the community, and I do not see how any one can very well object to it.
– I think the amendment would prove abso lutely ineffective, because section 92 of the Constitution provides -
On the imposition of uniform duties of Customs, trade, commerce, and intercourse among the States, whether by means of internal carriage or ocean navigation, shall be absolutely free.
Although Commonwealth officers might inspect goods and declare them to be bad or likely to prove injurious to the public, they, could not prevent them from passing from one State to another, because the Commonwealth is powerless to interfere with the freedom of trade between the States. The States authorities might under their health laws destroy certain goods, and perhaps the Commonwealth might be in a position to adopt a similar course, but the mere inspection provided for in the clause would be useless. My opinion is that we should not merely compel importers to place true descriptions upon their goods, but should provide for the absolute exclusion of all goods of a deleterious or fraudulent character. That is what we must do if we are anxious to preserve the health of. the community. Under the Bill as it stands a shipment of boots of the class described by the honorable member for Darling would merely need to have a true description attached to them in order to secure entry into the Commonwealth, and restrictions of that kind are absolutely useless. The attempts made in the past to enlighten consumers by means of trade descriptions entirely failed to prevent impositions, and they will fail in this case. If we could prevent spurious goods from being sent from one State to another, I should be only too pleased to support the amendment ; but in view of the provision of the Constitution to wHich I have referred, it seems to me that we are helpless.
Mr. WEBSTER (Gwydir). - I was somewhat amused at the statement made by the honorable member for New England to the effect that the Commonwealth cannot exercise any control with regard to goods passing from one State to another. He ought to know that the Commonwealth has power to regulate trade and commerce in the way now proposed. _ The honorable member has complained of the ineffectiveness of the Bill to protect the home consumers, and I cannot understand his raising a constitutional objection immediately an attempt is made to achieve the end to which he professes to attach so much importance. The amendment will at least have the effect of affording some guarantee to tEe States that the goods imported by them from other States will bear a true description.
Under this amendment, if manufacturers forwarded a quantity of goods into the adjoining States, it would be the business of the Commonwealth to see, for example, that they were labelled “boots made of leather,” or “boots made of paper,” as the case might be. I contend that more injury is hidden in a boot which is made of, paper than is concealed in many bottles of patent medicine. There is nothing which is more likely to undermine the health of a’ child than compelling it to sit for hours in a school whilst wearing boots which are saturated with water. It is important, therefore, that in respect of goods passing from one State to another the public should know exactly what they are buying. If the amendment be adopted it will indicate to the States the necessity of following our example by enacting legislation to deal with goods the moment they pass the!.r borders. We shall thus give the consumers a guarantee that the goods which thev purchase are what they purport to be. I shall support the amendment, without which I regard the Bill as a mere make-believe. It has been said that we have no right to trespass upon State rights. I say without hesitation that if we allow the States to dictate to us upon every quest bn which affects in a greater or less degree their legislation, we do not understand the Constitution or the powers which it confers upon us.
– There is a greater trouble than that. We cannot get the Committee to see the local bearings of this question.
– Since the Federation was established. I do not know of one question which has been remitted to the States, and which has been handled by them in other than a most unsatisfactory manner. We have an illustration of that in the treatment which the New South Wales Parliament is according the Federal Capital onestion. It is about time that we shouldered the responsibilities imposed upon us by the Constitution, and gave the States to understand that this Parliament is not elected merely to echo the opinions of their own Legislatures, but to frame laws which we regard1 as essential to the interests of the Commonwealth as a whole. I shall sunport the amendment, because it will indicate to the States that this Parliament is determined to accept the responsibilities imposed upon it by the Constitution. As a result they mav learn a lesson which will cause them to be less inquisitive in matters which do not properly belong to the domain of State legislation.
Mr. KNOX (Kooyong). - I was under the impression that since the adoption of a uniform Tariff all the Inter-State barriers which previously existed had been broken down. This amendment, I fear, will have the effect of re-erecting them. At the same time, it seems to me that those who entertain the same views as myself will feel compelled to support the proposal of the honorable member for Hindmarsh, if only for the sake of consistency. To effectively carry out his proposal, it will be necessary to conduct upon the various State borders the same critical examination of goods which formerly obtained there. Under this Bill we are arrogating to ourselves the power not only to protect our own consumers, but to declare the quality of the goods which the Chinaman, or the individual in England, India, or South America shall consume. Surely if we are going to protect these far-distant people, it is our bounden duty to protect the consumers within the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Parramatta by his amendment endeavoured to give effect to that principle. He said, “ Let us protect ourselves in regard to our imports, and let other people take care of themselves.” That was a perfectly logical position to take up. At the same time, I could not entirely agree with him, because I think that we have something to gain by establishing a high standard in connexion with our exports. Surely, if we are to protect the consumer in regard to our imports, it is our duty to go further and to see that the local manufacturer does not manufacture for distribution in the States goods the consumption of which would » prove harmful to the individual. The honorable member for Hindmarsh, from that view, deserves the support of the Committee in the position which he has taken up. It is an unfortunate position, but it is a logical one, following upon the demand which has been made for the extreme application of the provisions which underlie this Bill to the detriment of trade.
Mr. BAMFORD (Herbert). - I regret that I cannot agree with the honorable member for Hindmarsh, because it seems to me that his amendment goes much further than has been contemplated by the framers of the Bill. The weak portion of the measure, to my mind, is that we cannot prevent the importation of any goods. It would be beneficial, I think, from the Australian stand-point, if we could prohibit the importation of inferior goods instead of providing that they shall be truthfully labelled and described, as the Bill proposes. Let us suppose that goods find their way into a, warehouse, and are then repacked and sent up to the southern part of New South Wales from Melbourne. In that case we should not only require an army of inspectors upon the border, but we should have to maintain a number of analytical chemists there in addition. If, as an alternative, samples were taken there, and forwarded for examination, the goods would require to be held, up on the border until that examination had been completed. Putting aside the constitutional aspect of the question, which must be considered, it seems to me that the amendment is an impracticable one, and one which it would not be wise to adopt at this stage. In my opinion, the Bill should be redrafted.
– Is the honorable member opposed to the whole Bill?
– I do not say that I am not. The measure is not one that, as a whole, commends itself to me.
– It will be ineffective in its operation.
– Undoubtedly it will be. We cannot follow goods when they arrive here, and to attempt to follow them from one State to another is, to my mind, an absurdity.
– I wish to take your ruling, sir, as to whether the amendment is in order. I hold that it goes quite beyond the scope of the measure. The scope of the Bill is indicated in its title, which is “ A Bill for an Act relating -to commerce with other countries.”
– The Minister proposes to alter that title.
– If that be the intention qf the Minister, well and good ; but unless an alteration in that direction is effected, the amendment proposed is entirely irrelevant to the scope and intention of the measure.
– Is riot the title irrelevant to the contents of the Bill ?
– Not so far as I am able to see, but with this proposal it would be so. The amendment proposes to deal with Inter-State trade, while the title shows that the Bill is one which relates to commerce with other countries. This amendment is clearly outside the scope df the Bill, and I ask you to rule that it is not in order.
– I would point out to the honorable member in the first place that we have not yet dealt with the title of the Bill ; and secondly, that an indication was given by the Minister that if certain amendments were made, he himself would propose an amendment of the title. In these circumstances, I rule that the amendment is in order.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).Reference has been made to the desirableness of consistency in our legislation. I would remind honorable members that the moment we begin to discuss the question of consistency, we find ourselves confronted by all kinds of legislative absurdities. We do not need to ask particularly whether a measure is logical or consistent; the one question that we have to ask ourselves is whether it is a wise or prudent one. Legislating as we are for the people of the Commonwealth, that should be our first duty. I therefore dismiss altogether the question of whether or not the amendment is logical or consistent with something that has gone before. All the logic that we may apply to this provision will not enable it to accomplish the purpose of its advocates.
– Not the whole purpose.
– That is so. The only way in which we can protect the infant, about whom we hare heard so much, and for whom we have” so tender a regard, from being poisoned bv deleterious foods, is to follow those foods to the infant itself. That, however, will not be possible under the Bill.
– The clause goes a little way in, that direction.
– It will enable us to go as far as the border of any State, but the moment such food crosses the border it may be manipulated, and the infants who consume it may continue to be poisoned.
– Once it crosses the border of a State, the State Government may step in.
– Why should we force them to take that action if they have no wish to do so? They ought to do so now.
– A State cannot deal with an article that goes beyond its borders.
– Does not the honorable member see that the Government, of a State can deal effectively with any matter arising within the boundaries of that
State? If the health laws of a State are strictly applied, that is all- that is required ; but unless they are so applied by the local authorities, all our Inter-State regulations will be of no avail. I therefore say that, in the first place, the amendment will fail to achieve the object which the honorable member for Hindmarsh so laudably seeks. In the next place, it appears to me that in its actual working it will mean Inter- State protection, or, if honorable members please, Inter- State prohibition. It will really mean the double-banking of the police powers which are already exercised in the various States, and which amount to prohibition. The late Attorney-General, through the late Prime Minister, informed me, in answer to a question affecting the export of fruit from New South Wales to Western Australia, that the Commonwealth could not interfere with these police powers, which were strictly reserved under the Constitution to the States themselves. In Western Australia, and indeed in most of the States, fruit is inspected as it comes in. Honorable members must not believe that this inspection is to be carried out free of charge. The Minister will charge for the work so carried out in each of the States, and those charges will’ practically mean the prohibition of Inter- State trade at certain times of the year.
– If any charge be made it will be passed on to the consumer.
– The consumer will not have to pay, because he will not be affected. I am pointing out that these inspectorial charges may amount to the prohibition, of trade as between the States. That is the effect of the charges for inspection made by Western Australia. One of the chief points of controversy at the recent conference of fruitgrowers was as to what could be done to break down those barriers in the form of special State charges that practically prevent the apples of Tasmania and the oranges of other States from entering Western Australia.
– The inspection has a lot to do with it, and it is very bad.
– If the inspection be faulty as well as costly,’ how can we guarantee proper supervision being exercised under the provisions of this Bill? To carry out the terms of the amendment, we should require to have inspectors on the borders, and the proceeding would be a very costly one.
– The honorable member said that the work should be done by the States. If it were, the same cost would have to be incurred.
– I say that theStates are taking action so far as produce is concerned, and are carrying, out the law in a way which, owing, to its costliness and rigidity, is tantamount to prohibition. With respect tothe other articles which the honorable member desires to be inspected, the only result of the passing of the amendment would be the multiplication of inspectors, and the total prohibition of Inter-State trade.. These are practical difficulties which I should like some honorable member to meet. I am as anxious as are other honorable members to insure the purity and wholesomeness of our food supplies; but I am not prepared to go the length of prohibiting any kind of interchange between the States by multiplication of measures of this kind. I am not speaking at random, for the obstacles placed in the way of Inter-State trade to-day are so numerous that we might just as well have a Tariff wall between some of the States. Honorable members know that by voting for this amendment they will absolutely kill some sections of trade between the States.
– I should regret, for several reasons, to see the amendment passed. I think, in the first place, that it would mean the abolition of InterStatetrade, and I hold that it is really unconstitutional. I would point out to the honorable member for Hindmarsh, who is doubtless actuated by the best of intentionsin submitting this amendment to the Committee, that he is receiving support fromunexpected quarters. Some of the opponents of the Bill, finding that a direct attack upon it will not succeed, are anxious to destroy it by securing the passing of a destructive amendment. When I asked the honorable member what power we had to pass such an amendment as this, he referred me to sub-section 1 pf section 51 of the Constitution, which gives the Parliament power to make laws relating to trade and .commerce with other countries, and among the States. Quick and Garran give the following quotation from an American decision on the question of what is commerce, and as the section bearing onthis point in the Constitution of the United States is verv similar to that in the Constitution of the Commonwealth, the honor- able member will recognise the importance of- this ruling -
At the same time certain things, though capable of being transported and exchanged, do not come within the true definition of commerce. Thus, meat may be at one time a fit article of commerce ; if it becomes putrid it ceases to be merchantable ; it loses its commercial quality, and passes beyond the domain of the commercial power.
At the very time that we ought to take action in regard to noxious or deleterious foods, we should not be able to do so, because, according to this decision, they would not be “commerce” within the meaning of the Constitution. It would be impossible for the Commonwealth to follow goods passing from State to State unless we were prepared to station a very large number of Customs officials on their borders. In the case of Coe v. Errol, 116 U.S., 517 - another United States decision, quoted by Quick and Garran - it was laid down that -
Commerce does not come within Federal protection or control until its transportation from one State to another, or from a State to a foreign country, has begun.’ Even preparation for exportation is not sufficient. The deposit of logs in a river running within one State, in order to ship them into another State, does not mark the beginning of Federal jurisdiction.
In view of this decision, the honorable member for Hindmarsh will recognise that it would be absolutely necessary for the Commonwealth, in order to have control over them, to have officials on the spot at the time that these deleterious foods were being passed from one State to another. There is one other point bearing on the question whether the amendment comes within the scope of a Bill dealing with imports and exports, to which I should like to refer. It was held in the case of Woodruff v. Parham, 8 Wall, 123 - quoted in Quick and Garran -
That the prohibition did not apply to goods carried from one State of the Union to another; such goods were not exports or imports. Imports were commodities coming from foreign countries info the Union, and exports were those proceeding out of the Union into foreign countries.
It has thus been decided by an authority which the honorable member must accept - because the Constitution of the United “States of America is practically the same as that of the Commonwealth so far sis this point .is concerned - that goods passing between States are neither imports (nor exports, and consequently the amend ment which he proposes cannot be inserted in a clause which deals wholly with imports and exports.
– Why must the clause deal only with imports and exports?
– Because it is under the heading of “ Inspection of Imports and Exports,” and under the Acts Interpretation Acts, cross-headings govern the sections which follow them. Consequently the provision, if agreed to, would be ultra vires, as dealing with a matter to which the cross-heading does not apply. If the honorable member wishes the Committee to consider an amendment of this kind, he should moVe it in one of the miscellaneous clauses at the end of the Bill, because, as it deals neither with imports nor with exports, it cannot take effect here.
– What authority has the honorable and learned member for saying that the cross-heading governs the matter?
– The Acts Interpretation Act
– There is no doubt that the cross-heading is part of the clause, though the marginal note is not ; but it does not necessarily exclude this amendment.
– If the amendment is made, it will be necessary to recommit the Bill for the alteration of the cross-heading.
Mr. LONSDALE (New England).- I rise because the honorable member for Gwydir has referred to the statements which I made upon the constitutional aspect of this question. He told the Committee, with an assumption of perfect knowledge, that we can insist upon the use of proper trade descriptions in regard to good’s passing from State to State. My opinion is that we cannot do anything of the kind ; that we cannot pass any measure which will interfere with freedom of trade between the States, or. if we do so, the High Court will be called upon to prevent it from taking effect. We cannot interfere with manufactures within the States, by providing that they shall bear true descriptions; we can impose a provision of this kind only in regard to imports and exports. Honorable members will see that goods passing between the States and not leaving the Commonwealth are neither imports nor exports. Therefore, we cannot insist upon true descriptions in connexion with such goods, or punish the use of false descriptions. The ‘honorable member for
Kooyong spoke of voting for the amendment, but I cannot vote for what I believe will be of no avail, though I am prepared to vote for any amendment that will make the Bill effective for good. I believe that injury is being done to the people of the Commonwealth by the importation of goods of a deleterious nature, and I am prepared to pass drastic provisions to put an end to. that importation ; but the Bill will not do so. If goods are shipped here, bearing a false description, the importer can, under the Bill, by amending that description, get them through the Customs barrier, and into use in the States. If honorable members think that such a provision will prevent the importation of articles injurious ito the public, I do not estimate their intelligence very highly. No importer would, under the’ circumstances, refuse to amend his description. I am desirous of protecting human life, and of preventing the public from being swindled, and, in my opinion, we should keep out altogether such goods as ought not to be imported. The Bill will not do that. It is said that we who are opposing the measure are fighting for the importers, but it is those who are supporting it who are fighting for them, because they would allow importers to bring anything into the Commonwealth, so long as the imports are properly described. To say that I am fighting for the importers is an extraordinary misuse of the English language. Those who profess to be trying to protect the consumers are doing the very opposite, because they are leaving them at the mercy of the importers. It is playing with legislation to pose before the people as men who are looking after their interests, and then to support a Bill like this. Such action is evidence of utter and absolute insincerity. The Bill will only harass trade by making it difficult to import goods which should be imported, while it will not keep out goods which should not be imported. I am amused by those who speak of supporting the Bill as a measure to protect the interests of the people. They talk that kind of stuff in order to get it into Hansard and circulate it amongst their constituents, although they know that the measure will not have any such effect.
– I agree with the honorable member for New England that there is considerable confusion of thought as to what is aimed at by the Bill. Some honorable members seem to think that it will prohibit the importation of articles injurious to the public health, whereas all that it does, as I understand it, is to deal with the trade description of articles. Clause 3 defines a trade description, which must be a true statement of particulars in regard to grade, quality, purity, and so forth ; country or place of manufacture or production ; manufacturer or producer mode of manufacture or production ; material or ingredients ; and patent . privileges’ or copyrights claimed. Although it is very desirable that there should be legislation to prevent the consumption or use of injurious things, and the Bill does not go so far as that, it will, within -its limits, serve a useful purpose. It enacts that all goods entered for export or imported, shall be properly described in the several particulars enumerated in clause 3, and the honorable member for Hindmarsh wishes to extend this provision to goods passing from State to State. The great complaint of the public at the present time is that purchasers cannot rely on the truth of the descriptions supplied to them in connexion with articles which they buy, th? unprincipled trader palming off goods under descriptions which misrepresent their quality. The honorable member for Darling has shown us samples of shoes manufactured in Melbourne for children’s wear, and sold as leather, the upper part of which is canvas made to imitate leather, and the soles chiefly paper, also made to imitate leather. Purchasers are not protected from such imposition by the legislation of either the States or the Commonwealth. What is now proposed is that vendors shall be compelled to truly represent the nature of the articles which they offer for sale. Noobjection could be taken to the offering of these shoes for sale as articles of imitation leather made chiefly of canvas and paper : but the purchasers should not be deceived bv having such imitations foisted on them for genuine goods. We know, too, that colonial tweed, of which not less than 60 per cent, is cotton, is offered for sale as all wool, and the thread is practically pasted together instead of being properly woven. The consumers cannot protect themselves against imposition of this kind’, and the object of the Bill is to protect them by requiring the use of true trade descriptions in regard to all imports and exports, while the amendment extends this provisionto goods passing between the States. At present the consumer is not protected, because the goods’ which he purchases are not sufficiently described j but if the Bill be made effective, he will be in a position to ascertain the character of the goods.
– Not if the goods are made locally.
– Or packed locally.
– If goods were made in one State and exported to another, they could be dealt with under the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Hindmarsh. There are constitutional difficulties in the way of the Commonwealth exercising control over the manufacture or packing of goods for use within any one State, and the object of the amendment is to apply the provisions of the Bill to all those cases which come within the Federal domain. I do not think there will be any necessity to employ an army of officers to exercise supervision over exchanges of goods between the States. If an importer in New South Wales obtained certain boots from Melbourne, which proved to be shoddy, he would: communicate with the Commonwealth authorities, who could exercise such supervision over subsequent transfers, from Victoria to New South Wales as would: prevent further frauds of the same character. Under present conditions, however, both the importer and the consumer are helpless. Nothing could be more injurious to the health of the community than the use of boots such as those described by the honorable member tor Darling. The paper substituted for leather in the soles of the boots is highly absorbent, and must seriously affect the health of those who wear them. The amendment will afford protection against frauds to the extent that it will insure that the public shall be informed as to the nature of the articles offered for sale. I hope that the amendment will be agreed to, and’ that the Bill in its altered form will effectually supply a> long-felt want.
Mr. KELLY (Wentworth). - I agree with the honorable member for Canobolas. It has been argued that the clause in its amended form would infringe the Constitution, and that it would also be unworkable. In the first place, I think that honorable members should show, more concern for the protection of the flesh and blood of our people than . for unproven legal technicalities. The declared’ object of the Bil) is to protect the health of the people; but it is clear that if the consumers of the Commonwealth are to be protected only against the machinations of the importers, the home manufacturers will have greater opportunities to impose upon them. If, for instance, boots such as those described by the honorable member for Darling were excluded, the local manufacture of similarly spurious articles would be fostered’. We cannot prevent the manufacture of shoddy goods in a State, or interfere with the consumption of such goods in that State, but when goods are manufactured in one State, and are transferred to another, we can declare that they are of a bogus character, and to that extent protect consumers. Let us presume that one State prescribed that all patent medicines should bear upon the bottles a record of the analysis of the contents. Suppose, moreover, that a neighbouring State displayed no anxiety about the health of those of adjoining States, and made no such provision. It would be possible, according to the reading of section 92 of the Constitution given by some honorable members, for the manufacturers of injurious patent medicines in one State to force their concoctions on the people of a neighbouring State. It has been stated that, owing to the provision contained in section 92 of the Constitution, the amendment would prove ineffective, but I do not agree with that view. Section 92 provides that trade, commerce, and intercourse among the States shall be absolutely free, but that does not preclude us from protecting the health of the peoples of the States. We know perfectly well that each State is entitled to prohibit the introduction of diseased fruit or of diseased cattle, and surely it is more important still that we should exclude goods which are likely to seriously affect the health of their people. If this Bill be designed for the protection of the health of the people of the Commonwealth - and I doubt it - we should do everything we possibly can to achieve that end. We have been told that an army of inspectors will be required to supervise the goods transferred from State to State, but I would point out that it is proposed, in this clause, to provide for the inspection and examination only of prescribed goods. It will not be necessary for the Minister to prescribe all goods, but only such as he has reason to suppose are of a bogus character. It has been urged that the only effective way in which we can protect the health of the people is by safeguarding the consumers themselves, and that we should leave that duty to be discharged by the States authorities. I contend, however, that when a measure of this kind is before us, pretending to be a health measure, it is our duty to do whatever lies in our power to secure the health and well-being of the citizens of the Commonwealth. Although we cannot directly protect the consumer, we can, by drawing attention to the fraudulent character of any goods imported info a State, compel the State authorities to safeguard the interests of their own citizens. In view of these facts, I think the amendment should be passed, and I hope the Minister will accept it without any further delay.
Mr. HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh). - I am sorry that the honorable and learned member for Corio has left the Chamber, because he has contended that it is not possible to insert this amendment in the clause on account of the cross-heading in the Bill. I submit that my proposal is perfectly in order. I have looked up the Acts Interpretation Act, and I find that, whilst it is true that the headings and subdivisions form part of the statute, it is not declared that the cross-headings shall embrace everything that is contained in the sections to which they relate. If we were to omit the clause in its present form, and to insert my amendment in lieu thereof, the contention of the honorable and learned member would be correct, seeing that trade between the States cannot come under the heading of imports and exports.” In that case, my proposal would be unconstitutional. The Honorable member for Parramatta is quite willing that the. States should deal with this question. I should like to see them deal with it; but, as they can only deal with trade within their own borders, it is necessary for the Commonwealth to do something in this connexion. I admit that the cost of inspection would Le very heavy if the Commonwealth had to deal with every phase of the matter; but I contend that the consumer will deem the result cheaply purchased if, as the outcome of our efforts, he obtains the goods for which he bargains. The taxation of the country is a mere bagatelle compared with what the people pay for adulterated goods. If they were called upon to contribute ten times as much as the administration of this Bill will entail* the advantages derived would be cheaply bought. The honorable member for Parramatta has pointed out that the system of inspection which is at present carried out in Western Australia amounts almost, to prohibition in the case of goods forwarded from any of the eastern States. But the reason for that is perfectly obvious.. The Commonwealth has not control over the inspectors. In Western Australia thereexists a prejudice against allowing any of the products of the other States to be imported, if they can be supplied in that State, even at exorbitant prices. It is tothe interests of Western Australia to protect her own trade, and consequently thesystem of inspection which is insisted uponthere is of a very rigid character. If, however, that inspection were under the control of the Commonwealth, we should see that the other States were fairly treated.
– But we cannot obliterate the inspection which now takesplace. We can only double-bank it.
– I think that agreat deal can be done in the direction I allude to. The Commonwealth inspectorswould point out that -fruit was being refused entry into Western Australia, not because it was not up to a fair standard” of quality, but merely because of a local prejudice. That alone would lead to the removal of such an unsatisfactory method of inspection.
– The Bill will not touch that.
– Undoubtedly it will. Nobody is more fully aware of thelimitations of this measure than I am. I am also aware that it possesses certain disadvantages. Nevertheless, we are doing; all that it is possible for us to do under the Constitution. My amendment will accomplish some good, although I admit tha’t it will not prevent all sorts of adulterated” articles of commerce from being sold. I am sorry that the Minister has agreed tolimit the operation of the Bill, arid I trust that when we find that a fraud is being committed in respect of any particular article, we shall be able to bring that article within its purview. I have heard” no valid reason advanced as to why its provisions should not be extended to theInterState trade.
Mr. SPENCE (Darling).- I have previously indicated that I am in favour of applying the provisions of this Bill to the Inter- State trade. It appears to me, for instance, that if inferior goods are madein New South Wales, and exported toBrisbane, the injurious effect produced bv their consumption would be the same as that attending the consumption of similar commodities from other parts of the world. I do not think that the amendment will unnecessarily interfere with trade. Every 3aw is subject to limitations. Although the members of a community enjoy freedom to pass from one State to another, that freedom is subject to limitation, in that criminals do not participate in it. After all, only a very small number of firms will attempt to commit fraud. No honest trader will be occasioned any apprehension on account of the ultimate destination of his goods. He will give a true description of them in any case. I also desire to point out that, by experience, the Customs officers acquire a knowledge of the firms which have dealings with them, just as we acquire a knowledge of the individuals with whom we transact business. In America the practice is to keep a book, in which is entered the names of firms which are discovered attempting to defraud the Customs. Needless to add, a very close watch is subsequently kept upon would-be transgressors. Just as the police authorities shadow criminals upon their release from gaol, so the Customs officials in America keep a close watch upon firms which have attempted to deliberately defraud the revenue. For that reason the number of cases in which a minute inspection would be rendered necessary would be very few indeed. The honorable member for Parramatta has affirmed that inspection in the case of fruit intended for export would involve delay. I think that his contention has been met by the reply that the Customs authorities acquire a knowledge of the firms with whom they do business, and would only rigidly enforce the provisions relating to inspection in certain cases. There is therefore no need for alarm upon that ground. Many complaints have been made that Australian manufacturers have been compelled to label their goods as having been made somewhere else, in order to find a market for them. We have heard a great deal lately about the prejudice which exists against Australian goods. This Bill is calculated to build up the character of Australian products, because under its provisions every firm will have to declare their origin and their character. If the goods are composed of shoddy, that fact will have to be stated. Some honorable members have a pretty good knowledge of the commercial world. They are fairly intelligent men, and yet they entertain extraordinary ideas as to the probable effects of the Bill. Other honorable members oppose it because it does not go so far as they think it ought to do. It is idle, however, for us to discuss that phase of the question. We propose to go as far in this direction as the Constitution will allow. I think we ought to have the opinion of the Attorney-General on the point as to whether or not goods imported into one State cease to be imports when sent on to another State. If that contention be correct, new instructions will have to be issued to the Statisticians of the States, because, at present, they deal with the trade between the States under the headings of “Imports” and1 “Exports.” I shall need something more than the American! decision which has been quoted by the honorable and learned member for Corio, to satisfy me that the amendment is unconstitutional. If we can provide for the inspection of the imports and exports of each State, I submit that the system will not be costly, and that the practice of labelling will gradually be extended to articles of every sort.
– This Bill will be no check on goods imported into one State, and sent on to another.
– Whether that be so or not, the mere passing of the Bill will have a good effect. Firms manufacturing large quantities of goods by machinery would not think it worth their while to make up one special line for export, and another for local consumption. Most good’s are sent from one State to another by water rather than by rail, and I hold that it would not pay a manufacturer to make up a special’ line of goods to foe shipped1 to ‘ Sydney - knowing that goods so shipped would come under the supervision of the Customs officers - and another to be sent by rail, say, to Riverina. An honest trader will make up all his good’s in the same way. But if a manufacturer, say, in Victoria, attempted to put up goods for Riverina in an improper way - if he neglected’ to label them as required bv the Bill - that fact would soon be detected by the consumers even if no inspectors were on duty on the border. The public would expect locally-manufactured good’s to bear the same labels as to quality, quantity, and so forth, as appeared on those of foreign manufacture, and the absence of such, labels would naturally be discussed. In this way, the attention of the Department would be called to the fact that goods that were not properly labelled were being sent across the borders by certain firms, with the result that a sharp look-out would be kept for them. The Bill provides for the imposition of a heavy penalty on any one who imports goods that are incorrectly described, and it seems to me that local manufacturers and others sending goods from one State to another will see that those goods are properly labelled. Resolutions have been passed by the party of which I am a member in favour of preference to Australianmade goods, and as that doctrine is spread over the Commonwealth, the demand for locally-made ‘goods will increase. Consumers will naturally expect these goods to bear labels, indicating their quantity, quality, and so forth, such as appear on imported articles, and1 in this way it seems to me that the Bill will have a far wider, effect than some honorable members anticipate. It will at least set up a standard of commercial morality, and in that respect will be attended with beneficial results to the people. It has been said that the States are doing a great deal in this direction, but it is certainly desirable that uniformity should, if possible, be secured. Many years ago, the Victorian Legislature passed a Bill requiring bakers to carry scales on their delivery carts, and to weigh every loaf of bread in the presence of the buyer ; but there was no outcry against that interference with trade, nor has there been any outcry against the States’ health laws relating to impure foods. I do not know that any State has yet passed a law dealing with the manufacture of goods. For some time there has been an agitation .that furniture made by Chinese should be so stamped as to ‘ indicate that fact, but that proposal has not yet been carried into effect. It has been suggested that pure articles of food might be imported into the Commonwealth, and subsequently adulterated, and that new labels might be substituted for those which they bore on arrival. That is possible, but hardly probable. I do not believe there are many firms in a large way of business who deliberately lay themselves out to defraud. The keenness of competition and the desire to secure a profit does lead some men to a painful disregard for what is right, but I am one of those who believe that no cure for this sort of thing will be found until our whole social system is changed. Experience has shown that legislation of this kind does much good.
It has been said that we cannot make menhonest by Act of Parliament, but I hold that we can at least do something in that direction by passing measures of this class, which set up a standard of commercial morality. It seems to me that we ought to set up a standard that will be followed by all the States. At the present time, ai* Australian-made article may be stamped as having been made in Germany, and vice versa, but I am hopeful that if we pass this Bill, we shall be able to induce the States to follow our example, and to secure a complete reform of the existing system.
Mr. HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh).- By leave of the Committee, I desire to make the amendment more explicit, by inserting after the word “or” the words “which are.”
Amendment amended accordingly.
Mr. RONALD (Southern Melbourne).It seems to me that this is a very timely and needful amendment, and that it has been introduced at the right place. Thewords proposed to be inserted will meet this palpable difficulty, that, under the Bill as it stands, any one of the States may bemade a distributing centre for goods imported into the Commonwealth, and afterwards adulterated to cheapen their costThere are drugs which could be imported! under a label which would truly describethem, and, by a slight adulteration, afterwards, could be made up into compounds which would be very dangerous tothe public health. In the same way, otherarticles of food for use could be adulterated and exported from the State of importation to the other States. There should be an inspection of all commodities passing from State to State, to meet the end’ which the measure has in view - the protection of the public health and the prevention of imposition. Honorable members may see in the amendment the possibility of a breach of the Federal spirit,, but no such construction can properly be put on it, because the end aimed at is merely the protection of our people against enterprising foreigners who may come here and try to exploit our markets, no matter at what cost to the public health. The- ‘ amendment can do no harm, and it may doa great deal of good. I shall therefore votefor it.
Mr. BATCHELOR (Boothby). - I should1 like to support the amendment, because its object, if it could be accomplished, is a- good one ; but I feel that the cost of the inspection which would be required to make it effective would not be compensated by the advantage gained. If this proposal be carried into effect it will not insure that goods shall be sold to the consumer only under their right descriptions. That would be an object worth taking great trouble to obtain.
– Will not the honorable member’s remarks apply equally to importations ?
– Yes, and therefore I am not an enthusiastic supporter of the Bill. The measure requires that imports shall be branded with true trade descriptions, and the amendment extends that provision to goods passing from one State to another; but I do not think that the consumer is thereby protected from imposition. Indeed, the advantage to be gained is so small, that it is not worth the risk of interfering with freedom of trade between the States, which would be a very serious matter. I shall oppose the amendment.
– The amendment has ‘ caused many honorable members considerable hesitation as to how they should vote in regard to it, and I have felt some difficulty in coming to a decision on the point, though my present intention is to vote for it. We were assured that the Bill was introduced, not to hamper trade, nor as a fiscal measure, but to safeguard the public health, and to prevent fraudulent misrepresentation of goods. If provision for the inspection of goods imported into the Commonwealth is necessary, it seems a reasonable proposition that a like inspection is necessary in regard to goods passing from State to State. If we do not agree to the amendment we shall make fish of one and flesh of the other. Some attention must be paid to the objection that the amendment proposes an interference with freedom of trade between the States, but I do not think that it is a weighty objection. The intention is to provide for the inspection of goods passing from State to State, to prevent imposition by the use of wrong trade descriptions, and, if this inspection will interfere with freedom of trade between the States, it will be an interference which’ is desirable in the interests of consumers, who should be safeguarded, not only as to imported articles, but also as to articles sent from one State to another. The amendment will give the consumers some amount of;, protection, and, as I think that it is a fair one, I shall support it.
Mr. DUGALD THOMSON (North Sydney). - The discussion seems to me to make evident the confused ideas possessed by those who are responsible for the measure. The Bill does not attempt to prevent the importation of goods injurious to the public health. If it were the intention of the Government to do that, they should have adopted the provisions of a measure called by them the Bill of the late Administration, although, as has been already explained, it never came before that Administration,. That measure, however, was explicit as to its intention, and would have dealt with the matters with which honorable members seek to deal. lt provided first of all that, subject to the regulations, an officer should inspect and examine all, goods to which it applied, the intention being to state specifically the goods to which it should apply- Then it said -
The Governor-General may by proclamation prohibit the importation or introduction into Australia of any goods which do not comply with standards prescribed by the regulations or by the proclamation.
The distinct object was to exclude altogether goods of a deleterious character, or dangerous to health, or which would not effect the purpose for which they were intended, such, for instance, as adulterated manures. That Bill was abandoned by the Government who brought forward in its place a measure designed to insure the use of true trade descriptions. That is a good object, but the measure will not achieve the purpose which the supporters of the amendment have in view, namely, the protection of the consumer. The Bill, even if amended as proposed, will merely change the location of objectionable industries. Under the Bill, as it stands, goods may be brought in in bulk, or in packages bearing a true trade description, but they may afterwards be repacked in any form, either with or without a brand, and distributed throughout the Commonwealth. If the amendment be carried, all that will be necessary will be to distribute the goods among the States in their original packages, and then to repack them in each State for local distribution. I admit that, logically, if the Commonwealth places upon imports a burden such as is contemplated by this Bill, it should be prepared to impose similar restrictions upon the Inter-State trade. Upon that ground, I should have felt tempted to support the amendment, if I had not been convinced that it would be absolutely ineffective to protect the consumer, and that heavy expenditure would be imposed upon the Commonwealth, and eventually upon the States, in connexion with the maintenance of a huge staff of inspectors upon the borders of the States. If it had been desired to effectively protect the consumer, provision similar to that contained in the Bill rejected by the Government should have been made. It has been asserted that liquors of a highly deleterious character are being introduced into Australia, and it is desired to exclude them. But I would point out that under the Bill, even if it be amended as proposed, such liquors may be introduced as readily as at present. Instead of being brought into one State, and being bottled for distribution in other States, bottling depots will be established in each State, and the distribution will take place without any restriction, other than is now imposed. Although I could vote for the amendment on logical grounds. I do not feel justified in giving it my support, because I am satisfied that it can have no practical effect.
Mr. GLYNN (Angas).- I shall vote against the amendment, because any attempt on our part to control the Inter-State trade in the manner contemplated would involve a considerable interference with the principle of Inter-State free-trade, the attainment of which was one of the chief objects of Federation. I do not see how we could go before the country, and tell the electors that we had passed a provision which would neutralize the effect of section 92 of the Constitution, enacting that trade, commerce, and intercourse between the States shall be absolutely free. That contemplates not only freedom of trade in the ordinary sense, but also freedom of intercourse as far as passenger traffic is concerned. When an amendment, such as that now before us, was suggested yesterday, I expressed the opinion that it would be contrary to the Constitution, and since then I have been confirmed in that view. The United States Constitution does not contain any provision similar to that embodied in section 92 of our Constitution. So far as the United States Constitution is concerned, the Federal authorities could set up fiscal barriers between the States, so long as they were uniform ; but, as a matter of fact, provision has been made bv legislation for that freedom of trade which our Constitution has secured to us. Furthermore, the principle of absolute freedom of - intercourse contemplates not only an absence of fiscal barriers between the States, but also the1, abolition of all impediments in the way of exports. Prentice and Egan, in their work on the Commerce Clause of the Federal Constitution, at page 59, state -
Neither a State nor the United States can, under the police power, deprive a citizen of the right to transport a proper article of commerce from one State to another, nor impose conditions upon the exercise of that right, except as may be necessary to secure the freedom or proper conduct of commerce.
That would seem to absolutely preclude the insertion of such an amendment as that now under discussion. Even in America, where no express mandate with regard to Inter-State free-trade is contained in the Constitution, any interference such as that now contemplated would be opposed to the Constitution - at all events, it would be opposed to the legislation which has been passed under that Constitution. Further than that, all the necessary powers are vested in the States of the Commonwealth, first, to provide for the internal regulation of commerce; and, secondly, to prevent the importation of diseased animals, or of articles likely to prove injurious to the health of the community. Some articles do not come within the commerce clauses of the Constitution. For instance, at page 56, Prentice and Egan say -
Articles which from their nature do not belong to commerce are for that reason’ subject to the police power of the State. Disease and pestilence, crime, and pauperism, are not legitimate subjects of commerce, and passengers’ goods or animals infected with disease, or passengers who are convicted criminals, or paupers, idiots, lunatics, or persons likely to become a public charge, may, it seems, be excluded by the States, or when they are admitted, their transportation within the State may be regulated.
In fact, the States are authorized to impose upon intercourse between the States any barriers which are essential to the preservation of the health of their inhabitants. That comes within what are called the police powers of the States ; and section 92 of the Constitution protects the States against any interference with freedom of trade and intercourse, which would not be justified by the exercise of the police laws of the States. So far as it may be necessary to protect the health of the inhabitants, the States can provide against imports from one State to another; but I do not think the Commonwealth could so interfere. I do not offer these observations by way of a final opinion; but they seem to suggest that by adopting the amendment we should exceed the powers conferred upon us under the Constitution. I think, moreover, it would be highly inexpedient to neutralize the effects of the freedom of trade between the States that we have established under the Constitution. I shall vote against the amendment.
– I agree with the remarks of the honorable and learned member for Angas, and shall vote against the amendment. I think that we should unduly interfere with the functions of the States Governments if we adopted such a provision. I agree with the honorable member for North Sydney in his complaint that the Bill would not prevent the importation of deleterious goods. At the same time, I think that if we insure that true trade descriptions shall be affixed to all goods, we shall assist the people to look after their own interests, and, in that way, to conserve their health. Considerable concern has been manifested with regard to the introduction of injurious patent medicines. As a matter of fact, the British Pharmacopoeia is so comprehensive, and contains medicaments suitable to the treatment of so many different cases, that the less we encourage the introduction of patent medicines the better. Patent medicines are put up’ and distributed with one object, and that is to enrich the proprietors; and frequently the medicine which costs least yields the highest profit to the man who concocts it.
Mr, HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh).- If the view expressed by the honorable and learned member for Angas is correct, spirituous liquors of the most deleterious character may be transferred from State to State without let or hindrance, and we are helpless to prevent injury being done to the people of the Commonwealth in that way. That, he contends, is entirely a matter for State regulation. I should like to hear the views entertained by other legal authorities upon this very important aspect of the question. If it be true that we can only impose a prohibition upon the articles of commerce to which ‘he referred, the Bill is of no value whatever. The honorable member for Boothby has assured us that the amendment will not guarantee purer goods to the consumer. Whilst I admit we cannot accomplish that object in every case,we can achieve a great deal in that direction. That fact was made very clear by the honorable member for Darling, who pointed out that it would not pay manufacturers to relabel their tins and1 to alter the trade descriptions of goods after they had passed from the control of the Customs. We have been told, upon the authority of the Victorian Chamber of Manufactures, that there is a continuous traffic in goods which are destructive of human life. If that be so, even if we cannot accomplish all that we desire, we should endeavour to achieve as much as we can. If, under the Constitution, we have not power to protect the health of the people, the sooner that charter of Government is amended the better. Doubts have been expressed as to whether my proposal is constitutional. I have no desire to insert in the Bill an amendment which is unconstitutional, because that would be courting the defeat of a measure in the worst possible form. I would prefer that the Committee should satisfy themselves as to the constitutionality or otherwise of the amendment before voting upon it. So far, I have heard nothing which leads me to believe that it is unconstitutional, and for that reason I hope that it will be carried.
.The honorable member for Hindmarsh has referred to the legal aspect of this matter. I would remind the Committee that, in connexion with this Bill, I recently addressed myself to that phase of the question. By reference to page 1047 of Hansard, the honorable member will find that on the 1 6th of August last, during the course of my speech, the honorable and learned member for North Sydney asked -
Why are not these provisions applied to the Inter-State trade?
My colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs, was engaged in other important business at the time, and I replied -
In the first place, we have been considering the provision in the Constitution to the effect that trade between the States shall be absolutely free. We do not know exactly what that means. It undoubtedly applies to duties, but we do not know to what else.
I made that statement merely with a view to indicating that we had been considering the question. I have a vivid recollection of the doubts entertained bv some members of the Federal Convention in regard to this matter. Without entering minutely into its consideration, I would say that the probabilities are that we have power to apply the provisions of the Bill to InterState trade. At the same time, I consider it a doubtful point, and I should not like to burden the measure with a clause of that nature, which might bring the whole structure to the ground. If the amendment be inserted at all it will have to be inserted in such a way as to show that it is a distinct and separate part of the Bill, so that if that portion were declared ultra vires it would not affect the other portions of the measure. I point this out to show that the matter bad not escaped our attention. That is the legal consideration. There is also a practical consideration of which I made mention. I said -
The main thing is that, with regard to goods that are merely passing from State to State, there is no danger of the reputation of our products being imperilled.
I should like to add that this Bill is intended to protect Australians as a whole. In other words, it is designed to protect the reputation of Australian goods which leave our shores for foreign countries, and it is also intended; to protect Australians indiscriminately from the importation from abroad of goods, the consumption of which may be injurious - goods which may improperly deceive the consumers here. But I would point out that, even if we insert the amendment proposed, we cannot protect the Australian people as a whole because it would apply only to products passing from State to State. We cannot protect the internal trade of each State. That matter is left to the States, and they can protect themselves effectually. Each State can legislate for its own internal trade in that respect.
– This Bill would not be wanted at all if the States did that.
– I think that it would’, because the States cannot prevent these goods from entering Australia. We desire to make one regulation, which will apply uniformly throughout Australia, and which will prevent such goods as we think are of a deleterious character from entering the Commonwealth. The States cannot do that. They cannot say that goods shall not enter their ports without being marked.
– They can say that they shall not be sold.
– Whilst the States Parliaments possess the limited power to enact inspection laws in respect of goods passing from State to State, they have no power fo legislate in respect of foreign commodities. Upon the whole, I think it would be better if the amendment were not inserted. There is another reason of a practical nature which appeals to me in this connexion. I fear that the amendment might confer a benefit which was not at all commensurate with the friction that its operation would occasion. We already experience difficulties enough in connexion with our internal relations with the States, and upon the best consideration which we could: give to the matter we thought it would be preferable to allow the Bill to remain in its present form. Considering its constitutional aspect, its practical aspect, and the absolute advantage which would result from noninterference with the internal trade of each State, we were of opinion - admitting that a benefit would, to some extent, accrue from the insertion of a provision of the character indicated - that it would be better if the measure were left as it now stands. If the necessity arises - if, at any time, a real reason for extending this provision becomes apparent - action can always be taken. Under the circumstances, I would suggest that the amendment be not pressed. The honorable member for Hindmarsh may rest assured that the Ministry are sincerely desirous of extending the principle that is embodied in the Bill, even in the direction that he suggests, if that can be done without the risk of friction. Upon the whole, however, we think tha? a good comprehensive measure will be attained, one which cannot be challenged, and . one which will not cause unnecessary friction, if the Bill be retained in its present form.
Mr. HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh). - I do not feel inclined to withdraw the amendment in view of the statement of the Attorney-General. He has told us that there is a doubt as to whether the amendment is constitutional. If such a doubt exists, the sooner it is settled the better, and the only way in which it can be settled is by embodying it in this Bill and having it tested. If, by inserting that amendment, I am likely to jeopardize the rest of the measure, I should be very pleased if the Attorney-General could suggest how I can accomplish my object without that effect.
– If the proposal of the honorable member be carried, we shall endeavour to recast the clause so as to meet the position.
– That would be entirely satisfactory. It is absolutely necessary that we should extend the scope of this Bill. It has been shown thatwe can do very little under its provisions. There is no need to send out a sham measure, if we can make it a little more than that, even though we cannot make it perfect. The Attorney-General is not certain that the advantages of the proposal will outweigh its disadvantages. I feel that, if we cannot extend the provisions of the Bill to the Inter-State trade, we might as well drop it, becausewe shall then only be able to insist that traders shall put a true description upon their goods until they pass from the control of the Customs authorities. Subsequently those goods can be distributed in a wholesale fashion throughout the Commonwealth, although they may be of a deleterious character, and although their consumption may be responsible for a continuous destruction of human life. Take the case of condensed milk as an example. That article cannot well be tampered with after it reaches the Commonwealth.
– This Bill will not interfere with the quality of condensed milk, or of any other food. It merely provides that goods shall be properly labelled.
– I have had children who required to be artificially fed. I remember the case of one child in particular. It was being fed upon condensed milk, and I could not understand why it always possessed such a voracious appetite. I have since ascertained the cause of the trouble. The fact is that there was! little nutriment in the milk. Does the honorable member think that if the labels on the tins had shown that threefourths of the nutriment of the milk had been removed I would have bought it? If the Bill be carried, it will not be possible to tamper with tinned goods after their arrival in Australia.
– It will be possible to tamper with the labels.
– We have to remember, however, that it wouldnot pay to tamper with them. No one would say, for instance, that it would pay a man to relabel 1 lb. tins of jam. I fear that even if the Bill be passed there are many things that will be interfered with, but there are many others with which it will be impossible to tamper, and as one anxious to put down these ill practices as far as possible, I have submitted this amendment.
– Does the honorable member propose to have Commonwealth inspectors on the borders of each State ?
– No. We have already so amended the clause that it provides that goods “ may “ - instead of “ shall “ - be inspected. That means that if a man finds that goods purchased by him are deleterious, he will be able to make inquiries, and, on satisfying himself that a fraud has been committed, he may have steps taken to punish the offender.
– Who would go to all that trouble?
– Thousands would do so. I personally would go to far greater trouble in the interests not only of myself, but of the community generally. What is the use of any of our health laws if the public will not take the trouble to see that they are observed? If an individual neglects to take care that the health of himself and his family is not injured by the use of deleterious foods, when we give him the power to protect himself against such things, he is not worth troubling about; but if we do not give him a chance to protect himself, weshall certainly be unmindful of our duty. Only a few weeks ago I attended a meeting, at which a complaint was made that condensed milk of an inferior quality was being sold in Adelaide. The complaint was referred to the Health Officer, and he promised that if we could prove that such milk was being sold, action would be taken by the Department. Then’ again a letter appeared a few weeks ago in an Adelaide newspaper, in which the writer complained that he had purchased jam, the use of which proved injurious to himself and his family, but that he had no remedy.
– If it werea local production, this Bill would not cover it.
– It would if my amendment were carried. If deleterious jams were manufactured in Tasmania, New South Wales, or Victoria, and exported to South Australia, they could be dealt with under the Bill, as I propose to amend it. We are going to show the States that whilst this measure will be useful it does not go far enough, and I hope they will recognise the mistake they have been making, and will take care to supplement our efforts in this direction by local legislation.
– I am totally opposed to the amendment. One of the chief arguments in favour of Federation was that it would rid us of the presence of Customs officers on the borders of each State. Although, as the result of the bookkeeping provisions of the Constitution, we have not yet abolished Customs-houses on the borders, we are looking forward to a day when that will be accomplished; but it is now proposed to appoint an army of inspectors to examine all goods passing from one State to another.
– That will not be necessary. The inspectors will examine the goods in the shops where theyare sold.
– Under this clause an officer of the Commonwealth would not have power to go into a shop to inspect goods introduced from another State ; he would either have to inspect them as they crossed the border, or not at all.
– And the labels might be taken off after the goods had passed from one State to another.
– That is so. The Bill will have no direct bearing on the quality of goods sold in the Commonwealth. It will deal chiefly with the description of imports and exports. I certainly am not in favour of the appointment of a large body of officers to inspect goods as they pass from one State to another, leaving the local manufacturers to make up any kind of rubbish they please. This is a question which ought to be dealt with by the States themselves. I agree with the Attorney-General that we cannot deal with Inter-State trade in the way proposed, and I hold that the only result of the passing of this amendment would be the appointment of a large number of officers without any compensating advantage. It is necessary that the Commonwealth should co-operate with the States, in order that effective action may be taken in this direction, and until that co-operation is secured we shall not attain the object that we have in view.
Mr. KNOX (Kooyong).- I think that it has been shown very clearly during the debate on the amendment that if we trench upon the privileges of the States we shall launch ourselves upon a sea of trouble. The
Sydney Chamber of Commerce have pointed out that -
If such an Act is considered necessary in thepublic interests, we think it should embrace all trade operations, and not deal with imports and exports only, leaving manufacturers and producers in Australia severely alone in their transactions between the States of the Commonwealth.
That view is shared by the Chambers of Commerce in the other States ; but, while giving expression to it, I must have some regard for consistency. It is always my desire to cast a vote that is in accord with, what I Believe to beright; and, whilst it is logically consistent for those who favour this extreme clause to urge its application to Inter-State trade, I could not vote for a proposition that would really mean a return’ to the system of Inter-State barriers that prevailed prior to Federation. If I did, I feel satisfied that it would be difficult for me to satisfactorily explain that vote to those who sent me here. It might bejustifiable from the point of view of party tactics, because I. believethat if the amendment were inserted it would destroy the whole Bill. If the effect would be to destroy a measure which would impede trade and commerce, I should be glad of it. What wedesire is a Bill to protect the consumer from fraudulent misrepresentation. Every mercantile body in the Commonwealth desires such legislation. We do not, however, desire these restrictions on trade, and I feel that I shall not be justified in goingback on my past votes in this Chamber to re-establish the barriers between the States.
Mr. WEBSTER (Gwydir). - I should not have risen to speak had it not been for the position taken up by the honorable and learned member for Angas. Throughout the history of this Parliament, every proposed departure from commonplace lines of legislation has been met by the lawyers with doubts as to the constitutionality of the course proposed. Every effective measureapplying to the whole Commonwealth hasbeen met with’ the cry that its provisions would be invalid ; but although some of these objectors, in addition to their legal knowledge, enjoy the advantage of having been, members of the Convention which framed the Constitution, theydo not giveus any definite ideas as to the intention of the law, nor do they speak with’ certainty as to the probable effect of the proposals to which they object. It seems to me. therefore, that we should be prepared to- take a certain amount of risk, and leave it to the High Court to protect the rights and privileges of the citizens of the States. The lawyers never give us any definite opinion on the constitutional points which they raise. The fears of the honorable member for Boothby and others; that the amendment, if carried, will bring into existence an army of inspectors to be employed on the borders of the States, are groundless. At the present time there is nothing to prevent a manufacturer in Victoria from using material which, although properly described when being imported into the Commonwealth, is not properly described when made up in the State into boots and shoes, and exported to the other States. I hope that the honorable member will stick to the amendment, because, without it, the Bill would be of small value. I wish to see the measure made as effective as possible, and would like to have heard ‘from the Attorney-General a fuller expression- of opinion in regard to the constitutional point which has been raised. We get very little light upon legal matters of importance from the law adviser of the Covernment, and what statements he does make are put forward with a reserve which, to my mind, is not justifiable. As laymen, we have a right to hear these questions discussed, not in the technical language of the courts, but with a due regard to common sense, so that we may exercise our judgment upon them, with a full knowledge of the probable results of our action. After all, it is not legal technicalities, but the common sense of a matter, as it would present itself to the mind of an ordinary man. that judges in every civilized country consider.
– No. What they regard is the wording of the law.
– I have had some experience, and I know that they look to the intention: of the legislation with which they are dealing, and interpret it on commonsense principles. It is not enough for the Attorney-General to tell us that there is doubt as to the constitutionality of the amendment. The opinions expressed by members of the legal profession in this Chamber have on several occasions not been supported elsewhere. The AttorneyGeneral also said that the amendment will create more friction than will be counterbalanced bv the advantages which will be derived from it. That, however, is not clear. I shall continue to support the amendment, not because I wish to oppose the views of the legal members of the Committee, but because there is nothing certain in their statements, and I think that the Bill would be of little use without this provision.
– I shall oppose the amendment. I regard the Bill as practically worthless, and the amendment will, in my opinion, make it absolutely so. Unless the States step in to
Supplement our legislation, the Bill can be of no use whatever. If we attempted to place any such embargo as that proposed upon goods transferred from State to State, we should require to increase our already large army of public servants. This would entail still further expense on the States, which are even now complaining of Commonwealth extravagance. If there had been any public demand for legislation of this kind, the States Governments would have met all requirements by providing against the perpetration of trade frauds, such as those which have been complained of by some honorable members. We have no control over any articles after they have passed the Customs House, and the State alone can exercise the necessary jurisdiction. I am afraid that the provisions of the Bill, so far as thev relate to exports, will have a hampering effect upon our primary producers. The States Governments are already taking all the precautions necessary to insure that the produce sent away from Australia shall be described according to its quality. The Queensland Government are grading butter and other products for export, and the Victorian Government are doing the same, and the Commonwealth cannot supplement the efforts of the States to any appreciable degree. Under all the circumstances, I hold myself free to vote against the third reading of the Bill, unless it can be shown that the States will be assisted by the measure. I shall also oppose the amendment.
Sir/ WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Minister of Trade and Customs). - I should like to say a word or two with regard to the statements which have been made to the effect that the Federal Parliament must follow the States Parliaments. I want to know when we are to act as a Federal Parliament? With all deference to the States, I do not think that we should be driven by them. At the same time, I agree that we should not interfere unduly with the States functions. Some
States Ministers have recently made statements which have not been very’ complimentary to the Federal Parliament, and we cannot expect much sympathy or assistance from them. I do not believe that the want of sympathy for the federation extends to the people of the States, but certainly the feeling of States Ministers towards the Commonwealth authorities is not by any means favorable. Whilst we should not for a moment unduly interfere with the States, we have certain rights tinder the Constitution which it is our duty to exercise. Personally, I am in sympathy with the object the honorable member for Hindmarsh has in view, and would support him if the end could be achieved without incurring any great extra expense, or creating any undue friction. But I do not think it desirable that the honorable member should press his amendment at the present time, because I can see that there is a great difference of opinion with regard to this matter. It is always within the power of this Parliament to take action if necessity arises for doing so. If the honorable member will leave the matter in abeyance at present, his proposal can be thoroughly ventilated outside, and the States will know what his proposal is. Before introducing the Bill Ministers discussed this question, and decided against introducing the provision now proposed to be inserted, for the reason I have mentioned, namely, that it would probably involve a modification of that complete freedom of intercourse between the States which was intended to be secured by the Constitution. If the honorable member persists in proceeding to a division, I shall have to vote against the amendment. The Attorney-General stated to-night that in his opinion it was very doubtful whether the amendment, if made in the manner now proposed by the honorable member would not jeopardize the whole Bill. I would therefore urge the honorable member to withdraw it for the present.
Mr. HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh).- I have no intention to withdraw the amendment,, because I have not heard sufficient reasons to induce me to do so. The Minister says that the amendment in its present form may jeopardize the whole Bill, but I have already stated that I am content that the Bill shall be re-drafted in such a way as to render the amendment free from the objection now said to attach to it. It is not sufficient to let the public outside know that we have talked about inserting such a provision as that contemplated. My desire is to protect the public. I am dissatisfied with the small amount of power granted to us under the’ Constitution, and I think we shall do little or no good unless we take full advantage of such power as we do possess. I think we should do everything we can to lead the way for the States, and to, if possible, bring them into line.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).- Of all the reasons I have ever heard advanced, against a proposal, commend me to those which have been urged by the Minister this evening. I never heard anything like his speech, and if I thought that I could make such a sorry spectacle of myself, I should at once quit the Federal Parliament. He advised the honorable member for Hindmarsh to withdraw his amendment for the present, in order that people outside might talk about it. Why. the public have been talking about this Bill for a month past. If the Minister wants this Parliament to be respected by the States, as he has just been saying, he must lead them in the art of governing. He must not ask us, as he proposes to do, to postpone legislation so that the public outside may instruct their legislators. It will be perfectly safe for Ministers, if the whole of our legislation is to be allowed to stand over until the people outside instruct them what they are to do. The Minister told the honorable member for Hindmarsh that he was in sympathy with him, but would vote against him. That was another magnificent testimony to the virtues of the Federal Government. The Minister complains that the States Governments do not regard the Federal Parliament with respect. If they judge us by his conduct, they will continue to treat us with contempt, and if we tolerate such conduct, we deserve their contempt. The honorable member for Hindmarsh has given the Minister a fitting reply to a request- preferred on such ridiculous grounds. The Attorney-General has said that this Bill aims at securing to Australia the purity of its food products. Again, it must bepointed out that, even if that be the intention of the measure, it does not giveeffect to that intention. Honorable members opposite have admitted that. They acknowledge that we can accomplish very little in the direction indicated. The fact is that we can do nothing in the way of guaranteeing that products shall be pure when they reach the hands of the consumer. The honorable member for Hindmarsh wishes to insure that infants shall be fed upon pure condensed milk. I do not know any honorable member who would not hold up both hands in favour of a proposal of that kind if it were a practicable one. But the fact is that, by means of this Bill, we cannot insure that milk shall be pure when it reaches the consumer. All that we can guarantee is that it shall be branded for what it is when it is imported. It is the easiest thing in the world to remove the label from it when once it has passed into a State, and before it is distributed. Those persons who deliberately sell milk of a deleterious character - who would palm off upon the infants of Australia an article from which the food products had been extracted - would just as readily alter the label upon it. If ever there was a Bill which was a mere make-believe it is this measure. We have not the constitutional power to do what it purports to do.
– The honorable member apprehended all sorts of danger from it a week or two ago.
– The VicePresident of the Executive Council has made a most inane interjection. I do apprehend all sorts of trouble from this measure. I contend that any legislation which upon its face is a mere pretence must necessarily be mischievous in its operation. I apprehend the greatest possible trouble from the working of this Bill. In it the Minister professes to be securing power for one object, whereas in reality he is obtaining a reserve power, whichI very much fear he will use for quite a foreign purpose. That is why I say that while the Bill is powerless to achieve the object which he alleges he has in view, it is powerful in every respect to accomplish another object. That is why it is mischievous, while at the same time it will not protect the food of the people. I commend the attitude of the Minister tonight to those persons outside who are criticising the Commonwealth Parliament, and I ask them not to regard this House as a fair specimen of what the Commonwealth Legislature should be. If they do, they will be justified in criticising us very much more severely than they have done. In all my experience I have never seen a Minister abdicate his functions and demean his office as the Minister of Trade and Customs has done to-night, pleading piteously for the postponement of this amendment, simply to allow him an opportunity to get instructions from outside. That is responsible government with a vengeance.
– We are getting government by Royal Commissions.
– We are getting a lot of it lately. All the trouble arises from the composition of the House, and I am afraid that only the people outside, to whom the Minister proposes so piteously to appeal in this particular matter, can redress that trouble. I am glad that the honorable member for Hindmarsh has answered him in the way that he deserved to be answered, and I shall watch with interest what the Minister finally does with this precious clause.
– I am sure, sir, that you must have heard, with infinite surprise, that remarkable declaration by the Minister of Trade and Customs that one reason why the consideration of this amendment should be postponed is that there is a great difference of opinion upon it. As a matter of fact, I noticed that you absolutely shuddered when that observation was made. The Minister actually appealed to the honorable member for Hindmarsh not to press his proposal, because there was a difference of opinion upon it. I trust that the honorable member will adhere to his expressed intention to press the matter toadivision.
– Does the honorable member intend to support him ?
– I do. The deputy leader of the Opposition has said that the Minister desires an opportunity to obtain instructions from outside. Is the honorable gentleman waiting for the Age to speak tomorrow morning? The honorable member for Parramatta has hinted that the Bill is intended to serve only one purpose, namely, to sneak in protection.
– A very good thing, too.
– Then let us understand the position. I claim that it is a new principle to enforce fiscal changes by means of machinery Bills of this character. I believe that we should risk the constitutionality of the proposal submitted by thehonorable member for Hindmarsh. We have heard the same cry raised in regard toother Bills. Almost every Ministry shelters itself behind the plea that some proposal or other may be unconstitutional. I agree with the honorable member for Hindsmarsh that, under this Bill, the local consumers are not protected from the consumption of deleterious preparations by local manufacturers. It is admitted, however, that the measure will prevent the importation of such preparations. I claim, therefore, that the result of the adoption of the amendment must be to make the Bill more effective. I am very glad that the honorable member for Hindmarsh has refused to withdraw his proposal, as suggested by the Minister.
Question - That the words “or which are passing from one State to another,” proposed to be inserted, be so inserted - put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 7
Question so resolved in the negative.
Mr. KNOX (Kooyong).- I move -
That after the word “ take,” line 5, the words “ at least three “ be inserted.
The object of this amendment will be at once apparent to honorable members. The feeling, is that three samples ought to he taken - that the officer should take one for himself, one for the analyst, and one for the owner. An honorable member has suggested the following provision, which really meets the object I have in view.
That all samples taken by an officer in pursuance of this Act shall, before being analyzed or Submitted for analysis, be divided into three or more approximately equal parts. Each part shall be fastened or sealed, so as to secure it from being tampered with, and shall be marked, so as to be readily identifiable; and one part shall be delivered to the importer, exporter, or owner of the goods.
Mr.KNOX. - I think that it ought to be dealt with in the Bill itself, in order that the person concerned may have some remedy against the action of an official who might be disposed, in his opinion, to take what was not a proper sample. It is a necessary safeguard to provide, in view, not only of the heavy penalties attaching to offences under the Bill, but of the extensive powers to be conferred upon officers appointed under it.
– I would point out to the honorable member for Kooyong that it is undesirable to load up the Bill with matters that may well be left to regulations. The Bill provides for samples to be taken, and the universal practice under measures of this description is to divide every sample into three parts. One of these is handed to the owner of the goods or his representative, and another to the analyst, while the third is retained by the inspector. I think it would be a mistake to pass the amendment.
Mr. LONSDALE (New England).- If it be possible to provide for matters of this kind in the Bill itself, I think we ought to do so. We certainly should not leave them to be dealt with by regulations framed by the Minister or his officers. If, in the opinion of the Committee, it is fair and reasonable that a sample should be divided into three parts under seal - one to be given to the owner of the goods, one to the analyst, and the remaining part to be retained by the officer - we should insert that provision in the Bill itself. When opposition is raised to such a proposal, it seems to me that it is not intended to act fairly in this regard. I am not prepared to leave details of this kind to be dealt with by regulations.
– I do not think that the amendment is a reasonable one. If we cannot trust the officers of the Commonwealth to take fair samples, we cannot hope todo anything in this direction. The honorable member for New England has confused the question at issue. It may be prescribed that a sample shall be taken and divided into three parts in the manner proposed ; but the honorable member for Kooyong desires that at least three samples shall be taken. The point is, that those samples might be taken from different cases or packages, with the result that difficulty would arise. One sample should be taken wherever possible, but it will be necessary to prescribe that it shall be divided into three or more parts.
– The honorable member’s suggestion that one sample should be taken and divided into three parts is the better one.
– I regret to hear honorable members asserting that this person or that cannot be trusted. Surely there is no honorable member who could not be trusted to act fairly in a judicial capacity. I am satisfied that the officers of the Commonwealth have no predilections, and that they are not so biased as to be prepared to act unjustly towards any one.
SirWILLIAM LYNEHume- Minister of Trade and Customs). - I trust that the honorable member for Kooyong will not press the amendment. If I were to accept amendments providing for every little detail relating to these matters, the Bill would become a very lengthy one, and would be unnecessarily weighted. I may tell the honorable member that I intend to move that the word “proclamation” in clauses 7 and 10 be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “regulations.” These regulations will be submitted to Parliament, and may be altered as Parliament directs. This should meet the honorable member’s objection. It would be altogether unwise to load up the Bill in the way that he proposes. I hope, therefore, that he will withdraw his amendment, and allow the Committee to (proceed with the more important matters awaiting our consideration.
Mr. WEBSTER (Gwydir).- If the honorable member turns to clause 14 he will find that it provides that the GovernorGeneral may make regulations “ particularly for the analysis of samples taken under this Act.”
– That does not touch the question raised.
– It clearly shows that, matters appertaining to the taking of samples are to be dealt with by regulation. The practice in Victoria, New South Wales, and other, States, where laws of this description are in operation, has been to provide that one sample shall be taken and divided into three or more parts, the result being that a uniform sample is distributed’ among all the parties concerned. I hopethat the honorable member will not press his amendment, but will leave the matter to be dealt with by regulations, which, as; has been said, will be subject to the approval of Parliament.
Mr. KNOX (Kooyong). - Although technically the regulations framed in accordance with an Act of Parliament come under the review of the House, as a matter of fact they are not so closely considered asare the details of a Bill. If the Ministerwill promise to insert in the regulations: framed under this measure the provisionin the original Bill, which I am about to read,. I shall withdraw my amendment. That: provision is as follows : -
All samples taken by an officer in pursuance off this Act shall, before being analyzed or submitted for analysis, he divided into three or moreapproximately equal parts, and each part shall be fastened or sealed so as to secure it from, being tampered with, and shall be marked so asto be readily identifiable, and one part shall bedelivered to the importer, exporter, or owner of” the goods.
– So far as it maybe practicable to apply that provision, itwill be applied in the regulations.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta). - I wish to move the omission of the words “ and may break open any packages,” because I think that without them the officerwill have sufficient power to do what is necessary. The clause, if amended in thisway, will read -
An officer may enter any ship, wharf, or place, and may do all things necessary to enable him to. carry out his powers and duties under the section.,
I am afraid that there will be plenty of packages broken open without it being necessary to authorize the inspectors to do so.
– I will accept the omission of the word “ break.”
– As I cannotget all I ask for, I move -
That the word “break,” line n, be left out.-
Mr. LONSDALE (New England). - -When we wished to add two or three words to the clause just now, we were told that to do so would be to load it up too much, and now that the honorable member for Parramatta, with aview to lightening the clause, wishes toleave out certain words which are absolutely not required to give officers the powers necessary to carry out their duties under the Bill, that, too, is objected to. Surely it is enough to provide that an officer may do “ all things necessary to enable him to carry out his powers and duties,” without instructing him to break open packages.
Mr. WEBSTER (Gwydir).- This is quite an immaterial amendment, because packages are generally sealed or fastened up in such a way that it is necessary to break them open to get at their contents. The amendment indicates the persistent attempts of the acting leader of the Opposition to keep up an interminable discussion, and his desire to have some amendment attributed to him, no matter how small.
Amendment agreed to.
Question - That the clause, as amended, stand - put. The Committee divided -
Ayes … … … 27
Noes … … … 15
Majority … … 12
Question so resolved in. the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 6 -
Every person who intends to export any goods of a kind or class required under this Act to be inspected or examined by an officer, shall, before the goods are shipped, give notice, in accordance with the regulations, to the Customs of his intention to export the goods and of the place where the goods may be inspected.
Penalty : Twenty pounds.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).This clause is quite incapable of being administered properly. Under the conditions of the fruit trade, particularly of the soft-fruit trade, it would be impossible to notify the Minister, and assemble the goods for inspection at a given place prior to exportation, and, at the same time, insure the despatch of the good’s without undue delay. Unless the market for soft fruits can be reached with expedition serious losses must be sustained. Sometimes, a fruit-grower receives a telegram in the morning, asking him to prepare a shipment of oranges, plums, ‘apricots, or peaches for despatch the same evening. He would allow the fruit to remain on the trees until immediately before it is required for packing purposes, and it would be impossible for him to comply with the requirements of the clause. I hope, therefore, that the Minister will see his way either to modify the clause very considerably or abandon it altogether.
– I quite agree with everything that has been said by the honorable member for Parramatta. Every word he has uttered, with regard to the fruit industry, would apply with equal force to the butter export business. In these days, rapid communication is an essential to successful business operations, and large consignmentsof butter have to be prepared at very short notice for despatch from Australia. Last night, I ventured to suggest that if this Bill were passed it would necessitate the employment of a large army of experts, and if inspection, such as that contemplated under this clause, is insisted upon, a number of inspectors will require to be in attendance at every important shipping centre. For instance, a fruit expert would probably know nothing about butter, and therefore it would become necessary to employ a butter expert, and probably many others. If the provisions of the Bill have the effect of delaying the shipment of our produce they will prove disastrous. It appears to me that certain honorable members are disposed to do everything they can to handicap our producing industries, and I am perfectly certain that if the Bill be passed in anything approaching its present form a great outcry will be raised by the producers of New South Wales. I shall oppose the clause.
– In discussing the Bill on the motion for the second read- ing, I objected to this clause, and I am glad that the honorable member for Parramatta has drawn attention to it. Unless we limit the operation of the measure to a comparatively few articles, this clause will prove most dangerous, because many people having small consignments of goods, and knowing nothing whatever about the Act, may have their produce forfeited and find themselves mulct in heavy penalties. Moreover, there is sufficient provision in the Customs Act for all practical purposes. According to section 114, it is necessary, before any goods are taken on board a ship for export, that the ship shall be entered outwards, and1 the goods shall be entered for export; but in the case of free goods it will suffice if they be entered not later than three days after shipment. That should provide a sufficient safeguard against the exportation of goods under a wrong description, because it would be possible to obtain evidence, perhaps even from the consignee, sufficient to enable a prosecution for fraud to be successfully conducted. I take it for granted that the Minister will’ specify in the schedule the goods to which it is intended that the Bill shall apply.
– There is no schedule, but I have given notice of my intention to insert a clause which will restrict the operation of the measure to certain classes of articles.
– If the operation of the Bill be restricted to a comparatively small number of articles, the liability under this provision will be considerably reduced. At the same time, I do not think the clause is necessary, and I shall oppose it.
– I am afraid that this provision would seriously harass shippers. The person who owns the consignment intended for export. is very often not the shipper. Goods may be sent from the country without any knowledge as to the ship by which they are to be forwarded to a market beyond the Commonwealth. A steam-ship company may inform the shippers of a consignment of butter that they will be ready to take delivery on a certain day, and information may be conveyed to the Customs House accordingly. But perhaps within an hour or two before the time appointed for delivery a message may be received by the shippers to the effect that no room can be found for their consignment in trie vessel first nominated, and they may have to forward it by a later steamer. If notice has to be given in all such cases, a great deal of unnecessary trouble will be involved.’. Entries have to be passed in connexion with the shipment of all goods exported to ports beyond the Commonwealth, and that should be sufficient. I do not see any necessity for the clause. I should like to know who will be called upon to pay the penalty of £20 ‘for which provision is made - the owner of the goods, the shipper, or the steam-ship company?
– I indorse the attitude taken up by the honorable members who have preceded me, and I deplore the fact that the Minister has not vouchsafed one word in reply to the objections which have been raised. Several honorable members of technical experience have declared that the clause cannot be carried into effect, and yet the Minister sits silent - -probably because he has not the officers of the Department at hand to prompt him. It has been proved beyond all doubt by the last division that many honorable members have, no consideration for the consumers of the Commonwealth, and I cannot see why we should be now asked to show so much tender regard for the consumers of other countries. In view of the indifference which is being displayed in regard to the health, comfort, and wellbeing of our own people, why should so much concern be shown for the health ot the Chinese, or our friends elsewhere? Not only has .if been shown that the provision could not be enforced without inflicting serious injury upon our export trade, but the honorable and learned member for Angas has demonstrated that the Customs Act meets the requirements of the case. The passing of a Customs entry should furnish the Department with all the notice that they require. We have been accused of seeking to overload this measure with unnecessary verbiage. Obviously this clause cannot be operative, and therefore should be expunged. This good ship, the ship of commerce, is loaded down below the Plimsoll mark, and when we desired to put a few lifebuoys and lifebelts on board, for the benefit of the miserable crew who have to work the vessel, we were accused of unnecessarily burdening it ; and now we are refused permission to jettison some of her dead .weight !
– The honorable member is creating a storm.
– It looks like it. I like the wild excitement which is being evidenced upon the empty corner benches ! Speaking seriously, however, this is a matter above mere jesting, and it is due to the Committee that the Minister should furnish some reply to the repeated statements that this clause is bound to prove inoperative.
– I shall certainly stand by the deputy -leader of the Opposition in opposing this clause. It is absolutely useless. Let us suppose that butter which is intended for shipment abroad has to be inspected. Will that inspection guarantee that the article exported is of good quality? Will the Customs authorities examine the outside of the boxes, or will they inspect the butter itself? I take it that their inspection will partake very much of the character of that which was described by the honorable and learned member for West Sydney this afternoon, when he declared that a shipment of potatoes and onions could be inspected in twenty-five minutes. What kind of an inspection would that be? The Minister must recognise that it is absolutely useless. Similarly, in regard to ‘fruit which is intended for export, I would ask, “ Are all the cases to be opened after the fruit has been packed?” If we are to guarantee its quality, the fruit itself must be examined. Then let me take the case of condensed milk. I do not know that we are likely to become large exporters of that article, but I do know that in New South Wales persons are engaged in its manufacture. In its case, the inspection must take place at the factory ; it certainly cannot be conducted at the ship’s side.” It appears’ to me that there are ulterior motives behind this Bill: I have no objection to the enactment of legislation which will prevent the admission of goods which are of little use to our people, and by means of which they may be deceived. But under the present Bill any vile stuff can be imported, provided that it is true to its description. I claim that under this measure we cannot guarantee that the goods which we send from Australia are up to a certain standard of quality. It is the function of the States to deal with this matter. I support the proposal of the deputy-leader of the Opposition.
– If the Minister will consider the circumstances under which goods are shipped, he will see that this clause requires some amendment. I do not say that it is altogether opposed to the interests of the shipper, although the same arrangement that is proposed could be arrived at in the absence of this provision. As honorable members are aware, there are certain exports which go to the wharf in considerable quantities ; these the Customs officers, under the operation of the Bill, will be called upon to examine. That examination will occupy time and involve the opening of cases. In such circumstances it may be a convenience to the exporter to arrange that they shall be examined where they are being packed. I repeat that that could be done in the absence of this clause. The provision in question does not recognise that there are many occasions upon which goods have to be hastily shipped, and why we should impose an obstacle upon our own trade for no good reason is beyond my understanding. Let me take, as an example, a few cases of foodstuffs, part of a large shipment of general goods, which are intended for export to the Pacific Islands or to New Zealand. The goods may require to be shipped by a particular vessel, otherwise the business will be lost to the Commonwealth. If their shipment is delayed by the provision requiring notice to be given, the trade will be sacrificed. If the Customs authorities knew the circumstances of the case, they would not insist upon notice being given. But the fact remains that, unless notice has been given, they will refuse to allow the export of the goods. I maintain that the clause can be excised without any risk to the Department, because the authorities have the right under the Bill - altogether apart from this provision - to examine every article of export which is dealt with by the measure. I would point out to the Minister that the words “ in accordance with the regulations” will not exclude any goods from the operation of the clause. It merely provides that notice shall be given in all cases “ in accordance with the regulations.” My point is that, as the clause stands, notice must be given under any circumstances. In order to allow the Minister an option, I move -
That after the word “shall,” line 3, the following words be inserted : - “ if required to do so by regulation.”
– I see the point which the honorable member .wishes te make. He desires that there shall not be an absolute compulsion in all cases. I accept the amendment.
– I do not feel disposed to support an amendment of the character proposed, because I object to the clause absolutely. In speaking upon the second reading of the measure, I said that it ought to be cited as the Commerce Destruction Act, and I claim that this clause amply supports my contention. In considering its effect upon certain goods, which experts in this House declare cannot be exported under regulation of this character, we must have regard to the penalty imposed. Fruit and butter have been quoted as illustrations of the absolute impossibility of complying with this provision. It seems to me that the whole purport of the clause is an attempt, which we ought certainly to discourage, at interference with commerce. Instead of hampering our producers at every tuni, we ought to assist them by every means in our power. The notice given of the hour at which an over-sea vessel will sail is sometimes so short that it takes a shipper all his time to forward his goods to the wharf, to say nothing of giving notice to the Department, so that an inspection may be made. We have the assurance of those who represent districts in which perishable articles are produced for export, that, so far as they are concerned, this clause cannot be put into operation.
– The honorable member cannot now discuss the whole clause. When the amendment, which the Minister has intimated hiswillingness to accept, has been agreed to, it will be open to him to do so.
Amendment agreed to.
Mr. JOHNSON (Lang). - I shall oppose the clause as amended, because I think it is unnecessary. I trust that the Minister will offer some explanation of his refusal to comply with the reasonable request that a clause that is admitted by experts to be impracticable, may be withdrawn. If he does not, he will have only himself to blame if the discussion be prolonged.
– I make it a rule, when in charge of a Bill in Committee, to make only such explanations as are absolutely necessary. I may say that the clause is designed to facilitate the working of the whole Bill. I admit that the amendment made on the motion of the honorable member for North Sydney will improve it. The point made by him was that it should not be compulsory to give notice in every case. Instances may occur in which notice can be given a week in advance, and the shipper will then be free to send his goods to the wharf as he pleases.
– In some cases a shipper would prefer to have his goods inspected in his store.
– Quite so. Other cases might arise, in which it would be impossible for a shipper to give more than a few hours notice, and I think that, in these circumstances, it was only reasonable to accept the amendment. In the absence of such a clause as this, the Department would have to rely, first of all, on the Customs Act, but the provisions of that measure would not enable us to do that which we should be able to do under the provision now being discussed. If that Act would not confer upon the Department the necessary powers, the inspectors would have to remain hour after hour at the side of every ship, in order to be ready to inspect goods arriving, perhaps, at the last moment. It would not be sufficient to make the giving of notice optional. If that were done officers would never know when they were likely to be called on, and increased expenditure would be incurred in keeping them continually at the ship’s side. Under the clause, as amended, notice may be given a week or ten days in advance, according to the class of goods to be inspected, and this will be found to operate advantageously. In the absence of this clause, it would be necessary for the inspectors of the Department to be constantly on the alert, and to remain all day long on the wharfs, in order that nothing might escape them. I hope honorable members will recognise that the clause is designed really to benefit importers and exporters alike. I think I have given a lucid explanation of it, and I have only to add that there is reallynothing in the Customs Act that would enable us to secure what we seek to achieve by this clause.
Mr. FULLER (Illawarra).- The Minister has told us that the object of the clause is to facilitate the working of the whole Bill, but he certainly cannot say that it will assist the great producing interests of the Commonwealth..
– It will.
– If the Minister really desires to encourage our great primary industries, he should have accepted the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Kooyong. Who suggested this clause? Did it emanate from any society or associates representing the great producing industries of the Commonwealth? Certainly not. It appears to me, from the explanation of the Minister himself, that the clause is undesirable. He accepted an amendment providing that inspections shall take place “ if required “ ; but I hold that if there is to be an inspection it should be made in every case. I can conceive of no other reason for the clause than a desire to create billets in all the ports of the Commonwealth for a number of officials, who will discharge functions that will tend only to harass those who are dependent on the exporting trade.
Mr.LEE (Cowper). - The clause has certainly been improved by the amendment passed on the motion of the honorable member for North Sydney, but it seems to me that the proposed penalty of£20 is altogether too heavy. I suggest that it should be only £5.
– £20 is to be the maximum.
– The clause does not show that that is so.
– Under the Acts Interpretation Act, it will be the maximum penalty.
– (Wentworth).- I think that the amendment accepted by the Minister, and passed by the Committee, only emphasizes the weakness of the clause. It has been argued that the Minister has the right to say what goods shall come within the scope of this clause, but in that respect the clause does not differ from other provisions of the Bill. The point upon which I wish to dwell is that touched upon by the honorable and learned member for Illawarra - the creation of the billets which these provisions involve. There are indications that Commonwealth legislation is brought forward largely at the instance of the permanent heads of Departments, who are naturally anxious to increase the importance and scope of their offices. We find Ministers, instead of, in the public interest , carefully curtailing this ambition, deliberately acceding to it, notwithstanding the fact that Departments can be increased only at the expense of the general taxpayer. When no reason can be given for the existence of the dead weight in a Bill, which this clause is, the Committee should refuse to pass it.
– Although the amendment has greatly improved the clause, I wish to point out that, so far as the fruit industry is concerned, it would be practically impossible to give effect to its provisions. Since I spoke on the subject this afternoon, I have had brought under my notice by the gentleman concerned an instance which occurred only a few weeks ago, when a telegram was sent to the Derwent Valley, after mid-day on Tuesday, stating that 9,000 cases of apples were wanted for a steamer leaving at 11 o’clock the following morning. The apples were picked, packed, brought in by train, and put on board the steamer in less than twenty-four hours after the order was given. But it would have been impossible in that case to give the notice provided for in the clause to secure examination by experts. The Minister, in framing the Bill, has confined himself to too circumscribed an area of information, and I think that if the measure had been submitted to the Collector of Customs at Hobart, many of its provisions would have been shown to be impracticable. If the measure is carried into effect, it will strike a serious blow at one of our most promising industries, because it is impossible to, give the notice asked for in every case, and to exempt late shipments while subjecting earlier shipments to examination would be making an unfair distinction, which would create great friction.
Mr. LONSDALE (New England).- It has been objected that honorable members on this side have tried to overload the Bill, but, as this clause is useless, we are ready to lighten the measure by voting against it, because, although the amendment may have improved it, the improvement is very slight. It is only a pretence to say that the Government can guarantee the quality of our exports. To do that, it will be necessary to place the brand of the Commonwealth on all exports, and that cannot be done without subjecting all exports to examination. The Minister, however, knows that grading will in all cases be done at the factories, and that no effectual examination can be made at the wharfs or stores to ascertain the quality of the articles brought there for export. We are quite prepared to assist the right honorable gentleman, who has objected to the overloading of the Bill, to unload it.
Question - That the clause, as amended, stand- put. The Committee divided.
Majority … … 15
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 7 -
The Governor-General may by proclamation prohibit the importation or introduction into Australia of any goods specified in the proclamation, unless there is, applied to them a trade description of such character, relating to such matters, and applied in such manner, as is prescribed by the proclamation or by the regulations.
Allgoods imported in contravention of any proclamation under this section shall be forfeited to the King.
– I. move -
That the words “The Governor-General may by proclamation “ be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ Regulations may.”
I shall afterwards move other amendments, which will make the clause read as follows : -
– Has the Minister considered what period should be allowed after the publication of the regulations before they take effect?
– I can scarcely say at present what time should be allowed, but I am prepared to agree to any reasonable period.
– I am not quite clear as to the Minister’s object in amending this clause. Will the substitution of regulations for a proclamation deter for any considerable period the possibility ofthe Department dealing with the importation of goods ?
– Must the regulations first be submitted to Parliament?
– It is as well that we should know that.
Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume- Minister of Trade and Customs), - The Acts Interpretation Act provides that -
Where an Act conf ers power to make regulations, all regulations made accordingly shall,’ unless the contrary intention appears -
be notified in the Gazette ;
take effect from the date of notification, or from a later date specified in the regulations j
be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within thirty days of the making thereof, or, if the Parliament is, not then sitting, within thirty days after the next meeting of the Parliament.
But if either House of the Parliament passes a resolution of which notice has been given at any time within fifteen sitting days after such regulations have been laid before such House, disallowing any regulation, such regulation shall thereupon cease to have effect.
I intend, however, to vary the latter part of that provision by inserting a. clause in this measure which’ will have the effect of requiring that the regulation’s shall riot be annulled or altered’ except by resolution of both Houses. I do not think that one House should have the power to annul regulations. That, I think, is what the honorable member wanted to know, and I hope my explanation will prove satisfactory. The amendment will place the power in the hands of Parliament in a way different from that in which it would be given if a proclamation were provided for. In the latter case, the Ministry, might be attacked, but regulations may be varied and dealt with in a comparatively easy way.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendments (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That after the word * any,” line 3, the word “ specified “ be inserted ; also,, that after the word “ goods,” line 3, the words ‘“specified in the proclamation,” be left out.
House adjourned at 10:55 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 September 1905, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1905/19050920_reps_2_27/>.