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Exceptions as to bounties385.

91. Nothing in this Constitution prohibits a State from granting386 any aid to or bounty on mining for gold, silver, or other metals387, nor from granting, with the consent of both Houses of the Parliament of the Commonwealth expressed by resolution388, any aid to or bounty on the production or export of goods.

HISTORICAL NOTE.—For the earlier discussions of the bounty question, see Historical Note, sec. 90. At the Adelaide Session, 1897, on recommittal, Mr. Higgins added (to what is now sec. 90) a new paragraph:—“This section shall not apply to bounties or aids to mining for gold, silver, or other metals.” (Conv. Deb., Adel., p. 1203.)

At the Melbourne session Sir Geo. Turner moved to omit (from Mr. Higgins' paragraph) all words after “mining”—so as to include coal and other non-metallic minerals. He argued that aids to the development of natural resources could not interfere with free trade, though bounties to manufacturers might; but Mr. O'Connor, Mr. Higgins, and Mr. McMillan differed from him, on the ground that coal is as much


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an article of inter-state commerce as any other product. The amendment was negatived. Sir Geo. Turner then proposed an amendment to allow “any bounty or aid granted by any State with the consent of the Governor-General in Council or the Parliament of the Commonwealth.” The words “Governor-General in Council” were strongly objected to on the ground that they excluded the corporate influence of the States—the Ministry being responsible only to the House of Representatives. Sir Geo. Turner and Mr. Isaacs, however, insisted that without these words the provision would be useless, as the assent of Parliament would involve too much delay. Mr. Dobson moved to omit the words “Governor-General in Council” but this was negatived on division by 26 to 21— several members voting to retain the words and afterwards voting against the whole provision, which was then negatived by 27 to 19. (Conv. Deb., Melb., pp 965–90.)

In the second recommittal, Sir Geo. Turner moved his amendment again. Sir John Downer, by way of compromise, proposed to omit both Governor-General and Parliament, and substitute the assent of “both Houses of Parliament expressed by resolution.” Sir Geo. Turner and Mr. Isaacs thought this no better than Act of Parliament, and secured its rejection by 22 votes to 19. Thereupon an amendment was moved to add a condition that the bounty should not derogate from inter-state free-trade. Sir Geo. Turner complained that this made the whole clause useless, as any bounty might be set aside by the High Court, and therefore no one would venture to invest capital; but it was carried by 29 to 12. Sir Geo. Turner then asked the Convention to assist him out of his difficulty by retracing their steps, and allowing him to accept Sir John Downer's amendment; and this was done. (Conv. Deb., Melb., pp. 2343–65.)

After the fourth report the clause (which up to then had formed part of preceding clause) was redrafted as a separate clause.

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