FREEDOM OF INTERSTATE TRADE WHETHER VIOLATED BY STATE ROYALTY ON TIMBER CUT ON CROWN LANDS FOR EXPORT
CONSTITUTION, ss. 86, 92 : CROWN LANDS ACT 1894 (TAS.)
Under the Pine Regulations of 28 August 1894, made under the Crown Lands Act 1894 (Tasmania), 54 Vic. No. 8, every person felling pine on Crown lands must have a license, and a royalty must be paid on all pine cut under such license for shipment outside Tasmania, such royalty to be paid to the Customs Officer, or an officer appointed for that purpose, at the port of shipment.
The Right Honourable the Minister for Trade and Customs suggests that this is practically an excise duty, and proposes to direct his officers not to collect it.
The State has a right to charge a royalty on timber belonging to it. But the charge in this instance is discriminating since it is charged only on timber for export from the State, and will, after the legal 'imposition of uniform duties of customs', be a violation of interstate free trade.
By reason of its operation upon exports only, the royalty may in one aspect be regarded as an export duty, coming under the head of customs and excise, the collection of which has passed to the Commonwealth. In this view, as the Commonwealth has ceased to collect duties under State laws, and is collecting them under the Federal tariff only, the royalty need not be collected.
If, on the other hand, it is regarded as a charge made by the State for its timber, it ought not to be collected by the Commonwealth; and the question whether-until the establishment of interstate free trade-it ought to be collected by the State is one between the State and the exporters.
[Vol. 1, p. 243]