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Tuesday, 7 December 1965

Mr HAWORTH (ISAACS, VICTORIA) .- I am surprised by the arguments that the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) advanced a little while ago. He said that he supported this clause and that there was no confusion in any ordinary agreement from day to day. I would like him to look at clause 91 of the Bill. He is a lawyer, so he might be able to tell me something about sub-clause (2.) of that clause, which reads -

An arrangement or understanding, whether formal or informal and whether expressed or implied, shall be deemed to be an agreement.

If anybody can tell me that that is without confusion, I do not know what the word " confusion " means. Who would know what is an agreement under clause 91? Who could know whether something' is an agreement when the definition includes an implied agreement? I fail to understand how the honorable member for Parkes can reconcile his thinking on this point. It is all right if one reads clause 43 on its own, without referring to the definition of " agreement " in clause 91.

I wish to challenge the honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly), who made some very remarkable statements a little while ago. They showed that he has not done any work on this Bill. Obviously he does not know what Part V of the Bill really means. As I said earlier - he challenged me on this point - the removal of Part V from the Bill would have no effect whatever on the purpose of the Bill because a complaint may be made direct to the Commissioner of Trade Practices or the Department of Trade and Industry may be asked to take action. The Commissioner could take action even if no complaint was made and irrespective of whether or not registration existed. That is the position in the United Kingdom. I want to direct the attention of the Committee to the tremendous confusion that exists-

Mr Whitlam - Would the honorable member prefer the American method of dealing with this matter?

Mr HAWORTH - I would prefer an arrangement under which no registration of agreements at all was necessary. I do not think registration is necessary. It is expensive. It is irritating not only to the big people in the community but particularly to the small businessmen. The small businessman wants to know whether he has an agreement - formal or informal, express or implied - with his next door competitor or somebody down the street.

I ask the Committee to consider this situation: A local shopping committee meets perhaps once or twice a month. It has no books of its own. It has no minutes. The members of the committee just meet together in order to compete with some city interests. Perhaps once a month they meet and arrange to have some kind of star bargain. Have they to register that agreement? The fact that it is not written does not mean a thing. The fact is that they have an implied agreement among themselves, and therefore they have to register it. If they do not register it, they may be fined up to £1,000. 1 ask the Committee to think of the hundreds of thousands of agreements such as that implied agreement which must exist throughout the whole Australian community. 1 can understand the honorable member for Grayndler objecting to such agreements because the Australian Labour Party, particularly the New South Wales Branch when it was in power in that State, would not have a bar of small businesses. It would not-

The CHAIRMAN - Order! I suggest to the honorable member that the remarks that he is now making have no relation to the clause-

Mr HAWORTH - The only relation-

The CHAIRMAN - Order! I suggest to the honorable member that his remarks have no relation to the Bill. I believe that in the last four sitting days the Committee has been given a pretty fair run in making generalisations on the clauses and amend ments before it. I believe that it would be of advantage to everyone concerned if, from now on, speakers kept their remarks relevant to the clause and amendment under discussion and if they did not proceed with a further series of second reading speeches, by making generalisations.

Mr HAWORTH - Very good, Mr. Chairman. I am very pleased that you have drawn our attention to that point, because I am really trying to apply myself to clause 43 on the matter of agreements. I say that when we consider this clause we have to take into the consideration clause 91 which refers to agreements, whether formal or informal and whether express or implied. When we take that into consideration, we can appreciate the fact that clause 43 will require a tremendous amount of work by members of the business community in searching through all of their agreements, including not only their written agreements but also ones in their minds, and deciding whether they have ever had implied agreements with their competitors or with their colleagues in their business on a horizontal plane. I am staggered by the suggestion made by some members of the Committee, particularly the honorable member for Grayndler. The removal of Part V of the Bill will not affect it in any way.

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