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Thursday, 6 October 1983
Page: 1447


Mr HOWARD —I ask a question of the Prime Minister and I preface it by reminding him of his frequent claims that his Administration governs in an even-handed manner for all sections of the Australian community. I therefore ask him to give an unequivocal assurance to the House that his Government will neither repeal nor emasculate section 45D of the Trade Practices Act which has provided such invaluable protection to the small business community against anti-competitive and predatory conduct.


Mr Burr —That was a good question.


Mr HAWKE —It was a very good question. I can recognise them; they are so rare. They stick out, do they not? I appreciate the question that was asked by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and I recognise quite straightforwardly that controversial issues are involved in section 45D. I can see that there are arguments both ways on this issue. The reason the section is there is well known . But obviously, against the position which was used to justify the introduction of section 45D there is equally a very strong concern, which I think the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would understand, within sections of the community, including the trade union movement, that the trade practices legislation is not an appropriate piece of legislation in which to include penal provisions against the trade union movement. One can have a general argument about penal provisions but if one is to take action against people in regard to industrial action it could be argued that it is more appropriate to take it in the--


Mr Howard —Do you not agree with penal provisions?


Mr HAWKE —I am saying that I recognise the arguments both ways on this issue. We are reviewing this legislation. We will not move to repeal it without providing a full opportunity for all interested groups in the community to make submissions to the Government as to their positions on proposed or contemplated changes. This has been a matter of very recent consideration within the Cabinet. I give the Deputy Leader of the Opposition an assurance that there will be an exposure paper setting out the ideas we have on this legislation. I would welcome views in regard to any proposed changes from interested organisations in the community. I say sincerely that if the Deputy Leader of the Opposition would like to make some submissions to us I would welcome them.