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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3205


Mr MORRISON —by leave-I will make one observation on the speech of the honourable member for Braddon (Mr Groom). It is a matter of interest to the House to know that this matter flowed from discussions of the Sub-Committee dealing with Australia-United States relations. The Sub-Committee believed that extraterritoriality was an area in which conflict had arisen between the United States and Australia and that it should be considered in full detail. I submit that the difference between the report and the dissenting reports is one of emphasis rather than of substance. The dissenting reports, including that of the honourable member for Braddon, emphasise the role of the anti-trust co-operation agreement. It sees no reason for further legislation at least at this stage whereas the report itself has some doubts about the capacity of the agreement to meet its objectives and points out that in any event the agreement is confined to anti-trust matters. What is clear is that the potential for conflict in the national interest between Australia and the United States remains and I believe it is the responsibility of the Australian Government to protect our national interest in exactly the same way as the United States, by its legislation, protects its national interest.

The basic question we have to face is whether we should wait until a matter is before the courts, as we did in respect of the two previous Acts that this Parliament considered, before rushing through legislation to meet the exigency created by activities in the United States or whether we should have in place defensive legislation which can be called upon as a last resort. My view is that the anti-trust co-operation agreement and the consultation approach involved is the preferable course of action and, hopefully, future conflicts can be resolved in that context. Nevertheless, it would be a dereliction of responsibility if we did not have in place legislation that could be called on in last resort. I trust the Government will pursue this course of action.