Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 4 July 1906
Page: 981


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) . - This is one of the most important clauses in the Bill, and, as a preliminary to its discussion, or the discussion of any amendment which may be proposed, I should like the Minister to explain the intended effect of paragraph b, which, taken in conjunction with the first portion of the clause reads -

Any person who wilfully, either as principal or as agent, makes or enters into any contract, or is a member of or engages in any combination to do any act or thing, in relation to trade or commerce with other countries or among the States with the design of destroying or injuring by means of unfair competition any Austialian industry the preservation of which in the opinion of the jury is advantageous to the Commonwealth, having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers, is guilty of an indictable offence.


Sir William Lyne - That is very explicit.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - At first sight it might be supposed that the clause was intended merely to protect Australian industries from attack by outsiders.


Mr Isaacs - It is intended to protect them from attack either from within or without.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In that case, it would apply to any persons engaged in an Australian industry who might be regarded as engaging in unfair competition. For instance, if certain persons engaged in an Australian industry extending beyond any one State were competing with another set of persons engaged in the same industry, would an inquiry be made as to the legitimacy of their operations ?


Mr Higgins - I understand that a manufacturer may kill a rival, but not an industry ?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Some remarks made by the Attorney-General last night have caused me to make my present inquiry. I desire to know, whether it is proposed to deal with a competitor in an Australian industry, that is to say, to inquire whether his competition is fair or unfair.


Mr Isaacs - The scope of the clause would extend to such a case.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then it would be boundless.


Mr Isaacs - If any one is doing an improper thing, whether he be engaged in an industry or out of it, he will be amenable to the law.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is exactly what I want to know. If two firms were competing within an industry, would an inquiry be made into the fairness of the competition, which might have no effect on the industry, but might seriously affect one or other of the firms engaged ?


Sir William Lyne - Does the honorable member refer to such a case as that mentioned1 by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo, namely, a combination of certain "harvester manufacturers?


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. If certain harvester makers combined to compete against other harvester makers, would an inquiry be made as to the legitimacy of their operations?


Sir William Lyne - Yes, if there were any necessity for it.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes; but how is a decision to be arrived at as to the necessity for an inquiry? Is an inquiry to be entered upon if it is shown that an industry is being injured, or merely on the ground that one firm, or set of firms, is carrying on unfair competition? Is it not necessary, under the clause as it now stands, to show that an industry is being injured : or is it merely requisite to prove that certain persons are operating with the design of injuring an industry?


Sir William Lyne - Their operations mav injure the industry in which they are engaged, or some other industry.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the clause means all that the Minister's statements seem to indicate, its operation will extend into the ramifications of every business. Apparently, it will apply not only to the operations of persons outside the Commonwealth, but also to the actions of those within an Australian industry, even though there may be no injurious, effects. A design to injure may be attributed to those who are operating within an Australian industry. In view of the powers which appear to be conferred by the clause, I should like to know, precisely, what the intention is. The clause may cover more ground than is intended.







Suggest corrections