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Wednesday, 4 July 1906


Mr HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh) . - There is no doubt that this Bill is anything but satisfactory. But, at the same time, it has been realized by all sections of honorable members that something must be done to curb trusts and to curb unfair trade. Now that we have got into Committee. I was hoping that members of the Opposition - who have stated that they are just as much opposed to trusts and unfair trade as are other sections of honorable members - would propose amendments with the object of achieving their purpose. But, instead of that, I have listened to the honorable member for Parramatta, on behalf of his colleagues, simply talking generalities. I object to the substitution of the words " with design " for the word " wilfully," because I think that any person committing the offences created by the Bill shouldbe punished, and that there will be very little punishment if the design of the offender has to be proved.


Sir William Lyne - The words I intend to insert are "with intent to restrain."


Mr HUTCHISON - Why should we distinguish between the offender under one Act and the offender under another? If a man meets a few friends, and takes a glass of Leer in their company, afterwards being led on to further drinking until he becomes drunk, it is no vindication for him to say, when arrested for drunkenness, that he had no design to get drunk, and, if convicted, he will be punished for the commission of an offence. Similarly, any one committing an offence under this measure should be punished. I admit that leniency should be shown to first offenders ; but, when offences are continued, the offender should be severely punished. If the proposed amendment is made, the Bill might as well be thrown into the waste- paper basket, because its provisions will lead only to litigation harassing to the business community, without preventing offences. I shall vote for the omission of the word " wilful," but shall resist the insertion of the words " with design." How can a man's design be proved? No one, if charged with an offence, would admit that he had offended by design, and witnesses could not be brought to say what his design was. It might happen, however,that a person who had offended undesignedly might be found guilty of having offended with design, which would be an injustice.. If the Opposition are in earnest in their desire to protecttraders, and to prevent unfair competition,they should not press for the omission of paragraph b. because without it the clause will not go far enough. It is time that the trusts were shown that there is a determination on the part of Parliament that trading shall be fair and legitimate, and if this legislation fails, more drastic means will have to be introduced, until eventually some of those who are opposing the Bill,thoughthey did not care to vote against it. will find themselves obliged to support nationalization, if they wish to prove the truth of their statements that they are opposed to competition in restraint of trade, and to unfair competition. As I pointed out in regard to a clause which the Minister now proposes to amend, if design has to be proved, the person injured, instead of getting treble damages from the offender, may have to bear the cost of the action, and get no damages at all, through not being able to prove design.







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