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Friday, 6 July 1906

Mr KELLY (Wentworth)

The first question which arises in my mind in discussing this clause is : What constitutes a monopoly? The Attorney-General has declared that the report of the Royal Commission appointed to inquire into the tobacco industry shows that 99 per cent. of the tobacco trade is under the control of a tobacco monopoly.

Mr Robinson - That is gross exaggeration on the part of the Attorney-General.

Mr Isaacs - I said that, as regards a portion of the trade, the monopoly went up to 99 per cent.

Mr KELLY - The Attorney-General did not say anything about a proportion " going up" to 99 per cent.

Mr Isaacs - I did.

Mr KELLY - The Attorney-General declared that the proportion of the trade in the control of a monopoly was 99 per cent., and I said that it was 50 per cent. in cases.

Mr Isaacs - The honorable member did not say " in cases"; I challenge the honorable member to say that he used the words " in cases."

Mr KELLY - The Attorney- General may be quite right. If I did not say so, I meant to say " in cases." I have not seen the report of the Royal Commission for about a fortnight, but I propose to read some extracts from it. It is true that I did not use the words "in cases,"' just as the Attorney-General says he meant to use the words " goes up to," but did not use them. The Attorney-General said that the tobacco monopoly has 99 per cent. of the tobacco trade of Australia, and he refused to withdraw the statement. He did not say that the monopoly " went up to 99 per cent.

Mr Isaacs - In tobacco, it does.

Mr Robinson - It does not.

Mr KELLY - I shall now proceed to read exactly what the report of the Royal Commission says on the point, and then I feel sure honorable members will be careful about accepting, without inquiry, exparte statements from the AttorneyGeneral. Paragraph 7 of the report of the Royal Commission says : -

We find that the Combine is a partial, but not a complete monopoly. In plug tobaccoes (local and imported) expert witnesses gave the proportion of the Combine's business compared to the total business from 75 per cent. (Q. 7088) to. 99 per cent. (Q. 4229).

Mr Isaacs - Hear, hear ; that bears me out absolutely.

Mr KELLY - The report says " from 75 per cent. to 99 per cent."

Mr Robinson - That is what the AttorneyGeneral suppressed.

Mr KELLY - What the AttorneyGeneral did not say was that in plug tobacco the proportion to the total business was from 75 per cent. to 99 per cent. Paragraph 8 of the report says -

In cigars the proportion controlled appears to be from 45 per cent., statement Mr. Benjamin (Q. 5070), to 50 per cent. or 60 per cent. (Q. 4234).

Mr Robinson - Yet the AttorneyGeneral calls that 99 per cent.

Mr Page - This is quibbling.

Mr KELLY - Paragraph 9 of the report says -

In cigarettes about 75 per cent. (Q. 7088, 4236, 1307).

Then paragraph 10 says -

Retailers in various cities gave proportion of" total business with Combine at six-sevenths (Q. 4237), 70 per cent. to 80 per cent. (Q. 6850),. 85 per cent. (Q. 6045), and practically all agreed that the majority of the most popular of both local and imported lines were controlled by the Combine.

Mr Isaacs - Read the next sentence.

Mr KELLY - The next sentence is : -

To such an extent does this exist that, so far as plug tobaccoes are concerned, the Combine is. a virtual monopoly.

Australian Industries[6 July, 1906.] Preservation Bill. 11 1 5

If that will satisfy the Attorney-General - the report does not say that it is a monopoly - anything will satisfy him in making extravagant statements. The AttorneyGeneral said that the proportion is 99 per cent.

Mr Isaacs - So does the Royal Commission.

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