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Wednesday, 26 November 1941

Mr BEASLEY (West Sydney) (Minister for Supply and Development) . - by leave - On Friday, the 21st November, the honorable member for Bass (Mr. Barnard) asked me, as Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, how many firms had been declared since the outbreak of war for making excess profits on goods sold to the public. He also asked what additional penalty, if any, had been imposed on such firms. The Minister for Trade and Customs (Senator Keane) has now advised me that early in the history of price control the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner issued a general order setting out the procedure under which increased costs of a certain list of declared goods could be passed on in prices. Considerable publicity was given to this formula and traders were advised to apply the same principle to undeclared goods. Later a systematic check of the operations of traders was undertaken for the purpose of ascertaining whether the principles of price control were being observed. A feature of the general instruction was that gross profit margins were not to be increased without the approval of the Commissioner. Investigations disclosed that in many instances this principle had not been followed ; in some cases the increased gross profit margins did not return to traders a net profit that could be regarded as unduly high; in other cases the net profit was higher than would have been allowed by the Commissioner if applications had been made for permission to increase gross profit margins. Nevertheless, in those cases where there was evidence that the traders concerned had not observed this important requirement of price control all goods sold by those traders were declared and brought under strict price control. The procedure then followed by the Commissioner was -

(a)   to determine a reasonable gross profit margin for the trader concerned ; (£>) to ascertain the excess gross profit obtained over the margin so determined ;

(c)   to fix a gross profit margin for future trading that would ensure that the excess so calculated would be returned to consumers.

This detailed explanation is necessary to make it clear that the declaration of a trader is not in itself evidence that a trader was profiteering in the most objectionable sense in which that word is used. Nevertheless the declaration of a trader for non-observance of price control principles is regarded as a grave step and one that reflects little credit on the trader concerned. Up to the present the following traders have been declared for nonobservance of price control principles: - Richard Allen and Sons (1919) Proprietary Limited, 164 Flinders-lane, Melbourne.

E.   Barbier,805 New South Head-road, Rose Bay, New South Wales.

The Bay Butchery, 241 Coogoe Bay-road, Coogee, New South Wales.

Campbell's, 871 New Canterbury- road. Hurlstono Park, New South Wales.

J.   Chaleyer and Co., 353 Flinders-lane, Melbourne.

J.   Cumbley, 117a Avoca-street, Randwick, New South Wales.

F.   L. and R. F. Clarke, 316 Bronte-road, Waverley, New South Wales.

Debenhams (Aust.) Proprietary Limited, 153 Flinders-lane, Melbourne.

E.   Furbank, 265 Miller-street, North Sydney, New South Wales.

General Paint Company of Australia Proprietary Limited,68 Caledonia-street, Paddington, New South Wales.

Gilroys Meat Service, 420 Victoria-avenue. Chatswood, New South Wales.

W.   A. Grubb Proprietary Limited, 88 Darlinghurstroad, King's Cross, New South Wales.

C.   W. Hayes, 10 Willoughby-road, Crow's Nest, New South Wales.'

Lane's Meat Service, 189 Oxford-street, Bondi Junction, New South Wales.

Lane's Meat Service, 38 Willoughby-road. Crow's Nest, New South Wales.

A.   C. Matthews (trading as Burns Johnson and Company),64 Albert-street, Brisbane.

H.   Med way,63 Penshurst-street, Willoughby, New South Wales.

15.   and W. Murray Limited. - All branches throughout Australia.

Mosley and Kemp Proprietary Limited. 172 Flinders-lane, Melbourne.

J.   W. Nicholas (Chatswood Butchery), 445 Victoria-avenue, Chatswood, New South Wales.

Alfred Ernest Osborne, North-terrace, Bankstown, New South Wales.

John Payne (trading as Payne Bros.), 34 Ormonde-parade, Hurstville, New South Wales.

J.   L. Perry and Company, 119 Auburn-road, Auburn, Now South Wales.

Robert Reid and Company Limited, 341 Flinders-lane, Melbourne, Victoria.

W.   R. Rideout, 184 Penshurst-street, Willoughby, New South Wales.

Sargood Gardiner Proprietary Limited, 01-73 Flinders-lane, Melbourne.

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