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Wednesday, 1 December 1965


Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) .- I propose to move on behalf of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam), an amendment to the definition of " goods " but before doing so I wish to comment on the statement made by the honorable member for Moreton (Mr. Killen). I said in my second reading speech that I thought the Government had displayed a certain amount of wisdom in not attempting to define " competition ". It is what one might call a term of art. I would sometimes like honorable members on the Government side who talk about private enterprise to define that term. Doubtless they would find it difficult to do so. The same difficulty attaches to defining such terms as " competition " and '* public interest ".

During that speech I read some extracts from an article compiled by two fellow countrymen of the honorable member for Moreton - two gentlemen from the University of Queensland. It was an article which was published over their names in "The Australian Accountant " two or three years ago. In it they asked whether a reference to competition meant price competition, cut throat competition, unfair competition or, as the Americans put it, a kind of reasonable competition. This is the kind of ground that the Commissioner and the tribunal will have to tread upon. There cannot be any such thing as absolute competition. The term " competition " has to be qualified in some way, and if we begin to think of qualifying it I doubt that dictionary definitions would be in order.

The Opposition is desirous of including newspapers in the definition of " goods ". The definitions already in the Bill are fairly wide, and it seems to me that newspapers could well come within the ambit of the legislation. But the present definition of " goods " specifically sets out such things as ships, aircraft and other vehicles, and animals, including fish, lt reminds one somewhat of the game " Animal, Vegetable and Mineral ". It also includes minerals, trees and crops, whether on, under or attached to land or not, and gas and electricity. We wondered why water had not been included. Apparently there are no private providers of water services in Australia or, if there are, the number is so small as not to be worth covering by this legislation. However, there are still some private distributors of gas and electricity. One of the things not brought within the scope of the legislation is the provision of public utilities by the States. Because there are still some private concerns purveying gas and electricity, it is deemed advisable to include those two items in this definition. We believe that newspapers ought to be included, because there is some doubt as to whether they are a good in the ordinary sense.


Mr Snedden - Is the honorable member suggesting that they are not good?


Mr CREAN - No. I am not suggesting that they are evil, either. But when we talk about goods and chattels we have in mind things a little more concrete than newspapers. Most newspaper proprietors regard their newspapers as more than just commodities. They regard them as purveyors of services and information. We think the Bill is deficient in not ensuring that newspapers are covered by the definitions. I remind honorable members that later on we shall deal with the question of resale prices maintenance. Irrespective of whether we regard newspapers as good or bad, I suppose, they are the greatest perpetrators of resale prices maintenance in the community. Newspapers are sold at the same price from one end of a State to another. I am sure it is intended that in some circumstances newspapers should come within the ambit of the legislation, and in order to make the provision specific, I move-

At the end of the definition of " goods " add the following paragraph: - " (e) newspapers;".







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