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Thursday, 2 December 1965

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) .- I frankly fail to follow the argument of my honorable and learned friend from Parramatta (Mr. Bowen). We would prefer the Australian Industries Preservation Act. Sir Garfield Barwick did not say he would repeal that Act. Yesterday we put to a vote the question of the preservation of that Act. We want it. It is true enough that it was not used for nearly 50 years, but as a result of the decision of the High Court in Redfern's case in February last year and also the interpretation given by Mr. Justice Taylor to section 7 of the Australian Industries Preservation Act as applied by the Seat of Government (Administration) Act, to the Australian Capital Territory, it is quite clear that the Australian Industries Preservation Act has very much more force than had previously been thought.

Mr Bowen - But still very little force.

Mr WHITLAM - Well, the honorable member was saying that it had more force than the amendment I have moved and upon which we will soon be voting. We prefer the Australian Industries Preservation Act, and it is because it has been shown to have so much more force than it was thought to have at any time between 1910 and 1964 that I believe there has been an incentive to proceed with this substitute legislation. That means that there are many fewer penalties for companies and many fewer rights for injured persons and companies. I acknowledge that my amendment is weaker than the provisions of the Australian Industries Preservation Act. I tried yesterday to preserve the Australian Industries Preservation Act, but the honorable member for Parramatta and his colleagues voted to repeal it. Why then should the honorable member charge me with moving an amendment which is weaker than the Act which he and his colleagues helped to repeal? I do not see the force of his argument.

What I have done by moving this amendment is to bring before the House in legislative form the proposal which was put to it by the former Attorney-General three years ago, and which was put to the people two years ago. I admit that my amendment is weaker than the provisions of the Australian Industries Preservation Act, but nevertheless the provisions of my amendment were put before the Parliament and were also endorsed by the people. Accordingly we are entitled to expect that they should be put in legislative form. Many honorable members on the Government side have justified this dilution of the proposals of the Chief Justice, but the present Attorney-General is not among them. I repeat that the Chief Justice was of the opinion that there are some practices which are felt to be inexcusable in all circumstances. He repeated that when he said -

They are forbidden in all cases. To carry on any one of them will inevitably attract process in the ordinary courts, civil or criminal, or both.

The former Attorney-General put four proposals before the House three years ago. The Prime Minister (Sir Robert Menzies) put those four proposals to the people two years ago. The Bill contains only two of those proposals, and in accordance with the draft of the Chief Justice I have moved that the two omitted proposals now be put in. The Opposition believes that these are still inexcusable and unlawful practices. It is not true to say, as I think the honorable gentleman said, that in the United States these provisions have not worked. They have worked in the United States. Anybody who has conversed with lawyers or businessmen in or from the United States will know how acutely sensitive they are to any tendency towards price cutting or monopolisation. The Americans are particularly discreet in all their practices in this regard. I quoted furthermore from what the Attorney-General said in 1960 when he cited with approval the Pattman-Robinson Act of 1936, which had made predatory price cutting a criminal offence. His clear belief in 1960 was that the same practice should be proscribed and made an offence in this country. Why has he not justified his own view of 1960, even if he is not prepared to explain why he, the responsible Minister, has departed from his predecessor's proposals to the House three years ago and the Prime Minister's policy speech delivered two years ago?

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