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Thursday, 2 December 1965

Mr WILSON (Sturt) .- The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) proposes to insert a clause relating to price cutting. If an industry or a commercial house cuts prices with a view to providing for wage earners lower prices for goods, that has everything to commend it. If a person cuts prices and then somebody comes along and says: "You have cut prices because you want to wipe out a competitor", the Deputy Leader of the Opposition wants to start a witch hunt. He wants all sorts of inquiries to be made. The amendment proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition- would enable a person brought before the court as a result of these inquiries to be dealt with - sent to gaol, or fined up to 10,000 dollars. This procedure that is in the mind of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition of imposing a penalty after conducting a witch hunt is something which I think is extremely bad.

On the other hand, the scheme proposed by the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) to stop trade practices contrary to the public interest is much better. He proposes to set up a Tribunal which will decide whether or not a practice is contrary to the publicinterest. If the Tribunal decides that a practice is contrary to the public interest the person or body concerned will have to stop that practice. Surely what the Bill is trying to do is to stop practices which are contrary to the public interest. It is not trying to create a general interfering body or to provide for criminal processes that could result in a lot of innocent people being dragged before the courts and either acquitted, because their practices were not contrary to the public interest, or put into gaol because the court came to the conclusion that they were. I believe that the purpose of this Parliament should be to try to stop practices which are contrary to the public interest. That is what the Bill proposes to do, as has been explained by the

Attorney-General. I am in favour of the general scheme or process as outlined by the Attorney-General with the exception of a few compulsory procedures which I will deal with later. The general idea of aiming to stop certain practices rather than conducting a general investigation into all sorts of practices is one that should be accepted by this Committee in preference to the frustrating procedures suggested by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

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