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Thursday, 2 December 1965

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (AttorneyGeneral) . - Mr. Chairman, this debate has ranged over a number of topics. In saying this, 1 make no reflection on you, Sir. I believe that you have correctly allowed the discussion to range fairly widely. I have no doubt that the wider range of debate that has just occurred will allow us to shorten the discussion on some of the other provisions that will be before the Committee subsequently. I deal now specifically with the amendment proposed by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam). I understand why he has proposed it. He has done so for two reasons. The first is that he considers that this Bill should have adhered to all the proposals of my very distinguished predecessor, Sir Garfield Barwick. The second reason is that the honorable member sees trade associations as the vehicle of a great number of restrictions. In that sense, my friend, the honorable member for Angas (Mr. Giles), sees the same thing.

Let me deal with these matters one after the other. In the first place my distinguished predecessor, Sir Garfield Barwick, published through the agency of my friend, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr. Freeth), his proposals. Those proposals were made in the form that they took for two purposes. The first was to see just how Sir Garfield Barwick's proposals were oriented in the pattern of Australian trade and commerce in which they were to operate. The second purpose was to enable Sir Garfield himself to receive representations and to make such changes as he thought necessary. Representations were made to the effect that the registration of trade associations would constitute an unnecessary imposition. I am sure that my distinguished predecessor would have reached the same conclusion that the Government and I reached - that it was unnecessary to require registration or, indeed, examination of the constitution of a trade association.

The reason is that such associations play a most important part in our way of life. All forms of association are important. But trade associations are particularly important because they bring together people engaged in trade and commerce who have a common purpose, who require the transference of information between them, who may through joint enterprise engage in research and who may come together to make representations to governments or to present evidence, for example, to the Tariff Board. In all these activities trade associations play an important part in our community. Nobody would wish to see any deleterious effect on those functions. Registration of the constitution of any association because there are limitations on the membership of that body would inevitably have deleterious consequences. Indeed, it would require something that was unnecessary. As I pointed out, registration is a fact finding process and there is need to find facts in relation to this. I am quite convinced that my predecessor would have reached the same conclusion as has the Government and as I have as reflected in the Bill.

Let me come to the second point made by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition and the point made by the honorable member for Angas. If a trade association is the vehicle of restrictions, the restrictions themselves will be subject to examination before the Tribunal and, if against the public interest, will be stricken down. So there would be no purpose in the trade association putting a restriction on the membership for purposes of the trade restriction. On the other hand, a trade association ought to be free to say that it will not take red headed men because it does not like red headed men or, as the honorable member for Parkes (Mr. Hughes) has pointed out, it may say: "You cannot be a member or continue to be a member unless you pay the entrance fee and the annual subscription ". It is entirely a matter for the association to decide who will and who will not be a member of the association. What is not desirable is that the trade association be used as a vehicle for restriction. If it is so used as a vehicle for restriction it is, by the basis of the Bill, an agreement which would be examinable and, if it is contrary to the public interest, it will be stricken down. If I am any judge of a trade association, it would welcome all the members that it could attract to the association, if there was no purpose in restricting members simply because the purpose in restricting them was in order to prosper a restriction.

Question put -

That the amendment (Mr. Whitlam's) be agreed to.

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