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Thursday, 2 December 1965

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (AttorneyGeneral) . - The Government cannot accept any of these amendments. The reasons were made quite clear in my second reading speech and in my reply at the conclusion of the second reading debate. To accept the first amendment, which is to delete the words "by any express or implied threat or promise ", would mean that any person who sought to induce a supplier of goods to give him a better price than somebody else could have the goods at would be engaging in an examinable practice. It would be wrong to include that in the Bill. It would intrude far too deeply. The shaft would penetrate right into every business activity. If a purchaser of ash trays, for instance, went to the manufacturer and said: "I know you supply your ash trays to everybody else, but I try to induce you now to give them to me at ls. per dozen cheaper", that would not be an examinable practice. Clause 35 (1.) (a) is not active where he tries to induce better terms for himself; but where his action has the quality of implied threat or promise that makes it examinable.

The next amendment, No. 6, proposes to insert a new clause, which is a clause of discrimination. The Government decided that an individual person would be permitted to discriminate. If he chose to sell to one person cheaper than to another that, in itself, would not be an examinable practice. If, however, he entered into an agreement with others so that in common, pursuant to the agreement, they gave different discounts to different classes of people and discriminated between them, that would be an examinable agreement pursuant to clause 35. When an individual does it of his own will, the Government's view - this is the basis upon which the legislation was drawn - is that that is not a matter which should become an examinable practice.

The next two amendments, Nos. 7 and 8, make provision in relation to what one calls full line forcing. The Government has decided, in clause 36(l.)(b), that it will make an examinable practice the action of a person who uses the possession of economic power to require another person who receives goods from him to take the goods of an entirely different third party. What the Opposition seeks to do is to prevent an individual from forcing his own full line of products. Let me give an illustration. As the Bill stands at present, if a manufacturer produces pencils and ash trays and says to a person to whom he supplies those articles: " If you want my pencils and ash trays you must take cigarettes from a nominated company ", that is an examinable practice. But what the Opposition's amendment seeks to do is this: If a manufacturer makes pencils and ash trays, he cannot say: " If you want my pencils you must also buy my ash trays ". There is a difference between forcing a third person's product and forcing your own full line of products. The Government came to the conclusion that you ought not to be able to use power, in the economic sense, to force on somebody else a third person's products, but that you ought to be able to attempt to force your own range of products. If they are not good enough for the person concerned to be susceptible to your blandishments, he will say: " I will get my pencils elsewhere ". For those reasons, none of the amendments can be accepted by the Government.

Amendments negatived.

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