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Friday, 3 December 1965

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (AttorneyGeneral) . - I move -

At the end of the clause add the following word and paragraph: - "or (i) to any provision of an agreement to the extent that it gives rise to a restriction in relation to the carriage of goods by sea between Australia and places outside Australia.".

Clause 38 deals with exemptions in respect of agreements. It details a number of things which should not be taken into account, but there was one thing which should have been added and which was not.I refer to the subject matter of paragraph (i) which I propose should be added. This is an amendment which is consequential on what the Committee has already debated at some length. We are not repealing the Australian Industries Preservation Act. We are maintaining so much of it as deals with ocean shipping. Until the time when the special provisions come into force we must exempt ocean shipping from consideration under this Bill. I move this amendment feeling that it is both a technical and a consequential amendment and I am sure that the Committee will agree to it.

Mr. DALY(Grayndler) {12.4].- I do not wish to address my remarks to the amendment, which is not opposed by the Opposition, but I have a particular case in mind and I would like the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) to say whether it will be covered under this legislation, and, if not, whether he can provide an amendment under which cases that I will outline in a moment would be covered. This is a particularly important clause because it deals with exemptions in respect of agreements. In other words, it provides the escape clause to the legislation. I have in mind one particular matter which I would say comes under paragraphs (g) and (h) of the clause, on page 19 of the Bill, dealing with the question of trade marks. This matter was brought to my attention by the honorable member for Gellibrand (Mr. McIvor). I wish to quote a letter, which the AttorneyGeneral has already seen, in order to show what has been done and how, if this Bill goes through as it is, it will allow this state of affairs to continue. The letter is from Cordini Pty. Ltd., importers, of 3 Fisher Parade, Ascot Vale, Victoria, and is addressed to Mr. H. McIvor. It reads -

Dear Sir,

Corindi Pty. Ltd. was incorporated under the Companies Act 1961 on the 12th day of November 1963 with one share held by each of its two Directors: Noel Rodney Campbell, 3 Fisher Parade, Ascot Vale, Occupation: Dental Student; Barry Pemberton Hutchens, 4 Towers St., Beaumaris, Accountant.

The company was founded to pay the University fees of Campbell and to provide an investment for Hutchens.

Trading was based on importation of goods from outside Australia and direct retailing of these goods to the public. By doing this the public was saved the expense of a wholesaler's and a retailer's overhead and profit margin, instead they only had to pay one of these. This resulted in discounts ranging from 174 per cent, up to 40 per cent, below the official retail price set in Australia.

The public was provided with an equivalent warranty to that given by other agents in Australia so that they were not buying inferior articles or receiving inferior service.

Trade organisations competing with us sent us solicitors' letters threatening action if we did not cease operations. They requested the Customs Department to check our declared values, they requested the sales tax department to check our accounts. They placed advertisements in the paper informing the public that we were not official agents of the Companies whose products we were selling. They suggested that we may offer imperfect goods. The Melbourne Chamber of Commerce (Photographic Merchants Section) stated that "numerous complaints have been received that cameras and projectors purchased from discount houses have not been receiving free repair service under guarantee.", in an advertisement in the " Age " newspaper. When we found it necessary to replace body numbers with our own to prevent the trade tracing our suppliers, the police were sent to us following a complaint that we were handling stolen goods. The police demanded to know who our suppliers were and our solicitor had to inform them that they were exceeding their authority.

The latest endeavour to stop our trading is a registration under the Trade Mark Act as shown on the attached document.

This document is headed " Member of the Swift Group of Companies - Dealer Protection - Registration under the Trade Mark Act " and reads -

From November 20, 1964, cameras, photographic equipment, film, etc., bearing top brand names: - Canon, Yashica, Ansco, are prohibited imports for commercial purposes except through Swift and Bleakley Pty. Ltd., Kent Photographies Pty. Ltd., Swain's Industries Pty. Ltd. Bonds have been entered into with the Comptroller General of Customs, Canberra, effective in all Capital Cities authorising Customs "to seize any such goods, if imported, as forfeited to the Commonwealth ".

In co-operation with overseas Principals who, with ourselves, are most concerned at the lack of orderly marketing tendencies in Australia adversely affecting both Photographic Retailers and ourselves, we are pleased to announce finality to our efforts over the past 12 months whereby the above Companies have entered into customs bonds to protect you, our valued Dealers.

In other words, to tie up the market. The document is signed on behalf of the three companies concerned. The letter I was quoting continues -

This prevents all commercial organisations from importing genuine articles bearing the registered trade marks except those companies who have registered the Trade Marks. This means that they have a monopoly of distribution of these products throughout Australia and that in the future the Australian public will be deprived of the savings that we have been giving them on these products mentioned. It further states that Customs are authorised "to seize any such goods, if imported, as forfeited to the Commonwealth".

Yours Sincerely, Noel P. Campbell. (Director).

As I read the Bill, under paragraphs (g) and (h) of clause 38 this kind of conduct will be permitted to continue and companies such as this will be not only maligned as mentioned in the letter I have read but also forced completely out of business, despite the tremendous saving to the public of from 17i per cent to 40 per cent, shown in the document.

Mr MCIVOR (GELLIBRAND, VICTORIA) - They were forced out of business.

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