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Friday, 3 December 1965

Mr JONES (Newcastle) .- Notwithstanding the explanation that the Attorney-General tendered to me prior to the suspension of the sitting, I am concerned that this Bill, and particularly this clause, does not protect the people whom I am endeavouring to protect. I am a little astounded that, in view of the attitude of some honorable members opposite towards this Bill, they can support it on this point. I am afraid that the little man, whom I desire to protect, will not be protected adequately. In fact, as a result of the repeal of the Australian Industries Preservation Act, he will have no protection whatsoever. It has been proven in the courts that under that Act a person whose business has been destroyed as a result of the restrictive trade practices of a monopoly has some redress through the courts. I understand that one person has been compensated adequately for loss of income. I believe that another person is in the process of taking action for compensation. I hope that he also will be compensated adequately for his loss of income as a result of the restrictive trade practices in which the tyre monopolies engage.

What I am concerned about is that under this provision of the Bill the motor industry monopolies could conduct their activities in Australia in the same way as they do in the United States. I have here several pages from a trade journal in which mention is made of some of the things about which I am concerned. It says that the petrol companies operating in Australia are the same as those operating in America, as are tyre retreading companies, battery manufacturers and distributors and the manufacturers of motor car accessories. The United States Federal Trade Commission has had reason to take action to direct certain companies to desist from their present practice of insisting that the people who sell their petrol, for example, shall also sell a particular brand of tyres, use a particular brand of rubber in retreading tyres and sell a particular brand of batteries and motor car accessories.

I want the Attorney-General to assure me that this Bill will adequately protect the people in Australia to whom I have referred after -the Australian Industries Preservation Act has been repealed. This matter is important to the small man. On one occasion when the Attorney-General was a back bencher he said that he could not see me for tyres. Possibly the tyres are now coming home to roost, so to speak, because my statements were proved to be correct. I had raised this question continually for many months in an endeavour to get justice for a number of small men some of whom were compelled to leave their businesses because of the pressure that was being applied to them by the tyre companies.

Many people in my electorate, as well as the Newcastle Chamber of Commerce and the Wallsend Chamber of Commerce, object to these practices. But in a city the size of Newcastle, the Newcastle and Wallsend Chambers do not represent the major and substantial business enterprises. Although a number of large commercial enterprises are interested in the Chambers, in the main their membership comprises people conducting reasonably small undertakings not comparable in any way with some of those in the capital cities. The Wallsend Chamber of Commerce, whose membership comprises small business men, forwarded a very strong protest to the secretary of the Newcastle Chamber objecting to what was being done. The Shortland County Council, the second largest electricity reticulating authority in New South Wales, found that because of the restrictive trade practices being indulged in by tyre manufacturers, and the pressure applied by the manufacturers, it was paying excessive amounts for its tyres and retreads. It is important that the Attorney-General give me some assurance today that the people to whom I have referred will be adequately protected.

On another occasion I had reason to refer to what was going on in relation to retail sales of wine. If the retailers did not toe the line by dealing in a particular wine and were not members of a particular distributors association and did not sell wine at the price laid down by the wholesalers, they were subjected to a special kind of pressure. Although supplies were made available to them, they had to buy the wine from the wholesaler at the normal retail price that John Citizen has to pay for it. No one can carry on a business in which there is no profit margin. That was one of the ways adopted by the wholesalers to force the retailers to sell the product at the price the wholesalers laid down. One businessman in my electorate got round this tactic because he had a friend in Sydney in the same line of business who was able to buy sufficient wine to meet his own requirements and those of my constituent. However, the man living in the country had to bear the cost of transporting the wine from Sydney to Newcastle. At the same time, he placed his friend's business in jeopardy because it was an offence in the eyes of the wine distributors to sell wine to a retailer who had earned their displeasure.

I ask the Attorney-General to explain this clause very clearly. I hope that if it does not protect the people whom I am trying to protect he will withdraw it, amend it either now or when the Bill is dealt with by the Senate, or, if necessary, introduce an amending measure later to ensure that these people will be adequately protected. I believe that they are entitled to protection. The motor trade journal that I have mentioned shows that in the United States of America concerns that are trading in Australia are doing all the things that I am afraid they will continue to do in this country and thereby put people out of business.

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