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Wednesday, 30 May 1973
Page: 2910

Mr CREAN (Melbourne Ports) (Treasurer) - I move:

That the amendment be agreed to.

In introducing this amendment in the Senate the Government took into account various representations it had received concerning the Prices Justification Bill. The Government recognised when it introduced the Bill that there could be room for improvement as the Bill broke new ground and we could not be certain that it would meet all eventualities. The amendment proposed will enable the Prices Justification Tribunal to exempt a company or companies, either generally or otherwise, from the requirement to notify the Tribunal of proposed price increases and proposed prices for new products, and to refrain from implementing the proposed new prices for up to 21 days. The provision for exemption 'generally or otherwise' means that a company may be exempted in respect of all goods and services in which it deals, or in relation to particular goods or services or classes of goods or services. This will provide scope for overcoming a potential problem for companies such as department stores, and no doubt some manufacturers, selling many thousands of products of many kinds. There could be a large administrative problem for such companies and for the Tribunal if a price clearance had to be obtained for every one of the great number of items handled by such companies. There could also be problems if the companies had to refrain from putting the goods on sale until a price clearance was obtained from the Tribunal. There would be a particular problem in relation to perishable goods, such as meat, poultry and vegetables, which are seasonal goods whose prices vary frequently, and which would be unsaleable if sales were delayed for up to 21 days. The proposed amendment would exempt the company or companies concerned only from the requirement to notify new prices and not implement them for 21 days. It would not exempt such companies from the Act as a whole; the Tribunal would still have the power to inquire into their prices if it so wished. I commend the amendment to the Committee.

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