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Wednesday, 20 July 1921

Senator ELLIOTT - Courts, Commissions, Boards, and Committees have inquired into the question of profiteering, and up to the present the number punished has been infinitesimal.

Senator Sir Thomas Glasgow - It is only the small men who have been penalized.

Senator ELLIOTT - That is sc. If the Flinders-lane merchants produce balance-sheets showing a deficit, are they to be charged with profiteering?

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - No. with bad business by purchasing more than they require.

Senator ELLIOTT - They must create a reserve to provide for unforeseen contingencies.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - They made 100 per cent, on Australian manufactured goods. Senator ELLIOTT.- And lost 100 per cent, on imported goods. To carry on business successfully and ona proper basis the losses and profits have to be averaged overa period of years. There are hundreds of law cases recorded in our

Law Reports in which efforts have been made tot prove that firms have acted in restraint of trade, and although in great numbers of them this has not been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Court, thus showing the difficulties which arise in such cases-, the responsibility of proving it is, under this Bill, to rest with a body of persons who will be possibly inexperienced in the law. My principal objection in regard to clause 15 is to sub-paragraph iv, paragraph h, of subclause 1, which reads: "Refusing to sell to any person goods to the value of £50 at current market rates." I do not know anything more likely to disorganize business than such a provision.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - That alone should have put this Bill under the table.

Senator ELLIOTT - It is an unreasonable provision, because a manufacturer may be approached by persons who wish to purchase £50 worth of goods, and he may not have them in stock, or he may be unable to supply because his output has been sold under contract.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - That would exempt him.

Senator ELLIOTT - The Bill does not so provide.

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - But we are to amend it slightly, I believe.

Senator ELLIOTT - Under this provision an unfortunate manufacturer might be compelled to obtain the goods, elsewhere in order to meet the demands of a customer. Again, whilst the Board may summon witnesses to. give evidence to convict a manufacturer who is brought before them, he does, not seem to be given any reciprocal power under this Bill to call witnesses to rebut the case against, him.

Senator Reid - He has a right to give his own evidence.

Senator ELLIOTT - That may be so, if he is called; but, apparently, he has no right to call evidence in corroboration of his statement.

Senator Crawford - The members of the Tariff Board will surely give him a chance to have his case heard.

Senator ELLIOTT - They will not necessarily be men having any judicial knowledge, or any knowledge of the rulesof evidence.. It is our duty to see that no injustice is . done to the citizens of Australia, and I think we should do what we can to relieve Australian manufacturers of unnecessary restrictions and: harassing conditions, of. this kind.

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