Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Tuesday, 26 July 1921

Senator PAYNE (Tasmania) . - I understand that the object of the amendment is to eliminate the whole of sub-paragraph iv, which was inserted by another place for a certain object. I could not support the retention of the sub-paragraph as printed, and for that reason I gave you notice, Mr. Chairman, that I intended to move an amendment. I recognise, however, that it is essential that some provision should . be made whereby a bonâ fide . retail trader -may have the right to purchase in wholesale quantities direct from the manufacturer the goods he requires for his business. In some cases he can do so. I know '.of many manufacturers from whom shopkeepers - some of them in a . small way of business - obtain their supplies direct in wholesale quantities. But there has grown up in Australia quite recently a practice under which manufacturers abso- ' lutely refuse to trade directly with the retail distributers - the men to whom the general public have to go for their sup-' plies. The result, I am afraid, is that the consuming portion of the community have to pay higher prices than they would be called upon to pay if. the retail trader were able to buy direct from the manufacturer. That is the position in a nutshell. The sub-paragraph as it stands, however, would give any individual the right to -demand that a manufacturer should supply to him in -less than wholesale quantities the goods he wants. That would -be a foolish provision. We could not expect amanufacturer to supply to all and sundrythe goods he manufactures in. the quantities required by individual consumers. Under such a provision a man might, require a manufacturer to sell him a half-dozen pounds of wire nailsora yard'- of flannel,

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - But in. this case a minimum value of £50 is fixed.

Senator PAYNE - Exactly, so. My desire, is- to so amend the sub-paragraph that it would read that, tha Minister should have power to refer to the Board for inquiry and report any complaint that a manufacturer was " refusing to sell to any person who is carrying on a bonâ fide retail business-, goods, in not less quantities than are generally required in wholesale trading at current; market rates."

Senator Wilson - That is very ambiguous. Everything would depend upon the definition of wholesale rates..

Senator PAYNE - It is a well knows term in all trades. The case is not- met by fixing. a minimum value- of. £50. A retail trader might desire- to- purchase, half a ton of wire nails direct from- the manufacturer. Why should - he not be able to do so?

Senator GUTHRIE (VICTORIA) - Who. is to determine what is " wholesale quantity "?

Senator PAYNE - Wholesale quantities are unbroken- quantities. A: man, for instance, could not buy direct from a manufacturer . half-a-dozen yards of textile fabric. He must buy the whole piece. My desire is to give the bonâ fide retailer the right to purchase direct from the manufacturer, ' so that- he maybe enabled, to distribute at reasonable rates, to the consumer,. I can- remember when, the merchants- of Melbourne- were quite fairly classed as importers, because- in those days they - particularly the softgoods merchants- dealt principally with imports. But the woollen mills of Australia now put all their, goods through, the wholesale warehouses. Tha consuming community must, necessarily.,- under such a process, pay higher, prices than would otherwise rule. I intend to oppose the amendment moved' by tha Minister since,, if it were- agreed, to, I should not have an- opportunity to move my amendment. .

SenatorPRATTEN (New South Wales) [10.12] -I have much, pleasure, in giving my whole-hearted support, to the amend-, meat, moved, by the- Minister (Senator Russell). There is a . good deal of misconception m regard to the distributing, business of Australia from the manufacturer. to the retailer. I shall -try; to give some- information. on the- subject that ia within . my own personal knowledge.. Those much-talkedof business ceatresYorkstreet, Sydney, and Flinders-lane,, Melbourne- deal principally with imported goods, and,, consequently, axe. largely outside, the ambit of the. manufacturer. Taking the whole of the manufacturing, trades of Australia,, most of their distributing is done direct as between the. manufacturer or. retailer, or through tha established State agencies of the manufacturer. When a manufacturer distributes through a wholesale house it is for one of several reasons. He is, perhaps, short of capital, and cannot send out travellers, who can give the necessary credit "to the retailer, as is- done by the wholesale houses. - Another reason- may be that he gets a better net return bydealing with the wholesale houses; his working and' travelling expenses are less, and be can finance his- business on very much less capital than if he were doing adirect distributing business,

Senator Wilson - He trades through their avenues of finance.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes; in other words, a struggling manufacturer'- is often helped by the wholesale distributing.houses;, but, generally speaking,, in thecase of dozens of commodities I could mention, the manufacturer distributes' direct to the retailer.

Senator Wilson - It was done twenty years age, when I bought from you.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Yes, Ihad. much pleasure, as: a manufacturer, in. doing a satisfactory and friendly business with Senator Wilson as a retailer twenty' years ago. There- has not been- the liaison between the merchant 'and the manufacturer so far as Australian- goods are concerned that tbe man in the street thinks there has been, because the wholesale merohantup to quite recently was primarily interested in imported goods, and the manufacturer was- struggling to displace them. Another feature of the incidence of the- sub-paragraph is- this-: Most manufacturers now, to be successful; must do an Inter-State business. ' A manufacturer in New South Wales will have his agents in Victoria, Queensland, South Australia, Western Australia, and, possibly; Tasmania. The same thing will occut with a manufacturer here; or in South Australia, and that Inter-State business as a Tula is carried on through accredited agents, who are given a small overriding commission on all the business; done through their States. In some cases they guarantee accounts, and inall cases they care for the business done within tbe State for the firm. The sub-paragraph is absolutely unworkable, and unfair to' the manufacturer, and suggests what I most strongly resent - that ' the Australian manufacturer is not giving a fair deal to the retailer. As a matter of fact, he lives by the retailer.

Senator Payne - The majority give a fair deal, but it is the minority that I complain of .

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why make laws for the minority? Why not realize the exact position? There is no case within the ambit of my knowledge where this provision, if allowed to remain, would be of any practical benefit. If Jones' something is stocked in Flinders-lane, and the retailer cannot get it there at less than a high price, he can get the article direct from Brown, another manufacturer. We had an illustration of that in connexion with Mr. Jowett's celebrated £5. suit, I entirely approve of the elimination of this sub-paragraph, because it is another attempt in the direction of impracticable grandmotherly legislation, which isinfra dig. for a Parliament of this sort to pass.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (by Senator Russell) agreed to -

That the words' "goods to the value of Fifty pounds at current market rates " be left out.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 16 agreed to.

Progress reported.

Suggest corrections