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Wednesday, 24 October 1973

Senator POYSER (Victoria) - I will be very brief. I have never been admitted to the Bar as Senator Wright has, but my limited knowledge of the law tells me that at the present time there are not criminal sanctions for restrictive trade practices except against the consumers in the community. This is the present position. Long before I came into the Senate members of this Parliament were playing around with the restrictive trade practices. Sir Garfield Barwick introduced legislation into this Parliament but he was not allowed to submit it to the Parliament for decision. Subsequently, the very fact that he wanted to submit such legislation caused him to be kicked upstairs into the High Court.

The PRESIDENT - Order! That is an improper observation.

Senator POYSER - We are in a situation tonight where honourable senators opposite are denying this Parliament an opportunity to debate a very important question, although 4 weeks notice of it has been given and the Leader of the Government in the Senate (Senator Murphy) said that a further 4 weeks notice could be given. I think that the matter was summed up by Senator Webster earlier this evening when he expressed his opinion to this chamber. He said that the consumer- and I want honourable senators to note this very carefully- and the very important commercial sector of this country are introduced in this Bill. Senator Webster has no real desire to help the consumer. The only people he wants to help are those in the very important commercial sector. Of course, this is why the delaying tactics are being adopted so the pressures can go on, so the lobbying can go on and so the money from certain organisations will flow into party funds to ensure that this legislation is not carried in this chamber. Tonight we are being denied the right to carry legislation for which the Australian people gave us a mandate in December of last year.

Senator Hannan - That mandate is dead and buried.

Senator POYSER - The mandate is not dead and buried. It is exactly defined in the policy speech made by the now Prime Minister before he won the last election. The Opposition is saying that after 10 months of government it still needs another 5 months to examine the legislation that it was told would be implemented by this Parliament. What the Opposition is in fact doing is denying the people of this country the right to have a Trade Practices Act which would have teeth. The Opposition wants the operations to continue as they are for at least another 6 months. Then it will come in here and, if the numbers are the same as they are now, it will vote to reject the legislation anyway. Why does the Opposition not have the courage to do this now? Why does it not have the courage to debate this legislation and move amendments during the Committee stage to amend the Act in the way that it thinks it should be framed? The Opposition can make the Act a toothless tiger if it likes but it should have the courage to do so instead of wasting our time all along the line as it is doing now.

Senator Websterput the most pitiful case I have ever heard in my life in relation to this matter because he is not concerned with the' consumer in the street. He never has been. He indicated that once he worked hard, and I would have liked to see the day. He has been an employer far longer than he has ever been an employee. He said proudly that he had a union ticket on one occasion. I would have liked to see how he observed the union rules. No honourable senator opposite, with the exception perhaps of one or two honourable senators who have some conscience, are interested at all in the consumers of this country. Honourable senators opposite are not interested in seeing that people who are creating rackets in relation to prices come under some trade practice control. Senator Webster has used the phrase- and this has been repeated time and time again to me- 'commercial sections of the community'. Of course, these sections are fighting to see that this Bill does not see the light of day. They are fighting to see that the Bill is put off and put off. Members of the Opposition are in an invidious position. They do not have the courage to vote against this legislation. They do not have the courage to debate the legislation. All they . want to do is to put off until tomorrow what should be done today in the interests of this nation. I hope that the amendment moved by Senator Murphy is carried.

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