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Wednesday, 1 December 1965

Mr WENTWORTH (Mackellar) . - Perhaps the Attorney-General (Mr. Snedden) can help me. Clause 2 (2.) states -

The remaining provisions of this Act shall come into operation on a date to be fixed by Proclamation . . .

I think it is fairly clear that the Commonwealth's power in this field may be somewhat limited in regard to trade and operations that are strictly intrastate. I know that this depends upon the maintenance of the principles laid down a long time ago in the Huddart Parker case. If these principles have been invalidated by subsequent decisions then the existing Australian Industries Preservation Act has more meat in it than the Government would like to admit, and perhaps the case for bringing in this whole new Bill is not as strong as it should be.

Let me take the view that I understand the Government takes and which, in my opinion, is the better view - that the Government's powers intrastate are very limited. Let us suppose that this Act is proclaimed before there is complementary legislation in some States. What will happen is obvious. Those ventures that would otherwise be caught by the monopolisation clauses would tend to go intrastate in those States that do not pass complementary legislation, and if this is so they will be able to operate quite successfully intrastate, passing intrastate their products to holding companies whose operations, of course, would not be affected in any way by the monopolisation clauses, because they would satisfy all the necessary criteria in the State. If - and this is a hard practical question - one big State were not to pass complementary legislation, then industry would tend to drift to the State and to centralise in it.

Mr Buchanan - Not drift, but rush.

Mr WENTWORTH - My honorable friend may be right. I did not want to go that far. In point of fact if this Act were to be proclaimed before there was satisfactory complementary legislation in at least New South Wales and Victoria we might get into rather a bad spot. As a New South Welshman I would say that it would be very wrong for New South Wales to pass complementary legislation and make it effective if Victoria did not do so. In fact I would try to look after the interests of New South Wales by seeing that it did not pass complementary legislation in advance of Victoria doing so. I am informed, and I do not know whether this is authentic or not, that the Victorian Government has set its face against passing complementary legislation. If this is so, surely New South Wales should not pass such legislation, because it would just drive industry to Victoria. If neither New South Wales nor Victoria passes complementary legislation then the Commonwealth Government's powers would be very limited. I can see the merits of passing this Bill so that the States would know what their complementary legislation has to fit into. If you have an act passed, as this legislation will be passed in some form or other - perhaps with amendments - the States could at least know, when they are framing their legislation, what they have to fit into. So there is merit in passing this Bill. I doubt whether there is merit in proclaiming it until the States, or at least most of them - particularly the bigger Stated - have passed complementary legislation.

I ask the Attorney-General - perhaps he can satisfy my mind on this point - what is in his mind regarding the date of proclamation. He may well have in mind the kind of delay which I think is appropriate. I think it would be appropriate to pass this legislation in some form or other and leave these operative provisions to be proclaimed at some future date when the States have passed their complementary legislation. If this is in the AttorneyGeneral's mind - it certainly would be consonant with these provisions - I shall be glad to hear it. But it looks to me as if it is rather presumptuous or a little unwise to be proclaiming this Bill as an act after we have passed it. I am not suggesting that we should not pass it. I think it would be a little unwise to proclaim it until the situation has been properly cleared with regard to complementary legislation in the States. I repeat this hard practical fact: If, for example, Victoria were to carry out its foreshadowed policy of not passing complementary legislation, it would be madness for New South Wales to pass complementary legislation, and I do not think that any government of New South Wales which had the interests of its State at heart, as I am sure the present Government of New South Wales has, would pass complementary legislation until it was assured that Victoria would come into line. In these circumstances, although I concede that there is merit in passing an act which could be put as a schedule into complementary State legislation, it seems to me that there is no merit in proclaiming this Bill as an Act. In point of fact there is perhaps some demerit in proclaiming it before we get this vexed matter of complementary State legislation properly fixed and on a reasonably uniform basis.

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