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Friday, 10 December 1965

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (AttorneyGeneral) . - I move -

That the amendments be agreed to.

These amendments are in what might be described as two categories. One category, easily despatched, relates to an omission by me and, I suppose, by the House as a whole. There was a failure to substitute the decimal currency equivalent for some figures in pounds in clauses 34, 82, 83 and 84. The proposal is to insert the decimal currency equivalent. When the amendment we next come to was moved in the Senate, the Government took the opportunity to correct this omission. There will be no difficulty whatever in accepting the amendments in this category.

The amendment of consequences is the amendment to clause 39. It proposes to omit sub-clauses (4.) and (8.). Sub-clause (8.) is consequential on the elimination of sub-clause (4.). This brings me to sub-clause (4.). Clause 39 deals with exemptions in respect of practices. Sub-clause (4.) was an amendment that was introduced to make certain things abundantly clear. It was proposed to make clear that a person - I use the term " person " in an embracing sense, covering corporations and unincorporated bodies - who is the owner of real property can, in pursuance of his property rights over the real property, require the person to whom he gave a lease or a licence to take the goods that are supplied by the owner of the real property. The view I hold is that a person who does have proprietary rights of this kind has traditionally been able to exercise proprietary rights and is able to continue to exercise them in the traditional sense, unimpeded by the provisions of the Trade Practices Bill. There was an argument - an argument of some validity - that the Bill did not detract from that right in any event. For that reason, the amendment was, in one sense, making manifest that which was already there.

In another way, the amendment to clause 37, which I introduced and which changed the format of clause 37 and the way in which it appeared in the Bill which I introduced in May last, is now very relevant in that there has been a change of the conditioning words in relation to the three categories of examinable activities of the practice of monopolisation. Each of those three categories is now conditioned by the opening words " taking advantage of his dominant position ". I think there is a good argument that a person exercising his proprietary rights is not taking advantage of his dominant position but is taking advantage of his proprietary rights. That is paragraph (a). Paragraph (b) deals with a person, who advances credit to another person, requiring the person as a condition of the advance of credit to take his supply of goods or services through the person advancing the credit. Our colleagues in another place were very concerned about the use of the word " credit ".

Mr Whitlam - Our colleagues, not yours.

Mr SNEDDEN - I use the expression " our colleagues " in the sense that they are parliamentarians, as are we. Our colleagues in another place were very concerned about the word " credit ". They felt, I think erroneously, that credit could be carried to an extraordinary degree, where a person could lend a pittance of credit and require the person to whom it was given to take a great deal of service. This overlooked the reality of the situation; if the credit was small, the influence likewise would be small and would, therefore, be unreal. However, after giving close examination to this suggestion, I am prepared to come to the conclusion that the reality of the situation is that it is very unlikely that the goods or services that the person advancing the credit in fact supplies will be a third of the total of goods or services of that description and, therefore, sufficient to put him in a dominant position.

This is an amendment which those in another place are entitled constitutionally to look at. There can be no argument as to this right. The Senate having expressed its will, the Government was obliged to examine the amendment very closely. The Government has come to the conclusion that the nature of the amendment is such that it does not go to the essential points of the Bill. For that reason, we were able to look at it in a way in which it could not be looked at if it amended an essential part. This is not an essential part. As I have said, there has been a change to clause 37, which is the relevant clause here. For ail these reasons, the Government has come to the conclusion that this amendment can be accepted.

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