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Wednesday, 14 August 1974
Page: 938

The CHAIRMAN - Yes, you can.

Senator STEELE HALL - I said that I do not know whom Senator Greenwood speaks for. I do not know also what then impels the honourable senator to stand up in such outrage. I just do not know that point. In explanation, I find it ludicrous that Senator Greenwood says that he speaks for no one but himself here. That to me, from a man who says that he represents his State in a States' House, is a most peculiar explanation. Perhaps it explains some of the peculiar votes and decisions that he has made in this place. I tell the honourable senator: I have no intention of withdrawing my remark because he puts some of his own outraged interpretations on what I said. He can take it further if he likes under whatever standing order he likes.

Senator Greenwood - I raised a point of order, Mr Chairman. I submit, Mr Chairman, that I am entitled to a ruling. If we are to have rulings in this chamber that Senator Hall can impute improper motives to an honourable senator, then I will leave it that way, but I ask for a ruling. Let us know where we stand.

Senator Georges - Mr Chairman,I do not think Senator Hall should be allowed to take his defence on his own. It is obvious that there was no improper imputation. He indicated that he did not know for whom Senator Greenwood spoke. But even if Senator Greenwood spoke for someone and that person was identified, there is nothing improper about that. Surely Senator Greenwood has the right to come here -

Senator Greenwood - It has been constantly said all day.

Senator Georges - What is wrong with that?

Senator Greenwood - Because it is untrue.

Senator Georges - Perhaps no one approached Senator Greenwood, but if someone did approach him to place a case before the Senate and if he believed in that case, what is improper about that? That is all that Senator Hall has said to Senator Greenwood. Yet Senator Greenwood has got up in an outrage. He has forced Senator Hall into the position where he has to challenge the ruling of the Chair- or it appears as if he might have to challenge the ruling of the Chair. He has placed him m a completely invidious position. That is not as it ought to be. I think that his outrage should be allowed to simmer and that he ought to forget the situation.

The CHAIRMAN - I think that the Senate will treat this matter reasonably. My understanding of the words that Senator Hall used was that he was unaware of whom Senator Greenwood spoke for. His words were similar to that; I do not have them in writing but he questioned Senator Greenwood as to whom he spoke for. I think that Senator Greenwood has the right to ask that the words be withdrawn. If Senator Hall would do that it would be convenient. Senator Hall has indicated that he does not wish to withdraw the words. As has been stated previously, the word offensive' means offensive in some personal reflection. A man who is in public life and is a member of Parliament takes upon himself the risk of being criticised in a political way. Senator Hall, in his reflection, questioned for whom Senator Greenwood spoke. I rule that that is not offensive in this instance.

Senator STEELE HALL -Thank you, Mr Chairman. I will continue. I speak, in my view, on behalf of representations that have been made to me which have countered representations earlier along the lines of the Opposition's amendment. I have been able to consider, as I believe most honourable senators have, the implications of the various representations by comparing them and coming to a decision. Of course, one has to go back to the basis of the representations behind the amendments. Certainly the basis of the representations behind the Opposition's amendment, as it has been put to me personally, has been big retailing organisations. The obvious intent of this amendment is to make the clause pretty well unworkable- certainly to make it extremely difficult- in replacing the words 'directly or indirectly' by 'knowingly'. I imagine that Senator Greenwood has enough legal knowledge to know how much more difficult it would make the operation of this clause to make it stick. For that reason I must oppose it.

I must say that I am disappointed in the Attorney-General for giving in to the more explicit explanation of the prohibition. Certainly the interests that represent quite a large section of manufacturing industry want this clause in its entirety. That has been conveyed to me. In surveying the retailing scene one finds several ways of obtaining discounts in the present situation. There are volume discounts and, as was mentioned earlier in the second reading debate, there is something which can be called a muscle discount, when a retailing organisation simply says: 'We want an additional discount of a very large percentage or we will remove your goods from our organisation.' These people are able to look after themselves. I am a supporter of their enterprises, and I vote for this clause. One should know that these organisations have the best corporate lawyers in Australia to look after their affairs. They do not need any weaknesses to appear in this legislation. If the AttorneyGeneral is accepting the amendment, he is accepting it, but I certainly hope that he does not go any further than that.

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