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Wednesday, 14 August 1974
Page: 941

Senator MURPHY (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Senator James McClelland suggests that it would be a Pandora's box. We know what will happen when this legislation comes into law, as I hope it will come into law. Immediately those who are practising the discrimination, those who are carrying out the kinds of conduct which are aimed at by this Bill, will have their batteries of lawyers looking into how they can escape the provisions of the legislation. There will be advices on evidence. There will be all sorts of things, and the smart operators would look at this provision and say: 'Oh, we can do what we like as long as we say we reasonably believed that somebody else was offering some price or benefit although in fact he was not offering it at all'. This would really make a farce of the clause and Senator Greenwood knows that. He has enough experience of the law to know what would happen.

Senator Greenwood - There are always the honest cases which you are penalising in this way.

Senator MURPHY - You say that we are penalising the honest cases. If there were some such cases, no doubt they would be met by the provisions dealing with penalties and so on. If a person can establish his case to the satisfaction of the court- and he has read the clause- he will not come to any great harm.

Senator Greenwood - He is guilty but we do not impose any penalty. Is that the best he can hope for?

Senator MURPHY -I think that is so. There are practices operating in commerce which are clearly to the public detriment. One is price discrimination. We either endeavour to eliminate it in terms of this clause or we make some token effort. If we include the words in the amendment, they will just be a let-out. I can imagine what Senator Withers would do if he were asked to advise on the matter. If somebody asked the way around this clause, the lawyers would go, as if drawn by a magnet, to the words 'reasonably believed to be offered'. A person does not even have to be meeting something that is offered. It is sufficient if there is a reasonable belief that it is offered. The Government is not prepared to accept the amendment. We think that the clause should stand.

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