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Thursday, 15 August 1974
Page: 976

Senator TOWNLEY (Tasmania) - Firstly, I would like to congratulate both Senator Murphy and Senator Greenwood for the way in which they have handled the amendments that have been discussed before this one. I think that it has been of credit to the Parliament on a complicated Bill like this one to have seen such cooperation from the Government. It is good to see the Opposition agreeing with the Government, and it is good to see that the Government recognises that a lot of the Opposition's amendments are of some value. Perhaps if this kind of cooperation were to occur more frequently we would not hear the sort of unfounded criticism which Senator Everett made towards the end of his speech that the Opposition was being entirely obstructive.

The Senate is discussing the suggested deletion of Part V of the Trade Practices BDI, which contains what are known as the consumer protection clauses. As far as I can ascertain, the Opposition has based its argument on the fact that this legislation will override State legislation. That is as may be. Most probably my independent colleague would say that the Opposition was being bloody-minded, to use his most headlinesearching expression. I hesitate to call him my junior independent colleague, because he has been in Parliament -

Senator Steele Hall - People call me all sorts of things.

Senator TOWNLEY -Do they? Well, I hesitate to call you my junior independent colleague. If I may quickly make an aside, I would like to say to Senator Hall that he should remember the saying: 'He has a right to criticise who has a heart to help'. Since Senator Steele Hall has been a member of the Senate he has expressed a lot of criticism of the Liberal and Country Parties, but I have yet to detect 'the heart to help'. He has criticised without expressing the desire to put forward alternative constructive suggestions. I suggest to Senator Hall- and this is all I would like to say because I am trying to be constructivethat unless he has alternative constructive criticisms to put forward, the destruction that he brings may fall upon himself.

Senator Georges - I thought he was doing a very good job.

Senator TOWNLEY -He is doing very well in terms of headline inches, sure.

Senator Georges - That is because he is good.

Senator TOWNLEY -You say he is good. I have never heard him say that he is good and I am not about to say that he is good.

Senator Georges - I do not expect you to say it.

Senator TOWNLEY - 1 doubt whether anybody in the Labor Party at the moment would be prepared to say that Senator Hall was not good. I return to the clauses under consideration. The

Opposition has put forward a point which I would like the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) to clear up. Will this legislation override State legislation and lead to a mess that will be to the detriment of a lot of people in Australia? What will happen to small claims that are presently dealt with by the small claims court in those States where small claims courts exist? What can the Government do about small claims that are made under this Act when one remembers the limitations placed upon the Federal Government by the Constitution? Will the Federal Government attempt to co-operate with State agencies that at present deal with this Act? They are some of my prime queries. If the Government can satisfactorily answer these questions, I will support the passage of these clauses.

I remind the Senate of what we are dealing with in these clauses. Clause 52 provides:

(   1 ) A corporation shall not, in trade or commerce, engage in conduct that is misleading or deceptive.

I do not think that many people can disagree with that proposition. Clause 53, under the heading of False representations', provides:

A corporation shall not, in trade or commerce, in connexion with the supply or possible supply of goods or services or in connexion with the promotion by any means of the supply or use of goods or services-

(a)   falsely represent that goods or services are of a particular standard, quality or grade, or that goods are of a particular style or model;

(   b) falsely represent that goods are new;

I do not wish to deal with every one of these clauses. They deal with such matters as bait advertising whereby a corporation advertises to supply special goods, runs out of them and says it had only a few, but thereby induces people to come along and to buy at a higher price. Speaking briefly, another clause relates to accepting payment without intending to supply as ordered, and clause 60 relates to coercion at a place of residence. I think that most people in Australia would agree that if these things are happening they are bad practices. We all know that pyramid selling has been the downfall of a lot of people recently in this country.

I want to be brief because we have a lot of other legislation that I understand the Government wants dealt with before the end of the current sessional period. I think other honourable senators will deal with other aspects of these clauses but I find it hard to disagree with all the facets of this Part of the Bill. I think they are worthy of my support provided that the Government can give me some details about the points on which I requested information.

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