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Thursday, 15 August 1974
Page: 993

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) -I just rise to suggest to the Attorney-General that there may be many legitimate cases where the question of whether or not the taking advantage of power might cause concern to a company when it was engaging in perfectly legitimate activities. It may be that because of the power it exercises through its dominance in the market, and because of the substantial control it exercises, it is in a position to have access to new machinery from overseas or to certain facilities that its competitors lack. To take advantage of that power and to purchase that machinery might mean that the company reduces its costs and therefore reduces its prices and thereby damages or eliminates a competitor.

Senator Murphy - It is not an offence to buy new machinery or to use your skills. That is surely clear enough on the authorities. That is not taking advantage of your monopoly power.

Senator GREENWOOD - I appreciate that this was the argument which was raised and all I say in answer to the Attorney-General is that it is not clear, even though many people would like to take comfort from the words which he has used and be able to put them to a court as being of imperative authority. Still, the court may take a different view, and it is to provide an opportunity or an avenue for a company at least to have its application considered by the Commission that this amendment is moved. After all, the Commission has to make a determination on whether an application for an authorisation should or should not be granted. There is no obligation upon the Commission, just because an application is made, to grant the authorisation or to say: 'We must be expected to grant it some time because the power is there'. It would depend on how many applications were made and what were the facts with regard to each application. I do not think the Attorney-General's argument is a sound argument against the proposition which we are putting forward. I think instances would arise where a company in genuine doubt would be able to utilise the provision and accept whatever the Commission's decision was.

Amendments negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 89 agreed to.

Clause 90.

(5)   Subject to sub-sections (9) and (11), the Commission shall not make a determination granting an authorisation unless it is satisfied that the contract, arrangement, understanding or conduct to which the application relates results, or is likely to result, in a specific and substantial benefit to the public, being a benefit that would not otherwise be available, and that, in all the circumstances, that result, or that likely result, as the case may be, justifies the granting of the authorisation.

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