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Thursday, 15 August 1974
Page: 995

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) - I suppose that the last answer given by the AttorneyGeneral indicates the real kernel of objection to what is proposed. I think it is regrettable that this legislation has to be brought in and that the real problem in relation to why the Commission cannot be required to give a decision on an application within a certain time is that the work load will be so great. I think that the operation of legislation which depends on authorisations and clearances for companies which find themselves in difficulties is going to be greatly hindered and enormous uncertainty will be caused. We do have a basic problem with regard to authorisations, but with regard to monopolisation and price discrimination one cannot apply for any authorisation. That creates its difficulties. It seems that if one is in doubt and one would like to use the provisions of the legislation to apply for a clearance, one may have to wait an indefinite period of time, having put in an application, before one gets an answer.

The answers given by the Attorney-General to our requests that further time be given to the Commission are to the effect, as I understand him, that the workings of the Commission simply could not stand the pressures which would thereby be involved. Legislation should operate to facilitate the activities of those who are affected by it and who desire to comply with the statutory requirements. If an application is made and there is an opportunity for a clearance, why should a company which wants to enter into a contract have to wait months and possibly lose the advantage of a contract? It is not only the parties to a contract who may be affected by that delay; it is also everyone else who is dependent upon the company. I suggest to the AttorneyGeneral that this is one area in which the problems which will arise are problems which could be overcome simply by fixing a limit. If the limit is not 30 days, it can be 60 days. But any period of time, it seems to me, is desirable rather than to leave the time limit completely up in the air so that the Commission may sit on an application and give the answer at any time.

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