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Thursday, 15 August 1974
Page: 998

Senator MURPHY (New South WalesAttorneyGeneral) - I do not know that we should become so concerned about this. If what is in this Bill is bad, then so too was the earlier provision. We have been following a precedent set by Senator Greenwood because the legislation that he brought in in 1971 had exactly this kind of provision in it. In drawing up this Bill the draftsman apparently followed the Bill introduced by Senator Greenwood in 1971. Although the Opposition has been fulminating against the dreadful things that have been done under this -

Senator Greenwood - We never had offences like monopolisation, exclusive dealing or price discrimination.

Senator MURPHY -You are not talking about the offences. You are talking about the confidentiality of information. Section 34 of the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1971, which you introduced, states in part:

(3)   A person to whom this section applies shall not be required to produce in a court the Register or any document relating to the affairs of any other person of which he has the custody, or to which he has access, by virtue of his office or employment under or for the purposes of this Act, or to divulge or communicate to any court any information concerning the affairs of any other person obtained by him by reason of any such office or employment, except when it is necessary to do so for the purposes of, or of a prosecution under or arising out of, this Act.

There is the precedent. We accepted it but now the Opposition is saying that this is a very dreadful thing. It is not enough for the Opposition to say that there are other offences under this legislation. The question is: What is the proper provision in respect of confidentiality of information? The provision in this Bill follows exactly in the path that was set previously. If the Opposition is saying that some undertakings were, in effect, given, then the same kind or principle is being pursued here.

We cannot see any substance in what the Opposition has suggested. The same approach has been made to the question of confidentiality as was previously taken. Exceptions have been made. A person has to yield up documents when it is necessary to do so for the purposes of court proceedings. I think that is reasonable. Even the former President Nixon had to yield up documents or tapes in certain circumstances and one would think that if in those circumstances confidentiality and privacy had to go it is reasonable that they should go here. That is the view that the previous Government took and that is the view that is expressed in this legislation. The approach that was previously adopted is the same as that which is expressed in this legislation.

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