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Thursday, 15 August 1974
Page: 999

Senator MISSEN (Victoria) - I would suggest to the Attorney-General that even the precedent which we heard him read out, and on which Senator Greenwood commented, refers to a document being produced in a 'prosecution' under the Act. In this Bill the reference is much wider. Clause 149 (2) says that a person may not be required to produce in a court a document except when it is necessary to do so for the purposes of, or of a proceeding under or arising out of, this Act'. That could involve an action for damages by a competitor of the company which has placed in the hands of the Commissioner secret and confidential information. It has no limitation to a prosecution. It obviously covers any sort of court action that arises under this Act. There obviously could be a situation where a competitor claiming damages could then forcein contradistinction to the undertakings that were given when these documents were filedthe production of these documents and gain benefit not only for the purposes of this Bill but also for the purposes of business competition or his own economic advantage and so on.

I would suggest to the Attorney-General (Senator Murphy) that the precedent referred to is not phrased in the same words. Certainly this clause goes far beyond that and would make possible an unfortunate situation giving economic advantage to persons who happen to ask questions and get documents produced in this way.

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