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Thursday, 15 August 1974
Page: 1003

Senator GREENWOOD (Victoria) -I rise just to make a response in 2 forms. The first is with regard to the provision contained in the existing restrictive trade practices legislation and the current Trade Practices Bill. They are dissimilar provisions. They are dissimilar in that there is not under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act, which is in operation at the present time, provision for criminal proceedings, while in this Bill there is a whole host of 20 to 30 sections after section 52 which provide for criminal proceedings. The difference is, of course, that the Trade Practices Act 1971 provided for examination by a tribunal; it did not provide for criminal offences. The Trade Practices Bill does provide for criminal offences and there is a world of difference between the 2 provisions. Indeed in the 197 1 Trade Practices Act there is a doubt as to whether it would apply to any criminal proceedings except the criminal proceedings under that Act. And what were those criminal proceedings? There would be very few of them.

Senator Murphy - That was the principle. There was failure to file examinable agreements, examinable practices and, presumably, resale price maintenance.

Senator GREENWOOD -Refusing to provide an examinable agreement- I certainly agree that resale price maintenance ought not to be there and there is a condemnation in my words of the fact that it is there. But those matters were not subjected to the examination then that these now are subjected to. As I see the position, if the arguments that prevail now are sound arguments they ought to supersede anything that happened in the past, irrespective of what happened in the past and who sponsored what happened in the past. I believe it is quite wrong that persons can be compelled to provide information to a Commission and that that commission can use that information for the purpose of proceedings under the legislation where criminal penalties are involved. There have to be some safeguards. We believe that the safeguard we are offering is a better safeguard than what is contained in the legislation. Ater all it is comparable to inviting the Commissioner of Taxation, who has enormous powers, to make his files and records available in criminal proceedings. That would be a heinous thing to do. Why should we create a new body called the Trade Practices Commission, give it the wide ranging compulsory powers which are contained in this legislation and allow them to be used in the way in which it is alleged they can be used as the Bill stands at present. It is creating a precedent which I invite the AttorneyGeneral (Senator Murphy) to consider could be extended into other areas. I think we should take the stand at this point and say that this is not the way that material obtained by compulsion ought to be used.

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