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Thursday, 31 October 1974
Page: 2190

Senator COLEMAN (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - My question is addressed to the Attorney-General. Since the Trade Practices Act came into operation on 1 October last, has there been any evidence that undesirable restrictive trade practices are being curtailed? If so, what is likely to be the short term and long term result of such curtailment?

Senator MURPHY -The Trade Practices Act has been in operation for only a very short time and there does seem to be some indication of a movement away from what was occurring previously. 1 do not know whether this has been reflected in any dramatic way in decreases of prices. I seem to remember that the Chairman of the Trade Practices Commission, Mr Bannerman, expressed the view that there would be either a significant drop in prices, or at least that prices would fall significantly below the level at which they otherwise would have been, in a fairly short period by reason of the operation of the Act. There is no doubt that the long term effects will be in this direction.

I should remind the Senate that although the prohibition of price fixing, monopolisation and anti-competitive mergers in the consumer protection provisions has been operating as from 1 October, the provisions in relation to the prohibition of exclusive dealing, prices discrimination and contracts in restraint of trade, other than price fixing, are not operative until 1 February 1975. So another wave of the operation of the Act is still to come. There seems to be a good deal of evidence that the commercial community is responding positively to the provisions of the Act. They see that this is for their ultimate benefit and certainly it will be for the benefit of the consumers. I will concede that ultimately after the delays ceased there was a fairly general support for the provisions of the Act. I am sure that they will be effective in the long term and we would hope in the short term. I will endeavour to get a report from the Chairman of the Commission as to how he sees the Act operating, even at this early stage.

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