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Wednesday, 4 July 1906
Page: 982

Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume) (Minister of Trade and Customs) . - I should have preferred to have an opportunity, before the honorable ]member spoke, to explain how it is proposed to amend the clause. I intend to omit the word "wilfully" in the first line, and to make it read in the second line " or continues to be a member of." Then in paragraph a I propose to strike out the words"in restraint of" and insert the words "with the intent to restrain." Then in paragraph b I propose to strike out the words. " with the design of destroying or injuring " and to insert in lieu thereof the words " with the intent to destroy or injure."' Further, I intend to strike out the words"in the opinion of the jury." The honorable member desires to know whether it is intended to take action in cases where certain manufacturers in an Austraiian industry are injuring another section of manufacturers, or the industry itself. So far as I can judge, in the event of certain manufacturers combining in any way to destroy others engaged in the same industry, to the ultimate injury of the public, their case could be dealt with under thisclause. It is hardly likely, however, that such a case would occur. The honorable and learned member for Bendigo last night described a combination which had taken place among certain harvester manufacturers. If such a ring were formed with the design to destroy others engaged in the industry, I think that the combination could certainly be dealt with under the clause.

Mr Higgins - The Minister means that one manufacturer may not destroy another manufacturer.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Not by forming a combination with others.

Mr Higgins - That would practically destroy all competition.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - There is a great difference between ordinary trade competition! and such operations as would be engaged in by a combination backed up by large capital with the object of destroying or injuring others engaged in an industry, to the detriment of the public. Such an organization would gradually eat up ali competitors, and ultimately destroy all competition. Such a case would be on a parallel with that of the International Harvester combine which is now introducing machinery into the Commonwealth. I 1had a case before me this morning which indicates that there is an attempt being made to prevent the introduction of bootmaking machinery into the Commonwealth, and thus to injure the local industry.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Bill would not touch' such a case as that ; the machinery is manufactured' subject to a. rovalty.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am not referring to the case so far as it is affected by a royalty, but I am speaking of a combination which has been entered into with a view to injure an Australian industry. "Such a case would come under the operation of the Bill.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is it not complained that our boot manufacturers cannot obtain the machines?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am informed that the machines are in existence, and would be obtainable but for the intervention of a powerful combination. However, I do not wish to go into the details of that case. Where trade is being carried on between State and State, and an industry is being seriously interfered with by the operation of a certain section of those engaged in it, it is intended to interfere, but not to the extent indicated by the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne, namely, to the destruction of all competition. Where one manufacturer is competing with another in the ordinary way, no action will be taken, but the operations of an octopus combination which would ultimately destroy an industry would come within the scope of the clause.

Mr. GLYNN(Angas) [2.57J.- The explanation of the Minister does not agree with the actual wording of the clause. We know that although Ministers are often actuated by the best of intentions, their administration is not attended by the best results. The operation of the clause would he far wider than has been indicated. The

Minister speaks about the clause applying to the operations of octopus-like trusts, but it would extend equally to individuals engaged in ordinary competition in an Australian industry. The tribunal that would be called upon to determine whether such competition was fair or unfair, and also whether the industry was one the preservation of which, would be advantageous to the Commonwealth, would be, not the .Minister, but a jury, which would not even be a special jury.

Sir William Lyne - I thought it was generally understood that it was intended to provide for a special jury.

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