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Wednesday, 4 July 1906
Page: 1034

Mr ISAACS (Indi) (Attorney-General) . - The law cif Victoria provides very effectively for the registration of a public officer. Some of the other States, I think, have not got their law in so complete a form, but we are now engaged upon the work of unifying the companies and the insolvency laws, so as to put these matters upon a regular and uniform basis.

Mr.. DUGALDTHOMSON (North Sydney [10.26]. - The last remarks made by the Attorney-General really indicate that at an earlier stage we ought to have directed our attention to the framing of a universal law for corporations and companies operating throughout the Commonwealth. Had that course been taken, some apparent difficulties in connexion with this measure would not have arisen. I wish to point out to the Attorney-General a difficulty which I expressed when we were dealing with another clause, and which seems to be more manifest in this clause, which touches any foreign corporation, or trading -or financial corporation, formed within the Commonwealth, but carrying on its operations in only one State.

Mr Isaacs - It includes that.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Previously, we provided for corporations which were engaged in Inter-State trade, but here we are trying to provide for corporations, local as well as foreign, which confine their operations to one State. If such a corporation injured an industry, it would only injure the industry of that State. It would not injure the industry of all Australia.

Mr Isaacs - If one of the honorable member's arms were injured, he would be injured.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable and learned member is getting away from the position which he previously occupied. I really cannot follow him. Previously, he stated that a competitor in an industry who injured another competitor - that fe another, limb or arm o)f the industry - could not be touched by the Bill. It was only when he injured the industry of all Australia that he could be reached.

Mi. Isaacs. - Oh, no. I never said that in order to commit an offence a person would have to go all over Australia.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - No ; but the honorable and learned gentleman said that a competitor, or a section of competitors, in an industry who injured the industry of a particular State or district or town, could not be held to be injuring the industry^ of all Australia. Here we have a competitor who is a limb or branch of an industry in one State, and the AttorneyGeneral now implies that under this clause that limb or branch, if it injured another limb or branch, would be liable to the penalties under the Bill.

Mr Isaacs - Suppose that an off-shoot of the American Tobacco Company, for the sake of carrying on business here, registered itself as ah Australian company, anr! then started to break down all the Australian manufacturers of tobacco, would not that be a case in point?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If so, an off-shoot of an American tobacco company established itself as an Australian industry, then, because the operators had come from America or England, they would be liable to the penalties under the Bill. But an off-shoot of an Australian tobacco industry - a competitor conducting operations in the same way, getting his supplies from the same source and using the same unfair competition - would not be liable to the penalties under the Bill.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is not that a matter for the Judge by-and-bv?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The AttorneyGeneral is expressing his interpretation of the clause.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes ; but we are not bound by his expressions.

Mr Isaacs - I gave that only as an illustration in answering one objection.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Of course, we can all form our own conclusions, but, naturally, we wish to know what we are supposed to be doing in adopting certain provisions. It is not enough to have a general provision, and leave the Court to decide ; we ought to know whether we are doing all we intend to do. We are trying by this provision to reach corporations which operate only in one State. With all respect, I say that if the Attorney-General's reading of the previous clause is correct, a competitor in an industry unfairly competing with another person or firm in that industry cannot be made liable for penalties under this Bill, because he does not injure the whole Australian trade, but only his particular competitor's portion of the trade. Therefore I submit that there are contradictions in the Bill - contradictions which, according to the Attorney-General, ought to be removed if recognised. I know that the task of the Attorney-General is a difficult one, but still a statement which is made to secure the passage of one clause should be taken into consideration when dealing with another clause, which, if the statement Le accurate, would not attain the purpose intended. I see those difficulties, in addition to that pointed out by the honorable and learned member for Angas, and also the further constitutional difficulty referred to by the honorable and learned' member for Northern Melbourne. I do not know whether the Attorney-General dealt with the latter point.

Mr Isaacs - I referred to it.

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