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Thursday, 2 December 1965

Mr BOWEN (Parramatta) .- The proposals of Sir Garfield Barwick in 1962 opened with the following statement -

.   . in devising legislation of this kind, itself a matter of grave and heavy responsibility, the views of interested parties and of members of the public generally ought to be known before final decisions are taken as to its ultimate form and content. Consequently, as was foreshadowed in His Excellency's Speech at the opening of this session of the Parliament, it has been decided that I should make this statement disclosing the basic outlines of what is in mind in such form as will enable public discussion, and individual or group representation to be made. lt is a complete misrepresentation to suggest, as the honorable members for Hindmarsh (Mr. Clyde Cameron) and Macquarie (Mr. Luchetti) have done, that the proposals in 1962 were the final form. They were the basic suggestions to open the matter for discussion. Surely the real question is: What is the best form for this Bill to take in order to deal with monopolies?

We are united in thinking that monopolies and their ill effects should be dealt with and that small businesses should be protected; but it is a complete misrepresentation to suggest that the Bill does not deal with monopolies. It deals with monopolies in clause 37. 1 suggest to the honorable member for Hindmarsh that he read the Bill. Of course it deals with monopolies. The question is: How should it be done? There are two methods of dealing with monopolies. We know that the American method is to make it a criminal offence to create a monopoly. We also know that that method has proved unsatisfactory. Then there is the method adopted in the United Kingdom where there is an inquiry by a monopolies commission on an economic basis to see whether there is a monopoly and if its effects are contrary to the public interest. If the monopolies commission in the United Kingdom finds that there is a monopoly and that it has ill effects, it makes a report and it rests with the Board of Trade, which is under the control of the Government to decide whether action should be taken.

In deciding between these types of system for dealing with monopolies, ultimately, and after the fullest discussion which Sir Garfield Barwick foreshadowed, the Government has chosen to have the method of inquiry and not to adopt the method of making it a criminal offence, which has proved so unsatisfactory. I suggest that this was a wise decision by the Government. Indeed, the provisions of this Bill are much stronger than those in force in the United Kingdom, because the Tribunal, after making an inquiry into a monopoly, has the power to decide what consequences should flow therefrom. It has the power to make the necessary orders to ensure that what is done is in the public interest. Therefore, I oppose the amendment moved by the Deputy Leader of the Opposition.

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