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Tuesday, 7 December 1965

Mr CONNOR (Cunningham) .- Mr. Chairman,listening to the AttorneyGeneral I was reminded of the bulletin given on occasions by various surgeons: The operation was quite successful but the patient died. I challenge the Minister to name any country in which there is legislation comparable with this measure and in which there could be a delay greater than the collective delay that will occur under the terms of this Bill when one aggregates the various delaying devices. To begin with we have the unique and ubiquitous Commissioner of Trade Practices who is, to repeat my earlier observation, an artifact of this Government and who will to some extent usurp the functions discharged in the United Kingdom by the Registrar of the Restrictive Practices Court. The AttorneyGeneral is taking advantage of that fact, because, as the measure stands, the poor individual who is being hurt and who has a very real grievance will, unless and until he has gone through all the complicated delaying procedures laid down in this measure, be deprived of the most elementary rights that he possesses in equity. In respect of any tort, any actionable wrong that is committed against him, that individual has a definite right to approach the equity Court and get an interim injunction and to get it on good terms. The AttorneyGeneral is just as familiar with that as is any other legal practitioner in this chamber. Why should not a similar right be given to an injured party because of the wrongs perpetrated on him by people who are prepared to take advantage of all the cumbrous delays provided for in this legislation?

Let us examine them. An examinable agreement has to be registered within 30 days. An extension of this period can be given. A further extension can then be given. The Commissioner will then register the agreement. In the words of the Attorney-General, the Trade Practices Tribunal itself will not be very active and it is not contemplated that its lay members will devote themselves full time to their activities as members. It is contemplated further that the judicial members of the Tribunal will be able to return for part of their time to the bench and their normal work in other jurisdictions. Everything in the contemplation of the Government is for delay. What is to be the position of some small businessman or some small organisation which has been seriously and injuriously affected by a malpractice at which this Bill is ostensibly aimed? Let us take the situation of the small shopkeeper about whom certain of the Government's own critics were wringing their withers, rending their garments and sprinkling ashes on their own heads. What is to be the position? He will be killed completely. He is treated most callously. Let us look at the terms of the Australian Industries Preservation Act where either the Attorney-General or, with consent, the aggrieved person can apply for and obtain an injunction. Why should not the same right apply here? Why should every conceivable advantage be taken of this special, all powerful personage who is interposed between the ordinary citizen and his ultimate resort to the final Tribunal? It is utterly wrong; it is unfair; it is unconscionable; and it is utterly undemocratic.

Amendment negatived.

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