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Thursday, 6 May 1915

Mr PIGOTT (Calare) .- I desire to place on record my objection to the clause in the Bill which has been referred to by the Leader of the Opposition. The power proposed to be vested iri the Minister to grant patent rights to applicants in the way suggested is one that is altogether too great. I do not wish to cast any reflection upon the Minister. I am speaking from a purely non-party point of view. The- same argument would apply, whoever occupied his position. I would not envy the Attorney-General if he took upon himself this power, as it may be responsible for a great deal of unpleasantness; but I think the Minister should explain to the House, in the event of his taking this power, how he would propose to deal with applicants. What will be his modus operandi? How will he give priority ? I think, nevertheless, in his own interests, and in the interests of the country, he will be wise to accept the advice of the Leader of the Opposition and delegate these powers to the Inter-State Commission. We do not know how many patents there are' belonging to enemy subjects in Australia. I understand there are hundreds of them, and it would be quite impossible, as the member for East Sydney has suggested, that these questions should be threshed out in. the House. It would take us too long. The Minister himself could not go into the hundreds of questions and give them the consideration to which they are entitled. He would, therefore, be compelled to delegate his authority to some official in the Department. I suggest, therefore, in justice to himself, and in the best interests of the country, that the questions should be referred to the Inter-State Commission, which seems to be the proper body for dealing with matters of this kind.

Mr Kelly - Does the honorable member think that the Inter-State Commission or the High Court would deal more expeditiously with matters of this kind than the Minister himself?

Mr PIGOTT - Yes, I think so. Then, again, I think as much publicity should be given to these matters as possible. Supposing there are in question eight or nine patent rights of a different class, the facts should, I think, be published in the Commonwealth Gazette throughout the length and breadth of the country, so as to allow every manufacturer who wished to do so to apply for the licences.

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