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Friday, 10 November 1905

Senator WALKER (New South Wales) - I hope that honorable senators opposite will be prepared to listen to argument on this question. If Dr. Syme, in his work on "Anatomy of the Human Body," had dealt only with the anatomy of the human leg, it would been reasonable to contend that the title of his book should be "The Anatomy of the Human Leg." We have here a Bill dealing with a very small branch of commerce, and the title applied to it covers the whole subject. I am prepared to_ support Senator Pulsford's amendment," and if it is defeated I hope that some consideration will be given to that suggested by Senator Drake. It is proposed under this Bill to punish people for a misdescription! of goods, and we begin by ourselves committing the great crime of applying a misdescription to the Bill.

Senator PULSFORD(New _ South Wales). - I am quite prepared to withdraw my amendment in favour of that suggested by Senator Drake. The honorable and learned senator has suggested the_ title which is adopted in England for a similar measure. This is a Merchandise Marks

Bill, and we should bestow on it an> appropriate title. No person abroad desiring to consult a Commonwealth Act dealing with fraudulent trade marks would dream of finding it in the index to our Acts under the word "commerce." The title of a Bill is supposed to be a short index to its contents, and the title of this Bill should indicate that it relates as it really does to merchandise marks.

Senator DRAKE(Queensland). - I am sorry that the Government will not listen to reason in this matter. Their mistake must be patent to them. They are giving the name of a comprehensive subject to a Bill dealing only with a small fraction of it. That is not a rational way of naming a Bill. Senator Keating referred to the term used in the Constitution, but it should only be applied to a measure dealing with the whole subject of commerce.

Senator Keating - We are not dealing now with the title of the Bill, but with the short title used for reference.

Senator DRAKE - The short title should convey some idea of what is in the Bill. We should not adopt a short title which gives no indication of the nature of its provisions. The title of a Bill should give some indication of the particular subject with which it deals. The particular subject dealt with by this Bill is that of merchandise marks as applied to goods imported to and exported from Australia.

Senator Playford - If we adopted the " Merchandise Marks Act " as the short title of this Bill it would be equally misleading, because the Bill refers only to a portion of the subject of merchandise marks.

Senator DRAKE - I have suggested the incorporation of this Bill with the Fraudulent Marks Bill under the title of Merchandise Marks Bill, and the fact that that has not been done is no reason why the term "Commerce" should be applied to this Bill, in view of the fact that so many other matters relating to commerce will have to be dealt with in other Bills. I hope the Committee will decide the question on its merits. The Government have admitted that the title adopted is not appropriate, and they refuse to adopt a title which clearly is appropriate.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. GOULD(New South Wales). - Speaking from the Government benches, I may be permitted to say that honorable senators on this side of the Chamber realize the great force of the arguments submitted by honorable senators opposite, and I must express my surprise that the representatives of the Government in the Senate are not prepared to accept the suggestions offered them, when they can give no reason why an appropriate title to this Bill should not be adopted. It has been repeatedly pointed out that they are proposing the adoption of a title which will convey a false impression of the nature of this measure. The Minister in charge of the Bill realizes the force of the arguments submitted by honorable senators opposite, because, while he says that the Bill deals with commerce, he admits that it deals with but an infinitesimal part of the subject. Surely a reference to the short title of a Bill should enable any one to discover the subject with which it deals. The short, title of this Bill would indicate that it is a measure relating to commerce, whilst it is merely a measure relating to trade description's. I invite the Minister to point out in what respect this Bill deals with anything appertaining to commerce, except trade descriptions. I urge the Government, on behalf of honorable senators sitting alongside of me, to take the matter into- serious consideration. I am sure that honorable senators on this side are agreed that an appropriate title should be adopted and that they will not slavishly follow the lead of other individuals in the settlement of a question which may be fraught with grave constitutional consequences.

Senator MILLEN(New South Wales). - In view of the fact that from both sides of the Chamber the Minister has now had arguments addressed to him in support of the amendment, he should accept it. I should not so strongly object to his action if the honorable senator had not admitted' that the title in the Bill is not appropriate.

Senator Playford - I have admitted that it is not the best possible title, but I" have heard no better suggestion.

Senator MILLEN - Surely, when it is pointed out that there is no clause in this Bill which doe's not deal with merchandise marks, the term " Merchandise Marks Act " must be a better title than " Commerce Act," which covers many matters, that are not touched on at all ? A Customs Act, a. Shipping Act, or a General Navigation Act might be called a Commerce Act with equal inappropriateness. If it does- not matter a tittle what we call" a Bill - provided, of course, ' that deference is paid to any suggestion by Dr. Wollaston and Sir William Lyne - the work of the Senate will be lightened considerably. But it is the duty of the Senate to see that, legislation does not pass from this Chamber in "an imperfect form, and a defect admitted by the Minister in charge of the Bill should certainly be remedied.. If the Minister is not satisfied with the title of the Bill, and is not satisfied with the suggested title, the proper course is to postpone the clause, in order to see whether in the interim we can arrive at a' title which will be satisfactory.

Senator PULSFORD(New South Wales). - I have heard of a fly on a wheel that thought it was the moving power, and much more important than the wheel itself. That seems to be the position in connexion with this Bill. Marks are to commerce something like the fly to the wheel. The Bill, is named, not after the fly, but after the wheel. That is carrying things to a ridiculous point. As I have said before, a gentleman from any part of the world comingto Australia, and desiring to find out what legislation we had with regard to fraudu-lent markss would look up the index of our Statutes for something which indicated that purpose. He woul'd never believe that in a Commerce Act he would find provisions regulating fraudulent trade marks. I assure the Committee that I am not proposing this amendment with any wish to delay the Bil! or to injure it, but simply because' I regard it as desirable, and think that it will improve the measure.

Senator Lt.-Col.GOULD (New South Wales). - I am surprised that Ministersshould not have repudiated the- charge that' the title of this Bill is a slovenly one. Senator Millen has made that charge, and the members of the Government have taken no steps to resent it. Senator Playford has informed us that if we could suggest a more acceptable title he would be prepared to give way. That affords an opportunity to honorable senators. Senator Pulsford appears to have desired to likenthe Minister in charge of the Bill to a fly.Senator Playford may naturally object to being compared with such an insect. We must recollect, however, that unless the wheel were a very big and solid one, hewould certainly be am overwhelming fly, and might very well consider that he had a' great deal to do with its movement. Apart from such considerations, the representatives of the Government must realize that- the Bill has been given a title which is inappropriate. The title to a Bill is intended to indicate its purport. The title of this Bill should not make it appear to cover all commerce, when as a matter of fact it merely deals with an infinitesimal part of commerce. I dare say the Government feel that, as an amendment has been suggested by the Opposition, they are bound to stand to their guns ; but surely when they find that there is a strong desire on the part of the Committee to make a change which does not affect the character of the Bill, but merely indicates that it applies only to trade descriptions, they ought tobe satisfied to accept the amendment.

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