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Friday, 10 November 1905

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) (Honorary Minister) . - I will point out what the effect of this amendment would be. We have provided in this Bill in clause 12 that no person - shall knowingly apply any false description to any goods entered or intended for export, or put on any ship or boat for export, or brought to any wharf or placed for the purpose of export.

The penalty provided for the commission of the offence amounts in the maximum to £100. If Senator Millen's amendment to eliminate paragraph c were carried, the effect would be that if a person did apply the name of a manufacturer to goods intended for export, which goods were not manufactured by that manufacturer, or were not produced by the particular producer whose name appeared upon them, or if he indicated that they were selected or packed or prepared by any one when, as a matter of fact, they were packed or prepared by some other person, whose name was not such a guarantee of quality as the name which appeared upon them, the person committing that offence would not be liable to any penalty under clause 12.

Senator Millen - He would be liable as having put a false mark upon them.

Senator KEATING - Certainly not. It would be taking away from the effect of the definition of " false trade description " an indication as to the manufacturer, or selector, or packer, or preparer of the goods. I think the words are essential, and ought to be retained, because they insure a guarantee of the quality of goods.

Senator MACFARLANE(Tasmania).The object of this provision is largely provided for in the Customs Act. But of what advantage is it to know who is the selector or packer of goods such as apples? What advantage is it either to a buyer or the Customs officers to have that information ? What does any one care who selects apples, or packs them, or picks them off the tree? They are sold according to their good or badquality. This provision goes too far altogether. In many cases it would be impossible to comply with it.

Senator MILLEN(New South Wales). - Senator Keating laid stress on clause 12, under which he said a man would not be penalized if the words to which I take exception were omitted. But I draw attention to the fact that, in the latter part of this clause, there is a definition of " false trade. description," which applies to - a trade description which by reason of anything contained therein or omitted therefrom is false or likely to mislead in a material respect as regards the goods to which it is applied.

I say that if a man puts on goods a name that is not his own, it is a false trade description.

Senator Keating - It would not be if we limited the definition of " trade description."

Senator MILLEN - We have a definition of trade description, as well as a definition of false trade description. Those definitions stand each by itself.

Senator Keating - Certainly not.

Senator MILLEN - Then does Senator Keating say that every paragraph in the definition clause must be read with every other paragraph ? Is not the word " Officer " complete in itself ? Must it be read in conjunction with "trade description"?

Senator Keating - Wherever the word "Officer" appears in the Bill, the definition has to be referred to.

Senator MILLEN - Senator Keating is shifting his ground. He has said that the definition of false trade description has to be read in conjunction with the definition of trade description. That is to say, that two paragraphs dealing with different things in the interpretation clause must be read together. If that be so, then1 I contend that any two paragraphs in the clause must be read together. Does the Minister mean to tell me that the paragraph interpreting what is meant by " Officer " cannot be considered by itself, but has to be read in conjunction with another paragraph ? It is obvious that each para graph stands by itself. If I were asked to pick out one portion of the Bill as being clear and free from ambiguity, it is the portion which says - " False trade description " means a trade description which, by reason of anything contained therein or omitted therefrom, is false or likely to mislead in a material respect.

When a man puts on goods a name other than his own. there can he no clearer proof of an attempt to commit a fraud than that. Therefore, although the Government may say that he is not liable to punishment under clause 10-

Senator Keating - Or under clause 12 either.

Senator MILLEN - " False trade description " is defined, and the putting of a wrong name on goods would constitute an offence under the Act. The Minister is given ample power to punish any such offender. For that reason I shall press my amendment.

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