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Friday, 10 August 1906

Senator McGREGOR - The company extracted its pound of flesh, and all the blood it could get therewith.

Senator Lt Col Gould - Has the company got the£300 ?

Senator McGREGOR - The company claimed the£300, and, I understand, got it. I have also a letter which still further confirms that of Messrs.Bedggoodand Company. It isfromapartnerinthe Marshall Shoe Company, whose premises at Port Melbourne were burned out. He says -

With reference to our conversation of yesterday - we are pleased to hand you this letter, and express the hope that its contents may be of some service in bringing home the fact that some very stringent provisions are necessary where " Trusts " are operating.

As we have already told you, it is our fixed intention to have absolutely nothing whatever to do with the United Shoe Machinery Company, or, in fact, with any "Trust" which handles business on the lines of that company.

We are not hesitating at all to enter upon a manufacturing scheme involving an outlay of at least£10,000 for building and plant, and providing for a turn-out of at least 8,000 pairs of men's welted shoes per week. Wearenotinthe least disturbed to-day in a prospect of this kind, because we can buy outright shoe machinery from your company as well as from the German company, which will not only perform the same kind of work, but, moreover, will do it so that not even one of the United Shoe Machinery Company's experts could say definitely on which machinery the shoes had been made.

The most happy feature about the conditions under which we are going to work since we have been able to order from your company, machinery which does the same work as the United Shoe Machinery Company's welting plant - is that we can withoutanyrestriction, and as a matter of fact, have already ordered several machines from local machinists - such a proceeding would never be tolerated by the United Shoe Machinery Company - if they could supply any of those machines.

You know thestand they have taken with many of the manufacturers before now - in fact, their leases are in themselves quite sufficient evidence.

At any rate, what with the help we are getting from your company, as well as from the Germancompany.andthe privilege we now have of buying locally - any machinery (not patented) - we are not the least afraid of being unable to hold our own.

If we can furnish you with any further information, we shall be most happy to do so.

The position I want to put to honorable senators is that, in Richmond, the Marshall Shoe Company are employing the machinery of the Standard Rotary Company and other companies, and are installing machinery designed and manufactured in Victoria. Under the conditions I have read, it would be impossible for a lessee to instal the machinery of a Victorian manufacturer without the consent of the United Shoe Machinery Company, which, according to the conditions of the lease, would not be granted. The fact is that if a person in Victoria had the capacity to invent a machine equal or superior to anymade by that company no opportunity for its use could be obtained except by selling to its representative the patent, probably for the price of a song. I wish to do away with that undesirable restriction, and to put shoe machinery manufacturers in Australia on the same footing as the manufacturers of similar machinery in other parts of the world. The only way in which that can be done is by preventing agreements such as I have indicated - that is, by passing legislation such as is proposed in the first part of this Bill. The boot manufacturers of this country have no cause, for alarm. As they have been to Senator Symon, so they have been to me and other members of Parliament to submit their case. The very first objection they made to the 'Bill was in regard to clause 4. We were advised that, in order to make the meaning clear and definite, it was necessary to insert at the beginning of sub-clause 2 the words " after the passing of this Act." We pointed out that the Government had already declared that it had no intention of interfering with existing contracts. I - took the trouble to see the Attorney-General on the point. I would have seen Senator Symon, only that I did not think that he was under any obligation to tell me. In his speech he might have explained the position; but he did not do sq, . and therefore it was necessary that I, as a layman, should get legal advice, and get it as cheaply as possible. The Attorney-General thoroughly satisfied me that there was no necessity to insert the words " after the passing of this Act," because the expression " in contravention of this section " is used in the sub-clause. He pointed out that nothing could be done in connexion with any contract made be- fore the passing of the Act, because such a contract could not have been' made in contravention of the section. H,e said that what was suggested was not a form of legislation which it was advisable to use. He added that to provide in a Crimes Act that " after the passing of the Act " murder would be an offence punishable by death would indicate that before its enactment murder would not be an offence at all. To enter into an agreement is not a crime, either morally or legally. Any agreements which had been entered into before the passing of the measure could not be interfered with, so that there is no necessity to use the words " after the passing of this Act." A similar amendment was asked for in sub-clause 2 of clause 5. Now, if it is unnecessary in clause 4, it is also unnecessary in clause 5. It is made clear throughout the Bill that the evil must have arisen since its enactment before administrative action can be taken in connexion with a breach of any provision. I think it will be seen that it really provides for everything that is necessary. The same principle is embodied in clauses 8, 9, and 10. Senator Symon had very serious objections to the use of the expression " with intent." I dare say that, if he moved an amendment for their omission, he would have the support of a majority of honorable senators.

Senator Trenwith - The reference is to a criminal offence.

Senator McGREGOR - That is why the expression is used. It is only used in the case of a criminal offence.

Senator Mulcahy - What Senator Symon was dealing with was the difficulty of proving intent.

Senator McGREGOR - Yes. And the use of the expression " intent " is really not a blemish on this Bill at all, but is in favour of the .very people whose cause Senator Symon has been advocating. I pass now to clause 15. If honorable senators,- having read that clause, can prove to me that it is really necessary, I shall be prepared to support it. As I understand, if any person wants to be honest when he is doing something very doubtful, he can go to the AttorneyGeneral, and put the conditions before him ; the case can be advertised in the Gazette, and then if the transaction does take place the person will be in a better position than any one else. As I have said, if honorable senators are able to show to hazy individuals like myself that that provision is necessary, I shall support it. Then we come to the clauses dealing with dumping. I might cite several cases of dumping to a limited extent which have occurred in Australia, but it is not my intention to weary the Senate with them. This legislation is only for the purpose of preventing dumping when it becomes an injury to the producers, workers, and consumers of Australia, and it will be admitted, I think, that it is legitimate for us to attempt something of that kind. complaint has beer, made that the Comptroller-General of Customs is to take the initiative under this measure. Somebody must take the initiative, and I do not think that any one would be in a better position to judge of the effect of any importation than, the ComptrollerGeneral. He has to report to the AttorneyGeneral, who has to give' his sanction to proceedings. The AttorneyGeneral would surely bring the matter before the Government. So that there is every safeguard.

Senator Mulcahy - I do not think that that is much of a safeguard.

Senator McGREGOR - I will tell the honorable senator what is a better safeguard than any. If he looks at clause 26 he will recognise that the ComptrollerGeneral will seldom do anything unless his attention is called to the necessity for taking action, or unless the case becomes so flagrant that he cannot shut his' eyes to it. If statements are made to him that are likely to mislead him, clause 26 provides that the individual so offending mav be fined £100

Senator Millen - Suppose the person complained of were one of the 6s. a week boys in Mr. McKay's industry?

Senator McGREGOR - Does the honorable senator think that the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs is an idiot? Is it to be supposed that he would not read the Act, and would not know what his duties were?. If a man, a boy, or a woman came to him to make complaints, would he not consider his or her position ? The honorable senator can disabuse his mind of any apprehension as to the carrying out of the dumping provisions. I had no intention when I commenced to speak at the length that I have done; but seeing that such an influential member as Senator Symon occupied our time to such an extent yesterday after noon with contradictory arguments and sophistries, I thought it was necessary to deal fully with the subject. I hope that every honorable senator will give fair consideration to the Bill, and that when- it passes the Senate it will Le no worse, but a great deal better than it is now.

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