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Thursday, 23 August 1906

Senator DRAKE (Queensland) . - I cannot admit that the amendment is covered by paragraph a. I do not think that a combination to raise prices would necessarily be held to be in restraint of trade. What I propose is the same term as is used in the Canadian Act; and, if fixing a price is to be held to be in restraint of trade, why has the Government inserted in clauses 7 and 8 the words - the supply or price of any service, merchandise, or commodity.

Why not leave that under the heading of "restraint of trade"? At any rate, my amendment would make it quite clear that it would be an offence to unduly raise the price of commodities in restraint of trade. I spoke in my second-reading speech of the possibility of a combination of coal merchants being formed to raise the price of coal. It might be that the requirements were so great at that time that the consumption of coal would go steadily up. How could it be held that the trade in that particular article had been restrained when the figures showed that the consumption was increasing? An increase of consumption, therefore, would prevent a conviction, whereas raising the price of commodities would be a thing that would be perfectly clear, and could be easily proved. I hope the Committee will seriously consider this matter, and will agree to this amendment.

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