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Tuesday, 28 August 1906

Senator PULSFORD (New South Wales) . - I move -

That paragraph a of sub-clause1 be left out.

The term "commercial trust" is very wide and far-reaching, and drags within its net all possible combinations. Senator Playford has told us that all trusts are not necessarily evil, and in Mr. Tregear's paper the statement is distinctly made on the authority of American Departments that many trusts are beneficent in their action.

Senator Findley - Do not take American authorities in regard to trusts.

Senator PULSFORD - We need not go outside our own knowledge. Everybody is aware that a trust may be beneficent in its action. For instance, in the coal trade we have a trust for the express purpose of enabling coal owners and coal miners to work together with a view to keep up the rate of wages. That, I presume, would be considered a beneficent trust.

Senator Findley - It would all depend upon what price persons have to pay for the coal.

Senator PULSFORD - Of course it would all depend upon circumstances. But as long as it is possible for a trust which is beneficent, and not evil in its working to be constituted, we have no business to pass any provision which would at once constitute a trust prima facie a fraud. The paragraph provides that if the defendant is a commercial trust, the competition shall be deemed unfair.

Senator Playford - Unless the contrary is proved !

Senator PULSFORD - Obviously that is not in accordance with the statement made by the Minister of Defence, and offends against every principle of justice. The clausewould not be weakened for the purpose for which it was designed by the omission of the paragraph, and certainly it would be made a little more satisfactory. The word "shall " is used in the clause. That is to say, if the defendant is a commercial trust his competition is to be deemed to be unfair, unless the contrary is proved. That is mandatory. However fair, honest, or beneficent the trust may be, the Courts, or whoever deals with the matter, is bound to look upon it as unfair in its competition. Therefore, with every confidence, I ask the Committee to strike out the words.

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