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Tuesday, 28 August 1906

Senator BEST - I am told that what I have stated is the practice.

Senator Millen - There is no intimation that the rebate will not be paid in any other way.

Senator BEST - So far as my information goes, the company will not pay directly to the storekeeper. The rebate has to be paid through the wholesale distributing houses. That is the information conveyed to me. I have a particular case where an unfortunate shopkeeper committed the crime of dealing with another oil company. The following letter is signed by A. K. Oak-Rhind. assistant manager, and is sent to A.B., Fitzroy: -

We have your declaration form, with memorandum thereon, but regret that we cannot allow you the £d. rebate in justice to other traders who only sell " White Rose " kerosene.

We are quite unable to prevent retailers cutting our price of "White Rose" kerosene, although it is always a mystery to us why retailers do not sell "White Rose" kerosene, so as to give them a reasonable profit. People must have "White Rose" kerosene, and it requires no selling; it is well-known everywhere. We quite appreciate that you have to do the same in self-defence, and only wish we could get all the retailers to sell "White Rose" kerosene at a reasonable figure.

The fact is shown there that if the shopkeeper attempts to sell- any but White Rose kerosene he is not allowed the privilege of the Jd. rebate. I have reason to think, from investigation which I have made, and from information supplied to me, that this practice is injuring to a serious, if not an alarming, extent, a very excellent industry that has been established in our own. midst by the British Imperial Oil Company. This company imports in bulk, and has done so for some little time past. In extending its factories, and laying down bulky installations, it has spent something like £100,000. It pays in. wages in Australia about £25,000 per annum. But the company finds that it is quite impossible to compete against the Standard Oil Company with, any degree of satisfac tion to itself or its workmen if these illegitimate methods of trade to which I have referred are practised.

Senator Findley - I doubt whether the British Imperial Oil Company would be able to compete in any circumstances.

Senator BEST - Its chance of doing so is decreased if the trading to which I have referred is permitted. The British Imperial Company does not seek for any preference, or any assistance. All that it asks is that fair trading should be insisted upon. If that is done it is prepared to take its chance.

Senator Staniforth Smith - Where does its oil come from?

Senator BEST - From Borneo. I have briefly stated the facts which prompt me to move the clause under discussion. Having regard to the American experience, and to the fact that the only aim and object of this illegitimate trading is to capture the market, crush out opposition, and so hold the public at the mercy of this octopus trust, we are justified in passing the amendment which I have proposed, with the view of giving a permanent industry of our own a fair show.

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