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Wednesday, 13 December 1905

Sir WILLIAM LYNE (Hume) (Minister of Trade and Customs) . - I move -

That the Billbe now read a second time.

I recognise that, in addressing myself to this question, I am undertaking a rather severe task, because of the many legal and technical questions involved ; but the motive of the measure is simple, it being intended merely to provide that due consideration and protection shall be given to the industries of Australia. I feel that no excuse is necessary for the introduction of the Bill, but if it were, it could be found in the statements published in the newspapers of the United States of America, showing the dimensions to which the enormous octopus trusts of that country have grown, and the harm which they have done, not only by their cheap exportations of manufactures to other countries, but by buying up and destroying the smaller internal business concerns of theUnited States. The Farm and Live Stock Journal of New York, dealing with this matter in a recent issue, contains the following statement : -

A Bill intended to curb the operations of the National Harvester Co., of Chicago- the legal name of the harvester trust - recently introduced into the Legislature by Senator Fyfe, was taken up in Committee of the Whole on Monday last, and led to a warm discussion. Senator Mills, of Menominee, moved to strike out section 3 of the Bill, which contains the essence of the measure. Senator Fyfe came to the defence of his Bill, and, in the course of his talk, said, according to the reports in the daily press : "I don't know how many agents of the International Harvester Co. there are around here buying high-balls, but if you senators vote against this Bill I shall not be responsible for your political future."

The report of the discussion continues : - " Does Senator Fyfe know of any law that compels a dealer to sign one of these contracts?" asked Senator Mills. " I know of a law stronger than any Statute," replied Fyfe, " the law of necessity." " But necessity knows no law," laughed Mills. " Yes, your necessity may know no law," was Fyfe's retort.

Senator Glasgow,who deals in agricultural implements, came to Fyfe's assistance, telling how the Chicago trust is trying to hog the trade. He related how the different agents of the company had tried to induce him not to support the Fyfe Bill, but he refused to be won over.

After Glasgow's speech, Mills withdrew his amendment, and the Bill was agreed to.

The contracts referred to bind agents not to sell any other harvesting machinery except that of the trust..... We note that the harvester trust has played a sharp game by carrying large advertisements in the agricultural press of the whole country so as hoodwink the farmers. Of course, these journals dare not say a word derogatory to this combine - that ad. keeps them quiet while preparations for robbing their readers are going on. It is well that we have men in the Legislature with the moral courage to attack this scheme, and ask for legislation to stop its operations and protect the public.

Since the above was written another anti-Trust Bill has been introduced by Representative Bland, of Detroit, and said to be the work of himself and Fred. A. Baker, of this city,who is a lawyer as well as a farmer and dairyman. This Bill defines as illegal all combinations intended as monopolies in any branch of trade or business. Corporations already in existence are affected, as well as any to be organized in the future. One provision of the Bill nullifies any agreement not to engage in any specified occupation. It passed the House unanimously, and if it becomes law will make this State a rocky place for all trusts. It is a good thing - push it along.

That statement shows the estimation in which the trust referred to is held in the United States of America, and similar views are expressed in regard to that and other trusts in other American newspapers. These trusts have menaced the industries of Australia for a considerable time past, and must be dealt with at the present juncture. I regret that the measure has been brought forward so late in the session, but I have been prevented from bringing it forward earlier, as I was prevented from bringing forward another measure earlier, by the constant and long opposition and " stonewalling" of honorable members opposite. That is the reason why our legislation has not advanced more quickly towards completion. The Government, in considering how best to deal with this subject, had a difficult question to face. Two or three methods were open to them. One was the imposition of duties, but we knew the opposition which would be shown at the present time to any proposal to alter the Tariff. Another method was to take advantage of section 52 of the Customs Act, which gives power to the Minister to prohibit imports ; but we felt that that power was not intended to be used in cases such as this, its object being merely to prevent the importation of commoditites injurious to the public.If Parliament empowers the Minister to put that provision into operation, to protect bur industries from the unfair competition of foreign trusts, I shall have no compunction in doing so; but I shall not do it except with the direct authority of Parliament, which is provided for in the Bill. The measure which I have introduced is divided into two distinct parts, one of which is intended to prevent the dumping of foreign goods on these shores, and the other to prevent the formation of monopolies and trusts, such as have done great injury to the people of other countries. The first part of the Bill is practically new. Except in Canada, I do not know that there is similar legislation elsewhere.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - For the sake of the Minister's reputation, it is to be hoped that it is new.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I do not want to get a statement of my reputation from the honorable member. I am quite satisfied to stand on my own merits.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am not talking of the honorable member, but of the Minister.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - In Canada they experienced this danger to their industries, and took action. If we desire to protect our industries in a proper way, we must take some such course as this, when we know that rings and trusts dump their various productions upon our shores, with the absolute intention of destroying the industries of our country, and retarding their development. I think that no patriotic Australian will be opposed to a measure which will help to increase production and manufacture in our country - a country which is endowed with all the necessary raw material in great abundance, perhaps in greater abundance than any other country in the world, being comparatively undeveloped. Those persons who are prepared to sit quietly by and allow thisdagger to be inserted in our industries are not worthy of the name of Australians. I would call them "little Australians," and cast upon them the responsibility of allowing things to be done in the future as in the past, for the promotion of the interests of the foreigner, instead of the promotion of the interests of our own people. As I pointed out, there was a difficult position and a great danger menacing Australia, as there is to-day. Perhaps I may be permitted for a moment to refer to what was done in New South Wales. On more than one occasion, surplus wheat was dumped down in Sydney from California, taken by train toAlbury to be gristed, and then sold along the line at Goulburn and other places, at something like half the price at which flour could have been produced in the Albury district, with the result that it injured the farming community for nearly twelve months.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It was not during a drought, but during a good year. I am prepared to hear any objection from the honorable member, because I know that he is so very anti-Australian.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I object to Victorian legislation in the Commonwealth Parliament.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - If we had had a little more Victorian legislation so far as the Tariff is concerned, it would have been a lot better for Australia. Indeed it would have been agreat deal better for New South Wales in the past,if she had had a little more of Victorian legislation, instead of protecting the dumper. Let me now describe the procedure in connexion with the Bill. The first part- that is down to clause 8- deals with commercial trusts. Perhaps I had better explain what is the meaning of a commercial trust for the purpose of the Bill, because there is a greatdeal of misconception in regard to the term. For the sake of giving an example, I shall take the shipping companies, although, of course, I might take other companies. The Bill will not affect the ship-owners unless they join together in a monopoly and appoint a board or some person to control the whole of their ships and direct the freights which are to be charged from point to point, so that they will do injury to the public.

Mr Watson - Which they are doing at the present time.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Possibly they are, but so far as I know, they have not appointed a Board or a Commission to control their trust. If they were to do what I have suggested, I should think that they would come under the provisions of the Bill.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the Minister going to include trade union combinations under the Bill?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable and learned member is really a little dotty over trade unions.

Mr Knox - They are included in the Bill.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Trade unions are included in the Bill for a beneficial purpose, and the labourer is protected. Neither a firm nor a company is a commercial trust within the meaning of the Bill. An individual, unless he is associated with three or four persons, with one person controlling the whole, is not a commercial trust.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the Colonial Sugar Refining Company a commercial trust ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I do not know that it is not a commercial trust within the meaning of the Bill, unless it is carrying on more than one branch of industry, and has a controlling composite power.

Mr Hutchison - If that is so, it will be easy to sail through the Bill.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I do not think that the British -AustralasianTobacco Company will sail through the Bill.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will the coalvendors be commercial trusts?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Oh ! be quiet. The Bill also contains this provision -

The creation of a trust as understood in equity or a corporation wherein the trustees or corporation hold the interests, shares or stock of the constituent persons.

I have inquired of my legal friends what the words "as understood in equity" mean. I am informed that the word's are used because there might be some statutory law which would enable the provisions of the Act to be evaded, but when that was done any particular commercial trust could be dealt with in equity. Let me now describe the procedure under the first part of the Bill, which for the sake of clearness, I may call the "dumping" clauses. The procedure is that if the ComptrollerGeneral of Customs should" have reason to believe that a commercial trust is dumping anything, and thus doing an injury to the people of the community, under clause S, he will certify that belief to the Minister, and1 state that a combination exists, and then, under sub-clause 2 of that provision the Minister will appoint a Board. I admit that it would be proper, if it were possible, to give an idea of the constitution of the Board, but it is a most difficult thing to do. Under the New Zealand Act, the Board is comprised of six or seven members. In that country, that course can be taken, because there is one head to a society or body. But,, in Australia, except, I think, in the case of the Chambers of Manufactures, the Chambers of Commerce, and, perhaps, the Federated Labour Union of Australia, we cannot get a joint head or a general controlling body, which embraces the associations in all the States. Therefore, the clause is drawn, to empower; the Minister - which means the Executive - to appoint a Board. If the Board should report that certain things were taking place, and that there were imports on the way, or about to be brought into Australia, those imports could be held until authority was given for them to pass for distribution. That precaution is taken for the purpose of preventing the wholesale importation, which, according to the rumours we have, might otherwise take place. I must admit that they are only rumours so far as the harvester question is concerned. We have no authentic information as to 2,000 harvesters being on the water, or as to any number being made, but I have no doubt that a large number of orders have or will be given, and that unless we pass this legislation, the machines will be here before next spring.

Mr Conroy - What about the 276,000 farmers ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - We must do nothing which would create an internal monopoly and raise the price of these machines.

Mr Henry Willis - That is what the Minister is going to do.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I should .not take any action to favour or help the manufacturers in this or any other industry, unless I got an assurance that the price was going to be a reasonable one. What is the position now? In consequence of the action I have taken, the harvesters can be bought by farmers at a great deal less than previously.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Because of that action ?


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the Minister went a little further, he would be able to give them away

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I think that I have shown my bona fides. I certainly would stand very firm in not allowing a monopoly to arise in our midst. One of the principal arguments in favour of the Bill is that when a monopoly is created in our midst, it can be dealt with by legislation. But we cannot deal legislatively, except with very great difficulty, with the monopolies which exist in other parts of the world. The first and the best thing to do is to prevent an influx of the productions of those monopolies such as has. already created trouble to many of our own people.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - There is no trouble anywhere except in Victoria.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - There is a great deal of trouble. New South Wales would be far and away ahead if she had fostered her manufactures instead of remaining under a dead policy for' so many years.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - She can hold her population, but Victoria cannot.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is this fiscalism or. trust?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It is fiscalism and trust, because in argument we cannot very well separate one from the other. When a matter is referred to the Board", it will have the full powers of a Royal Commission to investigate and report to the

Minister, who in his turn will report to the Executive. If that report should be in favour of taking action a Gazette notice will be issued, and it will have to be laid upon the table of each House within seven days if Parliament be sitting, or if not. within seven days from the beginning of the next session.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I said Gazette notice, but it is the report of the Board. I do not wish at this stage to deal with a number of minute details, but to give a clear and concise idea of the provisions of the Bill, which. 1 may mention, relates, to only Inter-State and foreign trade, and has no reference to the internal trade of a State. I now come to the last phase of the action which has to be taken under the first part of the Bill, and that is to put into operation, if it is so desired, subsection 9 of section 52 of the Customs Act,

Mr Henry Willis - What power does it give?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It gives the power of prohibition.

Mr Henry Willis - Hear, hear! That is the object of the Bill.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Under the procedure I have described, I do not think it is- likely that any great injustice will be done. ' I was not aware, until my attention was called to the fact by the AttorneyGeneral, that stringent legislation of this kind had been passed in the United States and Canada. Of course, I was fully aware of what had been done in New Zealand. The provisions of this Bill are mild in comparison with those which are in force in the United States to-day.

Mr Conroy - Two of the American Acts were replaced on the statute-book expressly at the request of the big trusts.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - If that be so, the trusts have been made to suffer very severely for t{heir action.

Mr Conroy - The other Acts were passed in order to enable members of Congress to extort money.

Mr Isaacs - That is nonsense.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Before passing to the second part of the Bill, I wish to direct attention to what has been done in New Zealand. Mr. Seddon, who has just been returned by such an overwhelming majority, has placed on the statute-book an Act containing provisions similar to those to which I have referred, and has in hand another Bill containing provisions similar to those embraced in the second part of this measure. Mr. Seddon, who has been supported so whole-heartedly by the people of New Zealand, after having occupied the- position of Premier for thirteen or fourteen years, has placed on the statute-book more democratic legislation than has been enacted by any of the Legislatures of Australia. The Act that was passed last session was a measure to regulate and control the manufacture and sale of certain agricultural implements in New Zealand, and to prevent serious importation of such implements from foreign countries. The schedule of that Act embraces everything of consequence required by farmers. A Board has been appointed, consisting of the President of the Arbitration Court, who is the chairman, the President of the Farmers' Union, the President of the Industrial Association of Canterbury, a person appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the Trade and Labour Council, and a person appointed by the Governor on- the recommendation, of' the Agricultural and Pastoral Association. The Board has power to deal with a-li cases in which unfair competition is likely to prove a menace to the community. The New Zealand Act contains a .provision similar to that of clause 3 of the Bill before us, which reads as follows : -

Unfair competition has in all cases reference to those Australian industries the preservation of which (in the opinion of the ComptrollerGeneral or the Tribunal which has to determine any matter under this Act as the case may be) is advantageous to the Commonwealth, having due regard to the interests of producers, workers, and consumers.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why should the consumers occupy the last place?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - One must come last - goods cannot be consumed until they are produced. The New Zealand Act provides that only when unfair competition is shown to be injurious to the general community, as well as to the manufacturers, shall the Board step in and take certain action.


Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I do not want to enter into all the details of the New Zealand Act, or of any other measure. Honorable members will have an opportunity of looking through the New Zealand

Act if they so desire. Clause 4 of the Bill provides that - (1.) Competition shall be deemed to be unfair if-

(a)   under ordinary circumstances of trade it would probably lead to the Australian goods being either withdrawn from the market or sold at a loss unless produced at a lower remuneration for labour; or

(b)   the means adopted by the importer or seller of the imported goods are, in the opinion of the tribunal which has to determine the matter unfair in the circumstances.

(2)   In the following cases the competition shall be deemed unfair until the contrary is proved : -

(a)   If the person importing goods or selling imported goods is a commercial trust :

(b)   If the competition would probably or does in fact result in lowering the remuneration of labour :

(c)   If the competition would probably or does in fact result in greatly disorganizing Australian industry or throwing workers out of employment.

Mr Kelly - The word " probably " will give the Minister a really good chance.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Other clauses also make provision for the proper remuneration of labour, and throughout the measure will be found evidences of a strong desire to protect the workmen. Therefore, we are not proposing to confer benefits on the manufacturer and, at the same time, to permit him to grind down his workmen. I wish to refer to the action taken in Canada under the Customs Tariff Act of 1897. Section 18 of that Act provides -

That if the Governor in Council has reason to believe, in regard to any article of commerce, that there exists a trust or combination of manufacturers to unduly raise the price, or promote the advantage of the manufacturers, he may empower a Judge to make inquiry and report.

Mr Robinson -It is not a Judge, but the Minister's creatures who are to have control here.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - In answer to the honorable and learned member's very unfair remark, I may say that our desire was to secure the services of a Judge, but we found that the Justices of the High Court had already more work to do than they could properly attend to. The Canadian Act further provides -

If the Judge reports that such a trust or combination exists, and it appears to the Governor that any disadvantage to consumers is facilitated by the duties of Customs on a similar article when imported, such article shall be placed on the free list, or the duty reduced, in order to give the public the benefit of reasonable competition.

An Amending Act passed in 1904 or later, provides -

That if it appears to the Customs Department that the export price or actual selling price to the importer in Canada of any imported dutiable article of a kind made in Canada is less than the fair marketvalue, a special duty of Customs, equal to the difference between the fair market value, and the selling price, may be imposed.

Provision is made for a temporary exemption from special duty of any class of articles, if the Minister is satisfied that such articles are not made in Canada, and offered for sale to all purchasers on equal terms.

I should have liked to obtain authority to impose increased duties in order to regulate importations, but I recognise that honorable members are averse to raising the Tariff issue at this stage. I contend that the Bill before us is a good one - the best we can pass under the circumstances. Clause 10 provides -

(1)   Any person who wilfully -

(a)   being a commercial trust makes or enters into any contract, or engages in any combination to do; or

(b)   makes or enters into any contract with or conspires or engages in any combination with a commercial trust to do; or

(c)   as an officer member or agent of a commercial trust does or makes or enters into any contract to do any act or thing in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States or with other countries to the detriment of the public or any act or thing with the design of destroying or injuring any Australian industries by means of unfair competition with respect to such trade or commerce, is guilty of an indictable offence against this Act.

Penalty : Five hundred pounds, or one year's imprisonment, or both.

(2)   Every contract made or entered into in contravention of this section shall be absolutely illegal and void.

That seems to be very stringent, but it is taken, as honorable members will see, from the Sherman Act of 1890, section1. I will show presently what that Act provides.

Mr Knox - Is it effective?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Ishould think so, considering the number of cases that have occurred under it.

Mr Knox - How many?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I cannot say how many ; but I have a record of them here.

Mr Deakin - It enabled the American Government to reach the beef trust.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - Section1 of that Act provides that -

Every contract combination in the form of trust or otherwise or conspiracy in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States is hereby declared to be illegal.

Further on the Act deals with misdemeanours -

Every person who shall make any such contract or engage in any such combination or conspiracy shall be deemed to be guilty of a misdemeanour, and on conviction thereof shall be punished by fine not exceeding Five thousand dollars, or by imprisonment not exceeding one year or by both said punishments in the discretion of the Court.

Mr McWilliams - Has that Act been effective in the United States?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE -I think it has been, in some cases at all events.

Mr Deakin - It is reaching some of the trusts now. It reached the beef trust last year.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - There is a very important case which is known as the Merger, or the Northern Securities case, the headnote to which is " Combination of Carriers Illegal." The point decided in that case was -

That a contract or agreement whereby a holding corporation was created to which the stockholders of two competing parallel lines contrary to the Constitution and laws of the States, creating such competing companies, agreed to transfer the stock of both roads and turn it over to the holding company, creates a trust prohibited by the Federal Statute.

I need not go into the details of the case, but honorable members can see it for themselves, oh turning to the authority from which I am quoting. The next case to which I will allude is that of the great beef trust, which was dealt with under the same section. The reference to it is headed, in the authority from which I quote, " Beef Trust an Unlawful Combination "-

On the branch of the case in which defendants claimed that they were not an unlawful combination, it was alleged that they were guilty of the following acts : - (a) directing their purchasing agents to refrain from bidding against each other at auction sales of live stock ; (b) in bidding up the price of such stock for a few days at a time to induce large shipments, and then ceasing to bid to obtain the stock thus shipped at ruling market prices;(c) in agreeingupon prices to be adopted by all and restricting the output or quantities of meat shipped:(d) in directing uniform prices for cartage and delivery throughout the United States as a device to increase the price to dealers and consumers; and (e) in negotiating with carriers for secret rebates on their enormous shipments, thus bringing about unjust discrimination against other shippers and competitors for the purpose of stifling and destroying competition.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Does this Bill deal with that?


Mr Robinson - The Colonial Sugar Refining Company, which fixes the price of sugar for the whole of Australia, could not be touched under this Bill.

Mr Deakin - Move to enlarge it, then.

Mr Robinson - The Prime Minister and his supporters would vote against such a proposal on the ground that it would affect an Australian industry.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - There is a reference to what constitutesa misdemeanour under the Sherman Act, in section 2 -

Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person orpersons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanour, and on conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding£5,000, or by imprisonment not exceeding oneyear, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the Court.

Mr McWilliams - Those provisions are to deal with local trusts.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - They are to deal with the same class of cases as we intend to deal with.

Mr McWilliams - Are Inter-State trusts affected?

Mr Robinson - How does the Government propose to deal with the pottery trust in Brunswick?

Mr Isaacs - The honorable member knows that unless the operations of a trust are Inter-State they cannot be touched under the Constitution.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - There is also another United States Act, called the Wilson Act. Under that Act -

Every combination, conspiracy, trust, agreement, or contract is hereby declared to be contrary to public policy, illegal and void, when the same is made by or between two or more persons or corporations, either of whom is engaged in importing any article from any foreign country into the United States, and when such combination, conspiracy, trust, agreement, or contract is intended to operate in restraint of lawful trade or free competition in lawful trade or commerce.

I do not wish to go into the details of the cases recorded in the work which I hold in my hand. A number are given. The work is entitled Annotated Inter-State Commission Act and Federal Anti-Trust Laws. It is an American book, giving a great deal of information which I was surprised to get.

Mr McWilliams - Was not the object of all that legislation to deal with local trusts ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - American trusts. There is a provision in the Bill which I am submitting to the House that if a commercial trust wilfully engages - I wish that to be clearly understood ; a person must wilfully do certain things - or some one else engages with him, to do, or doss, anything in contravention of clause 10, he is liable to a penalty. Sub-clause 1 of clause 11 provides that any person who wilfully - honorable members will notice that the word "wilfully" is used there again - being a commercial trust monopolizes, or attempts to monopolize, or . . combines or conspires with any other person to monopolize, or wilfully combines or conspires with a commercial trust to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States or with other countries, with the design of controlling, to the detriment of the public, the supply or price of any merchandise or commodity, is guilty of an indictable offence against this Act.

Mr Robinson - Why depart from the wording of the Sherman Act there?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The Sherman Act is much more stringent in this respect than the one now submitted.

Mr Robinson - But when dealing with local trusts the Government strikes out the stringent words.

Mr Isaacs - The honorable member has not read the Bill. Under clause 12 -

Whoever aids, abets, counsels, or procures, or by any act of omission is in any way directly or indirectly knowingly concerned in or privy to (a) the commission of any offence against the last two preceding sections; or (b) the doing of any act Outside Australia which would if done within Australia be an offence against either of the last two preceding sections, shall be deemed to have committed the offence, and shall be punished accordingly.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - How does the Government propose to put that clause in motion ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The AttorneyGeneral has to put it in motion, and I suppose he will find some way.

Mr Isaacs - Let the honorable member try to make it more stringent.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is that the way the measure is brought forward ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The last provision in the Bill, clause 14, provides that if any person is injured, or loses, by reason of anything done by any combination, he can get treble damages if the decision of the Court is given against the monopoly or trust. Now I have dealt with the two parts of the measure as concisely as I could.

Mr Henry Willis - Why should the plaintiff get treble damages?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - That provision is taken from the American Act. He ought to get treble damages if he has been seriously injured by an unlawful combination. I venture to think - though Ido not suppose that there will be many of such unlawful combinations here - that a person who is injured by one should get well paid for what he has suffered through their misdirected power.

Mr Knox - What are the unlawful combinations that are affecting the Minister's mind now?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I cannot answer a question like that.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Of course, the Minister cannot answer !

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - When the Bill gets into Committee I shall be prepared to answer any question that the honorable member desires to put to me, as far as I can ; but I am not going to answer a lot of conundrums at present. I suppose the honorable member for Kooyong has in his mind the effect that the measure is going to have upon his coal mines or his tin mines.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We might more properly ask what effect it has on the Minister's mind, and what he is going to get out of it.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am dealing with this matter as one who has no personal interest in it whatever. I approach it absolutely free from any personal interest in every way. I think that I ought to receive credit for doing what I am doing, with the assistance of my colleagues, in the interests of the public.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - This Bill creates a personal interest.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - How does it create a personal interest? Let the honorable member speak out, and say plainly what he means. I have no personal interest in it whatever.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I say that it creates a personal interest in the Minister.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - He simply has to administer the measure.

Mr Isaacs - And he hasan interest in the welfare of this country.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - A great many personal accusations have been made against me, and I have always challenged those who have made them to the proof. I am entitled to claim that some men could not stand the challenge in the way I have done. I repeat that, in connexion with this subject, I have no interest in any shape or form.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why suggest that any- one else has?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member for Kooyong asked what was in my mind in reference to this matter.

Mr Knox - I rise to a point of order. It is this : The Minister has made a statement, and I asked for a definite answer. I asked what was in his mind in reference to trusts in. introducing this Bill at this period of the 'session, and what pressing necessity there was for it. There is no other question whatever.

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