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Thursday, 14 December 1905

Mr ISAACS (Indi) (Attorney-General) . -I quite share the opinion of the honorable member for North Sydney regarding the importance and far-reaching character of this Bill. It is intended to be farreaching, because the evils that it is designed to cope with are of a like nature, lt is designed to prevent the establishment in this community of the evils to which I refer, and fo bring about their eradication at this early stage of their career. I propose to the best of my ability to show how far the measure goes, without discussing details which may be better analyzed in Committee. I intend to state why, in my opinion, iti does not go one step further than it should. I admit at once that it is quite possible to carry, the measure further, and I can understand the views of some honorable members, who are quite at one with us upon the necessity which exists for coping with trusts, and who would like to see the Bill extended in various directions. Matters of that character can best be considered in Committee, and I. have no doubt that any suggestions which are intended to make the measure more effective will receive sympathetic consideration at the hands of my colleague, the Minister of Trade and Customs. I have listened with" great attention to the arguments advanced bv some honorable members opposite against the Bill, and I must say frankly that those, arguments lead me to tlie conclusion that they are opposed to the enactment of any such measure.

Mr Johnson - Not at all

Mr ISAACS - I must be forgiven for expressing my opinion in that way, because it seems to me that if every time we bring forward a Bill we are to be told that it is far-reaching,- and that it will disorganize business operations, we shall never get any legislation at all.

Mr Johnson - We do not object to legislation against trusts.

Mr ISAACS - Then I hope that the honorable member will assist us to pass this Bill. In my opinion, it is the first measure that has been presented to an Australian Parliament which calls upon honorable members to range themselves distinctly as the friends or the foes of Australian enterprise.

Mr Johnson - And Australian liberty.

Mr ISAACS - I am sure that my honorable friend will avail himself of an opportunity, presently to express his own views. I do not regard this as a fiscal measure. .1 regard it as one that puts "to us tha question : ' 'Are we going to defend Australian industries - Australian industries of every kind - or are we going to expose them to the aggression of those who care nothing for Australia except for the prott they can make out of it?" If, unfortunately , we were to find some evilly-disposed persons bringing into Australia some instruments of destruction which would enable them to level our factories tq the ground, injure physically our operatives, and bind our citizens to their will, I am sure that this Parliament would not have the slightest hesitation in taking prompt and energetic measures against them. If the same ends can be achieved by devious methods, or bv what are, in some respects, ordinary business methods, what is to be done? If our factories can be destroyed, if our primary and secondary industries can be undermined - and, just as the Americans have done, we "seek by this Bill to protect not only the secondary but the primary industries - if by all the means that are known to huge capitalistic enterprises, this can be done without check or hindrance, then nearly all our legislative: undertakings and all the paraphernalia of our Parliaments and Government.', are worthless.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We have not had the slightest evidence of such a menace as the honorable and learned gentleman suggests.

Mr ISAACS - I shall give the honorable and learned member some cogent evidence.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We expected it from the Minister who introduced the Bill.

Mr ISAACS - I must say that I hardly think it is needed. It is a matter of common knowledge. It has been noted in the newspapers and elsewhere, for a considerable period, and we should be blind and deaf indeed if we failed to see and hear that which is going on around us.

Mr Poynton - So far, we have had the evidence of only one side.

Mr Conroy - And the statement of the witness has been proved to be untrue.

Mr ISAACS - I do not agree with the honorable member for Grey, and I hope that before the debate closes he will see his way to support the Bill. If ever there was a measure that called for the support of representatives of labour this is one.

Mr Poynton - lt is a Bill to help McKay.

Mr ISAACS - I am not going to deal with the merits or demerits of any one individual.

Mr Conroy - McKay prompted the Government to bring in this Bill.

Mr ISAACS - The honorable and learned member will allow me to contradict that statement.

Mr Conroy - For what other purpose has it been introduced? I am glad that the honorable and learned member is silent.

Mr ISAACS - The honorable and learned member is rather excited. I do not know why he should be. The matter is one that approaches more closely ...... does any other the determination, of whether we are to have a White Australia. lt is not a question of whether we are to have protection. T.his Bill is not designed for the benefit of either the producers, the workers, or the consumers alone. It is designed for the benefit of no two of those sections of the community. It is for the benefit of the whole of the people. It is expressly stated on the face of the Bill, that it is for the benefit of the united whole. I am going to prove to those who are open to consider this matter from an impartial stand-point, that my observations under this head are justly founded on the wording, intent, and effect of the Bill. Honorable members have said that it has been intro- duced late in the session. It is a matter of regret on the part of the Government that is has been introduced so late, but that is not our fault. We have had a great deal of work to attend to. I am not going to pass any reflection upon any party in the House, but I do say that it is not the fault of the Government that we have not been able to devote an extra fortnight to the consideration of this measure. Although it is a matter for regret that we did not introduce this Bill at an earlier period, the way to overcome any shortcoming in that regard is by refusing to go into recess without having enacted the measure.

Mr Johnson - It is a pity that so much time was wasted over the "gag."

Mr ISAACS - I should like to apply it to the honorable member.

Mr Conroy - The honorable and learned member would be specially pleased to apply the "gag" during the consideration of such a Bill as this.

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