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Wednesday, 27 June 1906

Mr CULPIN (Brisbane) .- I desire to say a few words on this Bill. I have listened with interest to the debate, and. I have noticed that, whilst honorable members opposite have referred to the United States as the land of trusts, some have hastily drawn the conclusion that it is the land of trusts because it has passed the Sherman Act, which prevents trusts. A section of honorable members opposite hold the opinion that the growth of trusts in America is due to the unfortunate circumstance that the railways in that country are not owned by the State. They believe that the private companies owning the railways have greatly assisted in the growth of the trusts. There is something in that. But I remind honorable members that there are countries in which neither of these causes operate, and yet in which it has been thought advisable to pass legislation against trusts and combines. I refer honorable members to the example of Switerland. In that country, the means of transit are under the control of the Government, and yet the Swiss have thought fit to pass legislation in their self-contained State intended to cope with such undesirables as are trusts and combines. The honorable and learned member for Parkes says that there is no need for this Bill, since there are no trusts in Australia. It would appear that neither trusts nor combines are to be found in Switzerland, and, apparently, they are kept down in that country by means of the legislation which has there been passed. Mr. Charles Edward Russell, writing in one of the American magazines, when- referring to the passage of anti-trust legislation in Switzerland, says of the Swiss Government -

Its hand is upon every corporation, big or little, public or private, that transacts a dollar's worth of business in Switzerland.

They have passed laws to provide .for that in Switzerland, and we might do something of the same kind. I notice that in his article, Mr. Russell mentions the name of one of the authorities which, I think, I heard quoted by the honorable member for Kooyong, and says -

There are no cheques for Mr. Depew.

That is very significant. Mr. Depew is a member of the United States Senate, and has been quoted by honorable members opposite as a high authority on the question of trusts and combines. It is clear that if he were in Switzerland a man of that sort would have to be very careful of what he was doing. Mr. Russell further says -

There are no combine subscriptions.

That is an interesting point. It is notorious that in the United States big subscriptions are got up for political purposes by the assistance of these trusts. In Switzerland that would be prevented, and I hope that we shall be able to take such action as will prevent such a state of things arising in the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Parkes complained about the action of this Government in. bringing a new shipping combine to Australia, but I think that to do so was only to carryout the honorable member's idea of competition. So far we have had no competition in respect to our mails, and that we should have it is only a fair and proper thing, in accordance with the principles which the honorable member has enunciated. I do' not think that he ought to object to it. The honorable member for Parkes told us that monopoly cannot exist under free-trade conditions. I was in the United Kingdom some three or four months ago, and' I found that many articles which used to be manufactured in England when I was there fifteen years ago have entirely disappeared from trade. I found that it was impossible to purchase a post-card which did not bear upon it the words " Made in Germany." The same remark applies to ribbons and other good's. Drapers tell me that numbers of articles which used to be manufactured in England twenty years ago are now made-, abroad. I do not know whether monopolies are responsible for that, but nevertheless the change has taken place. The honorable member for Parkes quoted Mr. Andrew Carnegie as an authority in regard to trusts and combines. I should like to point out, however, that almost every speaker who has taken part in this debate during the last three or four days has said that the excuse given for the existence of combines in America is that there are in that country railways which the combines have secured and can use to their own advantage. Mr. Carnegie very carefully makes no mention of railways when he discusses the evil effects of trusts. It is notable that he is the one authority cited who makes no mention thereof, and that seems to me to tell against the weight of his opinion. I intend to vote for this Bill, because I believe that it is a step in the right direction.

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