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Wednesday, 4 July 1906
Page: 1007


Mr HENRY WILLIS (Robertson) -Sil. - I am glad that the discussion has made some impression upo.ni the AttorneyGeneral. I think that the words " with intent " should be inserted, because before a person is rendered liable to imprisonment it should be proved against him that he had a criminal intent. It must be remembered that under the clause as amended any person who continues to be a member of a trust after the passing of the Act will be liable to a penalty of .£500, or twelve months' imprisonment. Although the Sherman Act does not include any reference to intent, it is really more drastic than the measure now before us. because under this Bill it must be proved to the satisfaction of the Attorney-General! that a mar has a criminal intent before he will file a Bill. Section 1 of the Sherman Act reads -

Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is hereby declared to be illegal. Every person who shall make any such contract or engage in any such combination or conspiracy, 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 one year, or by both said punishments, in the discretion of the Court.

That is the provision upon which the clause now under discussion is based. But the second part of the Bill is more comprehensive than the Sherman Act, and I think that we should guard as far as possible against the punishment of innocent persons, who may become involved in operations which are injurious to an industry and detrimental to the public. I agree with the honorable member for Hindmarsh that it would be very hard to indict a person under the clause, and I am glad that that is 'the case, because unless it can be shown that a trust is injuring trade and commerce to the detriment of the public, I take it that it is legitimate trading combination. No person should be liable to be branded as a criminal merely because he is engaging in honest trade operations. I am very pleased that the deputy leader of the Opposition has accepted the amendment proposed by the Attorney-General, and that the latter has been impressed by this discussion.


Mr Isaacs - The honorable member apparently misunderstands the position. The word " wilfully " has been struck out, although we considered it would have the same effect as the words "with intent." It was pointed out by the honorable and learned member for Corinella and the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne that the word " wilfully " would not enable us to accomplish our purpose, and I have substituted other words which I think will prove effective.


Mr HENRY WILLIS - We are legislating with regard to matters which will have to be determined by a Judge and jury, and if I were acting as a juryman I should say that a person was not guilty unless he had aimed at bringing about injurious results. The clause, as amended, will be an instruction to jurymen, and will certainly be an improvement upon the original form. It will make the provision less stringent, and at the same time \sufficientto comprehensive.







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