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Wednesday, 4 July 1906
Page: 1037

Mr HENRY WILLIS (Robertson) . - I desire to point out that it is quite a common thing to indent goods. I can conceive of goods to the value of £7,000,000 - according to the list of the Minister of Trade and Customs- being indented by trusts. There are no means under this Bill by which we could strike at such trusts.

Mr Isaacs - The question is whether the endeavour is to break down Australian industries or to restrain trade and commerce.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - The goods would be imported for the purposes of legitimate trade, but at the same time the trust would be operating in Australia to the injury of Australian industry.

Mr Isaacs - What. harm does the honorable member conceive that the trust would be doing?

Mr HENRY WILLIS - My point is that provision is made for coming down upon an agent, but that the trusts could do their business in Australia without agencies.

Mr Isaacs - If any wrong was done, we could come down on them.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - How could the Bill affect a trust if it had no agent here? We should be quite unable to attack the oil trust or the steel trust under this measure.

Mr Isaacs - The honorable member will help us to pass the dumping clauses, then ?

Mr HENRY WILLIS - What I refer to would not be done by means of dumping. Suppose an order were given for £100,000 worth of railway construction material. An American trust could execute that order and indent the goods. Under this Bill we should be unable to stop the destruction of Australian industries in that manner, although the prices quoted would be for destructive purposes.

Mr Isaacs - If the competition was unfair we should be able to stop it.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - There might be no unfair competition, but at the same time there might be destruction of Australian industries.

Mr Isaacs - Fair competition we do not intend to prevent, but unfair competition the Bill does strike at.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - We want to prevent the operation of trusts in Australia to the injury of Australian industries. I am opposed to the operation of destructive trusts.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Economically destructive ?

Mr HENRY WILLIS - Yes, destructive of our native industries.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member is advocating the Bill.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - I am in favour of anti-trust legislation. I wish to prevent the operation of trusts that would destroy our industries.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member means economically destroy them?


Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then the honorable member is a protectionist.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - We have to go further than- the book written by the honorable member for Parkes nowadays. That work is out of date. When he wrote it trusts had not commenced to operate, and the means by which trade could be paralyzed in this way had not been brought to the pitch they have attained to-day. There is the oil trust, with £4,000,000 at the back of it, and the steel trust, with £400,000,000. These trusts operate in Australia through indent agents, and will sell their goods at prices which would destroy Australian industries, and throw men out of employment, and when they were alone in the field raise prices to the consumer. What provision is made in this Bill to prevent that taking place?

Mr Isaacs - Unless the competition is unfair, there is no provision in this Bill to meet it, and if it is unfair, there is any amount of provision.

Mr HENRY WILLIS - There is only one way in which such legislation as this can be made effective, and that is bv nominating the trusts, and the articles which they produce, in the Commonwealth Gazette, after a comparison of the prices at which they sell their goods here and their prices in other countries. At present, any shrewd man of business could get round this Bill.

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