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Thursday, 12 July 1906

Sir W1T LT AM LYNE (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Trade and Customs) - It does not say " a part " of a.m industry. The words used are " the Australian -goods," and I take it that those words mean that a prohibition can be imposed upon the importation of goods only if it is believed that their introduction will seriously injure, if not absolutely destroy, a. particular industry. I do not think that the honorable member's fears will be fulfilled at all.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Paragraph c' of sub-clause 2 provides that competition shall be deemed to be unfair if it would probably, or does in fact, result- in creating any substantial disorganization in Australian industry.

Mr Isaacs - That is contained in a different paragraph.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member for North Sydney has said that it would be better to deal with this matter bv means of the Tariff. Under the Tariff, although we could not absolutely prohibit the importation of goods, we could do what was done in Canada, namely, impose almost a prohibitive dutv.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I suppose that if the Minister had been free to deal with the matter by means of the Tariff, he would not have troubled to introduce this Bill.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I do not wish to discuss that question. As honorable members are aware, I am not afraid to deal with matters of this kind by means of the Tariff. ' But the Tariff is still in operation, and this Parliament, if it chooses, can deal with them by increasing the duties which are at present levied, should it be deemed advisable to do so. But we shall always have to vest - either in a Board or in some individual - power to increase or reduce the duties imposed by the Tariff, according to the particular circumstances of any case.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But the Canadian law does not deal with the intent.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It deals with the actual facts. If certain persons take action with the intention of injuring a trade, they will come within the law. It is immaterial what machinery is brought here; if there is a deliberate attempt, either by a large combine or by financial institutions, to produce an article at- a cheap rate, either by machinery or otherwise, the effect must be the same - there must be a lowering of the wages of the wage-earning portion of the community.

Mr Lonsdale - But the honorable gentleman is looking after the manufacturer, not the worker.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am sure that the honorable member will be fair, and admit that I have regard to all sides.

Mr Kelly - How will the question of intent be determined ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The clause provides absolutely for its settlement. If the Comptroller-General believes that any person, either singly or in combination with any other person within or beyond the Commonwealth, is importing into Australia goods - with the intention that they may be sold or offered for sale or otherwise disposed of within the Commonwealth in unfair competition with any Australian goods - he may certify accordingly.

Mr Kelly - Will the fact that thev have damaged Australian goods prove the intention ?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - That is a question to be considered first of all by the Comptroller-General, and subsequently by the justice.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Why not trust the Justice ? *

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - That is what I am quite prepared to do.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - But this is a direction to the Justice.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The deputy leader of the Opposition a short time since urged that some other means of dealing with these cases should foe provided. It must be admitted, however, that the Government have done their best to devise a solution of the difficulty. I think the Justice will have the power to call in expert evidence in relation to any particular case; that he will foe able to secure the expert knowledge which he personally lacks, and which is necessary to enable him to equitably decide any case under his consideration. We considered the question of whether or not a permanent Board should be appointed, and we found that such a proposal would not be workable. We also considered the desirableness, of appointing a Board to deal with each specific case as it arose, but that did not appear to foe desirable. We have now decided that a Justice shall deal with these cases, and he will probably have power to invite expert evidence.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I do not think that he will be able to deal with the intent.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I think that he must do so. If the Comptroller-General believed that there was the intent to injure, it would still remain for the Justice to settle the point. If he thought that the Comptroller-General was in error, he would have power to make his award accordingly.

Mr Kelly - Does this sub-clause deal with the question of intent?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The whole of this part of the Bill deals with it

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - This sub-clause has nothing to do with the question of intent.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The AttorneyGeneral will tell the honorable member that the question of " intent " underlies the whole provision.

Mr Kelly - Will the honorable gentleman insert in the Bill a provision as to the intent ?

Mr Isaacs - There is such a provision in the Bill.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The question is not what the Justice believes, but rather the instruction to the Justice.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I do not pretend to be able to interpret the technical language employed, but I do know that both the Attorney-General, who supervised the drafting of the Bill, and I intended that the intent to do certain things should underlie the whole provision.

Mr Isaacs - And the intent is dealt with in the Bill as distinctly as anything could be dealt with.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - That being so, there is no danger in this provision.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The AttorneyGeneral is referring to what would be. the intent to carry on under ordinary circumstances of trade.

Mr Isaacs - No.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - It was our intention. - and I believe that the AttorneyGeneral has1 taken care to provide in the Bill - that the intent to injure or destroy should underlie the whole provision as to the importation of goods from abroad which come into unfair competition with Australian goods. The honorable member for North Sydney expressed his views1 of this provision in very temperate language, and I think that such expositions are beneficial, since they lead us into channels of thought that might otherwise escape us. I cannot see, however, that any injury will be done by the retention of this sub-clause. The 'comparison made by the honorable member for North Sydney between the position of Great Britain and Australia has no bearing on this question. Great Britain takes our goods because she needs them to feed her own people. We desire to protect our industries from being swamped by the cheap exports of other countries.

Mr Kelly - The Minister does not think that our exports to Great 'Britain unfairly compete with Home-grown products.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member must not place such words in my mouth. So far as food-stuffs are concerned, the position of Great Britain is altogether different from that of Australia. When. I remind the honorable member for Wentworth that Australia contributes only about s per cent, of the food-stuffs which Great Britain consumes, he will admit that we send her only a very small quantity.

Mr Lonsdale - We send her all that we can.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I differ from that view. Under certain conditions, I believe that we should produce twenty times as much as we are now doing, and would be able to more fully supply Great Britain's requirements.

Mr Kelly - When we sell goods in England cheaper than we sell them here are we guilty of unfair competition?

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am not going to deal with hypothetical cases. I trust that honorable members opposite will agree to the passing of this provision, for, in my opinion, it is not likely to give rise to any danger.

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