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Thursday, 12 July 1906


That the words " at a price which is less than gives the person importing or selling them a fair profit upon their fair foreign market value or," lines 32 to 35, bc left out.

Mr Isaacs - How will the paragraph read then ?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - It will not read. I propose to make a blank there, because I desire to show that this is the part of the clause to which I object.

Mr Isaacs - That will be equivalent to striking the clause out altogether.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Yes. I propose to make a blank, and the Minister may fill it in with something else if he chooses. I have not raised the question in connexion with the preceding paragraph, because I did not wish to raise it in both places, but there are in these two subclauses absolute absurdities. It is ridiculous legislation to put before any Parliament.

Mr Mauger - That is quite a matter of opinion, surely.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Of course, and I am expressing my opinion. Here is a nice thing for the consumers of Australia. It is provided by this clause that goods shall not be sold at less than what is a fair profit on their foreign market value or their cost of production. I ask honorable members to imagine the complication of this provision.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The Government are proposing to put up prices by legislation.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Goods are not to be sold at less than that price, or they will be considered dumped, and become liable to prohibition.

Mr Isaacs - No, the clause does not say that. The honorable member is forgetting all about the intent clause.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I say that if any person sells goods at a price which he knows is below their cost, that is evidence that he is knowingly selling them below their cost price, and interfering with others who may be selling the same goods at higher prices. I wonder that Ministers do not listen to reason in this matter. I ask honorable members to consider the absurdity of this provision. Good's are not to be sold below their cost of production, and this is to be considered unfair competition until the contrary is proved. Goods must very often be sold below the cost of production, and frequently the longer they are withheld1 'from sale below the cost of production the less, can be obtained for them. If people are obliged to. keep goods in hand because they will not be allowed to sell them at a price lower than the cost of production without a penalty, they may lose the goods altogether. Is this not a deliberate attempt to put up prices on the public? That portion of the Bill which deals with detrimental trusts, provides against excessive prices; and yet it is now actually proposed to keep up prices, and to insist on firms doing what is absolutely impossible.

Mr Isaacs - The honorable member will see that, with the amendment made, the clause applies only to the sale by the original manufacturer.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The clause has been altered to that extent; but if an agent for a manufacturer offered outofseason goods, or goods that the market had gone against, how on earth could he get a fair profit on the cost of production?

Sir William Lyne - Will the honorable membe'r compromise if I omit that part of the clause?

Mr Isaacs - The market value would then depend on the season, and other circumstances.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We have no right to interfere with the question of profit, and I cannot accept the suggestion of the Minister. To say by Act of Parliament that people must get a fair profit, is the most extraordinary proposal that has been submitted for centuries, I should say. This is a deliberate forcing up of prices to the consumers. We ought to leave business firms to look after themselves in that respect ; and to any one who is familiar with business, the provision under discussion is ridiculous.

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