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Thursday, 25 November 1971
Page: 3775

Mr Enderby asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice:

(1)   Has the Attorney-General's attention been drawn to the 1st March 1971 issue of the periodical produced by the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia and distributed by the United States Embassy in Canberra which states that Australian Government experiencein dealing with restrictive trade practices is still in its infancy; if so, what is the Government's attitude to this statement.

(2)   Is it a fact that restrictive trade practices have been known to exist in Australia for many years and have been criticised for many years as being harmful to the Australian Commonwealth.

(3)   Is the Government's experience in this field still in its infancy.

(4)   If so, does this result from Australia having no effective legislation to deal with restrictive trade practices and also from the refusal of the Government to gain experience by attempting to control many of the practices.

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The AttorneyGeneral has supplied the following answer to the honourable member's question: (1)-(4) I have seen the issue of the periodical to which the question refers, and have noted with interest the context in which the statement referred to by the honourable member appears. The statement appears under the heading 'Areas to Watch' and is followed by sentences which point out that several test cases are in progress and warn that price maintenance practices, in particular, may be targets for action, particularly if the threat of inflation is sustained. Since the date of publication of the issue, 1st March 1971, legislation to control resale price maintenance has in fact been enacted and brought into operation. Two important cases have also been decided. I refer in this connection to the decision of the Trade Practices Tribunal that an agreement relating to frozen vegetables was contrary to the public interest and to the important decision of the High Court in the Concrete Pipes' case. A holding Bill to overcome the legal defects that the High Court held existed in the present Trade Practices Act has been introduced and the Government has announced that it is currently reviewing the legislation with a view to strengthening it as soon as possible.

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