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Thursday, 14 September 1972
Page: 886

The PRESIDENT - Is leave granted? There being no object 'on, leave is granted.

Senator GREENWOOD - On 16th August 1972 I tabled the fifth annual report of the Commissioner of Trade Practices. In that report the Commissioner referred to the frozen vegetables case and included a summary of the reasons for decision of the Trade Practices Tribunal in that case. Paragraph 3.15 of the report read:

Since the Tribunal's decision, British Tobacco Company (Australia) Limited, the parent of Associated Products and Distribution Pty Limited, one of the major processors before the Tribunal, has acquired Allan J. Panozza Pty Limited, another of the processors, also Pict Limited, one of the other major processors. More recently, British Tobacco Company (Australia) Ltd has agreed with Wattie Industries Limited, a New Zealand processor who was also before the Tribunal, to combine their total frozen vegetable interests in Australia in a jointly owned company, which will be far the largest in the industry.

The Commissioner has now reported to me that he has received a letter from the solicitor for British Tobacco Co. (Australia) Ltd, taking exception to paragraph 3.15 and stating that the final words of the paragraph 'far the largest in the industry' do not appear to be correct. The Commissioner, following that letter, re-examined the position and has now informed me that in the context of the whole industry - including frozen potatoes as well as frozen green vegetables - the final words quoted in the extract of the report which I have set out are an overstatement.

The agreements that were before the Tribunal covered all the types of frozen vegetables produced in Australia, including potatoes, but the emphasis of the case was on green vegetables, particularly peas and to a lesser extent beans. The extent of the report in paragraph 3.15 which I have quoted did not take frozen potatoes into account. When frozen potatoes are taken into account and the total position is considered the jointly owned company may not have the largest total sales. The Commissioner has expressed his regret to me for the error contained in the report and has expressed his apologies to the company.

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