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Wednesday, 24 October 1973
Page: 1442

Senator WEBSTER (Victoria) - Senator Murphyhas moved that the debate on this Bill be deferred for 3 weeks from today. The Opposition has moved an amendment that the debate be postponed until the first day of sitting in 1974. The debate that was canvassed this afternoon indicated quite clearly that there were very important matters of concern to the commercial life of this Country which needed to be conveyed to members of the Senate and particularly to the Attorney-General. When I spoke earlier I brought up the point that Senator Murphy, 1 think on 3 October of this year, took the first opportunity after he had laid the Bill down in the Senate, which was on 27 September, to send out telegrams to a variety-

Senator Murphy - No. I had sent them out before, as well as copies of the Bill.

Senator WEBSTER -On what date did you send them out?

Senator Murphy - I think on the evening and the morning after the Bill was introduced copies of the Bill were sent out and I think telegrams were sent out.

Senator WEBSTER - 1 hope that goes on the record because Senator Murphy has acknowledged that in actual fact he sent telegrams out inviting people to comment on the Bill on the day that he laid the Bill down in the Senate. Members of the Opposition say that there should be an opportunity for commercial interests and for consumer interests to make known their attitude on this Bill. I would have been quite content if some six or eight weeks had been given to the public in general to comment to the Attorney-General on the general terms of the Bill that he has laid down.

I mentioned previously that this is an important Bill. The Bill is made up of some 75 pages and there is such enormous impact associated with it that this socialist administration feels that $250,000 is an adequate penalty in some instances. In America in recent weeks a judge pronounced a fine of about $267m against the International Business Machine Company in a trade practices case. Here was a situation in which the legislation got completely out of control. Thank heavens the judge withdrew his judgment a couple of days later and suggested that he needed to look at it again. 1 suggest that Senator Murphy needs to consider some of the propositions that have been put to him by big and small corporations in relation to this matter. I would be one who would still, on the arguments that I have heard, side with the Opposition's view that this matter should be postponed until next year even though it may be the wish of the Government that it should introduce this legislation in another place where it may be able to guillotine it through, as it has done time after time with other legislation, and have the Bill pursued in this place. It will be interesting to see 2 like Bills land on the Senate notice paper.

Mr President,you allowed Senator Murphy to go to great lengths to castigate the Opposition. It was an attempt, while Senator Murphy had the air-

The PRESIDENT - Order! I gave Senator Murphy those rights which he has under the Standing Orders.

Senator WEBSTER -Mr President,you allowed Senator Murphy to castigate the Opposition.

The PRESIDENT - I did not allow Senator Murphy to castigate the Opposition.

Senator WEBSTER -Senator Murphy castigated

The PRESIDENT - Order! I gave Senator Murphy the rights which the Standing Orders provide to him. I will not have words put into my mouth.

Senator WEBSTER - Mr President,while Senator Murphy was speaking he castigated the Opposition and he suggested, as had been done in the House of Representatives, that the Liberal Party and the Australian Country Party were acting on the dictates of people beyond this House; that we were attempting to defer this Bill because of financial contributions. This has been the great statement. Here and in another place members of the Labor Party have been attempting for the last few weeks to say to the people of Australia: 'The Liberal Party is one party which is receiving money from multi-national corporations'. They have been attempting to say also that primary industry has attracted benefits over past years. Ministers in another place have been suggesting that the Country Party has also been the beneficiary of funds from people who are going to benefit from legislation which was passed. I totally object to that type of assertion. I note the words of Senator Murphy. I note them as being words from someone who perhaps knows more about this attraction of funds to political parties and the way that leaders and then politicians perhaps can be led by financial contributions. I note the words used by Senator Murphy: 'Those who have the money are able to dictate'.

Senator Greenwood - Like the AMWU 's contribution to this Government.

Senator WEBSTER -Senator Greenwood has introduced a point which I did not intend to raise. He makes the point that unions have contributed very basically to Labor Party funds and so those who have the money are able to dictate. I am concerned, Mr President, that a leader of the Government is willing to stand up and criticise the Opposition and suggest that it is taking money for some nefarious purpose to oppose legislation in the Senate which would benefit the people in the community; that it is seeking to delay that legislation so that business will be able to make money whilst it is delayed. I object totally to the words that Senator Murphy used. I only ask Senator Murphy, on information that I have seen in the Press, whether it is a fact that one major department store in this country gave $50,000 to the Labor Party.

It is a very quiet answer that we get from Senator Murphy. But we do know that a great deal of attraction has followed. I read in a newspaper within the last week that the Prices Justification

Tribunal has decided that it will exempt some major departmental stores from an analysis of price rises on goods that they sell. Can there be any connection, Senator Murphy, with the fact that a newspaper published as public knowledge that your party gamed $50,000 from one particular departmental store? I think that is a serious matter. But more serious than that is the general proposition relating to the manufacture of a product in the Australian Capital Territory, one of the most objectionable things dictated by money that has ever happened to a government in the history of Australia. What took place? The Australian Agricultural Council recorded a minute in its books that there shall be no manufacture of margarine in the Australian Capital Territory until the next meeting of the Agricultural Council. Of course, it is not Senator Wriedt 's fault. I exonerate him and believe that he is a very honest and truthful man. But Senator Wriedt makes a mistake and so does Mr Enderby. Five weeks before Mr Enderby made a statement one major manufacturing company purchased an establishment in Canberra. Three weeks before he, then Minister for the Capital Territory, made an announcement the company set up its entire manufacturing equipment for the manufacture of margarine in the A.C.T. Then Mr Enderby made this statement: 'I have decided that I will allow the production of 300 tons of margarine in the A.C.T. '. At that stage the Minister had no right to accept that proposition. I have a letter from Mr Enderby as Minister for the Capital Territory which shows, as I knew before I wrote to him, that 2 other applications to produce that product had been made and were on the Ministers desk before he gave the right to the third producer. It was a very interesting situation. Why should a government grant a licence to the third applicant down the line without asking for any inquiry or any other investigation into this matter?

Senator Murphy - There should be no licences or necessity for licences anyway.

Senator WEBSTER -We see that the answer from the Attorney-General is not that the publicity was wrong, that this company was one of the Government's greatest contributors or that the American multi-national advertising agency that the Labor Party engaged to do its publicity work during the election campaign when in fact -

Senator Murphy - I rise to a point of order. Surely, Mr President, if the honourable senator wants to discuss these extremely interesting and important matters which concern the public interest he can move a proper motion. If there is to be an investigation of contributions to political parties and how they have affected the carrying on of public affairs I will do everything to facilitate it, but surely it is not the subject matter of this particular debate.

The PRESIDENT - No. The matter before the Chair at the present moment is whether this Bill be postponed until the first sitting week in 1974 or 3 weeks from today, and I think that honourable senators must debate that issue. I call Senator Webster.

Senator WEBSTER - I was only pointing to 2 particular instances. I imagine that the debate could go on for a long time. I am loath to bring them forward but they worry me very greatly when I hear the Leader of the Government in the Senate stand up and castigate the Liberal Party, incorporate my party in his castigation and say that we are being directed by people outside for a profit motive. I put it back in Senator Murphy's lap. If he is ever able to get up in this House and say why, in fact, that licence was given to that manufacturing company, I will be delighted to hear him. But if he does, he will come up with the fact that it was because of a financial contribution.

The PRESIDENT - Order! Senator Webster, I think you have dealt with the subject pretty adequately. I think you might come back to the question of whether this debate be adjourned.

Senator WEBSTER - I doubt that I had dealt with it very adequately, Mr President, but I am willing to take your advice on the general proposition that I have put forward. I hope that it will constrain and restrain the Leader of the Government in the Senate in his objectionable imputations about my Party which has the greatest difficulty in gaining funds throughout the electorate. Senator Murphy spoke with some knowledge on this Bill. He has emphasised by his statements that it should be postponed until early next year and I ask the Senate to endorse that proposition.

The PRESIDENT - I would like to put the question to the Senate. The question is: That the words proposed to be omitted by Senator Murphy's amendment be omitted.

Question put:

That the words proposed to be left out (Senator Murphy's amendment) be left out.

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