Merchandise Marks Bill, 1931—Report and Final Stages.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be received for final consideration."

There is just one question that I want to ask the Minister: whether it would be possible to give sub-section (2), Section 6, precedence over sub-section (1)? I would have moved an amendment to that effect if it were possible to do so according to the rules of the House and the Standing Orders. But such an amendment would not change the substance or the words of the section. As the Bill stands it seems to me that sub-section (2) of the section suggests that it is just a follow-up of sub-section (1). As I indicated on the Second Reading, it seems to me that the position should be that the Executive Council or the Minister's Department should have the power and be clearly defined as the operating body in the initiation of proceedings in regard to marks of origin. I submit that transposing sub-section (2) and putting it where sub-section (1) now is would, whilst not changing the legal position, make it clear to those whose business it was to interpret the Act that the Executive Council would really have to take the first step with regard to the marking of goods with country of origin.

The transposition of the two sub-sections would not make any difference as far as the carrying out of the legislation is concerned. If the Executive Council think fit to do it they may refer to the Commission a particular question, but ordinarily that would not depend on whether or not an application had been made. It will depend on whether or not an application should have been made by people interested in the production, manufacture or sale of goods of a particular class and that can only be carried through on the expert advice which these people would give. The Senator has fallen into a mistake which I discussed on an earlier stage of the Bill. He imagines that because the Executive Council has power to do certain things that the whole matter is one for the Executive Council.

Even the Merchandise Marks Commission, in particular circumstances, may not be able to do anything with regard to marking. One must depend on those who are experts in these matters. The people who would ordinarily be called in would be experts. They would be called in by those who are interested to give evidence on such matters as the affixing of the mark, the place where it is to be affixed, and what degree of notice to the public will count as a conspicuous mark. That will all depend on those who are interested in the trade. If, in 99 cases out of 100, the Executive Council were to move they would still have the delay of having to get the people interested in the trade to come along and join in the application. Who takes the initiative would only be a matter of importance in about one case out of a hundred.

That is about the only case in which, so far as I can see, it will occur. The order of the sub-sections does not change the importance of the thing. Whatever the Executive Council may do, they will do it whether the sub-section is (1) or (2). Whatever their minds will be made up to do, that will not be changed in any way whether it is sub-section (1) or sub-section (2).

Question —"That the Bill be received for final consideration "— agreed to.

Fifth Stage ordered for to-day.
Question —"That the Bill do now pass"— agreed to.