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The Trade Practices Act 1965 was widely criticised as being weak and unproductive. It was a significantly watered-down version of the original Bill overseen by Garfield Barwick. Although the final form of the Act was perceived as ineffective at the time, it is now viewed as an important step towards a national competition policy and a precursor to the opening up of the Australian economy. This paper outlines the economic, political and social background to the introduction of the legislation. We specify some of the factors that explain why its creation caused controversy and its importance in initiating change in Australians' attitudes towards collusive behaviour and economic protectionism.