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Tuesday, 17 July 1906

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! The honorable and learned member is out of order.

Mr ISAACS - For the first offence he is to be let off with a fine, and in this clause we have said that a man who comes forward to give information shall be put on the same footing. According to honorable members opposite, what is not right in this case is to be considered right in the case of the rich importer. I am unable to admit the justice of that argument. Let me put something else. The honorable and learned member for Werriwa fell into confusion of thought in his own remarks. If a wealthy manufacturer desires to injure an importer he goes to the ComptrollerGeneral and makes a statement. Every one knows the distinction between a false oath and a false statement. One is perjury and the other is not. Morally there is no distinction, but we know the distinction in law. This manufacturer, the honorable and learned member contends, will know that he has only to pay a penalty of £100. But that is not correct, because in the clause referred to it is provided that he may be ordered to pay the whole of the costs of the importer. Is not that, rather a heavy penalty?

Mr Conroy - - Not if he wilfully makes a false statement.

Mr ISAACS - He is placed in the same position as the importer found guilty of what is treason to the whole public, treason to the community of which he is a member. For his first offence of this kind he is liable to a penalty of £500. I do not think that he can be called upon to pay costs, but an injunction may be issued against him. A man who brings false information which the Minister may test or not as he pleases - and the Minister, or the Comptroller-General rather, will take very good care that he is standing on fair ground before he proceeds - is liable to a penalty of £100, and to be brought before a Justice, and made to pay the whole of the costs he inflicts on the other side. We can say that he is placed in a worse position than is the importer. We have heard no groans from the other side on behalf of the importer, and we propose to place the two men in precisely the same position. We hold that what is justice for the one is justice for the other.

Mr Kelly - Why not provide imprisonment for both?

Mr ISAACS - That is exactly what honorable members opposite have kept out in the case of the importer. Therefore, we say that we have dene the fair and proper thing. It seems to me that having put 'both on the same footing there should be no ground for complaint.

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