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Tuesday, 17 July 1906


Mr WILKS (Dalley) . - I think that the Attorney-General must yield to the appeals that have been made to him. I trust that he will accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Corangamite, and that clause 4 will be recommitted, so that we can harmonize the penalties provided for in relation to the two classes of offences. I agree with the honorable member for Corangamite that in prescribing;, penalties we ought not to consider whether an offender is rich or poor. I cannot understand why the rich man should be subjected' t6 a heavy fine for the first offence and to imprisonment for the second, whilst the poor man should merely be liable to a fine. I contend that justice should be no respecter of persons. If the offence with which! we are now dealing merits punishment,, that punishment should harmonize in both cases.


Mr Isaacs - So it does now.


Mr WILKS - It does not. Under the clause, the penalty provided for a breach of the law is £too and costs. But if an individual be a man of straw, how can that amount be recovered from him? The AttorneyGeneral has spoken only of importers in this connexion, but I would remind him that just as many rogues are to be found to the square inch amongst the ranks of the manufacturers. I do not regard members of the manufacturing class as being angels without wings, any more than I do members of the importing section of the community. Both are intent upon making as much money as they can out of their- business. It is all moonshine for the AttorneyGeneral to suggest that an importer is likely to do something which a manufacturer would not do.


Mr Isaacs - I said just the reverse. I wish to put both upon the same footing.


Mr WILKS - Let us suppose that a manufacturer deemed the competition to which he was being subjected by an importer, to be too keen. What is there to prevent him from making use of the secretary of the union to represent that if such competition continued, he would be compelled to close his factory, with the result that a number of men would be thrown out of employment ? The informant in such a case might actually believe the information which he supplied. He might say to the Comptroller-General, " The industry will be ruined if the competition of a certain importer is continued." He would know very well that the penalty prescribed by the Bill for giving false information was £100, and he himself might not be possessed of one hundred pence. Consequently, I say, let us make the penalty £100 or imprisonment, so that if a man be made the instrument of a manufacturer to penalize an importer, he may be punished. I do not desire to see any differentiation between rich and poor. Both classes, if they transgress the law, should suffer alike. The Attorney-General complimented the honorable member for Corangamite upon being logical. I say that he was not only logical, but just. I do hope that the honorable and learned gentleman will consider whether it would not be prudent to recommit the clause, with a view to removing an obvious imperfection in the Bill.







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