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Wednesday, 28 October 1914

Mr HUGHES (West Sydney) (AttorneyGeneral) . - I move -

That this Bill be now read a second time.

The Bill is one that the present circumstances call for. It has been drafted to meet certain conditions lately arising, which the laws of the Commonwealth and the proclamations issued by the Governor-General have been insufficient to deal with. The Bill confers upon the Commonwealth power to make orders and regulations of a farreaching character, and, as honorable members may see in clauses 4 and 5, is. mainly directed to preventing the leakage of important secrets, to secure the safety of means of communication, railways, docks, harbors, or public works, and to deal effectively with aliens, and, in certain circumstances, with naturalized persons. Its aim is to prevent the disclosure of important information, to give power to deport, and otherwise deal with aliens, to interrogate and obtain information in various ways, and to appoint officers to carry into effect any orders or regulations which may be made under the Bill. The penalties are set forth in clauses 6 and 7, the former of which sets out that -

Any person who contravenes, or fails to comply with, any provision of any regulation or order made in pursuance of this Act, shall be guilty of an offence against this Act.

Penalty : One hundred pounds, or six months' imprisonment, or both.

By clause 7, those who aid or abet in the commission of such- offences are made equally liable. The duration of the measure is limited to war time and continues until such time as a proclamation has been issued by the Governor- General that peace has been declared between His Majesty the King and the German Emperor, and between His Majesty the King and the Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary. The powers conferred by the measure are very considerable; but honorable members may rest assured that they are required.

Mr Kelly -Will the AttorneyGeneral answer me this question? Clause 6 seems to lay down penalties for all contraventions of this measure. A man is herein required not to go into certain specified places. Suppose one of those places is a fort. If an alien goes into that fort, really bent on spying, is the maximum penalty towhich he will be liable £100 or six months' imprisonment?

Mr HUGHES - The honorable member will see that clause 11 provides that the powers given under this measure shall be in addition to, and not in derogation of, any other powers exerciseable apart from this measure. Under other Acts we have ample power to deal with treason and offences of that kind, and this Bill is really supplementary to, and not in derogation of, any of the existing laws. The Bill is to supplement existing powers, and to provide an instrument at once ready to hand, flexible, and sufficient to deal with circumstances which cannot be met by the ordinary law.

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