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Tuesday, 14 May 1957


Mr WARD (East Sydney) .- I do not think that the Minister has satisfactorily answered the argument advanced by the honorable member for Bendigo (Mr. Clarey). Why limit the discretion that is now in the hands of the presiding officer in the court? If it is decided that the court is the correct place to determine the nature of the offence and impose a penalty, why limit the presiding officer's discretion? As the honorable member for Bendigo has pointed out, it all depends on the nature of the case presented by the accused person as to what penalty is imposed upon him. In this Parliament honorable members agree that the court, as a judicial body, is the right authority to determine a penalty. Therefore, why should there be any difference made in this case?

Can the Minister give any example to illustrate the argument he has advanced? He said that magistrates adopt different attitudes in dealing with these offences and impose varying penalties. But does not that apply in every type of case? The result depends largely on the attitude of the presiding officer of the court. That applies whether the presiding officer is a judge or a magistrate. All honorable members have heard of varying penalties imposed for what might be regarded as similar offences. This seems to be an unnecessary amendment of the act. If these matters have to be determined by a court, then the discretion of the magistrate should not be limited in the manner suggested in the amendment proposed by the Minister.

Question put -

That the clause be agreed to.







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