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Tuesday, 22 November 1960

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) .- by leave - I move -

In proposed section 24ab, sub-section (1.), at the end of paragraph (d) add " and that is of use in time of war ".

Sub-section (1.) of proposed new section 24ab defines acts of sabotage. Such an act occurs if destruction, damage or impairment occurs with respect to an article which falls within any one of four categories. The last of the four categories relates to any article -

(d)   that is in or forms part of a place that is a prohibited place within the meaning of section eighty of this act.

The necessity for this amendment appears when we look at the definition of "prohibited places " in section 80 of the act. Such prohibited places fall within five categories and I will summarize them in this fashion: (a) Any defence work or government office; (aa) Any camp, barracks or other place where prisoners of war or members of the defence forces are detained; I will leave (b) for the moment; (c) Any place belonging to the government which is declared by the Governor-General; and (d) Any communications or utilities which are declared by the Governor-General. Paragraph (b)is in the following terms: -

Any place not belonging to the Queen or the Commonwealth where any ship, arms, or materials or instruments of use in time of war, or any plans or documents relating thereto, are being made, repaired, or stored, under contract with, or with any person on behalf of, the Queen or the Commonwealth.

It appears, therefore, that an act of sabotage occurs if destruction, damage or impairment occurs with respect to any article that is in or forms part of a private place where there is a government contract for the making, repairing, testing or storing of goods of use in time of war. It is not necessary, in order to constitute an act of sabotage, that the destruction, damage or impairment should occur with respect to an article that is of use in time of war. It is sufficient if any of those things occurs to an article which is in a private place where the contractor has a contract concerning articles of use in time of war. The effect of our amendment, if agreed to, would be that sabotage would occur only where defence equipment was involved and was destroyed, damaged or impaired. There are many establishments where government contracts in respect of articles or materials or instruments of use in time of war are being made, repaired, obtained, tested or stored. An example given early in the debate on this bill was the establishment of a jeweller who had a contract to repair Air Force watches, which obviously are of use in time of war. A person would commit the crime of sabotage if two things happened, first, if he is a person concerning whom evidence can be given of his known character, which means his political reputation, and secondly, if evidence is given that he has damaged anything which is in or forms part of that jeweller's shop. It certainly would be an absurdity that a man could be tried or convicted cf sabotage when he has damaged something in a jeweller's shop where the jeweller had, among other things, Air Force watches for repair, although the articles which were damaged had no defence significance. The definition is wide enough to cover a case such as that. This has been stated several times in the House and on various mass mediums of communication, and it has never been denied. We want the definition tightened up sufficiently to ensure that sabotage shall occur only if damage, destruction or impairment is caused to defence equipment.

Various other examples can be conjured up, for instance, clothing factories where Army uniforms or Army boots are being made, or canning factories where bully beef is being tinned. In those cases, sabotage can occur if any damage is done to any article that is in or forms part of such a factory. I repeat that the definition is far too wide.

We have no objection to it being made a crime to damage defence equipment, but we do not believe that it should be possible to make it a crime, with such connotations as sabotage has in the public mind, to do acts which have no defence significance.

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