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Thursday, 12 October 1911

The TEMPORARY CHAIRMAN (Senator Henderson (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) - The intention of the Minister is expressed by his acceptance of the amendment.

Senator GARDINER - I am not able, sir, to say what will be the effect of the amendment; and, before the Bill is made better or worse by its acceptance, I should like to know from the Minister whether there is any reason why this measure should be . made to apply to medals that are family heirlooms and have been in the possession of the same families for centuries." There are some honorable senators present who may imagine that T am endeavouring to " stone-wall " this Bill.


Senator GARDINER - I am in earnest in trying to induce honorable senators to read this clause, and see for themselves what an absurd piece of legislation is being proposed in making it an offence for a man to buy or advance money upon a medal which may have been in the possession of a family for centuries. If I am talking against time, it is because I see the uselessness of passing legislation which no one has asked for.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I see the uselessness ot the talk.

Senator GARDINER - All arguments are useless if addressed to those in whom they can bear no fruit. It is a serious thing for a deliberative assembly like the Senate to create a new offence which, so far, is not regarded as an offence in any part of the Empire.

Senator Walker - It is made an offence by an Act of the Imperial Parliament.

Senator GARDINER - I challenge the honorable senator to produce any Act of the Imperial Parliament which creates an offence of this kind.

Senator Pearce - I quoted it on Friday last. Rut, of course, that makes no difference to the honorable senator.

Senator GARDINER - The Minister quoted from the military regulations.

Senator Pearce - I quoted from an Act of Parliament also.

Senator Walker - Senator Gardiner should withdraw his remark.

Senator GARDINER - I shall not withdraw it, because I feel that both the Minister and Senator Walker have misunderstood the quotation.. I challenge the Minister now to produce the Act to which he refers, and convince the Committee that there is any provision in any Act on the statute-book of Great Britain that can be in any way compared with the clause we are considering at the present moment. The Minister quoted a military regulation under which a medal might be taken away from the recipient for misconduct, and a provision under which it could not be taken for a debt ; but this clause deals, not with the individual to whom a medal is issued, but with any person in the Commonwealth who presumes to trade in any way with a medal issued at any time.

Senator Pearce - I quoted section 156 of the Army Act ; sections 2 and 4 of the same Act; the Regimental Debts Act of 1893, section 2; the King's Regulations 1759 ; and the Pay Warrant Act. I showed that they embodied, to all intents and purposes, the provisions of this Bill; but it does not matter to the honorable senator what they contain.

Senator GARDINER - I hope the. Minister will bear with me for a moment. He quoted a provision to show that these medals cannot be taken for debt; but we are not, in this clause, dealing with the man to whom the medal is issued.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator said just now that no Act of Parliament dealing with the matter could be quoted. His memory has suddenly revived.

Senator GARDINER - I think it would be better if, instead of using angry words, we tried to understand each other. We are discussing a clause which makes it an offence to buy, or receive in exchange, or by way of pledge, a medal granted by the King, and I repeat that neither the Minister nor Senator Walker can produce any Act of the British Parliament which makes that an offence. It is all very well for the Minister to suggest that the quotations that he made on Friday are applicable to this clause. They are not. I shall resume my seat at once if the honorable senator will stand up, and make a quotation now from any Imperial Act that has any bearing upon this clause. If he can do so, I shall be prepared to withdraw my opposition to the clause. I have no desire to mislead any one, and though I do not clearly remember all that the Minister quoted on Friday, I do remember that he quoted from military regulations to the effect that medals granted by the King might be taken from those to whom they are issued as an additional punishment for misconduct, but this clause makes it an offence for any citizen of the Commonwealth to purchase, or receive in exchange, or by way of pledge, one of these medals. The clause provides that -

A person shall not buy, or receive in exchange, or receive by way of pledge or otherwise, any decoration which has been conferred on any person being or having been a member of the King's Naval or Military Forces or of the Defence Force for service performed in or out of Australia.

Having read the clause, I reiterate my challenge to the Minister and to Senator Walker to produce an Act which creates such an offence in any part of the British Empire. If they are not prepared to do so, it is clear that by their interjectionsthey have sought to suggest that my statements are not correct. We are all apt to boast of our unlimited freedom, but there will be a great limitation of our boasted liberty if this clause is passed. I have asked the Minister whether he wishes the clause to apply to medals, the original recipients of which have been dead for years.

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