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Thursday, 12 October 1911

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - I cannot accept the amendment, which I hope the Committee will reject, because it would limit too severely the operation of the measure. If it is passed, the clause will apply only to persons who have been members of the King's Military or Naval Forces in Australia. A man who has retired from the King's Military Forces in England, and emigrated to Australia, will not come within the purview of the clause. On the other hand, if a man comes out to Australia from England, and serves here for a little time as an instructor, he will come under its operation. Of course, those who are against the provision will favour any limitation, but I do not think it is desirable to limit the clause in the direction proposed.

Senator Gardiner - Will a person who came from England prior to the passing of the measure bie permitted to sell a medal which he had obtained in that country years aso? ,

Senator PEARCE - No.

Senator Chataway - That is the whole point.

Senator GARDINER(New South Wales) [6.2o"|. - Even at the risk of being misunderstood, I rise to direct attention to the peculiar attitude of Senator Chataway. He has stated that if the Minister can assure him that the British authorities asked him to introduce this measure he will support it. What kind of a jellyfish man is that?

Senator Chataway - Oh, no; the Minister cannot assure me, and that is the trouble.

Senator GARDINER - Apparently if the Minister could give such an assurance, it would alter the honorable senator's thinking apparatus.

Senator Chataway - No. If the Minister gives me high Imperial authority for this clause. I am prepared, for the sake of the Empire, to support it. The honorable senator is against the Empire, and,therefore, he does not concur. It is of no use for him to try to " pull my leg."

Senator GARDINER - It is a most remarkable attitude for an honorable senator to take up, that if any high Imperial authority testifies that this legislation is necessary,- then he, as a loyal son of the Empire, is willing to meet his views.

Senator Millen - Is this your method of making peace with the Minister?

Senator GARDINER - There was no occasion for the honorable senator to ask that question, because, as soon as the Minister intimated to me that he wanted no more discussion, I sat quiet.

Senator Chataway - You took orders; you sat down.

Senator GARDINER - He is a good soldier who can obey orders at all times, but, notwithstanding the order I received, I could not resist the opportunity to direct the attention of the Committee to the remarkable attitude of Senator Chataway. I do not wish the Minister to divulge any secrets, but I take it that this is the whole outcome of the Imperial Conference.

Senator Chataway - No; ask the Minister.

Senator GARDINER - There is no occasion for the secrets of the Imperial Conference fo be divulged, but, considering that this is the only legislation which has been tabled, I take it that it is the whole result of that Conference, and that the Empire can be saved if we can only prevent trafficking in medals. I do not think there is any occasion to ask the Minister whether this question was discussed at length at the Imperial Conference, lt matters not tq me what it thought. We have Senator St. Ledger standing up, and asking if this provision will be retrospective. Although it will not affect any sales which have taken place, it will certainly be retrospective in this sense, that a man who was in possession of a medal before it was enacted will be unable to sell it afterwards.

Senator Chataway - You will admit that Senator St. Ledger did not ask that it should be made retrospective.

Senator GARDINER - No ; he objected to its retrospective operation, and the Minister at some length showed that it will not be retrospective unless that is definitely stated. If, in the future, a man brings a medal from England to Australia he willnot be able to sell it here, although it wasbestowed upon him fifty years previously.

Senator Millen - Do you seriously think that this legislation will be put into force?

Senator GARDINER - That is a good reason for not passing the measure. I take it that every line of a measure ought to be dealt with seriously, and it is not for me to assume that if this amendment be carried it will not be enforced.

Senator Chataway - The law against strikes ought to be put in force; but that is not done, you know.

Senator GARDINER - I am in favour of every strike which makes for the betterment of the wage-earners. I am also against ali legislation which will punish a man for going on strike.

The CHAIRMAN - The honorable senator must not pursue that line of argument. Strikes have nothing to do with the question before the Chair.

Senator GARDINER - I understand that Senator Chataway's amendment is intended to make the clause apply only to medals given for services rendered in the Commonwealth. There is some sense in a proposal of that kind, but there is none in making the clause apply to medals that were received by the original recipients before this Commonwealth was occupied by a white man at all.

Progress repotted.

Sitting suspended from 6.28 to 8 p.m.

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