Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 19 July 1912

Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) . - The amendment will cover many cadets between the ages of fourteen and sixteen. I have some knowledge of Children's Courts in Tasmania, and I can assure the Minister that they were intended to. deal with the petty offences of very small children. I can speak only for my own State, but I think that there has, so far, been no case in which any form of punishment by imprisonment has been imposed by a Children's Court in that State. They are intended to provide an opportunity for something like a formal chiding and reproof of children of very tender years.

Senator Pearce - They sometimes exercise the power of sending offenders to a reformatory.

Senator CLEMONS - I speak from memory, but I believe I am quite accurate when I say that there never has been a case in Tasmania where a Children's Court has imposed any sentence of imprisonment. It is true that, in cases which have been regarded as very grave, there has been some question of the advisability of sending a child, for it is only children who are dealt with in these Courts, to a reformatory. I am afraid that we shall do the cadet movement a certain amount of injury if we place these offences against the Defence Act on a level with minor offences committed by very small children. One of the chief objects of the institution of Children's "Courts in Tasmania was to avoid publicity. The procedure there has always been the same, and no name of an offender brought before those Courts has ever been mentioned in the press. The offences are regarded as petty, and it is felt that it is not desirable that public attention should be directed to them. I think it would be a mistake to bring a cadet between the age of fourteen and sixteen years into such a court. I do not know of any cases of children as old as fourteen or fifteen years being brought before the Children's Courts in Tasmania.

Senator Henderson - Children of that age have been brought before Children's Courts in other States.

Senator CLEMONS - I can speak only of the practice in my own State. If the

Minister will make inquiries as to the class of offences which are generally brought be- . fore Children's Courts he will, I think, agree that offences committed, at any rate by senior cadets, ought not to be tried in those Courts.

Suggest corrections