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Wednesday, 30 October 1912

Senator LYNCH - I have-not, except that statements have been made, whether inspired by the New Zealand Postal De partment or not I am unable to say, to the effect that the Department is losing revenue by reason of the employment of these machines. When speaking on the second reading of the Bill, I had in mind a report which I read some time ago in the press concerning frauds perpetrated upon the Postal Department through the use of these machines. Since then I have had a conversation with a person who has placed in my possession one of the stamps impressed by a machine at present in use in New Zealand. I have also here a copy of that stamp which is almost a facsimile, and which certainly is as close a reproduction of it as one could wish to see. I produce the stamp for which the New Zealand Government received one penny, and the imitation of it. This imitation can be made by a machine or contrivance which can be purchased for the small price of a few shillings. I produce the contrivance also for the inspection of honorable senators, and they will see that it is not an elaborate one. It is part of an ordinary reel upon which cotton was wound, with a metal stamp attached. By its use a stamp almost identical with that impressed by the authorized machine can be produced.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - The fraud is not in the use of the authorized machine ; the honorable senator's contention is that there is no security against the use of a spurious machine which may be made to produce a similar stamp.-

Senator LYNCH - That is so. Fraud may be perpetrated by the use of spurious machines, which will make a stamp to all intents and purposes identical with that made by one of the authorized machine's. That is the whole of the information I have to place before the Senate. A simple instrument such as that which I produce, and purchasable for half-a-crown, may be used to impress the same mark upon postal matter as an authorized machine would do.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Of course, the penalty provided for would be relied upon to prevent that.

Senator LYNCH - Whether the penalty provided for will be sufficient to deter persons from resorting to the use of unauthorized machines when they may be so easily procured is another matter. The consequence of their use may be very important, in view of the fact that the bulk of the revenue derived last year by the Post and Telegraph Department was from the sale of stamps. It amounted to no less than , £2,600,000, andthis means that about 1,000,000 packets are passed through the post-offices of the. Commonwealth every -day. The adoption of these recording machines may without full consideration be considered a step in advance, but there is every reason why we should be very, wary about sanctioning their use. I have satisfied myself that it is so easy to imitate the marks to be impressed upon postal matter by these machines that I do not feel inclined to support the third reading of the Bill. I believe it would be a mistake to pass it. In my opinion it is necessary in the interests of the public and of the Post and Telegraph Department to exercise the greatest caution, and that before the Bill is brought into operation the Postal Department of NewZealand should be communicated with to find out exactly how they regard the use of these machines in the Dominion. I submit the contrivance to which I have referred for the inspection of honorable senators who may themselves reproduce the imitation of the mark impressed by the authorized machine, and having done so vote accordingly.

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