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Friday, 12 December 1913

Senator RAE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Senator McGregor is like a number of other people here who are content to call themselves Democrats, but whenever a democratic proposal or test is made-

Senator McGregor - There is nothing democratic in your argument.

Senator RAE - I am not arguing about Democracy, but about common sense and facts.

Senator McGregor - But you said *' democratic."

Senator RAE - Of course I did, because any word is good enough to use when a frivolous interjection is made.

Senator McGregor - It is humbug.

Senator RAE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - No; I am speaking in the interests of the cadets. The most paltry and the most, ridiculous departure from what the officer in charge thinks is the strict rule of militarism brings the weight of his vengeance down upon some poor unfortunate lad, who is hauled up before a magistrate. As a rule, I do not feel very much fondness for magistrates. The typical magistrate is not too sympathetic an individual, and he generally goes up to the maximum fine.

Senator McGregor - God help the Area Officer who had to deal with you.

Senator RAE - I was in the Defence Force when I was a lad in New Zealand, and I never had a complaint made against me. I am speaking quite seriously in urging that the penalty in section 135 of the Act should not be so great. The last clause of this measure limits the period of detention for the cumulative charges that may be brought against the most refractory lad to not more than thirty days. That means a big reduction in what may possibly have been inflicted under the Act as it stands. If the Government are going to reduce the possible term of detention, they should make a pro raid reduction in the possible monetary penalty. Monetary penalties do not fall on the boys, but on the parents, and, consequently, we should not make the Act any more harsh than is possible. It is undoubtedly harsh when, for a mere imaginary breach of discipline, such as talking on parade, a strong martinet may haul the lad up before a magistrate, and such cases are not unknown. Whether it is desired to increase the Commonwealth revenue or not, I do not know.

Senator Millen - Would you abolish the monetary penalty altogether?

Senator RAE - No; I realize that we must have some penalty of that kind; but £5 is too much, and, in my opinion, £2 would be quite enough, seeing that if a boy is guilty over and over again, the penalty may be inflicted over and over again. I know of cases where poor parents, particularly widowed mothers, have been put to great straits through having to pay penalties, or else lose the more or less valuable services of the offender. If I am in order, sir, I move -

That the clause be amended by . inserting before paragraph (a) the following : - " (a I) by omitting from sub-section ia die words ' Five pounds,' and inserting in their stead ' Two pounds.' "

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