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Friday, 23 October 1914

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - It is not my intention to delay the passing of this Bill, which the Minister has intimated is urgent, and as to the necessity for which I think we shall be agreed. It appears to have received prompt attention in another place, but I sincerely hope that, in our hurry topass it, we shall not - perpetrate any blunder so far as its drafting is concerned. I could have wished that it had been in our hands a little longer, so that we could have given to its provisions the very closest scrutiny; but we must accept the assurance of the Minister that they have been carefully drafted and revised. I am afraid that there is a great deal of misconception as to what, is meant by "trading with the enemy." In many quarters a disposition is shown to refuse to take into consumption or to use goods of German origin. Many people refuse, for sentimental reasons, to use them; others do so because of a mistaken notion of patriotism, and many, again, avoid the use of such goods because they believe that by purchasing them they would be guilty of trading with the enemy. I. think that quite unconsciously a very great injustice is thus sometimes done to many of our fellow- Australians.

Senator McDougall - There is no injustice in war time.

Senator KEATING -We are not at war with our fellow-Australians. Let me cite an instance which will give emphasis to the point I wish to make. Part of the business of a firm or person in Australia - trading, it may be, in Sydney, where Senator McDougall resides - may consist of an agency for a certain line of German goods. It may be, for instance, an agency for German lager beer, which is very largely used by certain sections of the community. These agents have obtained the goods, and, in many cases, have paid cash against delivery. The money has already gone to the enemy in Germany, and our fellow-Australians have these goods in stock; but they find that there is a disposition on the part of certain persons to refuse to take them. Many goods of German origin stand in this position. It is not the Germans who will suffer; it is the local agents in Australia, who handed out their good solid cash for the goods months before the war broke out. These are the persons who suffer, and suffer at a particular juncture when, by reason of the patriotic prejudice against German goods, they are in the worst position of all. In refusing to use German goods already in Australia people in many cases are not inflicting hardship on the enemy. It is quite possible that even the Government, in connexion with the war, have been using goods of German origin. I do not say that they have actually paid the cash over to the enemy, or to any German firm, but in equipping our Expeditionary Forces, no doubt they have purchased goods from Australian agents for German manufacturers. I do not say that they have not done right. We have in the community certain goods which, although of German origin, have been paid for already by fellow Australians, and we ought to be careful to see that in the exercise of our patriotism, and because, perhaps, of a mistaken notion of patriotism, in regard to the use of German goods, we do not inflict injustice on fellow citizens. Wherever possible, we ought to avoid trading with the enemy, but the trading to which I have referred had already been commenced. This brings me to the question of the drafting of the Bill to which I have already alluded. When we go into Committee we may have some further explanation, but after a hurried glance at the measure it seems to me that we have jumped pretty considerably. For instance, in clause 3 it is provided that -

Any person who, during the continuance of the present state of war, trades or has, before the commencement of this Act, traded with the enemy, shall be guilty of an offence.

It may be that that does not apply merely to the continuance of the present war.

Senator Turley - That would be after the' 4th August.

Senator KEATING - It may be that it goes beyond the 4th August. I hope that the Bill will receive our sympathetic, earnest, and urgent consideration, and that its principles will be embodied, as early as possible, in the statute-book of the Commonwealth. At the same time, it behoves us to carefully scan its provisions, and I could have wished that we had had the Bill in our hands a little earlier, so that we might have scrutinized every word of it.

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