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Wednesday, 28 October 1914


Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - The whole force of Senator O'Keefe's argument is that, on hearing a case against a prisoner for the first time, a Judge may inflict the maximum penalty.


Senator O'Keefe - Only because in that particular case it appears that he should do so.


Senator SENIOR - This clause will enact a general condition applicable to every case occurring throughout the Commonwealth. Under clause 41 a person who is convicted of the offence of preventing a witness from attending a Court is liable to imprisonment for one year. If a man is convicted of any offence for which he is liable to imprisonment for ten years, the Judge will have no option but to increase the sentence, seeing that he will have the power to double the punishment. Under clause 42, for the offence of conspiracy to bring a false accusation, a Judge can award imprisonment for twenty years, instead of for ten years.


Senator Grant - He would not require to make the punishment more than two years unless he liked.


Senator SENIOR - Clause 17, it seems to me, gives a mandatory direction to the Judge to double the sentence which otherwise he would award. Am I correct?


Senator Keating - That is right.


Senator SENIOR - There can be no force in the argument which has been set up, seeing that the Judge is not to take this term as the maximum which he may inflict, but he can award a smaller penalty for the first offence. There is a margin to go and come upon in regard to the second offence,and when a third conviction occurs, there will be a still heavier sentence. The argument has been set up by Senator Gardiner that under clause 18, because a man is liable to an indeterminate sentence, therefore, the punishment is more severe. The honorable senator knows that the duration of a sentence is at the will of the GovernorGeneral. If the Government of the day believe that the sentence should be determined, that will be done. The sentence can come up for review at any time. Apparently, the spirit of the Bill is to punish the offender, and to give him the heaviest possible penalty for a very trivial offence.


Senator Gardiner - Mention a case.


Senator SENIOR - The penalty provided for the offence of taking soundings and putting figures on an official chart is altogether beyond reason. Clause 17 is a covering clause, which is applicable to the whole Bill. There is no need for the provision at all. If it is deleted, it will not weaken the Bill, but will strengthen it. It will give to the Judge all the ground he needs to go and come upon. The penalties provided for are exceedingly stiff. I am sure that if the penalties are compared with the State penalties for similar offences, they will be found to be very much heavier.

Senator GARDINER(New South Wales - Vice-President of the Executive tention of Senator Senior to the clause in which he said the penalty is too trivial. Clause 80 is intended to deal with our enemies. At the present moment there may be a man guilty of preparing a chart to enable the vessels of our enemy to enter our harbors, yet the honorable senator asserts that the penalty in clause 80 is too great. We need a drastic penalty to meet an offence of that kind. . I have no sympathy with, or time for, honorable senators who want to make it easy for our enemies to get charts of our harbors and coasts. When they attack a provision of this kind, we can readily understand what a hash they would like to make of the Bill. I hope that honorable senators will realize what they are doing when they attempt to make it easy for a man to prepare a chart for Germany, and tell us that we ought not to impose a very drastic penalty for an offence of that kind. I thought it well to let Senator Senior know what clause 80 refers to.







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