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Wednesday, 28 October 1914


Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I do not wish to be misunderstood in connexion with what I have said as the result of my anxiety to get this Bill through this evening. I want the Bill to pass. I agree that honorable senators are entitled to debate it in a reasonable way, and to consider whether we should retain this clause providing for maximum penalties in the case of second offenders, or strike it out altogether, I say that the urgency of the measure is due to the fact that we desire the power to deal with the enemies of the Commonwealth. If in anger I said in this connexion that actions speak louder than words, I ask honorable senators to let me withdraw that expression.


Senator Bakhap - Hear, hear! There is no ill feeling.


Senator GARDINER - I am aware of that, although it might be open to doubt when one hears such phrases as " artful dodger " and " underhand attitude."


Senator Bakhap - I say that the honorable senator's argument was an unfair one.


Senator GARDINER - We may just as well assume that the opinions of our enemies will be given in the most plausible way, in order to delay a measure intended to assist the Commonwealth Government in dealing with them. I do not expect our enemies to frankly admit that they are our enemies. We might expect them to profess loyalty which will only be lip-loyalty.


Senator Barker - Make the penalty ten years' imprisonment.


Senator GARDINER - One-half of the members of the Senate are clamouring for less drastic provision, whilst the other half are clamouring for more severe penalties. It may be assumed, in the circumstances, that the Bill has struck the happy medium. Whether the Committee decide to retain the clause as it stands, or to amend it, will make but little difference, because, after all, discretion in the matter will rest with the Judge.


Senator Mullan - Why not drop the clause, if its rejection will make no difference ?


Senator GARDINER - The clause provides for additional penalties for a second offence in connexion with every offence under the Bill. If it were rejected, the Bill would have to be set aside until fresh clauses were provided to deal with that matter. I believe that a second offender should be liable to a more severe penalty than a first offender. I have appealed to honorable senators on the ground of the urgency of this measure. I am aware that the Committee will act upon its own responsibility, and will not be influenced by what occurred in another place; but I remind honorable senators that the measure, because of its urgency, occupied fewer minutes in passing in another place than we have already spent hours in discussing it. If this clause must go, because it is considered too drastic, the next clause must also be rejected, because it is still more drastic.


Senator Mullan - No; the honorable senator should be fair.


Senator GARDINER - If honorable senators will contend that a clause under which a man who has been convicted three times may be regarded as a habitual criminal, and imprisoned for his natural life, is not more drastic than this, then I do not understand the King's English. I ask for a division on this clause, and I remind honorable senators that if it is negatived, it will be necessary to redraft the Bill and introduce it again.


Senator Senior - Not at all.


Senator GARDINER - I am telling the Committee what will be the effect of rejecting the clause. It covers every penalty clause of the Bill, and if it is negatived, some provision must be included to take its place. If honorable senators consider the objection to the clause sufficient to warrant its rejection, they will be within their right in negativing it; but I ask them to think twice before they do so.







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