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Wednesday, 28 October 1914

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) .- The penalty for the offences covered by this clause may seem extreme, but the fraudulent commission of any one of the offences may involve the loss of enormous sums to the people of the Commonwealth. It is necessary to have a penalty commensurate with the enormity of the offence. An officer may cover up a crime by even failing to register, or he may commit a series of crimes by failing to make a note. As regards the disparity between the offences covered by this clause and the smaller offences, the period of punishment will always be left to the discretion of the Judge. I believe it is possible to draft a Bill to provide for every offence which might be committed against the Commonwealth, and to prescribe the penalty for each offence. But it would be a Bill of enormous proportions, and would entail a lot of work on the Committee. Under this clause, if the offences committed are not of a serious kind, I take it that heavy penalties will not be imposed. Surely, if an offence is found to constitute a fraud on the Commonwealth so great that the maximum penalty is called for, there will be ample grounds for awarding it. I do not think honorable senators need trouble themselves about the penalty.

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