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Thursday, 26 November 1914

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) .- I move-

That this Bill be now read a second time.

This is an amending Bill dealing with a matter of very great urgency. It provides for three alterations of the Trading with the Enemy Act. It is submitted, not because the principal Act was passed without the consideration it should have received, but because conditions have arisen since that Act was passed, and since a similar Act has been in operation in Great Britain, which have made it clear that wider powers should be conferred upon the Government. In this amending Bill those powers are divided into three heads. In the first place it is proposed to adopt a wider definition of an enemy subject. In this Bill the term enemy subject " is defined to mean -

Any person who is an enemy within the meaning of any proclamation by the King or by the Governor-General referred to in subsection 2 of this section.

The' Bill takes a very wide scope by including in the definition also -

Any person, firm, or company the business whereof is managed or controlled, directly or indirectly by, or under the influence of, enemy subjects, or is carried on wholly or mainly for the benefit or on behalf of enemy subjects, notwithstanding that the firm or company may be registered or incorporated within the King's Dominions.

We recognise that that is a very wide extension of the definition of " an enemy subject," but without some such provision much injury might be inflicted upon the Commonwealth which we think it necessary to take steps to prevent. The Bill also gives the Government power to control the business of an enemy subject, and to appoint a Comptroller-General of such business. .

Senator Bakhap - The amendments which the honorable senator is speaking of have not yet actually been passed by the Imperial Parliament.

Senator GARDINER - They have been passed into law; but we have not yet received an exact copy of them. This Bill has been drafted on the information we have received regarding the nature of the second amending Bill passed- by the Imperial Parliament.

Senator Bakhap - I thought it was only in contemplation to pass such a measure.

Senator GARDINER - The honorable senator will recognise that there is not much time for reflection as to the power which we should have to deal with firms and companies influenced or controlled by enemy subjects.

Senator Shannon - In time of war we are prepared to give the Government any power they want.

Senator GARDINER - While I realize that, I still think it is necessary that I" should give some explanation of this measure. That is due to the Senate when I recognise how ready honorable senators have been to deal with measures of an urgent character. I have said that the Bill gives the Government power to appoint an officer to take control of a business conducted by enemy subjects, to receive moneys payable to enemy subjects, and to control and deal with those moneys. The final control asked for is to be found in sub-section 1 of proposed new section 9, in which it is provided that-

Where any person has reasonable ground for believing that any person, firm, or company to whom he owes money is an enemy subject, he may tender the money to the ComptrollerGeneral, or to any officer of Customs authorized in that behalf by the ComptrollerGeneral, together with a statutory declaration stating the transaction or matter in respect of which he owes the money, and his grounds for believing that the creditor is an enemy subject.

It is then provided that the Treasurer may pay the money to the creditor, his executors or administrators, on demand made after the termination of the present state of war, or before that time, if he is satisfied that the creditor is not an enemy subject. The accounts due to a firm or company of enemy subjects, may be balanced by moneys due by them to our own subjects; and the Bill gives power to the Government to control transactions of that kind. We hope that the powers proposed to be given under this Bill will bo found sufficient. It was hurriedly introduced and passed through all its stages in another place; so hurriedly, indeed, that the printer has been unable, apparently, to keep up with the pace. I am introducing the measure here with the same confidence that representatives of the Government in another place reposed in all sections there.

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