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Thursday, 3 December 1914

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - As this clause deals with other than shipping matters, I would like the Minister to clear up a doubt which I have in my mind as to wireless and kindred questions. If there is not sufficient power under this clause to safeguard the public interest, we ought to make it even more stringent than it is. I agree with Senator Findley that there is a considerable amount of mystery surrounding the case which he mentioned. When the German wireless combination made an assault on the public purse this Parliament was practically helpless, by reason of the fact that the then Attorney-General was also the mouth-piece of the combination. I would like to know from the Minister whether any recurrence of that kind is possible under this clause. Questions of this character will crop up from time to time, and the more our Australian system of wireless becomes revenueproducing, the greater will be the claims made on the public purse for alleged infringment of patents. In my opinion, the clause is not sufficiently wide to protect the public purse. We are accustomed to take too much for granted. Because there is in office to-day an AttorneyGeneral who acts straightforwardly we are not warranted in assuming that that will always be the case. I would like the Government to give us seme indication of their intentions in regard to this matter.

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