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Friday, 30 April 1915

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) . - l am one of those who consider this amendment is quite unnecessary. More than that, I think it is: absolutely a blunder, because we are unquestionably in a state of war in Australia, and I ask my honorable friendswho are pleading so earnestly for the trial by a civil jury of every offender in war time, what would they suggest should be the fate of, say, a wealthy spy in Australia who had led the enemy to ourshores ?

Senator Pearce - Some say we should treat him gently.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Yes, and they say that he should have all the privileges of a civil Court, the advantage of the best lawyers of the Commonwealth to defend him, and be able to string out a trial for four or five months if necessary.

Senator O'Keefe - But you believe every man is innocent until he is proved guilty, do you not?

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Yes, of course ; but a court martial would prove a man. innocent just as a civil Court would, if the evidence against him were not sufficient. I hope that those who are urging that the amendment should 'be agreed to will furnish some stronger reason than thehonorable senator who has just sat down. We are not passing legislation for times of peace, but for times of war, and we should give the Government of the country the power that was originally asked for, and which I believe is required today. I am confident that no Governmentwould use this power unfairly to any section of the community. The fate of the spy ought to be swift and sudden. There should bo no dilly-dallying with law courts, civil or military, when a spy is caught red-handed. A wealthy man in such a position should not be able to take his case from one Court to another, as we find is being done in Australia to-day, and have the opportunity finally of appealing to the Privy Council if he has money enough to go there. I am as anxious to safeguard the interests of this community as any honorable senator, but; in times of necessity such as weare going through to-day we> should not waste time on such paltry reasons as- have been given here for the adoption of the amendment.

Senator Shannon - But the Minister is asking us to agree to the amendment.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Yes, and I am opposing that course.

Senator Bakhap - Are you opposing the amendment in the interests of the -original clause?

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Yes ; I am asking that the Bill which was carried through the Senate a few days ago, and which provides all the necessary safeguards for the civilian, should be indorsed by the Senate to-day.

Senator Guthrie - The Government accept the amendment.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - When my honorable friend is in disagreement with the Government he is just as keen as any -other honorable senator in pressing his point. On this occasion I am in disagreement with the Government, and I am asking the Committee to agree to the Bill as it was passed a few days ago. By that Bill we give the Government the power which they should have in times like the present. Although the war is progressing as satisfactorily as we can expect at the moment, we do not- know what may happen in a month or six weeks. In that time this country might be invaded, and members of this Parliament scattered all over the Commonwealth of Australia. The Government, therefore, should have full power to deal with any cases that may arise, and in the manner provided in the original Bill. I hope the Committee will reject the amendments sent from another place, and carry the Bill in its original form.

Senator O'KEEFE(Tasmania) fll.401. - I intend to support the amendment foi the very good reason that the Minister himself is asking the Committee to adopt it. Senator Newland, it seems, is basing his objection to the amendment on the supposition that if a spy is caught red-handed "there should be no delay in his violent exit from this world. We all agree with Senator Newland that a spy deserves the worst and quickest fate that can be meted out to him; but Senator Newland's argument implies a distrust in the civil Courts to mete out the speedy punishment that a spy deserves.

Senator NEWLANDS (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - They cannot do ;t.

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