Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 6 May 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) .- I am very glad that the Minister has submitted an amendment which meets much that honorable senators advocated before the luncheon adjournment. It does not give effect to the suggestion I made, and I therefore move -

That the amendment be amended by adding the following words: - "Provided that the wearing of a medal or military decoration as a brooch or pendant shall not be an offence under this Act."

We are going on the wrong track when we propose to enable the long arm of the military to be stretched out to prevent a sister, or some one even dearer than a sister, wearing on her breast a decoration won by a soldier whom she loved. The military have no right to do anything of the kind. To wear any of these decorations in such a way as to make no claim that the wearer is the winner of the decoration is no offence. If the father or brother of a deceased soldier wears as a pendant on a watch chain the Military Medal won by that soldier, how can that be regarded as an offence? There can be nothing worse in legislation than to make offences of practices that are not offences at all. Why should we legislate to punish people for doing something that, so far from being an offence, is in accordance with the sentiment ofthe community?

Senator Senior - Where there is no law there is no transgression.

Senator GARDINER - Exactly ; and the more we avoid creating purely legal offences the better for the community. What injury will be done to the community by a sister wearing the Military Medal awarded to her brother?' Senator Duncan drew a fine distinction between the( love-of- a' mother and of a sister; but all ' that has been said about sisters applies, in some cases, to mothers. The military: authorities, not content with dealing with matters pf defence, are hero proposing to regulate the dress and ornaments of the community. They have no right to' do so. If a medal has. been won by a soldier, and, after he has made the great sacrifice, is returned to his mother, what could be more natural than that she should say to his sister, "We shall havethis made into a brooch, and you can wear it"? . We are being asked to make an offence of that kind of thing, and we ought not to do so. There can bo no genuine objection to people wearing decorations as pendants or ' brooches. Why should" Parliament propose to regulate the conduct of people in this direction?

Suggest corrections