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Wednesday, 11 May 1921

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) .- That certainly is not the intention of the clause. The intention is to . prevent the misuse of these badges, possibly by their manufacture and sale. This clause is supplementary to the other. The meaning of the words " colourable imitation " is an imitation which whilst not being an exact replica of a badge or decoration, is intended to be regarded as such. In the early stages of the war drastic restrictions were certainly enforced by regulation against the wearing of such things " as regimental brooches or colour patches of units, but those restrictions were subsequently relaxed later. The intention of the clause is to prohibit the manufacture of any such articles by unauthorized persons.

Senator Duncan - Who would be authorized ?

Senator PEARCE - Those persons to whom the contracts were issued by the Government.

Senator Duncan - Would licences be issued to tailors to make uniforms?

Senator PEARCE - No, but permission might be given to a tailor to sell a uniform to an officer or a private.

Senator Duncan - There would not be a general permission?

Senator PEARCE - No.' If honorable senators will only carry their minds back to what happened during the war they will understand the necessity for the insertion of this clause. It was the constant practice then for men who had deserted ' from our military camps in Australia to affix to their uniforms medals, decorations, and patches, and go about the streets begging, thus bringing the uniform into disrepute in every capital city of Australia. Scarcely a month passed without numbers of these men being arrested by the military police charged with impersonating soldiers, when as a matter of fact they were absolute humbugs . who were continually getting at the people. In some cases they wore civilian clothing with a patch to suggest that they were returned soldiers.

Senator Foster - No honorable senator wishes to prevent the Government from having the power to deal with such persons. The only object is to prevent harshness in the operation of this clause.

Senator PEARCE - That is not intended at all. A colourable imitation as I read the words, means an attempt to impose on and deceive the general public. If the words are not inserted it will be necessary, in the event of any prosecution being launched, to prove that the decoration or badge is not an imitation. It might be difficult to do this, with the result that the Court might hold that it was only an imitation of a badge or decoration, and so the offender would escape.

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