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Wednesday, 11 May 1921

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I desire to bring under the notice of the Committee paragraph c of sub-section 2 of proposed new section 80k, which provides that any person who - falsely represents himself to be the person to whom a certificate relates or makes any false statement with reference to a certificate of dis- ( charge shall be guilty of an offence.

Penalty: One hundred pounds, or imprisonment for six months, or both.

I wish to show how, under any kind of administration, great hardship may be inflicted under such a provision. In this connexion, I desire to bring under the notice of the Minister (Senator Pearce) a case in which two brothers volunteered for service abroad. One of them made the supreme sacrifice. The other travelled by water from Newcastle to Melbourne, where hebecame seriously ill, though -I do not know what was the nature of his illness.. He afterwards applied for some concession, which was granted only to soldiers' who had been abroad. He was of somewhat weak intellect, and had been persuaded that his trip from Newcastle to Melbourne was "over the water," and that he was, therefore, entitled to apply either for a war gratuity or for some other concession. For his action this young man is being prosecuted at the present time. It is one of those hard cases' which cannot be avoided where a law is strictly interpreted. That there was no chance of defrauding the Govern-' ment is quite clear, because this man's records were in the possession of the Defence Department. If he had not been a man of weak intellect, he could not have been led to believe that he was entitled to apply for the gratuity, and I submit that the turning down of his application was sufficient punishment.

Senator Cox - If he simply applied, how could he lawfully be got at?

Senator GARDINER - He was lawfully got at, because under the law he was included amongst persons who attempted to defraud the Department. Perhaps I should not discuss the case, because I believe it is still under consideration, but I have mentioned it as one of those cases of extreme hardship which a harsh administration of the law may bring about.

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