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Friday, 4 November 1921

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) . - I was extremely pleased to hear the considerate utterances of the Minister (Senator Russell) regarding minor offences. All honorable senators are extremely glad to have Senator Adamson again in active participation in the business of this Senate after his long and very trying illness. He, also, uttered sentiments that we all agree with in regard to the desirability of acting humanely towards, at all events, those who commit only minor offences. From my own knowledge, records of offences committed in the Service are kept, in some way or other. I am going to ask the Minister, in view of his utterances with regard to minor offences, and in view of the almost unanimous desire of this Senate to be reasonably humane towards the poor, frail members of humanity who sometimes make a slip, that is not serious, to accept an amendment to sub-clause 2. I move -

That after the word "final," in sub-clause (2), the following words be inserted, " Provided that the record of any minor offences shall stand against an officer for two years only."

That, I think, is on all-fours with the most admirable sentiments that have been expressed in this Committee this afternoon. Those sentiments were expressed particularly by the Minister, and were indorsed most heartily by my friend Senator Adamson, and were agreed to, I believe, in essence and in fact, by every member of the Senate. The records of offences are, indeed, kept, and this amendment will place a limit upon the time during which reference may be made to a minor offence committed by any officer.

Senator Russell - May I direct the honorable senator's attention to clause 96, sub-clause 1, paragraph g. This states that the Board may make regulations -

For providing for notification to the Board of punishments inflicted on officers by virtue of this Act or the regulations thereunder, and for keeping records thereof.

The Government has not drawn up any conditions governing the records of offences. That matter is left to regulation by the Board.

Senator PRATTEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - I am obliged to the Minister for pointing that fact out. It seems to me to be an additional reason for incorporating my amendment in the Bill. There have been instances in the administration of the Service when minor offences of many years' standing have been brought up against officers in connexion with boards of inquiry, appeal cases, and the like. I have been informed of this on the authority of the high council of the Service, and I hope, after all that has been said, that the attempt I have made to give practical effect to the admirable, humane sentiments uttered in this Senate this afternoon will be unanimously approved.

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