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Friday, 4 November 1921

Senator FOSTER (Tasmania) .- I cannot find anything in the clause providing for the imposition of a fine between 5s. for a minor offence and £5 for a major offence. I want to know what constitutes a minor and what a major offence. Am 1 to understand that if an officer is fined 5s., it is a minor offence; and if he is fined any other amountupto £5, it is still a minor offence? .

Senator Russell - Yes, if there is no other penalty attached.

Senator FOSTER - Then it seems to me that the definition is absolutely wanting, and it would depend on the chief officer as to whether the offence would be considered a minor or major one.

Senator Russell - That is why I suggest that the Board should have discretion. A fine of, say, 2s. 6d. should not be recorded. I have agreed to Senator Pratten's request that where such a slight penalty has been imposed it shall . not be recorded.

Senator FOSTER - Nobody will know until the regulations are framed what constitutes major and minor offences. If an officer has a charge laid against him, and has to appear before the chief officer, he ought to be informed whether he is charged with a petty offence, or with something which may be magnified into a major offence.

Senator Russell - In the case of a minor offence he is not charged, but in other cases he must receive the charge in writing.

Senator FOSTER - If he is formally charged by the head of the Department, he may not be fined more than as.

Senator Russell - Some people cannot be dealt with in a kindly way. They might prefer trial, and the charge would then be sent on to them in writing.

Senator FOSTER - If a- man receives a notification to appear before the chief officer, is that, a formal charge? Subclause 3, paragraph a, shows that officers may be charged with certain offences, and, they are not so charged unless they are considered to have committed major offences. If an officer is charged with, a major offence, and is fined the nominal sum of ls., there should be some definite understanding as to whether that automatically becomes a major offence.

Senator Russell - I have suggested that discretion should be given to the Board, so that there need be no record made where- a very minor offence has been committed, and a nominal penalty imposed.

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