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Thursday, 7 November 1935

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - The Minister will persist in treating inquiries from this side of the chamber as though we were considering n bill to increase the powers of the PostmasterGeneral. I object to being told continually that this provision applies to wireless sets. I have in mind the conditions under which the Crimes Act is intended to operate, and I can imagine goods other than wireless sets being confiscated under the powers given to the Minister and his officers under this bill. For instance, some of the books in my library at home may be forfeited under this legislation. It only needs some inquisitorial officer to enter my home; and inspect my library, and to decide in the ignorant way in which the censorship is usually exercised that certain books of mine ought to be forfeited, and they will be condemned.

Senator Brennan - They could not be condemned before the owner had been heard.

Senator COLLINGS - With the whole of the press of the country, excepting a few Labour newspapers, poisoning the minds of the community, how could I expect fair treatment?

Senator Brennan - These cases will bc dealt with by an impartial court.

Senator COLLINGS - I do not think that the Minister can expect me to be satisfied with the statement that the Attorney-General will be interested only in wireless sets which unfortunate citizens have been unable to pay for. The powers conferred by this legislation will be used chiefly in regard to other goods. Why is the Attorney-General being empowered to impose conditions with regard to the return of goods belonging to a citizen who may be able to show that they should not have been impounded? Goods other than books may be seized. For instance, I may possess a collection of the flags of various nations, including those of the Soviet republic, Italy, or some other country repugnant to the powers that be at the moment. I do not object to a court of summary jurisdiction, which would hear the evidence, deciding what should be condemned, but why should the power be transferred to the Attorney-General ?

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