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Thursday, 7 November 1935

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - The Labour party is not likely to forget that the Crimes Act itself originated in the War Precautions Act during the stirring times of 1914. The sections of which we complain were passed during the war. I direct attention to the Minister's remarks in reference to clause 5 in his second-reading speech, and I ask him how he can reconcile his statements then with his replies to our inquiries today. He said -

Clause 5 deals with indeterminate sentences. This provision is, perhaps, a little alien to the general purpose of the measure; but it is inserted because certain difficul ties in regard to indeterminate sentences have arisen as between the Commonwealth and some of thu States. Under the Commonwealth law, before a person can be given an indeterminate sentence, he must previously have been convicted nf serious offences on at least two occasion.". Cases have arisen in which the judges have thought that it would have been desirable to impose an indeterminate sentence, even though there had been no previous conviction of the person concerned. Provision to that effect is embodied in the Victorian law; and it is now inserted in the Commonwealth law on the suggestion of the judges.

In other words, because the act is not savage enough, we are asked to bring it into line with the laws of two other States, whose crimes legislation is the most severe in the Commonwealth. Th. Labour party will avail itself of its privilege and responsibility to vote against the clause. That is all we can do.

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