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Thursday, 7 November 1935

Senator BROWN (Queensland) . - The Opposition definitely opposes this clause.

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (WESTERN AUSTRALIA) -The honorable senator is notprepared to punish those who incitetomutiny?

Senator BROWN - I have said previously that we are opposed to people who try deliberately to create mutiny in the King's Forces. There is a vast difference between section 25 of the principal act and this clause which seeks to amend that section. The existing section deals witha man who incites to mutiny ; the proposed amendment deals with a man who publishes a book, periodical, pamphlet, handbill, poster or newspaper containing any matter " of such a nature as to, oras to be likely to " seduce a person serving in the King's Forces from his duty and allegiance. In Funk and Wagnall's Dictionary the meaning of " likely " is stated thus -

Reasonably expected; showing a tendency; liable; apt; (as an adverb)in all probability; probably; generally used with most, quite, very, &c. ; likely refers to acontingent event regarded as very probable, and usually, though not always, favorable.

Section . 25 includes the word "knowingly ",but the bill leaves out that word, and adds the words " likely to ". This change, as Senator Dein has pointed out, is very wide in its scope. The dictionary meaning of "seduce" is -

To draw aside from duty; rectitude, obligation or truth by misrepresentation, flattery, promises, bribes or otherwise; draw into error or evil; entice from the right; lead astray; corrupt.

When the words "likely to" and " seduce " are used together, they admit of a very broad interpretation, and, I submit, a very dangerous interpretation in time of public excitement. At such a time the meaning of these words may be interpreted so broadly that a perfectly earnest and innocent citizen who attempts to tell, for instance, the true history of the war which may result from the imposition of sanctions against Italy, may be penalized under this clause. Let us postulate, for instance, a ease which might arise out of the present international situation. The former Minister for Health and Repatriation (Mr. Hughes) has just published a book in which he states that the imposition of sanctionswill lead to war. For having made that statement he has been driven out of office. Negotiations have been in progress for the last 20 or 30 years be tween France, Italy and 'Great Britain for the economic partition of Abyssinia. Suppose that as the result of the imposition of sanctions, war between Italy and Great Britain is declared. Not"knowingly" a person may publish the story of thesenegotiations, and, it may be alleged by theGoverwnent,that it has hadthe effect of seducing or being " likelyto " seduce certain persons from theirduty to the King. Upon the prosecutor who would be the representative of the Government in the court would fall the dutyof proving to the judge that the words which the accused probably unknowingly published were " likely to " seduce a person from his service to the King. The prosecutormightargue that the words would very likely have this effectupon soldiers whoread thearticle. It wouldbe an entirely differentmatter if a publisher directly asked a man deliberately to throw aside his allegiance to the King.

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - They never do it directly, because they know the law would catch them immediately; they are far more subtle than that.

Senator BROWN - The danger arises here that a supporter of the Labour movement who, unlike certain revolutionaries has no desire to cause mutiny im anyof His Majesty's forces, might deliver a speech and immediately be arrested and arraigned before the court. He would be told by the court that his words were "likely to" at some time in the future - just when, nobody knows - "seduce " a person from his duty to the King. I take it that the term " publishes " would apply to verbal as wellas to written or printed expressions. We claim that the clause is so broad that it is possible for an injustice tobe done to a perfectly innocent man.

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