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Thursday, 7 November 1935


Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES (South Australia) . - One cannot deal with the penalty without dealing also with the act to which it applies. From what the Leader of the Senate (Senator Pearce) has told us, I am convinced that an amendment of the law in the manner now proposed is desirable. The only point on which I am at all in agreement with Senator Collings is in connexion with his criticism of the principal act, which contains the words, "Any person who knowingly attempts ". If a person does not do an action knowingly, he does not attempt it. One cannot attempt a thing unless one has the intention. There are two phases of this proposed new sub-section : First, " of such a nature as to ", and secondly " as to be likely to ". The first stage is the effect actually produced - the act of mutiny. But it may easily be, and is much more likely to be, that there is an intention to produce the effect; in other words that the effect is likely to follow certain actions or utterances. When a seditious document has been distributed is the Government to defer action against the publisher until it can prove that the document has had the effect that it is calculated and intended to cause? In my opinion, that would be ridiculous. Weeks or even months might elapse before the proceedings could be completed, and all the while these documents calculated and intended and likely to produce a certain effect would be in circulation. If in the opinion of the court, the publication is of this seditious nature, action should be permissible even before there is a definite result. The Opposition may object that this is making an offence of the intention rather than the effect of an action. Section 25 (1) refers to a person who " knowingly attempts ", and does not contemplate only the result. Therefore the law already provides that a person who attempts to commit such acts shall be punishable, whether the effect is produced or not. The same principle is being applied in the proposed new sub-section.


Senator Dein - The words " as to seduce " are not in the past tense.


Senator DUNCAN-HUGHES - I have taken the two stages. The words " of such a nature as to seduce " relate to the thing that has actually happened ; the words " as to be likely to " relate to the probability of it happening in the future.

Progress reported.







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