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Friday, 29 November 1935

Senator Sir GEORGE PEARCE (West ern Australia) (Minister for External Affairs) [11.8].- I move-

That the bill be now read a second time.

This bill is introduced in order to make a minor amendment to the Removal of Prisoners (Territories) Act 1923 which provides the machinery for the removal, where necessary, of prisoners from any of the territories of the Commonwealth. While the act is general in its application, its necessity arose owing to difficulties experienced in dealing with white prisoners in the Mandated Territory of New Guinea. It was found by the Administrator of that Territory that it was inadvisable to confine white persons in gaol in New Guinea for lengthy periods, for health 'reasons and because there is no employment which white persons can be given without the white population losing prestige in the eyes of the natives. Subsequent to the passing of the principal act, arrangements were made with the Governments of Queensland and New South Wales for prisoners from a territory to be received into gaols in those States and to undergo the sentences imposed upon them by the courts of the territories. The cost of maintaining a prisoner while in custody in Australia is paid by the Administration of the territory from which the prisoner is removed. Section 8 of the act provides that if the GovernorGeneral or the Governor of a State to which a prisoner is removed, requires a prisoner to be returned for discharge to the territory from which he was removed, the prisoner is to be returned to that territory at the expiration of his sentence for discharge. The section provides further that in any other case, a prisoner, when discharged at the expiration of his sentence shall, on application made in such manner and within the time prescribed, be entitled to be sent free of cost to the territory from which he was removed. Regulations have been made under the act, requiring an application by a prisoner for a free passage to the territory to be lodged within fourteen days of his discharge. Most of the white residents of New Guinea were, prior to going to the territory, residents of Australia, and arrangements have been made with the Government of New South Wales for prisoners from the territory who were born in New South Wales or who were resident in that State for some time before going to the territory, to be discharged in the State at the expiration of their sentences. In the case of prisoners who were born in other States or who were resident for lengthy periods in those States prior to going to the territory, such prisoners are, at the expiration of their sentences, discharged in New South Wales and the cost of their transport to the States in which they formerly resided are paid by the Administration.

Provision is made in the law of New Guinea for the deportation from the territory of persons convicted of certain offences, and if a deportation order is issued against a prisoner who is transferred to Australia to serve his sentence and that prisoner claims a free passage to the territory after discharge in Australia, the Administration is put to the expense of a passage of the prisoner to the territory and of a passage from the territory when the deportation order is put into execution immediately after the prisoner's return to the territory. It is not considered that a person against whom a deportation order has been issued, should be entitled to a free passage to the territory, and this bill is to prevent such persons from having the right of a return passage.

Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time and reported from committee without amendment or debate ; report adopted.

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