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Wednesday, 26 March 1941

Senator A J McLACHLAN (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - The local police must have made some inquiries?

Senator AYLETT - They probably did so. I understand that they did not ask the boy who was shot for a statement until some months later, because until then he was not in a position to make a statement. For months he hovered between life and death. My point is that the Commonwealth Government should make inquiries into the State regulations governing fire-arms with a view to giving greater protection to employees in industry.

Senator McBride - That is the function of the State.

Senator AYLETT - It is the function of the State up to a certain point, but the

Commonwealth Government, under the powers conferred on it by the National Security Act, has made regulations governing many things. It has recently introduced a bill to deal with people guilty of fraud and negligence in respect of certain acts and it could go further to protect employees against injury from fire-arms.

Senator Gibson - How could employees be protected against accident?

Senator AYLETT - A revolver which is registered should be in charge of some responsible person. In this case the revolver should not have been left lying on the counter where it was available for use by any irresponsible person who saw it. If the regulations governing fire-arms in Tasmania are lax, the Commonwealth Government should take action not only in the interests of persons whose lives may be in danger but also as a precaution against the activities of "fifth columnists ".

Senator McBride - What would the State government say to that?

Senator AYLETT - I am not a State member, and I cannot help what the State Government thinks. I have been requested to bring this matter before the Commonwealth Government with a view to protecting employees in industry.

Senator Collett - What about protecting the employers also?

Senator AYLETT - I understand that in this case the revolver was registered in the name of the employer. I imagine that an employee would have some difficulty in obtaining a licence to carry fire-arms.

Senator Herbert Hays - The revolver would be for use by the staff in case of need.

Senator AYLETT - That may be; bu if under the regulations it is allowed to lie on the counter it is time that they were amended.

Senator Allan MacDonald - Generally, the teller of a bank is placed in charge of the revolver.

Senator AYLETT - I understand that the Attorney-General of Tasmania has said that nothing can be done in the way of tightening up the regulations controlling fire-arms. If the responsible Minister here thinks that it is all right for fire-arms to be left lying about and not placed in the charge of some responsible persons, it is useless for me to say more, but I do not think that that is his opinion. Some member of the staff should be responsible for the custody of such weapons.

Senator Dein - Wa3 not the revolver registered under the State law?

Senator AYLETT - I am aware that, at present, the matter does come under the State law, but under the National Security Act the Commonwealth Government can supersede any State law if such action be necessary for the security of the people. That is my point. The Commonwealth Government could intervene if it desired to do so. I have brought this matter forward in the hope that action will be taken to prevent a re-occurrence of such happenings. What can be done in banks can be done in factories. The Minister knows that this country is not free from " fifth columnists ", and he must be aware that if fire-arms are left lying about indiscriminately, as in this case, they may be used by disloyal persons for subversive purposes.

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