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Wednesday, 12 May 1965

Senator McKENNA (Tasmania) (Leader of the Opposition) . - I would like to direct the attention of the Committee to sub-section (3.) of proposed new section 80b. The section deals with offences in relation to service decorations. Sub-section (3.) reads -

If, in contravention of sub-section (1.) of this section, a service decoration is sold, supplied or offered or displayed for sale or supply on behalf of, or at the place of business of a person, it is not a defence for that person to prove thai the sale, supply or offer or display for sale or supply was without his authority or contrary to his instructions.

Compared with the rest of the Bill this sub-section is not a matter of vast importance, but an important principle is involved. The sub-section contemplates a situation in which, in a person's premises, a sale or dealing with a service decoration has wrongfully taken place. The sub-section provides that even though the person in charge of the business goes into a court and accepts the onus of affirmatively proving that the dealing was done without his authority or contrary to his instructions and even though the court accepts that position, he is still to be found guilty. I have only to put the matter in those words to suggest that that is a most improper provision. I hope that the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) understands my submission. An offence takes place in premises owned by a person who subsequently affirmatively proves to the satisfaction of a court that the dealing was without his authority or contrary to his instructions. Nevertheless, he is guilty by our act of Parliament. I think that provision offends a very fundamental principle. The Opposition proposes to vote against the clause.

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