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Wednesday, 12 May 1965

Senator PALTRIDGE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . - I wish to comment upon the submission of the Leader of the Opposition, and to say that 1 am gratified at the remarks of Senator Cormack. We have approached this subject in the manner suggested by Senator Cormack. We regard honours and awards granted by the warrant of Her Majesty the Queen as being of very special character. They are not comparable to anything else that I know of. Unfortunately, because of their special character, awards, ribbons and the like often attract the attention of most undesirable elements in the community. I assure the Leader of the Opposition that my correspondence with bodies like the Returned Soldiers League in relation to the activities of these undesirable people seems to be never ending. The proposed provision leaves no loophole for anybody who may feel disposed to engage in any illegitimate operation. If this provision were not inserted in the legislation the illegal trader could employ some dupe to take the rap and pay his fine, in return for which he would receive a bonus. Then the trader could continue his illegal operation. Such cases are not unusual. Put in the way in which the honorable senator has put it, this provision could have equal application to a man of high honour and standing in the community. But I suggest that the possibility of that occurring is almost non-existent, because such a person would take special care to ensure that any such activity would not take place in his business or on his premises.

Having outlined to honorable senators the circumstances surrounding our approach to this matter, I am sure that many of them will recall that such incidents have been brought to their notice and that they like me, although not so frequently, have been appalled at the practices that are indulged in in relation to the disposal of awards, ribbons and the like. I ask for the support of honorable senators in relation to this provision.

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