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Wednesday, 12 May 1965

Senator COHEN (Victoria) .- With all respect, what the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge) said did not meet the point I made. I want to press this matter because the more I look at clause 19 the more I think that it needs the treatment suggested by Senator Wright. That is that the Minister's advisers should take another look at the question. The offence is created by section 80b (1) of the Act. Let us consider the proposed new section 80b (I) (a) which states that a person shall not make, sell, supply, offer to sell or supply or display for sale or supply a Service decoration. Let us consider the offence of selling or supplying a service decoration contrary to this section of the Act and leave aside the offence of offering to sell or supply. Proof is offered that the sale or supply occurred at the place of business of Mr. X. I remind the Senate that it is not necessary to prove that the decoration was sold on behalf of Mr. X. .lt is sufficient if it was sold or supplied at the place of business of Mr. X.

Senator Wright - The section does not say that.

Senator COHEN - The section docs say that because there is the word " or " in between the two propositions. Sub-section 3 of the proposed new section 80b states - 4 in contravention of sub-section (1.) of this section, a service decoration is sold, supplied or offered or displayed for sale on behalf of, or at the place of business of a person. . .

Senator Wright - Tt does not state that he is then guilty.

Senator COHEN - What the proposed section states is this: If you prove that a medal was supplied or sold at the place of business of Mr. X he does not escape conviction by proving that the sale or supply was made without his authority or even by going so far as to prove that it was made contrary to his instruction.

Senator Wright - The proposed subsection does not say that. It says that it is not a defence. It does not say he is guilty if he does not succeed on that defence.

Senator COHEN - I do not want to turn this into a lawyers' disputation. May I say to the Minister in all frankness that Senator Wright and I are entitled to disagree about the interpretation of this proposed new subsection? But the fact that we do disagree about it shows, I think, its ambiguity and, perhaps, provides a proper basis on which the Minister can have another look at the question. The section should not be ambiguous. It is a serious matter to sell or supply a Service decoration. There is a penalty of £50. Perhaps a good deal of stigma is attached to a conviction for an offence of this type, having regard to the very important values of pride and sentiments that are attached to Service decorations. It is a matter of disgrace for a man to be convicted of such an offence and the circumstances under which he may be convicted should be made perfectly clear in this legislation. If there is some doubt as to what a person charged with this offence is required to prove, and some doubt as to the circumstances under which he can escape liability, then the matter should be clarified.

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