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Thursday, 13 May 1965

Senator WRIGHT (Tasmania) .- 1 derive a great deal of pleasure from being a member of a Parliament which can address itself to this matter in the way in which the Committee of this Senate has done both last night and today. I appreciate immensely the consideration that has been given to our submissions by the Minister for Defence (Senator Paltridge). He has taken time to examine them and he has produced an amendment which is an improvement on the proposed sub-section. The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) has postulated an extreme case. A tribunal which heard a charge based on the amendment would be likely to decide that, although the matter might bc within the letter of the law, it was outside the true meaning of the provision because it was contrary to the spirit of the amendment. I appreciate the explanation given by thu Minister of his reason for not making it possible for the defendant to escape by proving only that the sale was made without his authority. If it were not so, there could be all sorts of illicit practices carried on, and, on the balance of probability, the defendant, on saying they were without his authority, would escape conviction under this Act.

Despite the imperfections of the amendment, I am prepared to support it unless the Minister is willing to consider a matter which has come to my mind as the result of a reference by. him. I say with respect that I do not think his advisers looked at this point. The Minister was good enough to offer the Committee, by way of an example, the licensing laws of the States. I immediately sent for a copy of the Tasmanian Licensing Act. I have great respect for Senator Branson's contribution to the debate. The lawyers in this place have not a monopoly in respect of these matters. We are tedious people but only because we are expressing the actual content of matters upon which other people could be convicted for an odious offence and desire to protect the precious service decorations which are so valuable to the rightful possessor. But if precedents and the labours of past legislators had been examined, we would have an amendment in terms which I read from section 110 of the Tasmanian Licensing Act-

Any contravention of this Act committed in any licensed premises by any person exercising in such premises any authority, or acting, or purporting to act, for or on behalf of the licensee, or with his permission performing any of his functions; shall be deemed to have been committed by the licensee, as well as by such person as aforesaid, unless it is shown to the satisfaction of the Court before which the proceedings are heard that such contravention was committed without the authority, and contrary to the orders or directions, of such licensee.

Every one of the objections to the original proposal and the imperfections of the amendment would be met perfectly by the straightout adoption of that section. In the case of the person acting for the proprietor there is the master-servant relationship. Therefore, this section makes it obligatory for the defendant proprietor to show that a sale was made not only without his authority but also, as the Minister properly insists, contrary to his positive orders and directions. I bring that section to the notice of the Committee, having recited it only for the purpose of giving the Minister the opportunity to consider it, because its incorporation in the legislation under consideration would be a great improvement upon the amendment that is proposed. Nevertheless, in deference to the consideration that he has given to the submissions we made last night I will be prepared, in the same spirit, to accept the amendment, despite its imperfections, if he asks us to do so.

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