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Thursday, 17 November 1960

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) . - I think it fair for me to say that I do not agree with the point made by the honorable member for Hume (Mr. Anderson). I do not regard the action of the union official to seek the enforcement of the law as a means of extortion.

Mr Cairns - Ah!

Mr SNEDDEN - Never mind about your " Ah! " I will say that again wherever I like to say it. Perhaps if I say it somewhere else, you will be able to sing a better tune.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Whitlam) overlooks the fundamental point that this provision has existed in the act since 1914 and, whether for malice or for any other reason, an individual could have launched a prosecution at any time until the present. It seems incredible that the Deputy Leader of the Opposition should paint a picture of a crowd of vicious and malicious people waiting to institute prosecutions against members of the judiciary or public officials. They have not done it up to now and I do not expect that they will do it in the future. As the AttorneyGeneral (Sir Garfield Barwick) has pointed out, the common law has taken care of this for centuries and will continue to take care of it for centuries.

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition, in arguing his case, submitted that the Crimes Act deals with offences that the Commonwealth did not inherit from1 Great Britain. The statement of the Deputy Leader of the Opposition on this point is in marked contrast with the statement of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Calwell) during the second-reading debate. The Leader of the Opposition asked why we should legislate for these matters at all. But from the Opposition side we have the acceptance of matters put by the Government, and that is that we had to legislate because we did not inherit these offences from the common law.

I want to mention one other thing. If the Opposition's amendment were accepted, we could have the situation in this chamber of Opposition members protesting against pimps going along to departments and seeking to have prosecutions launched. I think it much better to avoid the risk of condemnation of this kind. If a citizen has infor mation, he should have the right to institute a prosecution himself, if he feels that he can reasonably do so and that such a prosecution has a chance of success. 1 have nodoubt that the natural limitations on a person's cheek will prevent the great majority of them from proceeding in this way. Indeed, only one in a million would do so. It could possibly happen that the magistrate would dismiss that one case, and this would still leave the way open for an action for considerable damages by the person offended.

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