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Wednesday, 2 November 1910

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I think it would be well for the criminal classes if loose lawyers of. the type of Senators St. Ledger and Gould, and shall I say bush lawyers of the type of Senator Millen, were sitting on the judicial benches, or even acting as magistrates. Suppose that a man were arrested at Flemington, and that 25 per cent, of the coin found in his possession consisted of bacl sovereigns. Does not Senator St. Ledger think that the man would have to prove to the satisfaction of both Judge and jury that he did not have those coins in his possession with intent to defraud before he would be found not guilty? The honorable senator might be found innocently in possession of a bad sovereign.

Senator St Ledger - It is to be hoped that the Crown would not be such an ass as to bring the charge in that form.

Senator GARDINER - I do not know how the Crown would bring the charge, or what kind of ass it would be; but I can quite imagine the honorable senator coming innocently into possession of a bad sovereign at Flemington, and innocently trying to pass it, and being caught in the act. To my mind, he would certainly have to prove his innocence ; but the chance is that he would not be arrested unless the authorities were satisfied that there was an intent to defraud. Suppose that a man who was found in possession of 25 per cent, of bad coin appeared before a jury. I venture to say that in Victoria, where we get British justice as unpolluted as in any other part of the British Empire, he would have to prove to the satisfaction of both Judge and jury that he had the sovereigns in his possession without any intent to defraud, before he would be acquitted. Under this clause, the jury will have first to decide that the owner has really under-valued his land by 25 per cent. ; and it may not be a very easy thing to do that. I can quite understand a man who is accustomed to value land in one locality going to another locality and making a mistake. If a man has not been in possession of his land for a considerable time, but has recently purchased it, he knows its value to a farthing. But if he has been in possession for a considerable time, what better person can there be to value it than the man who knows every pennyworth of the improvements on it, and every pennyworth of the value which it possesses? I venture to say that honest land-owners will not thank the Opposition for the fight which they have been putting up, because, if there is one privilege which they will value more than another, it is the right of being trusted to value their own land. It is all very well for honorable senators opposite to arrogantly assume that they alone represent the land-owners in the Senate. I venture to say that they do nothing of the kind. They represent one section of the land-owners, and that is the section on whose behalf they are trying to create loopholes, so that they may fraudulently under-value their lands. I simply look upon honorable senators, judging them by their arguments, as part of that .section of the land-owning community who want loopholes so that they may be able to fraudulently undervalue their lands and escape scot-free.

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