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Thursday, 13 May 1965

Senator PALTRIDGE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . - The Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna) invites me to write back into the sub-section the words " without his authority or ". There is a particular reason why those words were excluded and I will allude to it shortly.

I say with the greatest respect that in order to support his case the Leader of the Opposition fossicked around in all the highways and byways of his capacious mind to find an almost impossible situation, and then asked that we provide for that almost impossible situation. The Leader of the Opposition submitted that two people might meet, by appointment or casually, in a tobacconist's shop conducted by a third party and that there one might say to the other: "I will do a trade in an award or a decoration ". The honorable senator then said that in that event the proprietor of the shop, not himself engaging in the sale of decorations, as was acknowledged by the honorable senator, would be subject to a charge. All I say about that matter is that as a practical application of law the Crown would not prosecute in such a case. It is ridiculous to suppose that the Crown would prosecute. If the occasion arose that the Crown did prosecute, no court in the country would convict.

But on the more substantive point the Leader of the Opposition asks me to write back into the provision the words " without his authority or ". No, Sir. For all the reasons I have given as to the character of this trade, we say that a trader should reasonably accept certain responsibilities in the conduct of his business as it relates to the disposal of medals and awards. This provision places specifically upon him an obligation properly to conduct his business and properly to instruct his staff. That is all it does. In the circumstances, and again having regard to the character of the trade, 1 suggest that it is only reasonable that the trader, having a permit to engage in this business, should accept the responsibility of properly conducting his business and properly instructing his staff. For that reason, while we let him off the hook, if I can use that phrase, in the circumstances which were described last night, I think by Senator Wright, where he may be absent from the premises, we thought it only proper to exclude the second leg of the defence as referred to by the Leader of the Opposition.

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