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Wednesday, 6 December 1905
Page: 6373

Mr WATSON (Bland) - Under this clause - the masters, owners, agents, and charterers of any vessel from which any prohibited immigrant enters the Commonwealth contrary to this Act is liable, on summary conviction, to a penalty of £100 for each prohibited immigrant so entering the Commonwealth. If my memory serves me rightly, the Acts Interpretation Act provides that in the absence of specific words to the contrary, a penalty named in an Act of Parliament shall be regarded as the maximum. If that be so, the penalty of £100 would be the maximum in this case.

Mr Deakin - No; this is "the" penalty.

Mr McCay - I think the honorable member for Bland is in error. I believe that it is only where, at the end of a section, we have the words " Penalty, so much," that the penalty named is to be regarded as the maximum.

Mr WATSON - My memory is not clear on the point, and that is why I have asked for information. At all the ports of the Commonwealth there has been a great leakage of coloured aliens into Australia, and this has been due in some measure to the very small penalties inflicted by magistrates, for repeated infractions of the law. I know of one company, whose record I have not followed up lately, but which was fined some time ago £5 for what was about its twentieth conviction. We know that for years the Chinese, more particularly, were prepared to pay £100 to secure admission into the Commonwealth. As many of these men who desert, or are crimped ashore, have wages owing to them to an amount in excess of or even£10, it is often a saving to the owners to get rid of them. The ship-owners have to enter into a bond for£100 pending the case coming into Court, but they are not called upon to pay that amount if a smaller penalty is imposed. We must expect the continuance of these leakages unless a larger penalty is fixed. Under the Chinese Restriction Act of New South Wales, a poll-tax of£100 was demanded, and the owners of vessels bringing in Chinese v. ere held responsible for its payment. If a similar provision were made in our law, I think that it would prevent the shipowners from allowing their sailors and other coloured employes to escape into the Commonwealth. I do not see why we should not insist that£100 shall be recoverable as a penalty.

Mr Deakin - This clause provides for that.

Mr WATSON -I wish to make sure that the Acts Interpretation Act will not cause the penalty provided for to be looked upon as the maximum penalty.

Mr Deakin - No; the Acts Interpretation Act will not affect that.

Mr WATSON - If that is so, I am satisfied.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 11 agreed to.

Clause 12 -

After section thirteen of the Principal Act the following sections are inserted : - " 13a. The master, owners, agents, or charterers of a vessel in which a prohibited immigrant, or a person who becomes a prohibited immigrant, come to the Commonwealth, shall, on being required in writing by any Collector of Customs so to do, without charge to the Commonwealth, provide a passage for the prohibited immigrant to the place whence he came. " 13b. The master of a vessel on which a pro hibited immigrant, or a person reasonably supposed to be a prohibited immigrant, is, may, with the necessary assistance, prevent the prohibited immigrant from entering the Commonwealth from the vessel in contravention of this Act."

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