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Thursday, 17 November 1960

Sir GARFIELD BARWICK (Parramatta) (Attorney-General) . - I would like to answer the honorable member for Wide Bay (Mr. Bandidt) who said these offences to which he called attention should be made indictable. The Acts Interpretation Act makes every offence for which the punishment is more than six months' imprisonment an indictable offence. For the rest, the provisions of section 12a (2.) have been in the act since 1926. It was well back in the last century when British-speaking countries began to try criminal offences summarily before magistrates. This is an old and wellestablished principle. This procedure was not adopted solely in the interests of the prosecution; it was adopted also in the interests of accused persons so that they could get their charges over and done with by being tried fairly by magistrates.

This provision has been in operation in the States for a long time, and it has been in operation in the Commonwealth since 1926. It is amusing that the Labour Party has suddenly found that it exists and has decided to make this the occasion for an attack on that law. 1 had considered these matters beforehand, and I am not prepared to take out of section 12a all the offences mentioned in the act. I was prepared - I still am prepared - to take out those serious matters which I still claim have no relation to property, particularly property of a monetary value. I have done so in my second amendment.

I move -

That the question be now put.

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