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Friday, 15 September 1911

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - It is advisable that we should not tie ourselves down in the administration of the law without very good reason. Is there any danger that the Minister will interfere with the rights and liberties of any person? I do not think there is. The officers will only take action under this clause on the order of the Minister. I can give the honorable senator a case which occurred only a few years ago, in which, for a certain purpose which I can only mention confidentially, it was necessary to enter a certain ship.

Senator Millen - It must have been for the purpose of carrying out some law.

Senator PEARCE - No; it was not for the purpose of carrying out any law. The persons who wished to go on board the ship had no right to do so, and it was found necessary to get officers of the Customs Department to go on to the ship. Entrance to the ship was necessary in this case, not for Customs purposes, but for quite another purpose. Why should we tie the Minister up?

Senator Millen - Why does the honorable senator do so in clause 408 ?

Senator PEARCE - That is a different matter. I ask the Committee not to limit the power of the Minister under this clause, unless Senator Millen can show that it threatens the liberty, property, or life of any person.

Senator Chataway - Under paragraph c the Minister may summon persons before him, and require them to answer questions.

Senator PEARCE - In the carrying out of the navigation law, that may be absolutely necessary, and the Department should have the power. I do not think that any reason has been given for limiting the power here proposed, and I ask the Committee to pass the clause as it stands.

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