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Friday, 6 October 1911

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - It seems to me that, by an amendment which he has outlined, the Minister has recognised the weakness of this measure. The measure as drafted contained an absolute prohibition against the sale of these decorations, but, at the last moment, the Minister recognised that the enactment of that provision would probably do some injustice. So he circulated an amendment which will destroy the Bill itself, because it will allow the sale of these articles to a limited number of persons. If the possessor of a decoration is entitled to sell it, I contend that he ought to have the widest possible market at his disposal. As it is the Minister says, " No, we will limit the business to a few favoured individuals who are bond fide collectors." Who would purchase these things? It could not be the public collectors who keep shops, because, although they are bond fide collectors, they only buy the articles to sell them. They would not buy these things, because they could not re-sell them. The only individuals who would be purchasers for the articles would be a few wealthy men who make a hobby of collecting such things. If an individual possessor of a decoration is entitled to sell it he ought to be allowed to do so in the widest possible market.

Senator Pearce - Is he entitled to sell ?

Senator MILLEN - Personally, I think that he is. It is his private property just as much as a watch presented to him by his constituents would be the private property of the Minister. Senator Rae has pointed out the only portion of this Bill which is entitled to consideration. I repeat that a naval or military decoration in the form of a medal is the private property of the recipient. The Minister proposes to restrict the sale of such medals so that their possessors are bound to get the minimum price for them. Personally, I see no reason why the owners of medals should not be allowed to do just what they choose with them ; but there is an objection to flaunting such decorations in public, because that practice may lead to fraud, and it seems to me that that is the only point upon which we may advantageously legislate.

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