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Thursday, 2 November 1911

Senator SAYERS (Queensland) .- It is provided in sub-section 2 of proposed new section 32A that the regulations " may prescribe penalties not exceeding £2 for any contravention of any regulation." Why should not the word " may " be changed to the word " shall " in that case as well as in the two instances in which that has already been done? If enrolment is to be compulsory, there must be penalties provided for people who do not enroll. The Minister has amended the clause to provide that the Governor-General in Council shall do certain things, and I think that if we are to pass the clause we should provide that there must be penalties inflicted if the regulations are broken. We must not leave it optional for penalties to be prescribed, or the clause will have no effect. Unless the amendment I suggest is made, any person reading the section will say, " The first part of the section is compulsory, but the second part is not compulsory."

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator is very rough on his colleagues, who have been arguing the other way.

Senator SAYERS - I heard- the arguments used. I heard Senator St. Ledger speak about the word " shall," and refer to the Naval and Defence Acts. I want to know why the word " may " should be left in in this case, whereas in previous portions of the clause we have changed " may" to " shall."

Senator Millen - What the honorable senator says is that, although " shall " may be wrong, it ought to be put in here as we have it elsewhere.

Senator SAYERS - Yes. I did not see the reason for changing the word " may " to " shall"; but, as it has been done, it should be done in this case.

Senator Lynch - Two wrongs do not make a fight.

Senator SAYERS - Does the honorable senator admit that the Honorary Minister has committed two wrongs?

Senator Lynch - No.

Senator SAYERS - I do not want to say anything about whether it is right or wrong. I simply call attention to the fact that the Minister insisted on the word " shall " :going in elsewhere. Why, therefore, should the word " may " lie left in this place?

Senator MILLEN(New South Wales) [4.41I. - Does not the Minister intend to alter the word " may " as here used to make the Bill uniform?

Senator Findley - The honorable senator is surely not serious. He said that the word "shall " was wrong previously. Now he wants it to be inserted.

Senator MILLEN - As the Minister said that " shall " was the proper term to use, he should, to be consistent, insert it here, because this is where the element of compulsion comes in. This is the really operative part of the Bill. If there is any virtue in the use of the word " shall " - which I have not been able to detect - it ought to be manifested here.

Senator SAYERS(Queensland) [4.43! -Will the Minister say " Yes " or " No"" to the question that has been put to him ?

Senator Ready - Stand and deliver !

Senator SAYERS - I have a right to ask a question, and do not intend to be bluffed by such a new chum as the honor able senator. When a question is put courteously, the Minister ought to answer it.

Senator MILLEN(New South Wales) [4.441. - Is not the Minister prepared to listen to the argument on this subject? At all events, he should take advice about it. We do not want to pass legislation in such a way that it will be a cause of confusion afterwards. This is not the first time that Bills have been so ill -considered that the High Court has had practically to sweep them off the statute-book. We have defended the use of the word " may " as used elsewhere, because, when used in regard to the Crown, it signified action. But here the word is not sufficient. It is not intended to give an option to the individual elector. The object of the Bill is to compel him to enroll. If it is to be left optional with him, the system of compulsion breaks down.

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