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Wednesday, 28 October 1914

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - I wish to answer the statement of the Minister suggesting that in referring to clause 84 and objecting to the application of clause 17 to the offence of taking unlawful soundings. I spoke as a friend of the enemy. In saying so the honorable senator said what was not true.

Senator Gardiner - I understood the honorable senator to refer to clause 80.

Senator SENIOR - If honorable senators will read clause 84 they will find that it makes no reference to the communication of information to the enemy. It refers merely to the measure of the depth of water and making notes upon an official chart.

Senator Ready - Let the honorable senator read paragraph c of clause 84.-

Senator SENIOR - I say that where soundings are changing, fishermen very often find it necessary, to guide them in their work, to mark oflicial charts of their own. To say that, because I directed attention to that as a comparatively trifling offence, I am an enemy of the Commonwealth, is to say something that is very far-fetched and which has no foundation in fact. The Minister has contended all through that without this clause a Judge would have no power to use discretion in increasing the penalty inflicted for a second offence. If the clause means anything, it means that the penalty imposed for a second offence must be the maximum penalty provided for in this clause. As to the argument with respect to the urgency of the measure, I may point out that it deals chiefly with offences that have existed ever since the Commonwealth has been in existence. I suppose that not less than 5 per cent. of the provisions of this Bill refer to offences that arise owing to the exigencies of the war.

Senator Gardiner - It is that 5 per cent, that is important.

Senator SENIOR - I am prepared to admit the urgency of dealing with such offences, and to give the Government all the power necessary to deal with them. To suggest that because honorable senators object to the application of clause 17 to other kinds of offences dealt with in the Bill they are, therefore, against the Government, is to treat the Bill as a party measure. I shall vote for the rejection of the clause entirely. To amend it as has been proposed would be to differentiate between a crime against the State and a crime against the Commonwealth. That would be worse than ever. A crime is a crime whether it be committed against the Commonwealth or a State. I cannot see why, if the second offence be an offence against the Commonwealth, the offender should be liable to double the maximum term of imprisonment attaching to the offence, when, if the second offence is against a State, such a provision would not apply. Let us pass a clause which will reflect credit upon our intelligence, and not one that will have to be amended almost as soon as it is passed.

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