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Wednesday, 28 October 1914

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I would point out to Senator Keating that there may arise a case under the Land Tax Act. An offence may be committed, say, to-day, but not a word may be known of the offence until six months later. The alteration suggested from the other side would be almost an inducement to a man who wanted to do so to try to evade certain payments or to commit a fraud. A fraud may be committed under the Maternity Allowance Act, and a period of six months may pass before anything is known about it. To make the period a little longer can injure no one but the guilty.

Senator Senior - No one but the suspects.

Senator GARDINER - The suspects are not very likely to be discovered after a period of six months. It will be early after the commission of an offence that they will be discovered, if they are discovered at all. Let meput a case which may occur if the provision is altered. Some person may be suspected, and the evidence may look black against him. The time for trial arrives, and the evidence is brought out that somebody else is guilty; but as a period of six months has elapsed, the guilty person cannot be brought up for trial.

Senator Keating - The Government could institute proceedings within six months.

Senator GARDINER - After the comission of the offence?

Senator Keating - Yes.

Senator GARDINER - In a vast territory like that of the Commonwealth, with sparsely populated districts, which will be dealt with through central offices, a longer limitation than a period of six months is necessary. Take a case of the forgery of a Commonwealth document.

Senator Keating - That would not be dealt with under paragraphs 6 and c.

Senator Turley - No, under paragraph a.

Senator GARDINER - That may be classified as one of the more serious offences, but there may be other cases of a similar character.

Senator Keating - These paragraphs deal with minor offences.

Senator GARDINER - I see nothing to be gained by taking six months off the period. It is not likely that any one will be worried very much under the provision. My honorable friend is really endeavouring to legislate for an exceptional case.

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