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Wednesday, 28 October 1914

Senator MULLAN (Queensland) .- The Vice-President of the Executive Council has pointed out that offences against the Electoral Act will be dealt with under that Act. But clause 11 provides -

1.   Where the act or conduct of any person Is an offence against this Act, and is also on offence against some other Act or law, the offender may be prosecuted and convicted either under this Act or such other Act or law.

Senator Gardiner - Exactly.

Senator MULLAN - That is just the opposite of what the honorable senator himself said a while ago.

Senator Gardiner - Where the offences are described in the Electoral Act, surely that is the Act under which prosecutions ' will be initiated,

Senator MULLAN - But it will be competent to try offenders under either Act, and we may be sure that they will be tried under the Act which will be most effective. Thus, if I commit an offence under the Electoral Act, I shall render myself liable to the extraordinary penalty of three years' imprisonment. I do not say that systematic interruption should be tolerated at public meetings, but it is very difficult to define interruption. If I hooted the Vice-President of the Executive Council, his friends might regard my action as interruption. But the right to express approval also implies the right to express disapproval. If we assent to this clause in its present form, we shall be simply making a whip with which to scourge ourselves later on. The matter is too serious to be allowed to pass on the plea of urgency. Even if the clause were dropped out of the Bill, it would never be missed.

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