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Wednesday, 2 April 1941

Senator COLLINGS (QueenslandLeader of the Opposition) . - This bill is somewhat similar in effect to that which the Senate has just passed, and the Opposition will not oppose it. Extensive fraud is practised in every war, and the present war is no exception in that regard. The Opposition considers that fraud should be punished when it is discovered, and, particularly, in time of war. Of course, there are different kinds of fraud, and this bill recognizes that fact.Intentional and deliberate fraud is fairly easily discoverable. Another kind of fraud is that which arises from failure of men entrusted with power in connexion with the manufacture and distribution of goods and in the provision of services to exercise proper oversight.

Senator Spicer - That is not necessarily fraud at all.

Senator COLLINGS - Negligence is not fraud, but, if it results in fraud, it should be punishable when discovered. The Opposition does not oppose the bill, because it believes that whether fraud is deliberate, or merely arises from carelessness, it should be punished. It recognizes that there is a danger in making the provisions of the bill retrospective. An amendment was submitted in the House of Representatives in that regard, but effect was not given to it. The only difficulty that could arise in connexion withretrospectivity is that administrative power might be abused. If it is, it will be the responsibility of the Government in control of the administration of the measure when the abuse occurs. The Opposition is so determined that fraud shall be punished, particularly when the nation is in the grip of war, that it will not quibble over the terms of this bill.

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