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Tuesday, 28 May 1968

Mr KILLEN (Moreton) - The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) does little service to the Committee when he makes a completely erroneous statement, saying that if a person infringes the National Service Act he gets 2 years gaol without option. This is simply not true. The honourable gentleman knows perfectly well the basis on which the provision operates. It operates with respect to clause 20, which contains the proposed amendment to section 51 of the Act. [Quorum formed.] Before I was interrupted I was about to mention the way in which clause 20 of the Bill wilt operate, and I was about to show - I hope clearly - that it does not operate in the manner suggested by the Leader of the Opposition. As the honourable member for Parkes (Mr Hughes) pointed out a week ago, clause 20 deals with matters that are surely not the .subject of controversy. Was notice served on a person? That is the only issue. If notice was served on a person, and he appears in court and is asked by the court to enter into a recognisance to the satisfaction of the court that he will comply with the notice, and displays his attitude by saying: No, I will not,' be makes this admission in the face of the court. So what issue is there to try? I do not know when the Leader of the Opposition last addressed a jury, but I feel bound to remind him that the function of a jury is to determine facts. In this instance the man admits in the face of the court that he refuses to comply with the requirements of the notice. What other issue is there to try? The Leader of the Opposition talks about British justice and the great principles that he contends are being trampled upon by the Government. The man has made an admission in the face of the court that he will not comply with the requirements of the notice. The Leader of the Opposition states that he will go to gaol for 2 years without the option. Two years is not mentioned here. What would be the honourable gentleman's stand if 6 months hence national service training were to be reduced to 6 months? For my part let me go on record as saying that I would put every man 18 years of age and over into the Army for at least 6 months. It would smarten them up. [Quorum formed.]

I was just pointing to the error in the argument of the Leader of the Opposition. 1 put it no more harshly than that it was a palpable error to speak of 2 years gaol. My argument in reply to his contention is that if the Act were altered to provide for 6 months training, this provision would automatically provide for imprisonment for up to 6 months: The honourable gentleman is shedding crocodile tears in an attempt to stimulate some support throughout the nation for his declining fortunes. I understand his sense of desperation, but he has not really given a fine display of intellectual honesty. During the second reading debate I cited the number of offences in Victoria in relation to which, though substantial questions of fact are to be decided, there is provision for a penalty of up to 2 years gaol on summary conviction. Let me recite them because I feel that the people deserve to have this provision placed before them in some sense of proportion. For the second offence of consorting there is provision in Victoria for up to 2 years gaol. What does the Leader of the Opposition say about that? Is his sense of values such that he believes that some long-haired weirdy should be able to go before a magistrate and say: 'My attitude to legitimate authority is such that I am telling you, the Government and all and sundry to go to hell. I shall not comply with any notice'? Should we then turn round and say: 'No, you need not observe the same period of time that a national serviceman who accepts responsibility observes'. For a second offence for consorting, 2 years gaol is provided. Up to 2 years gaol is provided for an offence under the Victorian Rogues and Vagabonds Act. Second offences under that Act carry up to 3 years gaol. What does the honourable gentleman say about that? Up to 2 years gaol is provided for the offence of living on the earnings of a prostitute. Up to 2 years gaol is provided for the offence of keeping a brothel. This puts the matter into perspective.

There is one other thing I want to say about the Labor Party and its bleatings about justice. Let me read what the former Leader of the Opposition, the honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) said a few years ago in this House. He said:

The proudest day of my life will be that on which I see the editor of the Melbourne 'Herald' in the dock charged under that section of the Crimes Act which provides for 7 years gaol without the option.

I did not hear the present Leader of the Opposition, as a private member in those days, complaining about the exuberances of his leader, yet today he is complaining that a person who is not merely a shirker but a person who says in the very face of the court 'No, I will not comply with any of the requirements under the notice' should nol go scot free. I say to the honourable gentleman that when an admission is made there is no question of fact to be tried and it is a palpable absurdity to suggest that this provision can be operated in any. other way than that proposed in the Bill.

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