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Thursday, 22 May 1980
Page: 3114


Mr HODGMAN (Denison) -My remarks in support of the Bill will be very brief. I wish to place on record the gratitude of the Parliament to Senator Peter Rae who introduced this private member's Bill in another place where it was passed without dissent. The Bill, which was very competently introduced into this House by my colleague the honourable member for Wilmot (Mr Burr), removes an unjust and antiquated anomaly- an anomaly which could easily have led to a situation, and has in fact led to a situation in years gone by, of a person being subjected to a double penalty in respect of a breach of a provision of the Act. I believe if a person breaks the law he should be subjected to one penalty and one penalty only. Indeed, the common law supports very strongly the proposition that a double penalty is wrong. It is a violation of a citizen's basic rights that he should be penalised twice for committing the one offence.

For the benefit of those persons who are listening to this debate, the situation is that prior to the amending Bill being introduced a person who trangressed the provisions of the Wireless Telegrapy Act was liable not only to prosecution, including substantial penalties involving a fine and, in the case of subsequent offences, imprisonment, but also administratively to the forfeiture of the equipment involved. With modern day telecommunications systems, when we look at the cost of radios and the like in respect of fishing vessels and other activities, that could have involved a financial penalty of several thousand dollars.

I am delighted that the Bill was passed in the Senate without dissent. It was supported by both the Government and the Opposition. I compliment Senator Peter Rae because he is the man who discovered this injustice on the statute book. He is the man who was prepared to do something about it, to bring in a private members Bill, to get it through the Senate and then to entrust it to my colleague the honourable member for Wilmot, to whom I believe this House is also indebted. I have done some investigation and I do not believe that a private members Bill has been introduced by a Government back bencher in this House for something in excess of 20 years. The honourable member for Wilmot is entitled to the gratitude of the House. I support the Bill. I know that my colleague the honourable member for Melbourne will support it with equal enthusiasm.







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