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Tuesday, 12 December 1905

Senator CLEMONS (Tasmania) - I do not intend to speak for more than a few minutes, because, if there is one thing in connexion with the Bill which is more striking than anything else, it is that from neither side of the House has any one a word to say either in approval or disapproval of it. I am not always in agreement with Senator Playford, but I heartily agreed with him this afternoon when he referred to the Bill as a farce, and alluded to the subterfuges which it contains. The only thing I regret - and I dare say that he shares my regret - is that we have to go on playing this farce, and that by this Bill we add some subterfuges to those in the original Act.

Senator Playford - Only one - by striking out "European" language, and putting in any'' prescribed " language.

Senator CLEMONS - That is only widening the door for the full application of the term " subterfuge." That amendment is being made to meet the sentiments of the people of Japan.

Senator DAWSON (QUEENSLAND) - Has Japan ever asked for it?

Senator CLEMONS - I think that, more or less directly, Japan has asked for it. If there has been any possibility of leakage under the education test - and I do not think that there has been - this subterfuge will increase it. The officers administering the law are not hampered even by the use of the word " European," and this amendment will make the education test absolutely air-tight and wind-tight. I cannot conceive how it will be possible for any one to get in under the test. But, as we have all agreed that the whole legislation is, to use Senator Playford's phrase, a farce and a subterfuge, I have very little to say in its favour. I hope, however, to be here when the Bill is being considered in Committee, because there are one or two clauses which require some attention. The Bill is full of indications that, somehow or other, both Houses are to be asked to sanction something by resolution. Speaking generally, it is nothing more than an indication in print that Parliament can resolve to take some course. I really wonder that it has not been asked to take the course. What is the use of telling us in the Bill that the Parliament can sanction a certain course by resolution, when we know that it could be done either by a Bill or by an ordinary resolution? Clause 13 enables any police officer in a State, without a warrant, to arrest any man reasonably supposed by him to be a prohibited immigrant. I do not wish prohibited immigrants to be abroad in the Commonwealth, but I have very grave doubts as to whether this clause is not giving an ordinary policeman too much power. I invite 'honorable senators seriously to consider whether it is desirable to enact such a provision. Senator Playford has told us that it is a necessary supplement to the power of the magistrate, but I think that he went a little too far in giving that answer, even though it emanated from the draftsman whom he consulted. It does not necessarily follow that, because we enlarge the power of the magistrates to deal with those cases, we should so greatly enlarge the power of an ordinary policeman. The clause introduces an element of danger. In the circumstances, it is a fair thing to throw the onus of proof upon the defendant, as is done by section 20 of the Customs Act. The only other amendment I have to suggest is in clause 10, which deals with the question of summary jurisdiction, and imposes a penalty of£100. We shall be confronted with the usual difficulty of fixing an arbitrary sum; but I am inclined to think that, to allow the magistrate to enforce a penalty of£100 is to give him too much power.

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