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Friday, 15 December 1905

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (South Australia) - I have given this clause some additional consideration, with a view to making it effective without reflecting upon other provisions in the Bill. I regard this clause as likely to be more effective than most of the provisions of the Bill. It would be an abominable thing if people were to be brought here under what would be false pretences. I mentioned with very strong approval a provision which we have in South Australia, though it is not quite so good as this, affecting mas ters and servants. Last night I suggested the insertion of the word " knowingly " after the word "contract," where it first appears in the clause, and I admit that in the hands of lay magistrates its use might be open to the objections urged against it. I think that perhaps it would be better to use the word " wilfully." Senator Playford has indicated his intention to move that the words " or is likely to be" be left out, and there is no doubt that would be an improvement on the clause. I believe that it is not desirable to include sub-clause 2. I know from experience how these provisions work in a Court, and the effect of this sub-clause would be to put the immigrant into the witness-box with a stain on his character,because the first question asked him by the opposing counsel would be, " Of course, you expect to share in any penalty imposed in this case."

Senator Givens - Would not that argument apply in every case where a man sues another for money?

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Senator Givensrefers to a civil action, but the honorable senator knows the stigma which attaches to an informer.

Senator Givens - The contract immigrant would not be an informer.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - He would under this sub-clause profit by the punishment inflicted for a criminal offence. The magistrate might impose a fine of only 1s., but the man fined would have a conviction recorded against him for what is really false pretences. Under this subclause there is no doubt that the contract immigrant would go into the witness-box tainted with the expectation of profit from the penalty, and that would affect the weight which would attach to his evidence. The tendency of modern times in all British countries is to do away with the practice which is involved in this clause as rendering awitness amenable to the suggestion that he may be influenced by the possibility of participating in the proceeds of a penalty for a criminal offence. It should also be borne in mind, as has already been pointed out, that the contract immigrant's right of action where there is damage is left quite untouched, and, under other provisions of the Bill, the Minister will have power to awardthe immigrant, in certain circumstances, upto, I think, £50, to enable him to return to the place from which he was brought, or to compensate him should he remain here for loss suffered while he is waiting until he gets other employment. I move -

That after the word "contract," line 3, the word " wilfully " be inserted.

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