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Wednesday, 29 August 1906

Senator DE LARGIE (Western Australia) . - Under this Bill, an attempt is made to make a certain' thing an offence, and, according to Senator Symon 's argument, as I understand it, because we have not the constitutional power to catch all who commit that offence, we should let all go scot-free.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - That was not my argument at all.

Senator DE LARGIE - That is what the honorable senator's argument amounted to.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - I say that, first of all, we have not the constitutional power to do what is proposed; and, secondly, we should not give immunity to one man for doing exactly the thing for which we punish another, simply because he happens to be a corporation under this Bill.

Senator DE LARGIE - I am not so presumptuous as to pretend to argue the constitutional question with Senator Symon, but, as he was not present when the matter was previously discussed, I direct the honorable and learned senator's attention to paragraph xx. of section 51 of the Constitution. Whatever may be the meaning of the words as used in the Constitution, they have been introduced into this Bill, and if the Constitution does not give us the power, as the honorable senator contends, the provision with which he finds fault will not be operative. The contention that because we have not the power to prevent every one from doing what we regard as an offence, we should not, therefore, prevent corporations from doing it, is a kind of reasoning which will not go down with the Committee. I am prepared to go as far in this matter as the Constitution permits. If the Constitution does not give us all the necessary power, and what we do requires to be supplemented by the States' Parliaments, we must leave to them the responsibility for their share of the work. If it is agreed that what is here dealt with can be regarded as an offence, and the Constitution does not give us the power to cover the whole ground, the responsibility formaking the law uniform must rest with the States Parliaments.

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