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Friday, 19 July 1912

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - I am convinced that, so far from making the punishment for non-attendance at drill more equal, the amendment would make it more unequal. The honorable senator spoke of the fine being a greater hardship to the poor man than to the rich man, but I would remind him that the sons of the rich man are not at work between the ages of fourteen, and eighteen years.

Senator Sayers - Plenty of them are.

Senator PEARCE - No, they are at school. It would mean no sacrifice at all to such parents to have their boys committed to a place of detention for a certain number of days. The sons of the poor are at work between those ages, and contributing to the support of the home, and the detention which the honorable senator suggests would mean a greater sacrifice to them than would a fine. . There might have been some force in his contention if we were keeping the ^5 as the minimum fine, but we are not doing that. We are making ^5 the maximum, and the fine may be only 2s. 6d., or 5s., or 10s. The magistrate is to be instructed to take into consideration], in inflicting the penalty, the circumstances of the parents. If the Committee pass the amendment, it will inflict a greater hardship on the sons of poor men than the Bill does. We know that if a lad is taken away from his employment at frequent, or even at infrequent, intervals, it does damage to his chance of securing constant employment and getting on with his employer. One of the objections to the whole system of compulsory training is the disturbance of industrial conditions. We ought to take no action which is likely to increase the disturbance. On the contrary, we should endeavour to disturb industry as little as possible. For these reasons, I trust that the Committee will not accept the amendment.

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