Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 16 August 1912

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) - - I have been astonished by the statement of the Minister, that it is proposed that if a fine is not paid it may be recovered by a garnishee order.

Senator Clemons - I venture to say, with great respect, that the Minister has been badly advised on that point.

Senator GIVENS - It does not appear to me that a fine can be regarded in the nature of a debt, but, even if it were, I should still be against its recovery by garnishee order.

Senator Clemons - I think I may ease the honorable senator's mind. I am nearly certain that you cannot garnishee a penalty.

Senator GIVENS - The Government propose, by this legislation, to take the power to do so, and I am distinctly against that.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - If it be a debt, and recoverable, surely it can be garnisheed ?

Senator GIVENS - It all depends on how we make the law. No one who has lived for any time in Australia can fail to have known enormous hardships to be inflicted under the pernicious garnishee system. In many cases the few shillings necessary to keep the children of a household have been garnisheed by some fat man or other.

Senator Pearce - Does the honorable senator not recognise that every facility is given to cadets to avoid being placed in that position?

Senator GIVENS - I should prefer to see the offenders punished in any other way. I object altogether to the issue of garnishee orders against them. We have taken the necessary power to commit them to the custody of the authorities.

Senator Pearce - Suppose they run away ?

Senator GIVENS - Surely the Government are not so helpless as to be unable toarrest a cadet? They might be committed to the charge of an officer.

Senator Pearce - We must make the power effective.

Senator GIVENS - The offender might be kept in actual custody if he could not be dealt with in any other way. No one who has seen the cruel hardships which are inflicted under the garnishee system will countenance the introduction of such a system into our defence legislation. Nothing could be more calculated to render our defence system unpopular. We have taken the power to commit the offender to the charge of an officer, and, if necessary, he could be kept in custody until he had" completed his drills.

Senator McGregor - Suppose he wilt not do it?

Senator GIVENS - Is the Commonwealth so utterly helpless as to be unable to compel a boy to do its will ? If it is it will be equally helpless to make the proposed garnishee system effective. The cadet may say, " If the Commonwealth are going to take my wages, I will not work." It is proposed to compel these boys to lose their positions or work for the Commonwealth, when the few shillings; they earn may be the only money which i* keeping up the homes in which they live. Any other method of dealing with the matter would be preferable to this.

Senator Millen - What does the honorable senator suggest ?

Senator GIVENS - I say that we should1 give effect to the provisions to which wehave already agreed. If a lad will not perform his drills, we should arrest him, and? commit him to the charge of an officer,. and compel him to perform them. I should prefer that he should be sent to gaol than that we should adopt the garnishee system, which is about the most pernicious system that could be introduced in any civilized country.

Senator Story - The honorable senator has a lot of consideration for the outlaw.

Senator GIVENS - I fail to see how Senator Story can regard a boy who refuses to attend a drill or two as an outlaw. An outlaw is liable to be shot at sight. Because a boy fails to attend a couple of drills, Senator Story would declare him an outlaw, who should be shot at sight. That is the honorable senator's contribution to the debate. To garnishee a cadet's wages is the most cruel method we could adopt.

Senator Story - Worse than shooting him ?

Senator GIVENS - No one but Senator Story suggests anything of the kind. It is he who has said that he would regard the cadet who does not attend drill as an outlaw.

Senator Story - He makes himself an outlaw when he defies the law.

Senator GIVENS - He does not do anything of the sort. I doubt whether Senator Story has not, in common with every other honorable senator, broken the law at one time or another. I appeal to the Minister to propose some method of dealing with this matter other than the introduction of the garnishee system into our Defence Act. I have never voted for such a system, and I never shall. We should not be placed in the position of leaving the Minister of Defence helpless in this matter, or of having to accept a proposal which we regard as pernicious and objectionable.

Suggest corrections