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Wednesday, 30 October 1912

Senator NEEDHAM (Western Australia) . -I agree with Senator Lynch in saying that if there may be danger of fraud in the use of these stamping machines the Postal Department will be justified in taking every precaution to prevent the use of unauthorized machines. But I cannot reconcile the position which the honorable senator has taken up to-day with his attitude when the third clause of the Bill . wasbeing discussed in Committee. I believe 'that any person charged with an offence should be given a fair chance to prove his innocence, and I agree that in this respect clause3, proposed new section 102a, of the Bill is not entirely satisfactory. Still, it provides some safeguard against the use of unauthorized machines. It reads -

Any person who without lawful authority or excuse (the burden of proof whereof shall be on the person charged) -

(a)   makes or causes or procures to be made ; or

(b)   aids or assists in making; or

(c)   uses, or knowingly has in his custody or possession, any instrument capable of making an impression stamp or mark resembling (or apparently intended to resemble or pass for) the impression stamp or mark made by any post-office date stamp shall be liable to a penalty of not exceeding Fifty pounds.

Senator Lynch, when this clause was under consideration in Committee, moved the omission of the words within parentheses, " the burden of proof whereof shall be on the person charged." The debate which followed ranged round the question whether any person should be convicted until he Had been absolutely proved to be guilty. I am not going to say that 'a penalty of£50 would be sufficient to deter certain people from attempting to defraud the revenue by the use of date stamps without the authority of the Crown. But I do say that the reasons which Senator Lynch has given for voting against the third reading of the Bill are such as should induce honorable senators to pass the measure, and so maintain clause 3 as it stands.

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