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Wednesday, 22 October 1913

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) . - I have no doubt that the actual prosecution, which ended in the cadet referred to being sent to gaol, never came under the notice of the Minister until the lad was really in gaol. When the case was first mentioned here, it came as a surprise and a shock to me, because of one of the reasons I stated for moving the second reading of the Defence Bill, on the 18th July, 1912. The Government of the day decided that they would so amend the Act as to substitute in all cases commitment to a place of military detention for gaol, as the alternative for the non-payment of fines imposed on cadets, and the instruction given by myself to the officer who represented the Defence Department was that the Attorney-General's Department was to draft a measure which would have that effect. We were under the impression - I certainly was - that the Bill carried out that decision, and I told the Senate that that was the intention. On page 950 of Hansard, I said -

In this Bill it is proposed to make it imperative that the alternative for the non-payment of a fine for evasion of service shall always be commitment to a place of military detention, and not to a gaol.

I only wish to say, in justice to the lao3 Government, that we believed that the amending Bill - and I am certain that the Senate so believed - attained that end. On both sides that, was hailed as a reform which everybody thought should be brought about, and it did come as a surprise and a shock to me when I heard that a lad in Broken Hill had been sent to gaol. I hope that if it is found that the amending Act is not perfect in that respect, the Government will amend it. I am sure that they do not want to send lads to gaol any more than the late Government did, and if this case makes it plain to them that there is still open some means by which lads can be sent to gaol, I trust that the Act will be amended.

Senator Rae - Can we amend the Act to get rid of the barbarous magistrates who are a disgrace to the . country ?

Senator PEARCE - I do not think it is the wish of Parliament that cadets should be sent to gaol. It has been proved that military detention is far preferable to gaol detention, and . is a sufficient, deterrent.

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