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Wednesday, 29 November 1905

Mr KELLY (Wentworth) - I notice that this clause provides for the imprisonment only of persons making false entries in the register. I wish to ask the AttorneyGeneral whether he thinks that fact may not incline the Court to give the accused the benefit of any doubt which may exist more frequently than he is entitled to it?

Mr McCay - These cases will be tried by a jury.

Mr KELLY - That fact makes my argument still more cogent.

Mr McCay - The offence with which the clause deals is equivalent to forgery. The honorable member would scarcely let a forger off with a fine.

Mr KELLY - All the offences provided for in the clause are not equivalent, in all cases, to forgery.

Mr McCay - They practically amount either to forgery or uttering.

Mr KELLY - If all the legal members of the Committee are satisfied that the offences in question are tantamount to forgery, why should the penalty prescribed in this clause be less than that which i° prescribed in ordinary cases of forgery? Why should not the maximum penalty be inflicted? I suppose that that penalty is about ten years' imprisonment.

Mr Isaacs - It varies a good deal in the different States.

Mr KELLY - Why not make the penalty in this case seven years' imprisonment ?

Mr Crouch - The honorable member rose with the idea of making the provision more lenient.

Mr KELLY - I rose with the object of making it more lenient in order that more convictions might be secured. But inasmuch as I have been assured that the offences which are enumerated in this clause are equivalent to forgery, I fail to see why we should not impose a severe penalty.

Mr Isaacs - I think that three years' imprisonment is a heavy penalty. If that will not deter a man from committing these offences, seven years' imprisonment will not do so.

Mr KELLY - Upon the same principle, if a week's imprisonment will not deter a man from committing an offence, three years' imprisonment will not.

Mr Isaacs - No scientific measure can be applied to a matter of this sort.

Mr KELLY - If the offences for which the clause provides are tantamount to forgery, we ought to impose the same penalty as is provided in ordinary cases of forgery.

Mr Page - Why not make the penalty harmonize with the criminal code ?

Mr KELLY - I am quite prepared to do that.

Mr Isaacs - There is no Commonwealth criminal code.

Mr KELLY - But we know what is the usual penalty for forgery in Australia.

Mr Wilson - Let the honorable member move to increase the penalty to seven years' imprisonment.

Mr KELLY - I do not wish to do that on the spur of the moment, because I have no desire to delay business.

Mr Isaacs - The offences enumerated in this clause are really criminal acts, and their perpetrators ought to be imprisoned.

Mr McCAY (CORINELLA, VICTORIA) - All forgers are not equally culpable.

Mr KELLY - Then why not impose a fine instead of imprisonment for the less venial of these offences? I maintain that the Judge ought to be in a position to inflict the maximum' penalty if he wishes to do so. For that reason I move -

That the word "Three," line 8, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word " five."

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