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Wednesday, 4 July 1906
Page: 1008

Mr HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh) . - I am unwilling to enact legislation that will create new offences unless the offender is to be held responsible for his act. The honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne stated that he believed there were men who honestly wanted to obey the law, and he suggested that agreements might be submitted to the Minister. I am not in favour of that suggestion. If we adopted the view of the Attorney-General, a man who honestly wanted to do what was fair might Be indicted for conspiracy and convicted.

Mr Isaacs - No.

Mr HUTCHISON - The AttorneyGeneral says that a man mav be brought before the Court, and indicted for intent in accordance with his actions, although personally he may have had1 no intent to injure anybody. Similarly the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne believes that there are business men who would enter into an agreement with no such intent.

Mr Higgins - Suppose that the word "intent", were eliminated, what chance would the honest man have?

Mr HUTCHISON - In the absence of that1 word we should simply create an offence under this Bill, and- I contend that if an offence is committed the transgressor should be punished.

Mr Higgins - The whole question is, " What is the offence to consist of " ?

Mr HUTCHISON - The offence consists of proof that two individuals or a corporation are injuring an industry.

Mr Higgins - But the honorable member would not make men criminals unless they meant to injure the public?

Mr HUTCHISON - Exactly, and they would not be made offenders under this clause unless it were proved that they were hurting the public.

Mr Higgins - But if they hurt the public without meaning to do so, would the honorable member put them in gaol ?

Mr HUTCHISON - I should like to make the penalty for any first offence a very light one, but I should have no hesitation in prescribing imprisonment if a person offended a second time. We shall never prevent crime in certain circles until we put the offenders in gaol. I believe with the late Mr. Seddon that that is the only cure for them. We no hesitation in committing men to gaol for offences which are paltry as compared with that of ruining a man in his industry.

Mr Higgins - Can the honorable member cite an instance in which we put men in gaol who had no intent to do wrong?

Mr HUTCHISON - I have already given an instance. If a man unwittingly gets the worse for liquor, and is arrested, he is committed to gaol should he be unable to pav the fine imposed.

Mr Higgins - I suppose that he intends to drink?

Mr HUTCHISON - A man may meet a few friends, and out of pure sociability he may take more liquor than is good for him, but if that plea were raised in the police court it would be scouted. Under the Government proposal a man in charge of a business, a number of workers, and their wives and families may be injured with impunity, simply because it cannot be proved that the authors of that injury inflicted it designedly. I do hope that the Committee will prevent the insertion of these words in the clause.

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