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Wednesday, 12 October 1910

Senator FRASER (Victoria) .- I shall almost feel ashamed to be a member of the Senate if it deliberately approves of a provision to create common informers.

Senator Lynch - Under British law an informer is a very important functionary.

Senator FRASER - What do common informers care about the lives of people? I can quite imagine a common informer, with a dozen or a score of pals - it is an extreme case, I admit - contriving to overload a ship. These persons are very clever ; they are not lacking in brains.

Senator Guthrie - The master of a ship has the power not to admit people.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - He is on the bridge.

Senator Guthrie - He has his officers to look after such things.

Senator FRASER - The master cannot be everywhere.

Senator Guthrie - He is not on the bridge at a wharf.

Senator FRASER - The master has other duties to attend to, and cannot trouble about little matters. He does not expect to be subject to the annoyance of common informers or law-breakers in connexion with his ship. It is better for Parliament to encourage a high rather than a low tone of morality in the community. I sent my boys to a high-toned school, where lads were on their honour, and where a boy who told a lie, or did a despicable thing, was looked upon with contempt and treated accordingly. But here the Senate is asked to proceed in the opposite direction. It is invited to encourage a class of low-down informers. Set the public a fine example always, and the moral tone of the community will be raised.

Senator Lynch - Is this the first time that the honorable senator has raised his voice against informers?

Senator FRASER - I do not know that the subject has ever been raised here before.

Senator Pearce - Oh, yes it has. The Legislative Council of Victoria provided for informers in the Fisheries Act and the Game Act.

Senator Findley - And also in the Cruelty to Animals Act.

Senator FRASER - That is not so in some of the cases quoted. I was a member of the Legislative Council for twelve years, and know something of the legislation which it passed.

Senator Needham - Oh, but the honorable senator was asleep for most of the time.

Senator FRASER - No, I was very active then. I was not so sleepy in those days as I am now. Perhaps the interjector will excuse a man who has reached the age of seventy-nine from not being as wakeful as he was when a younger man.

Senator de Largie - The honorable senator is by far from slumbering just now.

Senator FRASER - I hope so. I do not want to see this kind of legislation enacted. The people of Australia desire us to maintain a high moral tone. Let the penalties be as severe as the Government like, and let us protect the public in any way we think desirable, but I appeal to Ministers not to make use of the services of common informers.

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