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Friday, 6 October 1911

Senator PEARCE (Western AustraliaMinister of Defence) . - I move -

That this Bill be now read a second time. This is a comparatively unimportant measure, though we believe it to be a very necessary one. The object of it is to prohibit traffic in naval and military decorations. These decorations are given to the members of the Defence Forces for services rendered. As long as the bestowal of these decorations is continued as a military and naval custom, we think that precautions should be taken that they are not used for the purpose of obtaining money or in any such way. This Bill penalizes both the seller and the buyer ; but I have circulated an amendment, which I shall move in Committee, by which the Minister may grant permits to public institutions, or bond fide collectors to acquire and retain decorations, and, further, that the Act shall not prevent the disposition by will of any decoration. I think it is desirable that we should keep up the value of these things.

Senator Millen - Would that permission allow the representatives of a deceased person to dispose of a medal ?

Senator PEARCE - No.

Senator Millen - Well, what are they to do with the medal? Why should they not be allowed to sell it?

Senator PEARCE -Because I think that it would lessen the value of medals. Of course they could always sell to a bond fide collector.

Senator Millen - Why should not I as an individual, as well as a bond fide collector, be entitled to buy a medal ?

Senator PEARCE - I do not think it is desirable that it should be allowed. If traffic in them be permitted, what will be the value of these decorations?

Senator Millen - You are permitting traffic, because I have only to call myself a collector to be able to buy a medal.

Senator PEARCE - The honorable senator will have to do something more than that. He will have to get a permit from the Minister. The main principle of the Bill is to stop the traffic which goes on mainly with pawnbrokers, to whom medals are often sold for the intrinsic value of the silver or gold of which they are composed.

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