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Thursday, 12 October 1911

Senator VARDON (South Australia) . - The Minister should realize by this time that if he would adopt the position taken up by Senator Givens, he would have no further difficulty with this measure. That position was an absolutely right one. What we want to do is to insure that persons who have no right to wear medals shall not parade them about the streets as if they were their own. That is all that we require, and to legislate to stop legitimate traffic in medals and decorations seems to me to be useless. Moreover, it is unjust. Senator Gardiner told us on Friday that he had seen in a shop in Sydney hundreds of medals. If this Bill becomes law, it will be a crime for the man who owns them to dispose of any of them.

Senator Walker - Except to collectors.

Senator VARDON - I do not suppose that the Minister proposes to license pawnbrokers as buyers of medals. Many pawnbrokers who possess such articles have paid for them, and have a moral right to possess them. Henceforth, they will hold them under pains and penalties. I do not think that that is right. I have no particular love for people who carry on that kind of trade, but they have done so under the law. Surely, then, we have no right to pass a law which will inflict hardship upon them. I urge the Minister, in all seriousness, to take a common-sense attitude regarding the Bill.

Senator St Ledger - I do not think that the Bill can be made retrospective.

Senator VARDON - That is a point with which I do not wish to deal now. The Bill says, that, after its passage, any one who sells a medal will be liable to penalties. If the Minister will agree fry the omission of clauses 3 and 4, and simply pass clause 5, which declares distinctly that any one parading medals as his own when they have been granted to another, shall be guilty of an offence, that will be quite sufficient. It will accomplish what we want, and all that I think it is right to do.

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