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Thursday, 12 October 1911

Senator CHATAWAY (Queensland) . - I move -

That after the word " Forces," Une 3, the words " in the Commonwealth of Australia " be inserted.

Under the clause in its present form we lay down what shall be done by a person who may have received a medal for the Soudan campaign, or for work done under the Imperial flag, in years gone by, almost before Australia was settled. I have here a very interesting volume which deals with the large number of decorations which were given long before the present generation of Australians was born. It is called the

Murray Catalogue,and is known all over the world. Colonel Murray collected a large number of decorations and other things, which, with other collections of medals, he catalogued. According to this catalogue a medal has a definite value just the same as has the 2d. stamp, which was used by the British authorities in Mauritius, before it was ceded to the French. This old Mauritius stamp, in a dilapidated form, is worth from £64. to £68 on the public market. I contend that this clause should nr.t be retrospective in its operation. That will not do any good to anybody, but it may do harm to a number of persons who have spent large sums in collecting various classes of medals. Leaving out of consideration the principle of the Bill, I admit that clause 4 has been improved very much by the amendment which has been made. But we ought not to interfere with medals, medallions, and crosses, which have been the property of " a member of the King's Naval or Military Forces-." That expression goes back as far as one can go into English history. Why should we suddenly arrogate to ourselves the right to say that Jones, or Brown, or Robinson shall not be allowed to sell medals which were issued by Edward II. and Edward III., or by Henry V. in celebration of the battle of Agincourt, or to receive such medals in exchange or otherwise? The least we can do is to be a little modest in this matter; If the Minister will assure us that when he was in the Old Country, attending to Defence matters, he was asked by the Imperial Government to submit to the Senate a measure to stop the trafficking, not in Australian medals, but " in Imperial medals, .he shall have my vote. But in the absence of such an assurance it should be made perfectly clear to the people of Australia that we are not trying to legislate in connexion with Imperial matters. I have not proposed my amendment out of a feeling of hostility to, or from a desire to " stone-wall " the passage of, the Bill. As its principle has been affirmed 1 desire to make the measure itself less ridiculous than it was when it was brought in.

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