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Wednesday, 30 October 1912

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) . - I am going to support the third reading of the Bill, and for this reason : I believe that a stamping machine will be of considerable value to alarge number of people. We had the assurance of the Minister, in . introducing the Bill, that before any machine was adopted by the Department the whole matter would be referred to a committee of experts for investigation. The committee would examine each machine, and find out if it was possible for fraud to be committed. It will be absolutely necessary for the committee to obtain proof that the machine could not easily be tampered with.

Senator Sir JOSHIAH SYMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Or imitated.

Senator GUTHRIE - If the machine was enclosed so that none could reach it for the purpose of altering, it, that would make it perfectly safe.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Does the honorable senator 'want to .have lt herme- tically sealed.

Senator GUTHRIE - I do. The honorable senator knows that; - some few. years Ago, there was a stamping machine used at the Customs House at Port Adelaide.' A certain gentleman came over from Mel- ' bourne and got a copy of it, and by having that stamp in his possession he was able to defraud the Government of £60,000 The position I took up last week was that if there was a suitable machine on the market - and I believe there is - the people using it should go to the Post Office, buy their. stamps, put them in the machine, and pay for them. There would then be no chance whatever of fraud.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - That is a different machine altogether.

Senator GUTHRIE - In the Bill no particular machine is specified.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - The machine you want is one that will lick the stamps.

Senator GUTHRIE - Not only that, but one to prevent the pilfering of stamps by men who post large numbers of letters. That is exactly the machine provided for here.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - No.

Senator GUTHRIE - There is also a proposal for a machine such as is used in New. Zealand ; but .that machine does offer possibilities for fraud, and, further, the Post Office has to give it credit.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - If the honorable senator looks at proposed new section 6sa he will see that it is a machine for making impressions.

Senator GUTHRIE - The Bill covers any machine that the Department might have to recommend. The committee of experts is to be appointed for the .purpose of recommending to the Department a machine that will prevent fraud and safeguard the Department in every ' particular.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - The only machine referred to is a recording machine for the purpose of impressing upon postal articles and telegrams the value of the duty to be paid on the article.

Senator GUTHRIE - There is absolutely no machine that I have seen that will do that, and I have seen a good many, that cannot be tampered with. The only possible machine, that will suit the people who are clamouring for this convenience to-day, is one that they can take to the Post Office, buy the stamps, and put them into the machine. Then the Department does not stand to lose anything, and whilst there, is a benefit to the users of the machine, there is an absolute safeguard against fraud >n every particular. So long as you have a machine that is open to the altering of the die or the stamp-

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - That is this machine.

Senator GUTHRIE - A machine may be invented which will be secure from imitation either as to die or stamp. If the Committee of experts are satisfied that there could be no tampering with a machine, why should they not accept it? If_ it could be tampered with the whole thing would be dropped.

Senator Ready - How are we to trace an imitation?

Senator GUTHRIE - If a machine *as left open, so that any one could get at the die or the stamp, fraud might be perpetrated. Some years ago the Commissioner of Railways in New South Wales put in1 a system of a time-bell in the tramways. Some one who understood its mechanism made a big trade by supplying to conductors dummy-bells that rang, but did not record, with the result that the Railway Department in New South Wales suffered severely. What I am afraid of in regard to this machine is that there may be some one clever enough to get at the dies, and to make imitations of them The only safe thing is to have a machine ' such as I have described, when the users would have to go to the Post Office, and buy their stamps, or they could use special stamps.

Senator Sir Josiah Symon - Not under the Bill.

Senator GUTHRIE - We are allowing that practice now. Any firm in Australia can perforate their stamps with the name of the firm. We do it in our Parliament in regard to our "on service" stamps. In Victoria, South Australia, and New South Wales stamps are similarly perforated. Any firm could do the same thing, and thus guard themselves against peculation. I think we should allow the third reading of the Bill to pass on the understanding that if an expend report is made to the Government, before the Government accept it, it will be laid before Parliament for consideration. If, then,' it is found that the machine offers opportunities for fraud its uBe need not be sanctioned.

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