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Tuesday, 23 May 1972
Page: 1914

Senator DRAKE-BROCKMAN (Western Australia) (Minister for Air) - The Government will oppose the amendment moved by Senator Cavanagh to clause 9. I think the honourable senator is aware of the debate that has occurred before and will recall that in some other research levy collection Acts prosecution for an offence could be commenced at any time. In the Pig Slaughter Levy Collection Bill 1971 and the Dried Vine Fruits Levy Collection Bill 1971 the Government introduced this provision which stated that prosecution could be commencced at any time within 5 years. The Government did this because of the remarks made by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy) and his colleagues during debates on previous research Bills. The Government tried to satisfy the Senate by introducing the term of 5 years.

It will be recalled that at that time the Opposition moved a similar amendment to the amendment moved today by Senator Cavanagh. I obtained an adjournment of the debate to discuss this matter with the Minister and his departmental officers. 1 returned and said that the Department did not believe that it could operate with the limitation of 12 months because quite often it was not aware of the offence until some time after it was committed. If there were a limitation of one year the only alternative for the Departmental officers would be to institute prosecution immediately for that offence. At the present time the Department likes to write to the offender and remind him of what has happened and perhaps settle the matter without any prosecution. The Department believes that it cannot do this in less than the 3-year period. In the case of the Pig Slaughter Levy Collection Bill and the

Dried Vine Fruits Levy Collection Bill the Australian Democratic Labor Party accepted that this 3 year limitation must apply. It supported the Government in that situation. The position is not so much that the Government does not want to accept the amendment but that the Department believes it is impractical to operate within the period of 12 months. Because of that experience, the Government cannot accept the Opposition's amendment.

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