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Friday, 12 December 1913


Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) .- I trust that the Senate will pass this Bill expeditiously, because it is one of which I am entirely in favour, and which should, indeed, have been passed before. There is only one point which I wish to bring under the notice of the Minister. I believe that the time will soon arise when we shall have to have special magistrates in connexion with the Defence Act. The reason I make that statement is this : Under the present system unpaid magistrates throughout the Commonwealth deal with offences under the Defence Act. All kinds of decisions of the most conflicting, and sometimes of the most harsh, character are given. It has been found necessary, under the Old-age Pensions Act, to appoint special magistrates.


Senator Guthrie - A very bad system, too.


Senator PEARCE - That is a matter of opinion. What our experience would have been if we had had to depend upon the ordinary magistrates to deal with old-age pension cases, I do not know. The Minister might, during the recess, give consideration to the question of whether the paid magistrates who now administer 'the Old-age Pensions Act could not also administer the Defence Act, so as to give a consistent reading to the Act, instead of the many conflicting readings, resulting often in very harsh decisions, which are now given by magistrates.







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