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Wednesday, 11 November 1914

Senator SENIOR (South Australia) . - What is proposed is to make the record of insolvency a permanent record, and there must be attendants provided in offices at which searches of the record have to be made. It will probably be found necessary to preserve the record in strong-rooms, and if I go to a public office to make a search, there must be attendants provided to assist me. The record I wish to see may appear in a certain volume for a. certain year. He would ascertain from an index the particular year in which a person had gone insolvent. All this service has to be rendered, it may be, to satisfy the curiosity of one person, but Senator Guthrie thinks that no fee should be charged. I contend that for services rendered to persons there should be some payment made. The Minister, true to the old proverb of sticking to the Bill, says that, because the law is to operate over a larger area in the future, therefore the service should be rendered free. Surely the fact that the law will deal with a large territory rather than with a small district is a strong reason in favour of requiring a fee to be paid for a service rendered. I do not think that there has been any . argument advanced by the Minister to-day against the amendment except that he has the practice of four States on his side.

Senator Lt Colonel O'Loghlin - even that is disputed.

Senator SENIOR - I am giving the ^Minister the benefit of the doubt. The ordinary rule is that when a person goes to an office in which legal and other documents are preserved and desires to make a search he is asked to pay a fee for the privilege. The Minister has not shown a reason why a fee should not be charged for a search made under this clause. Senator Guthrie is in favour of a free search, and apparently he is willing to load up the cost of government. He might as reasonably ask that his sugar : should be delivered at his door by the

Colonial Sugar Refining Company rather than by his grocer. Just as he is prepared to pay his grocer for rendering an intermediate service, so he should be prepared to pay an officer for the service of opening a volume at a particular page and facilitating a search. A man, in paying a fee for a search, is only recouping the Government for the trouble they have taken to provide him with the desired information.

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