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Thursday, 3 March 1927

Senator GRANT (New South Wales) . - I wish to say one or two words in reply.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Before the honorable senator proceeds I should like to ask him if it is not a fact that the Labour party in New South Wales objects to juries even in criminal cases.

Senator GRANT - I do not think so.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is it not a fact that a man named Grant was sent to prison on the verdict of a jury in that State, and that the Labour party objected, whereupon a judge, who was brought from Tasmania, let him off?

Senator GRANT - After reviewing the evidence the judge from Tasmania declared that Mr. Grant had not committed the offence complained of, and recommended his discharge.

Senator THOMAS (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What is the good of having a jury in those circumstances?

Senator GRANT - Tha effort made by the Minister for Home and Territories (Senator Glasgow) to controvert the arguments I advanced against the proposal to abolish juries in the Federal Territory can carry very little weight. The real objection he put forward was that there are too many workmen in the Territory. He spoke of civil servants; but he knows very well that the great bulk of the residents in the Territory, those who are now living in tents, but who no doubt will, to a large extent, make permanent homes at Canberra, are essentially workers.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - The honorable senator must be aware that those men cannot be summoned to serve on juries in civil cases.

Senator GRANT - The Minister is, apparently, afraid to trust those men to sit on a jury. It may or may not be a good idea to exclude members of the Civil Service from attendance on juries; but so far no attempt has been made by any Government to exclude the ordinary working man from the right to sit on a jury. I do not know how many workers there are in the Territory at the present time, but I should say that, approximately, there are at least 4,000 employed at Canberra, and in all probability that number will be continuously increasing.

Senator Reid - The majority of them live in Queanbeyan, and not in the Territory.

Senator GRANT - A large number of them live in the Territory in the best accommodation they can secure.

Senator Kingsmill - Most of them live in Queanbeyan, and do not even " work " in the Territory.

Senator GRANT - As time goes on more and more of these people - notwithstanding all the hindrances placed in their way, and they are many - will make their permanent homes at Canberra. The Minister indicates that at some indefinite date the present proposal may come up for review. But what causes have arisen for the change? What is the reason for it? The Minister has given us no reason whatsoever. The real outstanding objection to a continuance of the system of the past is the fact that the bulk of the people at Canberra belong to the working class, an4 the Minister is afraid to trust them with a right which the workers possess in all the States.

Senator Sir Henry Barwell - The Minister pointed out the practical difficulty that exists.

Senator GRANT - It is not a practical difficulty. The men are there, but they have been refused permission to sit on juries.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - Those people could not be summoned to sit on juries.

Senator GRANT - Does the Minister contend that men who are employed by the Federal Capital Commission cannot be summoned to sit on juries?

Senator Sir William Glasgow - They cannot be summoned because they are not residents of New South Wales.

Senator GRANT - With all due respect to the Minister, I claim that the men employed by the Commission can be summoned to sit on juries.

Senator Sir William Glasgow - They are not residents of New South Wales.

Senator GRANT - No, but they are residents of the Territory. In any case, according to Senator Kingsmill, a very large number of those who are working in the Territory reside in New South Wales.

Senator Crawford - Those who reside in the Territory are not residents of New South Wales.

Senator GRANT - According to Senator Kingsmill, one of the enthusiastic supporters of the Government, and Senator Reid, a very large number of those who are working in the Territory reside in New SouthWales, and, therefore, could be summoned. But, apparently, it does not matter whether people are resident in Queanbeyan or elsewhere, it is a fatal bar to their serving on juries if they belong to the working class. Apparently the Government is not prepared to trust these people. They may be good enough to build Canberra, they may do all the manual work there, but when it is a matter of sitting on a jury to consider a charge against their fellow men, they are not good enough.

Senator McLachlan - That is due to New SouthWales legislation, and it is not our fault.

Senator GRANT - The Minister's statement does not hold water, and I trust that the Senate will agree to the motion to disallow the ordinance.

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