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Friday, 15 December 1905

Mr JOHNSON (Lang) - I am in accord! with the general principle of the proposed new clause; but it seems to me that it isdefective in that a person who makes useof defamatory statements against a candidate may raise the defence that he honestly believed them to be true.

Mr Watson - Reasonable ground must be shown for that belief.

Mr HUME COOK (BOURKE, VICTORIA) - This is the exact provision in the English Act.

Mr JOHNSON - In an ordinary actionfor libel such a defence could not be successfully raised. No man is entitled tomake defamatory statements, even if he believes, them to be true. It may be that we cannot apply the strict law of evidence to proceedings in relation to parliamentary elections ; but I think that this clause does not offer candidates a sufficient protection.

Mr Groom - A person against whom complaint was made would have to showthat he had some justification for his. statements.

Mr JOHNSON - It seems to me that the clause will allow more latitude than is. desirable for the circulation of defamatory statements.

Mr Groom - The person concerned' would still be open to an action for libel.

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