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Wednesday, 26 October 1910

Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I believe that the Leader of the Opposition has submitted this amendment in all good faith, and that he wishes to attain a certain end, namely, the convenience and security of residents of Australia. He has instanced the case of a member of the Senate, who is also an illustrious member of the Defence Forces of Australia. It will be recollected that that honorable senator, at great inconvenience to himself, went to South Africa during the Boer war. But, if this Bill had been operative at the time, does anybody suggest that he would have been required to prove that he was not an absentee?

Senator Millen - Of whom was he a servant when he went to South Africa?

Senator McGREGOR - That does not matter. The same honorable senator afterwards went to England. But does anybody suggest that, in such circumstances, he would have been called upon to prove that he was not an absentee? His home and all his interests were in Australia. To my mind, " a public officer of the Commonwealth or of a State " includes every - body whom we ought to include. If we insert the words " an officer of the Crown," what may happen? We all know that there are a great many officers of the Crown who have never been in Australia. There are officers of the Crown who own estates in Australia to the value of £20,000, . £30,000, and £40,000. I do not think it would be wise to adopt the amendment. If it were proposed to safeguard the provision by inserting the words " an officer of the Crown employed by the

Commonwealth," that object is already secured by the words " a public officer of the Commonwealth." I hope that the amendment will not be accepted, because it will make the first portion of the clause conflict with the later portion.

Amendment negatived.

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