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Wednesday, 2 November 1910

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) . - I do not intend to follow the legal intricacies as' to whether the undervaluer should be asked to prove his case or not; because I think that Senator Gardiner has effectively replied to the arguments brought forward by the other side. I am in a difficulty with regard to the clause. It provides that any person who undervalues with intent to defraud, or understates the unimproved value, shall be guilty of an indictable offence which, as in every other case, shall be tried before a jury. lt goes on to provide that where the value stated in a return is less by 25 per cent., or more than the value as found by the jury, the value shall be presumed, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to have been understated with intent to defraud. Now, when a man is guilty of an indictable offence, the degree of his guilt is not a question for the jury to decide. He is either guilty or not guilty ; and the only duty with which a jury will be charged in the case of an offence under this clause, will be the duty of stating whether the owner was guilty of understating the value of his land or not, and not as to whether he understated it by 25 per cent, or more. In my opinion, sub-clause 2 is altogether out of place. I should like an explanation from the Minister on this point; because he cannot point to a single case under our law of where a jury is charged with the duty of saying what the particular value or non-value or the particular percentage of value of the indictable offence is. In every case, the jury is charged with the duty of saying whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. That is the only duty with which a jury will be charged under this clause. 1 want the Minister to explain how he is going to find out whether an under-estimate of value was 25 per cent, or more, seeing that no jury can possibly be charged with that duty?

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