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Friday, 3 November 1911

Senator LONG (Tasmania) / - While I am perfectly loyal to the. principle of compulsory enrolment, I cannot understand how that principle can be assisted or handicapped by the retention of this provision. Like Senator Gardiner and Senator Rae, I hold very strong views against this provision. No doubt there are occasions when the principle embodied in the provision should be inserted in some pf our Statutes. Reference has been made to the fact that under the Customs Act the onus is thrown on a defendant of proving his innocence. Under the Victorian Mines Act; if an accident happens in a mine, the onus is thrown on the mine-owner or manager to show that the accident was not caused by any neglect on his part; but that principle is not one that ought to find a place in an electoral law. Senator Gardiner, as some honorable senator' interjected, was drawing on his imagination when he said a shearer some hundred miles from his home might be prosecuted. He pointed out that it would not be convenient for such a man to attend Court to prove his innocence. However, we need not go so far as that. Probably the greatest number of prosecutions will be in places where there is the greatest population. In many cases, although their names had been left off the rolls through no fault of their own, men would rather submit to be fined than lose a day's wages. 1'he offence of non-enrolment is not a serious one, and the penalty would probably be very light. If a person charged would have to lose two or three days' wages in order to attend Court to prove his innocence, he would not attempt to do it, and to impose such an obligation on an elector is absolutely preposterous. I hope that the Committee will not retain the clause, and unless the Government are willing to adopt the suggestion of Senator Gardiner and postpone the clause, so that a more satisfactory provision may be framed, the only thing that we can do is to vote against it. I sincerely hope that there will be a majority of honorable senators prepared to vote for the omission of this objectionable provision.

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