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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3144

Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(4.28) —In response to the comments made by Senator Macklin, may I simply indicate that the expression used in sub-clause 6 (a)-'by reason of being of unsound mind, is incapable of understanding the nature and significance of enrolment and voting'-is one which finds its way into the measure as a result of a number of legal opinions and interpretations given over the years as to the proper meaning of the simple expression 'unsound mind' which appeared in the former Act. The real substances of the clause is in the gloss, namely, the reference to being incapable of understanding the nature and significance of enrolment and voting. It may be that the drafting could have proceeded in such a way as to use just that language, without reference to the phrase which I take it Senator Macklin finds unattractive, but one really needs both legs of the double in order to have a whole legal concept. The best advice of the draftsmen is that, taking into account the way in which this phrase has been interpreted over the years, in such case law as there has been, this compendious expression is the best available to communicate, in a way which makes it clear that it is not intended to be offensive, the concept that needs to be communicated in legislation. So while we take to heart what Senator Macklin is saying about the importance of linguistic description in these respects, we do not think that in this context we can do any better. We will try harder next time.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 24.