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Friday, 16 July 1915

Mr HIGGS (Capricornia) .- This clause provides for a fine not exceeding £50, or imprisonment not exceeding three months, or both, or, for an indictable offence, a fine not exceeding £500, or imprisonment not exceeding one year, or both. In connexion with the decennial census a person filling in the forms is given every assistance. A collector leaves the forms at the various houses; the householders are assisted in filling in the particulars, and if they fail to give information they are fined. Under this Bill, however, no assistance is to be given to the general public to obtain the papers. The public are expected to secure the papers on their own initiative; the cards will not be delivered to the houses. I can well believe that throughout the Commonwealth there will be hundreds and thousands of people who will know nothing whatever about this Bill or its contents, but they will still be liable under it to the penalties to which I take exception. I ask whether the services of the Post Office could not be availed of, as they will be later to distribute pamphlets dealing with the referenda proposals, to send these schedules to the people throughout the country? Honorable members will agree that the taking of a census in the United Kingdom, where 45,000,000 of people reside within an area that could be hidden away in one corner of Queensland, is a very different thingfrom the taking of a census in Australia, where, although I admit millions of people live in the big cities, neighbours in the country may be 50 miles apart. I think that the services of the PostOffice should be availed of to furnish these schedules to the people; and we should not ask them, under penalties, to obtain them for themselves.

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