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Wednesday, 25 October 1905

Senator BEST (Victoria) - I think that Senator Pearce is going a little too far in seeking to insert this amendment. I aim quite at one with the honorable senator in his effort to safeguard these provisions from abuse, but I do not think his present proposal affords much help in that connexion. A cautious, authorized witness might refuse to witness the document, because of a fear that, in the future, some unscrupulous person would prosecute him and expose him to a penalty of £50 on a charge of not having exercised reasonable care.

Senator Pearce - A person is liable if * he witnesses a false statement.

Senator BEST - That is a different matter. The amendment throws on the witness the onus of satisfying himself as to the facts alleged by the applicant; and that is an unreasonable responsibility to impose upon him. A perfectly honest authorized witness might sign a paper on the strength of circumstances within his own knowledge, and yet some designing person might afterwards declare that he had not made proper inquiry, and subject him, as I have said, to prosecution. I know it would be difficult to secure a conviction under the circumstances, but a witness would be liable to be harassed.

Amendment negatived.

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