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Tuesday, 19 December 1905


Senator WALKER (New South Wales) -I regard this amendment as a positive insult to the unpaid magistracy. It is absurd to suggest that justices of the peace should not be capable of witnessing an application by a man to be entered on the electoral roll. I should look upon justices as the very best men for the purpose.

Senator STEWART(Queensland). - Being a justice of the peace myself, I naturally feel some delicacy in dealing with this amendment. It would appear that the letters "J.P. " after a man's name, instead of being the hall mark of uprightness, integrity, and honesty, are regarded as the sign manual of iniquity. That is how the letters have been interpreted by our honorable friends in another place. I do not consider whether individual justices of the peace have acted wrongly or rightly, but I look at the question broadly, and consider whether it would be a convenience to the electors if justices of the peace were permitted to witness these applications. I think that it would. The justice of the peace holds an official public position. If he abuses his office he ought to be brought to book in the ordinary fashion, but until he does so we should proceed on the assumption that the State has been justified in appointing him to that honorable position. In the bush it is almost impossible to get a public servant who could witness these applications, and justices of the peace are often the only persons available for the purpose. I hope the Committee will not agree to the amendment.







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