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Wednesday, 26 October 1910

Senator GIVENS (Queensland) . - I would not have troubled the Committee with any observations on this amendment but for the fact that honorable senators opposite appear to be anxious to throw dust in the eyes of the people outside. Senators Chataway and St. Ledger have argued that because we confer the franchise upon citizens who continuously reside in Australia for six months, we ought not to declare a man an absentee unless he is continuously absent from the Commonwealth for six months. But I would point out that under such a provision a man might be absent from Australia half-a-dozen times in six months, and thus become entitled to the exemption.

Senator Millen - He will be entitled to it now. The whole point is whether he shall secure it as a right or by supplication to the Commissioner. ยป

Senator GIVENS - If we are going to adhere to the definition of " residence," which is laid down in the Commonwealth1 Franchise Act, it is not right that we should provide in this Bill for continuous absence, because the opposite of continuous residence is not continuous residence. If we say that citizenship means continuous residence for six months, then a man cannot be a citizen if he is not present in Australia for a continuous period of six months. Under this amendment, he might be away from Australia half-a-dozen times in the course of a year. There is nothing whatever in the contention, because, as has been pointed out, if a man can prove that he is a bond fide resident of Australia, he escapes the extra taxation. In every taxing measure that I have ever seen passed by any Parliament, extended powers have been taken. It has been exceedingly necessary to take those powers on behalf of the authorities which are saddled with the responsibility of collecting the tax. Otherwise, there would be loopholes for escape. It is possible that' honorable senators opposite may have serious amendments to propose which will be worthy of a good deal of consideration.; That being so, it is a pity, and merely displays an obstructive spirit, that they should propose a silly amendment of this sort, which merely takes up time and attention, and prevents consideration being given to more serious propositions. I am inclined to give the fullest possible consideration to every genuine amendment from the Opposition side, but the present amendment has not been proposed in a serious fashion. It would be possible under it for a land-owner to spend in Australia only three days in the year, and yet not be an absentee. Furthermore, I point out that at the end of paragraph a appears the word "or," showing that the paragraph under consideration is an alternative. If a person can satisfy the Commissioner that he resides in Australia, or in any Territory under the authority of the Commonwealth, he will not be an absentee, and the amendment is riot necessary for his protection. In my opinion, the amendment is moved primarily in the interests of people who may be mere visitors to Australia.

Senator Chataway - It is moved mainly to protect commercial travellers doing business between Australia and New Zealand.

Senator GIVENS - I would not deprive any man of his rights, but a commercial traveller would always have the alternative of showing the Commissioner that he resided in Australia. That safeguard is insured. The clause is perfectly fair as it stands.

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