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Thursday, 2 November 1911

Senator LYNCH (Western Australia) - - I hope the Minister will not accept the amendment. Senator Vardon has said that a similar provision is to be found inthe Defence Act. But there is hardly any parallel between the two. Persons who have conscientious 'objections to military enrolment or discipline are not, under the Defence Act, completely- exempted from the obligations cast upon every person to defend the country.

Senator Vardon - But the principle is recognised, and that is all 1 said.

Senator LYNCH - They are obliged still to take a very important share in the defence of the country. I think Senator Gardiner must recognise that it is quite possible that some people will suddenly awaken to the fact that they have a political conscience, and, having an aversion to being compulsorily enrolled, may conveniently fall back upon his amendment, if it be agreed to, to escape the obligation which this measure would otherwise cast upon them. I think that the place of those who have no desire to take part in elections should be down near the South Pole, far removed from human society. But while the honorable senator might desire to* meet the wishes of a very insignificant number of such persons, he must see that his proposal would open a door by which the provisions for compulsory enrolment would be defeated. A man might say, " My conscience leads me to believe that it is not right that I should be called upon to be enrolled against my will. I shall, therefore, on the ground of conscientious objection, refuse to be enrolled." If that course were followed to any extent, this measure would become an absolute nullity. I am sure that honorable senators do not desire that. While we might like to take into consideration the feelings of the people to whom Senator Vardon has referred, the amendment might be taken advantage of to escape enrolment for entirely different reasons. I think it would be very unwise to agree to the- amendment.'

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