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Wednesday, 8 November 1911

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) (Honorary Minister) . - I move -

That the following new sub-clauses be added : - " (2.) The defendant in any such prosecution may, at any time before the hearing, lodge with or send by post to the Court or the prosecuting officer a statutory declaration setting forth any matter he desires to set forth in answer to the charge. " (3.) Where a statutory declaration is received by the prosecuting officer in pursuance of this section he shall as far as it is practicable for him to do so inquire into the truth of the statements therein set out and shall, unless he withdraws the prosecution, bring the declaration to the notice of the Court. " (4.) The Court shall at the hearing of the case consider the statutory declaration (whether the defendant is present or not) as if the matter set out therein had been given in evidence before it. " (5.) The Court may in its discretion on the application of the prosecuting officer adjourn the hearing for any period it thinks fit to enable him to answer the declaration. " (6.) In any such prosecution there shall be served on the defendant a notice to the effect that the averment of the prosecutor as set forth in the summons will on the hearing of the case be deemed to be proved in the absence of evidence to the contrary, and setting out the amount of the penalty which may be imposed, and that the defendant may attend the Court and answer the charge in person or may lodge with or send by post to the Court or the prosecuting officer a statutory declaration setting out any matter he desires to set out in answer to the charge, and that such declaration will be consideredby the Court as if it were evidence subject to any evidence in reply adduced by the prosecutor. The notice may be printed or written on the summons or may be by separate document served therewith."

I think that those honorable senators who on Friday last objected to proposed new section61e will find some satisfaction in the amendment now submitted. Many, if not all, of the objections which were urged have been met.

Senator Vardon - The amendment gives the accused a chance, which he had not before.

Senator FINDLEY - It was never intended that any man or woman entitled to be enrolled should not be given the fairest and fullest chance of making a defence against any charge of failure to enroll. The applicant was to be given an acknowledgment of his application for enrolment, which in itself would be a good defence.

Senator Vardon - The accused is still adjudged a criminal until he proves himself innocent.

Senator FINDLEY - We disposed on Friday last of the matter mentioned by Senator Vardon, who will admit that the proposed new sub-clauses go a long way to meet the objections raised by him and others.

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