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Wednesday, 8 November 1911

Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - I hope that Senator Lynch's suggestion will be accepted. So much ' is being left to regulation under the Bill that it is quite possible that summonses and the method of their service will be made the subject of regulation. Senator Lynch desires that it shall be placed beyond doubt that, under this provision, summonses will be personally served. As a matter of law, every summons, except when otherwise prescribed, must be served personally.

Senator Vardon - Then it would do no harm to accept the proposed amendment.

Senator ST LEDGER - That is so, and we are informed that it would give effect to the desire of the Minister and of the Department. If the proposed amendment were agreed to there would be a guarantee to the Court hearing the case that the summons had been personally served, because, where personal service is required, the officer charged with the duty makes a declaration that he has served the summons that is lodged with the Court. I should like to draw attention to another matter arising in an earlier part of the sub-clauses proposed by the Minister. The proposed new sub-clause 2 reads -

The defendant in any such prosecution may, at any time before the hearing, lodge with or send bv post to the Court or the prosecuting officer a statutory declaration setting forth any matters he desires to set forth in answer to the charge -

I believe that, under our Federal law, 3 statutory declaration must be signed before a justice of the peace. It might not be always convenient, or even possible, for a person charged with an offence under this proposed new section to find a justice of the peace before whom he could make a statutory declaration, and I, therefore, suggest that the sub-clause should be amended by inserting after the word " declaration " the words "or a declaration in writingsigned by the defendant."

Senator Guthrie - That would not be a declaration It would be merely a statement.

Senator ST LEDGER - I wish the defendant to be given an opportunity tq make a statement of any matter he desires to set forth in answer to the charge if he be unable conveniently to get a justice of the peace to witness a statutory declaration. It might be inconvenient or very expensive for a defendant ¬ęto attend the Court, and he should, I think, be given an opportunity to make a statement in writing signed by himself.

Senator Guthrie - A statement might be true, but a statutory declaration must, be true under certain penalties.

Senator ST LEDGER - No; I think that a statement in writing, signed by a defendant, in a judicial proceeding, even though it may not be witnessed by a justice of the peace, would, if it were false, render the defendant liable to a prosecution tor perjury. Where the law gives effect to a statement as evidence, I think the person signing it is liable to a prosecution for perjury if it is shown to be false. I move - 1 That after the word "declaration" in proposed new sub-clause 3 the following words be inserted : - " or a declaration in -writing signed by the defendant." i Senator SAYERS (Queensland) [3.29].- ;It would do no harm to accept Senator St. Ledger's amendment. In the western districts of Queensland, people have often to travel 40 or 50 miles to reach the residence of the nearest justice of the peace. If, under this proposed new section, an elector is to be required to send in a statutory declaration, he may travel 40 or 50 miles to the residence of the nearest justice, only to find that he is not at home. In such circumstances, why not make the :scope of the measure as wide as possible, instead of confining it to a statutory declaration? In Queensland, two or three hundred miles inland, there are hundreds of men and women who are not within a reasonable distance of a justice of the peace. A similar remark is applicable to the out-back residents of Western Australia and South Australia.

Senator Walker - And of the Northern Territory.

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