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Wednesday, 8 November 1911

Senator VARDON (South Australia) . - If compulsory enrolment is to be enforced, a great many prosecutions will take place, especially during' the first year or two of the operation of this Bill. Naturally there will be numerous violations of its provisions, and therefore we ought to offer to the residents in the outlying portions of Australia facilities to safeguard their interests. I do not think it is fair to call upon any individual to make a statutory declaration, when the adoption of such a course may involve him in the loss of a good deal of time by compelling him to travel a long distance in order to secure the services of a commissioner who may receive his declaration. I hope that the Minister will accept Senator St. Ledger's offer to alter his amendment by striking out the word "declaration," and substituting the words " written statement," and adding the words " duly witnessed." That would allow a man to make a statement, and his signature, as in the case of many other documents, could be witnessed by any person. If the Minister wants to guard against the possibility of false statements being made, let him provide for the imposition of a penalty of £10. That would surely make persons very careful to see that their statements were true.

Senator Guthrie - Would you make the witness to a signature responsible as justices of the peace are made responsible?

Senator VARDON - No justice of the peace is made responsible for the truth of any statement made by a person whose signature he witnesses. I am aware that in connexion with the transfer of real property a justice of the peace calls upon the witness to certify that the person signing the document is of sound mind. That is rather a difficult question for a justice of the peace to determine. If my suggestion is adopted, we shall make all the provision that is needed, especially in view of the fact that if compulsory enrolment is going to be carried out we shall have a great many of these prosecutions.

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