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Wednesday, 8 November 1911

Senator SAYERS (Queensland) . - The Minister has by his amendment met our views to a certain extent, and I give him credit for doing so, but he should remember that there are many people in the back districts of Queensland, at any rate', who will be unable to get a justice of the peace or a commissioner for affidavits ' to witness declarations.

Senator Findley - We can create commissioners for declarations if there is such a lack of justices of the peace.

Senator SAYERS - That is absurd. No Government has so far provided justices of the peace and commissioners for affidavits for all the remote districts, and the present Government are not likely to do so. The Minister's proposal will afford facilities to people in centres of population who really do not require them, and we are not asking too much from a Government who profess great sympathy with the people of the remote districts when we urge that those facilities should be extended to them. Senator W. Russell has said that he was never in a house in which he could not find pen and ink, but the honorable senator speaks of conditions that are as different as day from night from the conditions prevailing in the districts to which I have referred. He is speaking of people who are housed, and who will be provided for by the Minister's amendment. I speak of districts where for hundreds of miles there is no house to be found at all. The people in those districts have trouble enough to get paper, pen, and ink with which to prepare a statement, without having to travel perhaps 40 miles to get a justice of the peace to witness the signature to it. I feel sure that the Minister does not wish to punish people who will be quite unable to comply with this sub-clause, and I hope he will accept the amendment proposed from this side.

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