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Wednesday, 8 November 1911

Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - Proposed new sub-clause 6 reads -

In any such prosecution there shall be served upon the defendant' a notice to the effect - and so on. If no qualifying words are to be inserted, the notices must be served personally. Every person is sufficiently familiar with the ordinary process of summoning. A summons has to be indorsed by the person serving it with some such words as " Served by me on such-and-such a date, at such-and-such a place, on the individual named herein." But in this matter of enrolment, the Government are not prepared to allow an accused person to have the same privilege as he would have if he were being sued for a debt of half-a-crown. What spirit is coming over the Government and the Department in this matter ? Either they want" to do this business by regulation, or they want to provide a substitute for the personal service of summonses. A summons served in the ordinary way must be delivered personally to the person summoned. Surely the Committee is entitled to know whether the Government intend to prosecute persons under departmental regulations, and if so, to what extent they intend to depart from the ordinary legal procedure. Not the slightest intimation has been given to us as to the nature of the regulations. Apparently the Electoral Office is to be allowed to wander by and large over the whole of Australia, showering summonses as, to use the language of the pavement, it "jolly well chooses." What kind of legislation is this ? I draw attention to the fact that the Department has very wide power in the matter of regulations. Section 210' of the original Act provides that-

The Governor-General may make regulations for carrying out this Act. All such regulations shall be notified in the Gazette, and shall thereupon have the force of law.

Under that power the Government may be contemplating an entirely novel departure from the ordinary method of procedure. But what is there that is sacrosanct about this Electoral Office, that it cannot carry out its administration in the ordinary way ? Why should it have privileges which are not conferred even upon a court of law? I am aware that under certain municipal statutes there is power to serve summonses for rates by post. But that power is always confined by specific Act of Parliament. Here it is proposed to allow a Government Department to abrogate the principle of personal service, merely under cover of a regulation.

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