BIRTHS, DEATHS AND MARRIAGESCOMMONWEALTH POWER TO LEGISLATE TO ESTABLISH REGISTER OF BIRTHS, DEATHS AND MARRIAGES: WHETHER COMMONWEALTH HAS POWER TO MAKE EXTRACTS FROM REGISTER PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE IN COURTS: WHETHER STATE LEGISLATION WOULD ALSO BE NECESSARY: SCOPE OF COMMONWEALTH’S CENSUS AND STATISTICS POWER
CONSTITUTION s 51(xi)
I refer to your minute dated 14th June, 1946, forwarding correspondence in connexion with the suggestion of Mr. X that the Commonwealth take over the registration of births, deaths and marriages.
The general question as to the desirability of such action is one of policy which does not appear to come within the province of this Department, and I propose to confine myself to the legal aspects of the matter.
The ‘Census and Statistics’ power of the Constitution (section 51(xi)), would, I think, cover the establishment of a Commonwealth Register of Births, Deaths and Marriages. However, I do not think that the power of the Commonwealth to make extracts from the Register prima facie evidence in all courts is beyond doubt. Probably it would be necessary to have supplementary legislation on the part of the States to achieve this object.
Judging by the memorandum of the Commonwealth Statistician, no difficulty has, as yet, been experienced in obtaining all the information that is desired for statistical purposes.
I do not think that the matter calls for any further comment from me at the present juncture.
[Vol. 37, p. 184]