1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
– With the concurrence of honorable members, I move -
That this House expresses its great regret at the approaching departure of His Excellency the Governor-General, and records its high appreciation of the manner in which he has fulfilled the duties of His Majesty’s representative in the Commonwealth.
One cannot allude to this event without deeply regretting the untoward circumstances which surround His Excellency’s departure, nor can a member of the Ministry refer to, it without reflecting that in the light of past events we should have acted more wisely if we had invited the opinion of Parliament in regard to some of the questions connected with the upkeep of His Excellency’s establishment at an earlier date. The delay in consulting Parliament on the subject was, however, all but unavoidable, and, so far as it was intentional, was allowed with the best end in view. During his stay amongst us, as in his term of office as Governor of Victoria, Lord Hopetoun has manifested a full sense of the great constitutional responsibilities of his position, and, while strictly fulfilling every duty devolving upon him as
His Majesty’s representative, has never, at any time, sought to interfere with the free action of his Ministers, orto unduly influence those associated with him. He is widely known and appreciated throughout the Commonwealth, being personally acquainted with verylarge classes of people, to whom his unfailing charity and kindness of disposition have greatly endeared him. Apart from the loss which we sustain through his departure from the political and public sphere, to many here and many more in all ranks and positions of lifeit involves a painful personal feeling of severance from one for whom we have cherished a sincere attachment.
– I agree with the Attorney-General that, in saying good-bye to His Excellency the Governor-General, we need not dwell upon the circumstances whichhave brought about his departure. In going, he has, at any rate, the consolation that he takes with him the universal respect, and I might almost say affection, of the people of the Commonwealth. It is a pity that our first Governor-General, a man whom, if we could have made our choice from the whole of the peers of the realm, wouldhave been selected by the people of Australia for the position, should feel bound to bring his term of office to a close within eighteen months of the inauguration of the Commonwealth. This House joins with the people of all the States in the feeling of deepregretat his departure, and in the hope that he may be spared for many years to safeguard the rights and the interests of the Empire.
– As the leader of; the party which was in a large measure responsible for the determination of the House a few weeks ago which maybe held to have led up to the present situation, it is hardly necessaryf or me to say that we took that course with no feeling against the present occupant of the office. On the contrary, our feelings towards him have always been of the most cordial description ; and, speaking for myself, I do not know that it would have been possible to choose from the whole Empire a man who would have done better under the difficult circumstances created by the initiation of thenew order ofthings brought aboutby the establishment of the Commonwealth. I joinheartily in the expression of regret at the departure of the Governor-General.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
– If it would be consistent with. your arrangements, Mr. Speaker, to present thisresolution toHisExcellency, I think the members of the Housewould be gratified.
Honorable Members. - Hear, hear.
– The resolution is not strictly in the form of an address, but I shall have much pleasureinwaiting upon His Excellency to present it.
asked the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, upon notice -
– The. answers to the honorable member’s questions areas fol low : - 1, 2, 3, and 4. The AdmiralNaval Comman der-in-Chief has been requested, and has agreed to appoint a board of officers to inspect and survey the torpedo boats and their equipment, both in Sydneyand Melbourne, and he will furnish the Government with a report as to their value for retention for defence purposes.
asked the Minister for Trade and Customs, upon notice -
What action, if any, he intends to take in reference to the application made to him by the Mackay Chamber of Commerce relative to loading and discharging cargo at Flat Top Anchorage on Sundays ?
– The answer to the honorable member’s question is as follows : -
The Comptroller-General, who is in Brisbane, isinquiring into the matter.
In Committee of Supply :
– I move-
That a sum not exceeding £587,219 begranted to His Majesty for or towards defraying the services for the year ending 30th June, 1903.
Under ordinary circumstances it would not have been necessary for me to ask for supply until the beginning of next month. Under our. Constitution all payments have to be stopped on the 30th June, because we have to hand over to the States month by month the amount received over and above that which is expended on their behalf. As it is desired that the House should have a short recess before we proceed to deal with the alterations made in the Tariff by the Senate, it will be necessary to give the Treasurer supply in order that he may have the meansof meeting the demands made upon him during July and August. It will probably be about the middleof August before I shall be able to make my financial statement, but honorable members may rest assured that I shall deliver it at as nearly a date as possible. As we have the whole Commonwealth to deal with it will take some little time for us to collect the information necessary to show what the transactions of the past year have been, and to give us some idea of the prospects of the new year. Under these circumstances I am asking for two months’ supply, which will carry me on until after my financial statement is made. The schedule of the Bill, which I shall shortly submit to honorable members, is based upon the Estimates wehavealready votedfor the year now closing, with the. exception of a few itemsonpage 6. Honorable members will notice that the sum of £1,000 is provided to meet expenses in connexion with choosing the site of the capital of the Commonwealth. This is in tended to. enable the Minister for Home Affairs to obtain expert and other information with regard to the sites inorder that we may be able to submit the whole question to Parliament at an early date. The sum of £7,500 is set down to defray the cost of the conveyance of. Members of Parliament and others. The amount set down is slightly more than is paid to the Railway department, but other payments which have to be made bring the total up to the amount stated. £500 altogether is asked for to meet the cost of the compilation of a new edition of theSeven Coloniesand thecost of tabulating the Customs statistics. These are re-votes of amounts already passed, the whole of which will not be expended during the current year. The work in connexion with the compilation of the Seven Colonies is well in hand, and a portion of the amount has already been paid. The balance will probably be handed over in July or August. These are the only items whichI consider it necessary to mention to honorable members. As the Bill will have to be considered in another place, and come back to us before we adjourn, I would ask honorable members to allow it to be passed through all its stages without much discussion.
– It will be clear to the Government, after the difficulty experienced in obtaining a quorum this morning, that it will be best for us to adjourn this afternoon. So far as supply is concerned, I am always absolutely satisfied with the statement of the Treasurer, and I do not intend to pass any comments on the resolution.
– I find myself again called upon to vote in support of supply before the introduction of the Estimates. I see no reason why the Estimates for next year should not have been submitted before the introduction of any further Supply Bills. I must again enter my protest against the passing of any further Supply Bills before the Estimates are laid upon the table.
– I promise that I will not ask for any further supply before the Estimates are introduced.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Resolution reported and adopted.
Resolved (motion by Sir George Turner) -
That the standing orders he suspended in order to enableall steps to be taken to obtain supply, and to pass a Supply Bill through all its stages without delay.
Resolution of Committee of Ways and Means, founded upon resolution of Committee of Supply, reported and adopted.
Bill presented and read a first time.
Motion (by Sir George Turner) proposed -
That the Bill be now read a second time.
– As the Bill is intended to provide supply for the next financial year, and the money is not required until after the 30th June, would it not be more in accordance with parliamentary usage to provide that the Bill shall not come into operation until after the date mentioned ?
– At the most the point to which the honorable and learned member has referred is a departure from the ordinary parliamentary usage, and it does not affect the validity of the Bill. It is true that an extravagant Treasurer might proceed to disburse the money before the 30th June, but as my honorable colleague has undertaken not to do so, it will not be necessary to retain the Bill.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill read a second time, and passed through its remaining stages.
In Committee :
Consideration resumed from 19th June (vide page 13957).
Clause 19 (Notice of Distribution).
– It may encourage honorable members to undertake the task before them if I indicate, briefly, what I propose asking them to do. I am very desirous that we should pass the whole of this Bill through committee to-day. If there be any points which cannot be settled in a few moments, I suggest that we should postpone their consideration, so that we may make all the verbal amendments outlined by the Minister for Home Affairs, and determine as many other issues as time will permit, in order that, when we reassemble, honorable members may have revised copies of the Bill before them. Upon that understanding, if honorable members will give the Government their generous assistance; I hope that we shall not need to detain them after the usual hour to-day. I propose to ask the committee to omit this clause, as well as the two suceeding ones, with a view to substituting another provision at a later stage.
Clauses 20 and 21 negatived.
Clauses 22 and 23 agreed to.
If either House of Parliament passes a resolution disapproving of any proposed distribution, or negatives a motion for the approval of any proposed distribution, the Minister may direct the commissioners to proposea fresh distribution of the State into divisions.
– It seems to me that this clause confers altogether too much authority upon the commissioner. It merely gives Parliament power to either accept or reject the distribution which he makes. We cannot amend any scheme which he may submit.
– I will suggest an amendment of the clause.
– I would point out to the Attorney-General that no provision has been made for insisting that the commissioner shall do his work quickly. I think that we ought to have some assurance from the Executive that the fresh distribution will be expedited.
Mr. O’MALLEY (Tasmania). - I wish also to direct attention to the fact that in Tasmania it is rumoured that the cutting up of the State into electorates will be deferred till it is impossible to accomplish the work in time for the next election.
– In regard to the latter point, I can assure honorable members that the executive portion of this Bill will be brought into action with the utmost rapidity. There is nopossibility of the scheme failing to be laid before this House next session, in ample time for its adoption before the next election. In order to make the power of Parliament absolutely clear, I think we might add to the clause the words, “in accordance with the requirements of such resolution.” Parliament will then have power to point out in the resolution what it thinks are the defects in any scheme submitted. That will be an instruction to the Minister, who will direct the commissioner to prepare a fresh plan in accordance with the desire of Parliament.
– Suppose that the Senate differs from the House of Representatives?
– As originally submitted to the Senate, the Government proposal was that the matter should be dealt with only in the House of Representatives. That proposal was amended by the other Chamber, because it was pointed out that the time might arrive when some of the States would be subdivided for the election of senators. The suggestion was also made that the division of States into constituencies was a matter for the consideration of Parliament. It is not necessary to enter at the present time into the discussion of that question, because it is one which will need some reflection. Ithink that the honorable member’s purpose will be accomplished by the additionof the words I have suggested. I therefore move -
That the following words be added to the clause - “In accordance with the requirements of such resolution. “
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 25 -
A redistribution of any State into divisions shall be made in the manner hereinbefore provided whenever directed by the Governor-General by proclamation.
– I wish to ask the Attorney-General to state definitely whether the States which are already subdivided are to be interfered with?
– The honorable member will want the commissioner to report, anyhow.
-Why should he report when general satisfaction exists ? My objection to some of the provisions of this Bill is that the whole system of determining electorates is practically in the hands of the Ministry of the day. It is just possible that in years to come we may have a Government which will not be above doing a little gerrymandering. They may have a commissioner whose office will depend simply upon their patronage, and, with a majority of the House behind them, they may cut up the constituencies as they choose. I think that, before the subdivision of any State is referred to the commissioner, the matter should be submitted by resolution to this House. In order to test the question, I move -
That the following words be added to the clause : - “Provided that no alteration of existing subdivisions in any State shall be attempted until the House of Representatives by resolution shall so determine. “
That will take it out of the hands of the Ministry of the day to effect redistributions whenever they choose.
– The honorable member means perhaps more than he has said, but if he merely means what he has said, I would point out that clause 24 provides that no scheme of distribution can be adopted until Parliament has sanctioned it.
– I do not wish to see it attempted.
– The proposal of the Bill is that the machinery for obtaining a report from the commissioner shall not be set in motion, except by the Government. It is not possible for the commissioner to be called upon to make a report, and propose an alteration of boundaries without the whole matter becoming public property. If it will satisfy the honorable member, I will undertake, so far as this Government is concerned, that the House shall receive ample notice of its intention to take any such step. But it appears to me that it would be unwise to require a preliminary discussion in the House, because in nineteen cases out of twenty any proposals for change will be made in consequence of the natural course of events. They will not be made from any political motive. Of course, if the quota of an electorate were destroyed by any circumstance whatever, it would be imperatively necessary to reconsider its boundaries, and to make a fresh distribution. But surely it is not necessary at this stage to impose the restriction which the honorable member desires.
– The Attorney-General will see, on reflection, that it is quite impossible to adopt the proposal which has been made. In the first place, the proposal cramps the commissioner and does away with that responsibility which, broadly, should attach to him, and, in the next place, it practically differentiates between the States. There will in all probability have to be some alterations made in the boundaries of not only New South Wales, butof all the States, and yet the object of the proposal is that the Victorian boundaries shall not be changed under any possible circumstances. We have already arranged that the commissioner shall consider present boundaries ; buttogive him practically a political direction that under no circumstances, untilhe comes backto this House, is he to alter boundaries, would simply mean an interim report, and a discussion here before the final report is presented. Surely we ought to wait for a complete report, when we shallhave before us all the circumstances and the necessary explanations of the commissioner. The proposal is against the principle ofthe Bill.
– It is quite possible that as soon as this Bill is passed there will have to be a re-distribution of the Melbourne city electorates. In the debate which took place in the Victorian State Parliament prior to the divisionof electorates forfederal purposes, it was stated that inthe Melbourneelectorate there were only7,000 residential voters, whereas each of the adjoining electorates of Northern Melbourne andYarra contained 15,000. It isquite possiblethat if we decide on a definitetermof residence the Melbourne electorate will lose a considerable number of electors. As an illustration, I may saythat, during an election in a metropolitan area last Saturday, it was found that of 3,000 or 4,000 electors, 416 exercised plural or absentee votes. Ifthere bethat number of plural voters in an electorate of 3,000 people, it is easy to realize thatthis Bill may affect metropolitan electorates much more than it does country electorates. The 5,000 or6,000 voters who may be removed from the Melbourne city roll willprobably exercise the franchise at Balaclava or in theKooyong constituency. There will probably have tobe a reportfrom the commissioner immediatelythe Bill ispassed, as to the alteration ofthe metropolitan electorates inorder togive each vote an equal power. I cannot see that the suggestion of the honorable memberfor Echuca would assistthe commissioner ; on the other hand, it would retard thegiving effect to the provision in theBillthat each voteshall have that equal valuewhich it does not now possess in the metropolitan area. We have allowed a margin of onefifth, but every honorable member is agreed that so far as the cities are concerned there shall beequal voting power.
– I hope the honorable memberfor Echuca will not press the amendment.The object he has in view is attained by the amendment of a former clause directingthecommissioner to have regard to the existing boundaries Of divisions, and the presentamendment would very seriouslyhamper the commissioner in the performance of his work. The idea of maintaining the supremacy of Parliament is very goodsofaras it goes, but we must not forget that Parliament is only the creature ofthe Constitution, the provisions of which the Billisintended to carry out. Asfar as possiblethe Bill oughtto work automatically withoutany instructions from Parliament. We hold the Executive Government responsiblefor carrying out the law, andit isfar better to leave them withthat responsibility.
– The automatic clauses were dropped in NewSouth Wales because ofpolitical exigencies.
– There was a provisionin theNewSouthWales Act that the proposals of the commissionersshould be submitted to Parliament, but no action was takenby theGovernment to that end. The consequence was that owing to Executive neglect, and to parliamentaryneglect- for Parliament allowedthe laxity on the part of the Executive - no redistribution took place,and anumber of anomalies and inequalities,which have sincegrown to be almost apolitical scandal,were permitted. The amendment would hamper the Executive in carrying outthe intention of the Constitution to have something like equality of representation throughoutthe Commonwealth.
Mr. McCOLL (Echuca).- My object is to prevent the Government and the commissioner interfering at their own will with the true foundations ofour House.
– They cannot effectively interfere.
– I know that time is precious to-day,and, as I see no chance of carrying my amendment, I ask leave to withdraw it.
Amendment, by leave,withdrawn.
– The positionto which the honorable member for Yarra has drawn attention is one that arises in the capitals of all the States. It presents a great difficulty which I really do not know how we can meet. The sparseness of population in the capitals is owing to the fact that the owners of the property, who do their business there, mostly reside in the suburbs, and none ofus desirethat they shall have a vote in each place. But the important question arises as to where these electors should exercisethe franchise - where their propertiesare situatedor where they merely lodge -in the suburbs. The residential population of the differentcapitals islargely madeup of caretakers, so far as sleeping on the premisesis concerned.
– Nogreat complaints have been made in Sydney, where for years regard has been hadto the residential aspect.
– InVictoria we got over thedifficulty byallowing the electorto choose in whichelectoratehe wouldexercise his vote.
– That israther a dangerous plan.
-Iknow the objections that are raisedto the Victorian plan, but still the important questionremains whether therepresentatives of the different capitals shall be chosen by the owners of the propertyorbythe caretakers.We all know who are most interestedin the election.
– This is not a question of therepresentation of a capital as a capital, or ofproperty,but a question of the representation of individuals.Wherever a voterresides he has a voice in the control of the affairs of the country.
– One class ofvoter is in the city all day doingbusiness, andthe other class merely sleeps there atnight.
– I do not see that it matters to an individual where he votes so long as his vote finds expression.
-It is not aparochial influence.
Mr.WATSON. - It is not aparochial influence which the individual has over the Government of thecountry, and whether he votesat Toorak or Melbourne doesnot matter. In Sydney there has not been the slightest complainton the part of propertyowners, who mostly reside in the suburbs and exercise the franchise there. The effect on the wholeisjustabout the same, andit would be absolutely impossible to insert a clause with the object mentioned by the honorable member for Gippsland without inflicting a great deal of injury, and leaving openings for unsatisfactory results.
Mr. McCOLL (Echuca). - It is only reasonable that a manshouldhave the right to choose whetherhewill voteat the place in which he isactually domiciled orwhere his business premises are.
Mr.Fowler. -How often would such a voter be allowed to change - at everybyeelection?
Mr.McCOLL. - Honorable members of the Opposition are desirous of shearers and others havingtheright to vote, wherever theymay be,and surely a business man may beallowed tosaywhether hewill vote athis place of residence or place ofbusiness.
– But we contend that the shearer shall vote onlyforhis own district.
Mr. F. E. McLEAN (Lang). - I suppose clause 25 refers to a scheme ofredistribution,and not to the original distribution by the commissioner. Does this clause govern the first distribution?
Mr.Deakin. - Yes.
-Having regard to clause 24,it occurs to me that we have left something incomplete. In thecase of Parliament approving of thedistribution, we complete the work of the commissioner by declaring that each division shall, until altered, be theelectoral division, but under clause 24, when the work is sent back to the commissioner,and a fresh distribution proposed, we do not complete our work in a similar way.
– The new scheme comes on again under clauses 22,23,and24.
-If a fresh distribution is ordered has it to be confirmed by Act of Parliamentunderclause 23 ?
-I am not quite satisfiedthat it isfully providedfor, and I should like theAttorney-Generalto give the matterhis careful consideration before we deal with the Bill again.
Mr.Deakin. -Iwill look at it again, though Ifeel satisfiedupon the point at the present time.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 26 (Polling places).
Mr.L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).Seeing that provision is made elsewhere for voting by post,I wish toknow if it is intended to doaway with some of the very small polling places which have hitherto existed in the large electorates. I do not support their abolition ; but would point out that in Queensland it is feared that the secrecy of the ballot cannot be preserved in these places, because the number of votes recorded Ls very small. In some instances as few as five voting papers have been deposited in the ballot-boxes, and as they are counted at the conclusion of the poll, it may be possible to ascertain how a certain elector has voted. I think that if the small polling places are retained, the ballot-boxes should be sealed up at the conclusion of the polling, and sent in to some convenient centre to be opened.
– I am obliged for the suggestion, and when we come to deal with a subsequent clause, I hope to be able to point out that the danger to which the honorable and learned member has called attention will be obviated by the Bill.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 27 (Report as to polling places).
– It has been a matter of complaint in New South Wales that polling places can sometimes not be secured in isolated districts where, although the number of electors is small, they are at such a distance from any polling place that they cannot record their votes. To meet this difficulty I move -
That the following words be added to the clause : - “ Provided that a polling place shall be proclaimed at any place twenty or more miles distant from a polling place already proclaimed, on a petition being received by the Commonwealth Returning Officer for the State, signed by not less than ton electors residing within a radius of ten miles of such place. “
No doubt in many cases the machinery provided in the Bill will be sufficient to meet the difficulty I speak of, but I should like to make it certain that, under the conditions to which I have referred, it will be compulsory to proclaim a polling place.
– I submit upon general grounds that a proviso of this kind is likely to create suspicion as to other clauses in which it is endeavoured to preserve great elasticity of administration, because where you specify that a thing is to be done in one particular event, you imply that it is not to be done in other cases which are not specified. The clause now before the committee has been made elastic so that its provisions may be easily applied to the widelydiffering circumstances that obtain throughout the Commonwealth. The GovernorGeneral may by proclamation appoint all the polling places, or even more, than the honorable member wants.
– Or he may appoint none of them.
– Yes, but the Government of the day are greatly under the direction of Members of Parliament in a matter like this. The honorable member seems to think that the exercise of the Ministerial power is only to follow the recommendation of the Commonwealth electoral officer.
– I think that in a matter such as this the Government acts always upon the representations of the returning officers.
– The information regarding the necessity for establishing polling places in particular localities will be derived very largely from the police and the clerks of courts, and similar officials. This will be filtered through the returning officer to the Minister, whose discretion will be absolutely unfettered, no matter where the recommendations may come from. The provisions of the Bill with regard to voting by post present an easier means of dealing with cases such as those mentioned by the honorable’ member.
– But I am not in favour of voting by post.
– The honorable member will agree that if voting by post is provided for it will meet a great many of the cases he has mentioned.
– Yes ; but I would sooner have polling places, with a proper officer to record the votes.
– At polling places where only a few votes are recorded it is comparatively easy to determine how the votes are cast by individuals, and the risks in these cases are quite as great as under the system of voting by post. What the honorable member is seeking to do is to lay down the hard-and-fast rule that wherever ten electors are to be found twenty miles distant from a polling place a fresh booth shall be established, and that the Executive, which is otherwise free, shall in this respect be hampered. Whatever causes of complaint may have arisen under the administration of the States Governments, the honorable member may rest assured that the Federal Government will always regard it as their duty to afford the fullest convenience for voting, and that they will place the most liberal interpretation on the necessities of the electors in the sparsely populated districts. In Victoria we have always held that it is better to have too many than too few polling places. I hope that the honorable member will be satisfied with this assurance, and that he will withdraw his amendment.
– Polling places should be providedfor wherever a reasonable number of electors are prepared to record their votes ; and it would be far better to make some definite provision in the matter. Honorablemembers can speak according to the experience gained in their respective States ; and the difficulties which we have had to combat in Queensland have engendered a feeling of distrust in the Executive. I remember one case in which 60 electors were gathered together on a new mining field, and, although they were 90 miles away from the nearest polling booth, the Executive refused to grant them facilities for voting in their own neighbourhood. These men were compelled to ride 90 miles over very rough country in order to record their votes, and they were occupied for four days in going, and four days in returning to their homes. The Queensland Government not onlyrefused to grant these men a polling booth, but they also denied them exemption from the mining conditions which rendered their claims liable to forfeiture if they remained idle for more than three days.
On the other hand, I know of cases in which polling places have been established for the purpose of recording a solitary Ministerial vote. In one instance a polling place was established for the convenience of one individual, but it happened that he travelled to another polling place and recorded his vote there. We could not expect that polling places should be established at every 20 miles in a territory such as Queensland, and I think the limit might be very well extended. I have a very strong objection to the system of voting by post, because it opens the door to the exercise of undue influence on the part of employers. Under that system influence will be exercised over the employes on stations to the same extent as at present, in cases where votes can be counted. Where men have been employed on a station for a number of years they will be practically under the control of the manager, who will arrange to secure their voting-papers, and will be able to ascertain what the men intend to do. It is an extraordinary fact that on stations in Queensland and New South Wales, where a small number of votes are recorded, the station hands are nearly always opposed to the progressive party.
– That is not the experience in New South Wales.
– I am informed that it is so. I do not say that influence is exerted so much by the ordinary squatter, but the most unfair methods are sometimes adopted by the managers of stations who are representing large financial concerns. I hope the amendment will be agreed to.
– It is proposed to set the machinery of the Bill in motion immediately it is passed, because some months will be occupied in bringing it into working order. I undertake that my honorable colleague, the Minister of Home Affairs, will lay upon the table as soon as possible a list of the polling places proposed for every division throughoutAustralia, so that honorable members may have an opportunity of remitting it to their constituents, and of making suggestions, or challenging the proposals in any way they think fit. This should insure compliance with every reasonable demand.Full time will be allowed for the revision of the list prior to the forthcoming general election. Under these circumstances, I think, the honorable member for Bland might withdraw his amendment.
Mr. WATSON (Bland). - I am perfectly willing to accept the offer of the AttorneyGeneral. Our experience in many of the States has not been too happy in regard to the declaration of polling places, but the proposal made by the AttorneyGeneral is a very fair and reasonable one.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
– I suggest that an addition should be made to this clause, or that a new clause should be inserted, in order to afford facilities for recording the votes of seamen.
– If the provision for voting by post is agreed to, that will meet the case of seamen, and if it is not embodied in the Bill, we shall consider the point mentioned by the honorable member.
Clause agreed to.
The Governor-General may, by the proclamation declaring that any polling place shall cease to be a polling place, or, by a subsequent proclamation, direct at what place electors previously entitled to vote thereat may vote.
– This clause brings up, in an indirect way, the question whether electors should be confined to one polling place for the purpose of recording their votes. In my opinion it is absolutely pernicious to seek to compel men who may reside in a division 300 or 400 miles square to vote at one particular polling place in the electorate, or to go to the expense or trouble of obtaining a voter’s certificate. Men very frequently have to leave their homes at short notice, and under circumstances which will not permit of their obtaining certificates entitling them to vote at polling places other than those at which they are registered. An elector should be entitled to vote at any polling place within the division for which he is qualified. The idea of confining a man to one polling place is to enable the returning officer to identify him. But what chance is there in a large electorate like that of Melbourne, or Yarra, of more than a fraction of the voters being personally known to the officials in the booth ? I admit that in small country towns, the presiding officer, who may be an old resident, may have a very good knowledge of a large proportion of the electors, but in the city, where it is most likely that personation would be attempted, he cannot possibly be acquainted with more than a fraction. As instancing this, I may mention that in 1891 there was an election for the district of West Sydney, the only polling place being the Town Hall. After the election, one man assuredme that he had voted six times in the names of individuals who chanced to be absent. That evidences that the fact of having one polling place only is no bar to personation so far as city electorates are concerned. I believe that the system of issuing electors’ rights is a much better one than anything in the nature of confining a man to one polling booth; but, of course, to enter upon a consideration of such an elaborate system at the present stage would be asking too much of the committee. I protest against this provision, which I am sure will result in disfranchising a large proportion of country electors.
– The honorable member recognises that a voter’s certificate meets the difficulty to some extent?
– Voters’ certificates meet only the cases of individuals who know what their movements will be for a considerable period ahead.
– For three days ahead.
– The Attorney-General is speaking of urban conditions, and is altogether oblivious of those which obtain in the country.
– Is it not possible to extend the system of voters’ certificates to meet the difficulty which the honorable member suggests.
– No ; it cannot be done. In my own electorate, plenty of people would require to know for a week beforehand that they were likely to be absent from their homes upon the day of election, in order that they might take advantage of any postal system that could be devised. These persons may go 200 miles from their homes, and still be within their divisions, and yet they would be disfranchised under the Bill in its present form. That is not a thing that we should allow. At a later stage, I intend to propose the insertion of a new clause, providing that, so long as an elector is within the Commonwealth, he shall be allowed to vote for the district for which he is enrolled, upon making a proper declaration.
– It may simplify the debate if I call attention to clause 140 a, the insertion of which the Minister for Home Affairs proposes to move. That clause provides that -
Any elector may vote at the polling place for which he is enrolled, or if he is absent from the polling place for which he is enrolled, may vote at any other polling place within the division in which his polling place is situated, if he makes and signs before the presiding officer a declaration in the form “ R 1 “ in the schedule.
That schedule is as follows : -
I declare that I am the person whose name appears as No……. on the electoral roll for the electoral division of……………… , and that I have not voted either here or at any other polling place at this election, and I promise that if I am permitted to vote here I will not vote at this election at any other polling place .
That is a declaration which, if false, makes the voter liable to penalties for perjury, and, I think, absolutely meets the case put by the honorable member for Bland.
– In the State which I have the honour to represent, an elector can vote at any booth in the district to which he belongs, under what are known as the “ Gilmore convenience clauses.” The only thing he is required to do is to sign a paper, which is placed in an envelope, and forwarded to the booth at which he should have voted. It is the simplest matter in the world. I fail to see why any elector should be prevented from exercising his franchise because he does not happen to vote at a particular booth.
– There is no doubt that there is reasonable cause for complaint under existing conditions, seeing that an elector is compelled to vote at a particular polling place. However, I think that the new clause which the Minister for Home Affairs intends to move amply meets the difficulty. Indeed, I think that that provision is almost too liberal. I have had some experience in connexion with elections, and I know of cases in which it has been impossible for the law to reach those who have prompted others to personate the dead. I have always contended that every reasonable opportunity should be afforded to electors to record their votes, but I fear that the proposal of the Minister for Home Affairs runs to licence in that direction. If the amendment of the honorable member for Bland were confined to a division I should not object to it ; buthis original proposal, as I understood it, was to allow an elector to vote at any polling place within the Commonwealth. Upon that matter I shall join issue with him at a later stage.
-I quite agree that we ought to afford electors every opportunity for exercising the franchise. New South Wales has gone further in this direction than has Victoria. Even before the adoption of the system of issuing electors’ rights, voters were privileged to vote at different polling places within the particular division for which they were enrolled. I am perfectly satisfied that under the system in vogue in New South Wales no more personation has occurred than has been practised under other systems. Personation usually takes place in thicklypopulated districts in which there is only one polling booth. Seeing that we have adopted the principle of adult suffrage, we should be extremely careful to insure that the will of the people is recorded as fully as possible. We should assist in the collection of the rolls, and not leave their preparation to individual effort. I would further point out that the words, “ or if he is absent from the polling place for which he is enrolled,” in the new clause, the insertion of which the Minister for Home Affairs intends to move, are meaningless. If an elector is voting at a different place from that for which he is enrolled he is evidently absent from the latter.
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).I heartily approve of the suggestion of the honorable member for Bland. Were it not for the operation of some such provision, a large number of railway men in many electorates would be absolutely disfranchised. I might further point out that in Queensland the farmers around Toowoomba and Warwick, and other farming towns, who reside in outlying parts, usually come into town upon Saturday, which is generally the day of election. In order to record their votes they have to commence their journey long before the polling places are open. In the absence of some such provision as is suggested, these persons would be absolutely disfranchised. A date ought to be fixed after which no proclamation can be issued abolishing polling places, or creating new polling places. The usual provision in the other States is to name the polling places when the nominations are made.
– As an elector, I think I see an opportunity afforded to vote anywhere without troubling about electoral rolls. Section 41 of the Constitution states -
No adult person who has or acquires a right to vote at elections for the more numerous House of the Parliament of a State shall, while the right continues, be prevented by any law of the Commonwealth from voting at elections for either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth.
That would seem to show that so long as a man is on the electoral roll of the State he has a right to vote at any election for the Commonwealth. He need not be on the Commonwealth electoral roll, but may merely march into any polling place, and claim his right to vote. Perhaps the Attorney-General will give us his opinion of the exact meaning of this section.
– The honorable member has raised an important question, and, without looking at the Constitution, I think our power in regard to the electoral laws authorizes us to impose reasonable conditions under which the right to vote is to be exercised.
– The clause speaks of the right, not to be on the roll, but to vote.
– The phrase is very strong, but so are the phrases which endow us with authority to enact electoral legislation. I think any court would say that the Commonwealth Parliament is entitled to provide reasonable means against personation ; and that is really the object of the Electoral Bill.
– The proposal seems to be a revival of a provision which was brought into operation in New South Wales in 1SS4. When it became known there that electors were compelled to vote at a special polling booth, there was a great outcry, and ultimately the Act was amended. The Minister is evidently under the impression that, by confining an elector to a particular polling booth, personation may be avoided - that the officers in charge will have a sufficient knowledge of the electors to make personation’, to any great extent, impossible. But experience in sydney, and in all populous communities, is that the returning officers and their Assistants know very few of the electors personally ; and in the rush of business it is impossible to give that attention which is necessary in order to ascertain whether a man has voted previously. The difficulty was overcome in New South Wales by insisting that every elector should provide himself with an elector’s light, which was marked in the polling booth, and could not be used a second time. The provision now under- discussion will, if insisted on, mean the disfranchisement of a considerable number of country voters.
M r. Deakin. - A later amendment provides for all such cases.
– I admit that that amendment gets over a difficulty, but it does not impose the safeguards at which the AttorneyGeneral is aiming when he confines the voter to one particular polling place. On the other hand, the proposal entails a large amount of work on the returning officers in the booths where the schedule has to be signed by the voters; and, under all the circumstances, I think we ought to give this matter some further consideration.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- In view of the new clause which the Minister proposes to introduce, is it necessary to retain the concluding words of clause 28 ?
– I think so. At first sight the words appear to confer a power which is capable of abuse, but, on the other hand, it may be used simply to remove a doubt, or to get over a difficulty. I have heard of cases where, owing to floods, polling places have become inaccessible, and it has been necessary, at short notice, to fix other places. I shall, however, consider the point raised.
– In South Australia it has not been the custom to permit the Government to alter polling places by proclamation. There a safeguard is provided in the fact that any alteration in this respect must be made on resolution passed by both Houses, that a proclamation shall be issued. This prevents any Government refusing, on the score of expense, to supply necessary voting facilities. The Minister in charge obtains a report from the returning officer, showing the number of electors to be convenienced, the number already convenienced by existing polling places, and the cost of the change ; and this plan has proved of great advantage to the electors. If, in consequence of a mining rush, a populous district is suddenly created, the South Australian system provides a means of enabling the franchise to be exercised ; and there can be no sound reason advanced for leaving such a matter at the sweet will of the Government of the day. A Minister cannot, because of a temporary exodus, owing, perhaps, to a drought, declare that a polling place shall be abolished, because, if it be thought desirable to decrease facilities, exactly the same course must be taken as in the case of an increase. I heartily recommend this system, which is incapable of abuse by the Government or anybody else : and I am surprised, seeing that so many of the provisions of the Bill are from South Australian sources, that this highlycommendable feature was not adopted.
– The Minister for Home Affairs intimated that he would be able to save a good deal of expense by closing a considerable number of country polling places. If that course be followed the difficulty under which country electors labour will be much accentuated. If there is any direction in which economy should be sparingly exercised, it is in the closing of polling places.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 29 agreed to.
There shall be a separate roll for each division, and each roll shall be divided according to polling places.
– The electorate which I represent, Brunswick, has usually been divided into East and West, and one roll used for both places. Do I understand that under this clause there will have to be separate rolls 1
– The roll, strictly speaking, is the roll for the whole division, though the division may be subdivided, and a roll provided for each polling place.
– The use of a complete roll at each polling place has proved exceedingly inconvenient at Brunswick.
– I hope the Government will issue one roll for each electoral division. This roll may be divided easily enough ; but it is much better, as was done in New South Wales at the federal elections, to have one roll, a voter being enabled, under the new clause of which the Attorney-General has given notice, to vote at any polling booth.
– The practice has been to group a number of adjacent polling booths under one subdivision of an electorate, and to enable an elector to vote at any booth without formality. In mining and rural districts the polling places may be so fixed as to make it to a large extent a matter of indifference where a man votes ; and it would be undesirable to compel an elector to vote at one specified place, on pain of going through all the formalities proposed. In my own electorate, there are six different polling places, four or five miles apart, and it happens that voters, on the day of election, are often working miles away from the booth near which they reside, and much nearer some other polling booth. There should not be a separate roll for each individual pollingplace, and if it is impracticable to allow electors to vote at any polling place in the division, the polling places should be grouped. To tie an elector to a particular polling booth would involve grave injustice, especially in the country districts, and the result would be to disfranchise a large number of electors. It would increase the difficulty of voting without adding to the safeguards against fraud.
– I thoroughly agree with the honorable and learned member for Corinella. In Queensland, which is the most conservative of the States, the electors are allowed to vote at any polling place within the electorate in which they are registered. There should be no necessity for electors to sign any declaration simply because they cannot vote at a particular polling place. In many cases men who do not understand what is required of them will forfeit their right to vote rather than sign a declaration, and thus many votes may be lost.
– The latter portion of this clause should be omitted. I have over 100 polling places in my electorate, and if the clause is passed in its present form it will be necessary to split up the roll for that electorate into 100 parts. In addition to this every applicant for registration as an elector will have to decide upon the polling place at which he will record his vote, and all kinds of difficulties would arise in the event of certain polling places being cancelled, and others declared in lieu of them. The provision will make the work more complex, without conferring any advantage. In many cases it may be impossible for electors, owing to the state of the country, to travel to the polling booth at which they are registered. Great hardships will be inflicted, not only upon electors in the country, but upon those living in the cities, who frequently change their place of residence.
– The further we proceed with the consideration of this Bill, the more apparent it becomes that the machinery provided is very cumbersome, and unsuited to the conditions that prevail in the country electorates. In my electorate there are 100 polling places. It often happens that a man residing in one part of the district has work which will call him some distance away from his home, and unless he can vote at the polling place nearest to his work he will be practically disfranchised. The system of dividing the electorates into divisions or subdivisions will not answer the purpose. In my old electorate in New South Wales there were six or seven divisions, and in some cases men had to ride 40 miles to vote at the nearest polling place in the division to which they belonged, whilst other polling places in adjoining divisions were within easy reach. Electors should be allowed to vote at the polling place most convenient to them.
– I have noted the suggestions made by honorable members, and will afford the man opportunity of reconsidering the clause.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 31 arid 32 agreed to.
Clause 33 (Persons entitled to have their names on roll).
– This clause provides that persons qualified to vote shall be entitled to have their names placed on the electoral roll for the division in which they reside. I move -
That the word “ reside “ be omitted with a view to insert, in lien thereof, the word, “live.”
I intend to adopt a similar course wherever the word “ reside “ occurs.
– I desire to know whether persons living, say, in Balaclava, and carrying on business in Melbourne, can elect to have their , names placed upon one roll or the other T
– No, there will be no choice.
– The word “ live” has a variety of meanings attached to it, and, in order to put an end to “ faggot” voting, I propose to insert words providing that persons shall vote in the electorates where they live and sleep and take their morning baths.
Amendment agreed to.
– So far as I can understand it, the object of the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O’Malley, is to make it quite clear that the place where a man lives is the place where he sleeps and has his abode. That is the meaning of the word “ live “ as it is generally understood. However, as he has directed attention to the matter, I will look into it to make sure that no other meaning can be attached to the word.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
The Commonwealth electoral officer in each State shall, as soon as practicable after the commencement of this Act, and thereafter every three years, prepare lists of all persons qualified and entitled to have their names placed upon the roll for the State, specifying in such lists the particulars- required to be specified in the roll.
– I would like to suggest again that the census returns should be the basis of the electoral rolls.
– There is nothing in the Bill to prevent that.
– I considered this matter recently with the returning officer for South Australia, Mi-. Sheriff Boothby, and also in 1895, when I consolidated the electoral law of that. State. Since then, owing to the adoption of the principle of adult suffrage, South Australia has taken the census returns as the basis for the compilation of the rolls. The procedure adopted is to write out the name, address, and occupation, of each elector upon a piece of cardboard or paper. These names are sent down in batches to the printing office, where they are printed, and afterwards form the basis of the rolls. If it is desired to exhibit them for correction, at the various polling places, instead of having to copy them seven times in writing, they are merely copied once from the census, so that as many copies as are desired may afterwards be printed. I think that this practice might be adopted in connexion with the Commonwealth, and the revision courts abolished. With adult suffrage those courts are really unnecessary. If the census returns are taken as the basis for the compilation of the rolls, the latter can be corrected by the returning officer, upon finding that a man has changed his residence, -giving him notice that if within a certain period he does not enter an objection, his name will be struck off any particular polling place. As. regards disqualifications, such as bankruptcy, the registrar of bankruptcy can at prescribed periods supply a list of those to whom it will apply. I think that this matter is worthy of consideration. Mr. Sheriff Booth by informed me that the adoption of the practice I have suggested would effect an immense, saving. Under adult suffrage there will be 1,500,000 names upon the Commonwealth rolls, and to copy them seven times would involve an enormous amount of work.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 35 -
All officers in the service of the Commonwealth, and all police, statistical, and electoral officers in the’ service of any State are hereby authorized and required to furnish to the electoral officer in the State, all such information as he requires to enable him to prepare the lists.
– I would suggest to the Attorney-General that the words “ obtain and “ should be inserted before the word “ furnish “; and that after the word “prepare” the words “or revise “ should appear. I do not know what arrangement the Minister intends to make in regard to utilizing the services .of the police compiling the rolls, but in New South Wales it has. been found that, if the rolls are to be even approximately full, the services of the police force and of postal officials have to be utilized in the collection of the names of the electors. I think we should make it perfectly clear that the police force can be used in this connexion if we so desire.
– Surely if they have to furnish information, that implies that they must obtain it.
– It would do no harm to make the matter perfectly clear.
– I think that the first “ suggestion of the honorable member for
North Sydney is already met, but that his second is not. I, therefore, move -
That the words “ or revise “ be inserted after the word “prepare.”
– I am rather puzzled by the wording of this clause, and it strikes me that we are attempting to legislate somewhat beyond our authority. How can we pass an Act “ to authorize and require “ State officers to furnish any information which the Commonwealth may wish to obtain ?
– We can require any citizen of the Commonwealth to do anything we wish.
– No doubt that is a very definite statement on the part of the honorable and learned member for Corinella, but it strikes me as being very bad law. Where is the utility of embodying in a statute a provision that requires officers in the employ of the States to furnish any information which we may demand 1
– The Constitution provides that -
This Act, and all laws made by the Parliament of the Commonwealth under the Constitution, shall be binding on the courts, judges, and people of every State, and of every part of the Commonwealth.
– Does the AttorneyGeneral hold that that somewhat broad interpretation would entitle us to enforce officers solely engaged in State duties to undertake work involving, perhaps, a considerable amount of time and trouble, without the concurrence of their direct employers, and without their authority ?
– We could do it without the concurrence of the States, but that would be a very high-handed and unjustifiable exercise of power. We should probably obtain the consent of the States to the employment of their officers, and pay the latter for their services.
– Instead of the Commonwealth assuming powers which are too large, I am inclined to believe that we are taking an opposite course. In order to prepare the State electoral rolls it is sometimes necessary to obtain information from municipalities, and I know that in Victoria those bodies are constantly objecting to the demands made upon them, for statistical information, upon the ground that they are not paid for their services.
– I think there is something in the point raised by the honorable and learned member, and I have taken a note of it.
Mr. V. L. SOLOMON (South Australia). - I really think that this point is of more importance than the replies of the AttorneyGeneral would lead one to believe. It is absurd to embody in this Bill a provision which we cannot enforce. I presume that if the honorable and learned member for Corinella were called upon to furnish certain information in regard to the electors of any district, even though that information involved an immense amount of labour, he would, under- this clause, be compelled to supply it.
– Certainly, if the Act declared that I must do so.
– In my judgment this provision is likely to be fruitful of trouble with the States. To authorize the State officers to supply certain information is a very different matter from requiring them to do so. In order to test the question, if the Attorney-General will temporarily withdraw his amendment, I shall move for the omission of the words to which I have directed attention.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. V. L. Solomon), proposed -
That the words “and required” (line 4) be omitted.
– I should like to put forward one phase of this question, which the honorable member for South Australia has evidently overlooked. Unless we make it mandatory that any information which we desire shall be supplied, the work will probably be performed in a very perfunctory manner. If the words “and require “ be omitted, State officers will merely be .asked to supply information to oblige the Commonwealth.
– They are to furnish it if authorized. We must depend upon the States to carry out the work.
– Some of the States Governments are not friendly to the Commonwealth.
– They are not, and we should do our own work throughout. In other departments, as well as in this, it will be necessary for the Commonwealth to arrange with State officials, who undoubtedly ought to be compensated for the extra work ; but to leave part of the work to the States would mean that it would be neglected. It is our duty to see that every elector gets on the rolls and is given proper facilities for voting. It is quite right that we should make provision for paying for these services, without distinctly ordering the officials to perform the work. In most matters there will be no limit to the exercise of power by the Commonwealth, and to empower an officer to do certain work is to virtually compel him to do it. We cannot, however, take officers from the States services without the consent of their present employers.
– Who is to get the compensation - the officers or theStates?
– The officers, I should say.
– But the officers are doing the work at the expense of the States.
– There will undoubtedly be an assimilation of the States’ rolls to the Commonwealth rolls, and then the work will be done by one set of officials, the extra labour of copying the names being performed by our own officers. This emphasizes the need of avoiding the duplication of officers and increased expense.
– I should like to look into this matter again, though I am really satisfied in my own mind. This information is in possession of the States ; and are we to be required to take another census in order to obtain it for ourselves?
– It would be as well to leave the words in as a sort of request.
– Thatis the procedure proposed.
– We cannot compel State officials to act.
– Not in a matter on which it is our exclusive power to legislate?
– Not as against a State officer. If we take one-tenth of a man’s time we can take the whole, and thus deprive the States of his services.
– Could we not compel State officers to serve in the Commonwealth forces?
– Yes, but that is a Commonwealth function.
– So is this a Commonwealth function. This is information collected at the expense of a State for public use. There is not the least prospect of our being denied the information, but it is necessary to make this peremptory provision in order that, under exceptional circumstances, which may never arise, coercion may be resorted to within the limits of the Constitution. Even if the two honorable members for South Australia be correct, there need be no fear, because no court would uphold our action if we went beyond the Constitution. There is no intention on the part of this Government to approach the States Governments, except in the ordinary way by request for services for which payment will be made.
– The AttorneyGeneral might also consider whether the clause cannot be framed in such a way as to empower the Commonwealth electoral officer in the State to obtain his information from the State services, and to employ State officers in this connexion.
– We propose to do that.
– I do not think it is necessary to have the clause in a mandatory form. In other Acts a different course has been taken, and the Commonwealth Government empowered to obtain information from State officers, and to remunerate the latter. For instance, to call on police officers to furnish information, a refusal being at their peril, seems to be adopting a mandatory tone that is not required. The Bill, further on, provides penalties for a long list of offences, and a State officer who failed to furnish information would be rendered liable. I do not think that State officers ought to be placed in that position.
– Why should State officers not obey the law as well as other people?
– It is difficult for a man to serve two masters, and a State officer can furnish information only by direction of those who employ him. The negotiations will be between the Commonwealth Government and the States Governments, and if we give the Commonwealth Government power to employ State officers and remunerate them, that is all that is required.
– In many cases the State officers have been sworn to secrecy in regard to the very matters on which they will be calledupon to give information.
Amendment (by Mr. Deakin) agreed to-
That after the word “ prepare “ (line 6) the words “ or revise “ be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 36 -
Copies of the lists, so far as they relate to any electoral division, shall be exhibited at such police stations, post-offices……
Amendment (by Mr. Watson) agreed to -
That after the word “post-offices,” the word “ State schools “ be inserted.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 37 -
A copy of the list of persons qualified to have their names placed upon an electoral roll to vote at any specified polling place shall be forwarded to the electoral registrar, who is to keep the part of the roll relating to that polling place.
– This is one of the clauses which will require alteration if the practice of grouping polling places be observed.
– An alteration can be made subsequently.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney).Would it not be as well to withdraw the clauses in view of the previous discussion as to the lists being for the division, and not for a particular polling places ?
– There has been a suggestion made since that the roll be made for a group of polling place.
– In either case the clause ought not to stand as at present.
– If we make the alteration proposed we shall have to alter the clause, but I propose to pass it as it stands at present.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 38 (Persons may claim to have their names put on the lists).
– Has any provision been made for a form of application, and as to the person to whom application has to be made ?
– As a rule application will have to be made to the electoral registrar, but the returning officer is also electoral registrar for some districts, and where it is for his particular subdivision, application will be to the returning officer. If the honorable member turns to form B in the schedule he will see how the application is to be made. It simply gives the name and age of the applicant, and states that he is an inhabitant of Australia, and is not, to the best of his belief, on any other electoral roll.
– In Queensland the police are prohibited from voting at any State election. I should like to have it laid down clearly whether or not the police will be permitted to vote at federal elections.
– There is no prohibition of the police or any other class.
– If a person other than a returning officer goes around and obtains names, will that hold good as if the returning officer himself had acted ?
– There is no prohibition as to that.
– There is no provision that an applicant shall show that he is entitled to a vote, though in the Bill as originally drafted there were words to that effect. The returning officer will have great difficulty in making objection, even if he has doubt as to the bona fides of an applicant.
– It is not intended that objection shall be taken at this stage. Every applicant’s name is put on the list, which is subsequently dealt with at the revision court.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 39 -
Divisional returning officers and electoral registrars may without claim place on the lists the names of persons qualified to have their names placed on the roll for the division whose names have been omitted therefrom, and may strike off the lists the names of deceased persons.
– What is the necessity for the words “ whose names have been omitted therefrom”? Why should the name of any qualified person not be inserted - say in the case of a man coming of age ?
– This is only an additional power. If for any reason a man has not applied, but is known to be eligible, he may be placed on the list without any claim. The question is tested at the revision court.
– I see no reason why the returning officers themselves should not prepare the roll as perfectly as possible without any applications.
– That is a positive way of saying what the clause permits and authorizes to be done.
– I gather that the list will be compiled on the information supplied by the statistical officers.
– Yes; or any other information.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 40 -
The returning officer for the division together with -
– On behalf of the honorable member for Bland I move -
That the words “or (b) two or more justices of the peace residing in the division,” be omitted.
In the back country districts of New South Wales and Queensland, and probably other States, justices of the peace are generally, if not altogether, squatters; and that these persons should adjudicate on the claims of shearers and men of that class is repugnant to basic principles. It is notorious that justices of the peace are, so to speak, outside the pale in this connexion. A justice of the peace, under the best of circumstances, is but a sorry substitute for a magistrate; and in this particular case he is something worse. In an election which a couple of dozen votes might turn, such persons might do a good deal of harm. Each court of revision should be absolutely free from local influences. I know of cases in which shearers and general station hands have sought either to transfer their electoral rights, or to be placed on the roll, and have had their purpose defeated by delays caused by prejudiced justices of the peace.
– How would the honorable member provide for revision courts?
– Itwouldbe better to have no court at all than to have a make-believe court. This provision will create greater opportunities for holding courts of revision, but will confer no advantage upon the class of men who require to make use of the courts if they are to be placed at the mercy of magistrates who will be prejudiced against them. It would be far better for men who desireto be enrolled or transferred to make application to the nearest special magistrate. Some person who is above suspicion might be appointed as a special magistrate for the purpose of dealing with applications for enrolment or transfer.
– If paragraph (b) is to be struck out, some provision will have to be substituted for it. I am not prepared with a proposal at present, but I shall bring the matter under the attention of the Minister for Home Affairs, who may have some alternative to suggest.
– This provision properlybelongs to Division VII., dealing with the revision courts. I do not see any reason why the constitution of the courts here provided for should be different from that of the revision courts contemplated by Division VII. Moreover, I do not see why the jurisdiction of justices of the peace should be restricted to the divisions in which they reside.
– That is because in some cases - in Victoria, for instance - justices of the peace have jurisdiction only within certain bailiwicks.
– Then it is possible that a justice may have jurisdiction in one district and reside in another, and it appears to me that the clause as it stands is contradictory and confusing.
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).It is intended that the returning officer shall sit as a member of the special courts of revision provided for in this clause, because their functions are different from those of the ordinary courts of revision. At these special courts it is necessary to go through the whole of the lists, and therefore it is desirable that the returning officer should lend his assistance. At the ordinary courts of revision, the only cases dealt with are those in which objections are taken to the. inclusion of certain names in the list.
– That is the reason for the difference in the constitution of the two courts.
– In New South Wales the returning officers and justices of the peace do not take part in the proceedings of the revision courts. The courts are held every month, and are presided over by a police or stipendiary magistrate. If the returning officer sits as a member of the special revision court, he will practically be acting as a judge and jury to try his own case. The practice followed in New South Wales has worked exceedingly well, and it would not be wise to depart from the principle adopted there.
– I would remind the Attorney-General that there are times when it would be very convenient to enlist the services of justices of the peace in con nexion with courts of revision, and I hope he will consider this side of the question when he is conferring with the Minister for Home Affairs regarding the clause.
– I shall strongly oppose any proposal to allow justices of the peace to sit as members of the courts of revision. I know a number of justices of the peace who are the living coffins of their own dead consciences.
– No time will be saved by allowing justices to sit instead of stipendiary magistrates, for the simple reason that the returning officer will have to attend each court ; and as he cannot be in two places at once, it will take him fully three months to make a circuit of some of the larger electorates.
Clause 41 postponed.
Clause 42 (Notices of sittings).
Mr. HUGHES (West Sydney).- This clause provides that the returning officer shall give notice of the sittings of a court of revision by advertisement in some newspaper circulating in the division. I move -
That the words “ some newspaper” be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “one or more newspapers.”
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney). - If the amendment is agreed to, advertisements will be published in all the newspapers in each division. It is desirable, in order to avoid unnecessary expense in advertising, that the number of papers should be specified. I suggest that the whole of the clauses down to clause 50 be postponed.
Any person may by writing object to any name being retained on the lists.
Clause verbally amended.
That the following words be added to the clause: - “Provided that a sum of five shillings shall be deposited in respect of each objection lodged, to be forfeited if the objection is held to be frivolous.”
There is a provision later on in the Bill empoweringthe revision court to award costs to the extent of £5 if an objection is not established, but that does not meet the case of a frivolous objection lodged by a man of straw, from whom no costs can be recovered. The money should be returned if the objection is upheld.
Amendment (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the amendment be amended by the insertion after the word “ lodged “ of the words “ by any person other than an officer.”
– I object to the amendment, because I cannot see any more necessity for a deposit being made by a person lodging the objection than for a deposit being made by a person applying to have his name placed on the roll.
– This is not a new provision so far as some of the States are concerned.
– It depends, I suppose, upon whether the court holds that the objection is a frivolous one or otherwise. To my mind this provision introduces a new and somewhat dangerous element into our electoral laws. Instead of the amendment operating in the direction desired by the honorable member for Bland, I am inclined to think that it will work in an entirely opposite direction.
– That is not our experience in Queensland.
– It seems to me that what is proposed constitutes a very important departure. There is a decided objection to a man being called upon to pay even1s. for the registration of his name, and why should there not be an equal objection to his being asked to deposit 5s. in order to challenge the right of another man to have his name placed upon the roll ? I shall vote against the amendment.
– The amendment proposed by the AttorneyGeneral would seem to indicate that the officers are not merely to collect the names of all who should be upon the roll, but also to strike off the names of those who they consider should not be there. If that is the intention, I think it should be more clearly stated. In New South Wales we have found that citizens will not undertake this work except in special circumstances where there is a desire to capture a seat, or where there is a section which is anxious to gain by sharp practice what it cannot gain upon a straight-out issue. Generally the result of leaving this work to the electors is that the rolls become absolutely worthless. Our first division of the federal constituencies was rendered perfectly useless by reason of the enormous discrepancieswhich werediscoveredinthe rolls, and the services of the State officers had to be requisitioned to collect the names of those entitled to vote, in order to get an approximately correct roll. I should like to know whether the Attorney-General sufficiently recognises that, if this matter be left to private individuals, the rolls will get into a. very bad condition indeed. I do not know that the two paragraphs under this clause meet all the objections to a man’s name appearing upon the roll. I would point out that an individual may live in a division, and yet not be entitled to have his name upon the roll, because he has not fulfilled the month’s residential condition.
– According to my reading, the Bill does require officers to make objections. I have taken a note of the point raised by the honorable member as to whether the matter should not be more expressly stated. His second point is that the objection referred to in paragraph (2) is not quite complete. I will also consider whether that cannot be made a little clearer.
Mr. WATSON . (Bland). - I have no objection to some officer, on behalf of the Government, objecting to the placing upon the roll of names which should not appear there. But I am desirous that we should make provision to meet such a contingency as has arisen several times in New South Wales, where, owing to embittered party feeling, some person at the last sitting of the revision court prior to an election has lodged wholesale objections, with the result that every individual whose name was objected to was disfranchised, although at the next sitting of the court it was restored to the roll. That is not a state of affairs which we desire to perpetuate.
– I point out to the Attorney-General that this clause provides that “any person may object to the retention of any elector’s name upon the roll,” whereas the words employed in clause 75 are, “ any elector in the division.” I think that we should have uniformity in this matter.
Amendment of the amendment agreed to.
Amendment, as amended, agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 44 -
Every objection must be lodged with the returning officerat least ten days before the date fixed for the sitting of the special court of revision.
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).I ask the Attorney-General to extend the period prescribed in this clause to at least 20 days. I would point out that after an objection has been lodged with the returning officer, notice has to be given to the person whose name is objected to. That notice has to be served, andsubsequently the elector has to appear at the court of revision. In some parts of Queensland it would be almost impossible for an elector to attend the court in time to meet an objection which has been lodged against the retention of his name upon the roll.
– I do not think it would be wise to prescribe any definite period. I fancy we shall have to provide for a margin. In the metropolitan districts one term might well apply, and in country districts another. I think we shall have to postpone the consideration of this clause, and substitute an elastic provision which will enable the Minister to determine by regulation the time within which these notices shall be given in different constituencies.
Clause 45 postponed.
Clause 46 agreed to.
Clause 47 -
The special court of revision shall revise the lists for the division in which it sits by striking out the names ofill persons shown -
– I am not at all satisfied that the Bill in its present form enables a man to record his vote during the month in which he is qualifying for transfer to a new roll. Under this provision the special court of revision has power to strike out the names of all persons who are shown to be dead, or not qualified, or not resident within the division. I would ask the AttorneyGeneral if these powers refer to the time of the holding of the court, or to the period of lodging the objection. If it applies to the former, it might possibly happen that the court will not sit for more than a month after an elector has left his old division. In mining districts it is a very common thing for a man’s wife and family to reside in one place, and for him to work many miles away, returning home probably once a fortnight. In such a case would it be held that he “lives” with his family, or at the place where he is employed? To my mind this matter requires very careful consideration.
– I think it would be wise to draft a new clause, making it perfectly clear that an adult who removes his residence from one electorate to another shall retain his qualification in the first electorate until he is entitled to be enrolled in his new constituency. Unless that matter is clearly expressed in this Bill, the court might possibly hold that during the interregnum he is disfranchised. I think the intention of the committee is that the right of citizenship shall be a continuing one.
– I would point out that in all mining camps there is a danger of the name of every man who does not chance to be seen for a single week being struck off the roll. On the day of election, however, when he naturally desires to vote, he finds that his name is not on the roll, although he has not left the district. I have had too much trouble in getting such men on to the roll, to be able to regard with satisfaction those easy methods of striking them off. Unfortunately, these country justices of the peace, unlike that intelligent officer, Mr. Gilmour, on the west coast of Tasmania, are generally full of bigotry, and only too willing to regard these men as dead. I hope the Attorney-General will draft a clause in harmony with the spirit of the age.
Clause verbally amended, and agreed to.
Clause 48 (Right of parties to appear).
– In the case of a person objected to failing to appear, is he struck off on proof of service of the summons, or does the court hear the case in his absence, without requiring that proof?
– I shall look into the point.
Mr. O’MALLEY (Tasmania). - If a miner on the west coast of Tasmania is summoned to appear at a revision court, perhaps 100 miles away, and he cannot afford to losea day’s work, he is struck off the roll. At one time in Tasmania a number of miners lost their votes in that way.
– They can appear by an agent.
– But it will take a week’s pay, or a month’s pay, to secure that agent.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 49 to 55 agreed to.
Clause 56 (Inspection).
– There ought to be some provision as to the price at which rolls will be retailed to the public.
– I shall look into the matter, and give honorable members a chance of discussing it.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 57 -
New names may be added to rolls pursuant to - (c) Claims, (b) Applications to transfer.
Amendment (by Mr. Watson) agreed to -
That the following words be added to the clause “ (c) Lists prepared by the Commonwealth electoral officer in each State. “
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).If we are to have the procedure set down in this clause, will it not be necessary to require that the rolls should be advertised either in the newspapers or by exposure in public places.
– I think the suggestion is a reasonable one.
– As to the first list, it is provided that it shall be exhibited at police-stations, post-offices, State schools, and other places, and I suppose that provision will operate in regard to additions. It would be most expensive to advertise in every newspaper.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clauses 58 and 59 agreed to.
Clause 60 verbally amended, and agreed to.
Clause 61 agreed to.
Clause 62 (Method of transfer).
– I believe that both the returning officer and the electoral registrar may receive applications for transfers, but I think these ought to be addressed to the registrar.
– The returning officer keeps the whole of the rolls, and the registrar could not take any action without reference to him.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 63 agreed to.
Clause 64 (Registration of transfer).
– There is no justification for allowing transfers after the issue of the writ, though there could be no objection to receiving new applications after that date.
– Supposing there was a by-election which a man did not know was pending?
– An elector should always be prepared with the franchise.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- Whether or not we confine the right of transfer to a period anterior to the issue of the writ depends to some extent on the machinery to insure that a man will be able to vote in his old electorate. If a man’s rights will not cease by reason of his having shifted, all will be well ; but otherwise I could not agree to the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Moira. This matter should be considered in conjunction with the suggestion to maintain the right of an elector to vote in his own division until he is qualified for a new division.
– In order that all the electors may. have a chance to exercise the franchise, a considerable time must elapse between the issue of the writ and polling-day.
– The time is 30 days.
– That is the maximum ; and considering the great distances which have to be covered in Queensland, New South Wales, and elsewhere, and the slow mail communication, it would not be fair to compel transfers to be made before the issue of the writ. This matter might be allowed to stand over.
– I can understand difficulties arising in the case of byelections. For instance, a Victorian elector, who had a vote for one of the suburban electorates, might find it convenient to live in his office, and thus acquire a right to vote at a by-election for the city.
– He would have to reside there for a month.
– That difficulty could be easily got over, and cases of that sort must be guarded against.
– I will consider the suggestions which have been made.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 65 -
Rolls may be altered by the returning officer or electoral registrar as follows : -
– I move-
That the words “mistake in spelling” be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “obvious mistake or omission.”
In one case, at Werribee, in Victoria, several persons were struck off the roll in consequence of the rate collector having neglected to put the initials to the names.
– I have no objection to the amendment.
– If a woman marries, will she have to make a fresh claim for enrolment consequent upon her change of name ?
– That is provided for by a subsequent sub-clause.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause further amended verbally, and agreed to.
Clause 66 agreed to.
Save as before provided in the case of transfers, no addition to or alteration of the roll for any division shall be made during the period between the issue of the writ for an election in the division, and the close of the polling at the election.
– This clause, admirable in its conception,assumes that the rolls will be right. I do not know what the experience has been in other States, or what the experience may be in Victoria under the new system, but in the past, scores and hundreds of electors in the latter State have found at election times that their names were not on the rolls. This would prevent any elector who had not been placed on the roll prior to the issue of the writ from voting at any election in the Commonwealth. The voters’ certificates issued in Victoria are very different from those provided for under the Bill. There is absolutely no provision for cases of omissions from the roll through carelessness or neglect. Although the Victorian practice of issuing voters’ certificates has been open to abuses, it has been very efficacious in insuring that every citizen entitled to vote shall have an opportunity of doing so. I hope the Attorney-General will investigate this matter, and bring down some proposal to meet the case.
– I shall refer my colleague to the Victorian system.
– The object of the measure is to give every person who is qualified an opportunity of voting. I admit that no machinery will absolutely insure that result ; but we should strive to, as nearly as possible, attain it. Under the clause as it stands, a man might apply to have his name placed on the roll on the day before the writ is issued ; but, as no court of revision could sit after that time, his name could not be placed on the roll. It might not be wise, in view of departmental considerations, to allow a man to be registered up to the day before the election.
– In Victoria, those who wish to obtain certificates have to give seven days’ notice ; but the courts sit right up to the day before the election.
– A provision of that kind, or one to the effect that applications would be received up to the date of nomination, would meet the case to some extent.
In some cases the writ is issued at least a month before the day of election, and as a man must live in the district for a month before he sends in his application, he may be doubly qualified to vote before the election takes place.
Clauses 68 and 69 agreed to.
Clause 70 postponed.
Clause 71 agreed to.
Clause 72 postponed.
Clause 73 (Clerk of revision court).
– This clause provides for the appointment of an entirely new class of officer, who apparently has only two duties to perform. We have already provided for returning officers, assistant returning officers, State returning officers, and electoral registrars, and I do not see the necessity for the appointment of any further officials.
– I shall look into the matter.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 74 (Names on rollmay be objected to).
Amendment (by Mr. Watson) agreed to-
That the following words be added to the clause: - “Provided that a sum of five shillings shall be deposited in respect of each objection lodged by any person other than an officer, to be forfeited if the objection is held to be frivolous.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 75 (Notice of objection).
Mr. CROUCH (Corio). - Under this clause it is necessary that notice of objection shall be signed by an elector, whereas under a previous clause any person is permitted to lodge an objection.
– The objection in this case would be lodged against an elector whose name had been once passed by the revision court. It is therefore desirable that the objections should be somewhat restricted.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 76 agreed to.
Clause 77 verbally amended and agreed to.
Clause 78 -
The clerk of each revision court shall at least fourteen days before the sitting of the court exhibit at each post-office and police station within the division a list.
Amendment (by Mr. Watson) agreed to -
That the words “State schools” be inserted after the words “post-office.”
Clause 79 agreed to.
Clause 80 -
Each revision court shall in open court revise the rolls by hearing and determining all objections, and by striking out the names of persons proved to be disqualified or dead, and dealing with any claims which have not been registered.
– I move-
That all the words after “ persons” be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof - “ Shown (a) to be dead; (b) not to-be qualified to have their names on a roll ; (c) tobe disqualified ;
This gives a general authority to see that those who have proved their qualification shall be placed on the roll, and be afforded an opportunity of exercising the franchise.
– Clause 59 provides that if a claim is in order the returning officer, shall immediately enter the claimant’s name on the roll, and shall file his claim. If the elector whose name is entered on the roll is entitled to vote by virtue of his name being placed on the roll, what is the use of filing his claim? Then again, if his name is placed on the roll, what purpose is to be served by the provision in clause80 ? Does the reference to “claims which have not been registered “ in the amendment refer to the entry of the claimant’s name on the roll, or to the filing of his claims?
– There is some ambiguity about the provision.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 81 agreed to.
Clause 82 -
Any person authorized in writing may appear to resist an objection on behalf of the person objected to.
– I move-
That the words-“ authorized in writing,” be omitted.
I desire to be at liberty to enter any revision court and to defend the claims of any of my friends whose cases may be dealt with.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 83 to 85 agreed to.
Clause 86 (Costs).
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).Thisclause provides that if any objection is not established, even though it may be of a substantial character, the person lodging it may have an order made against him for an unlimited sum for the payment of costs, whereas in the following section in the case of frivolous objections a maximum award of £5 is provided for. Surely there must be some omission from this clause.
– This clause provides that no costs shall be awarded against an officer who has “ acted in good faith and upon reasonable grounds.” I protest against offering a bonus to men to object to the retention upon the rolls of the names of working people who cannot attend the court and fight for themselves.
– I hope the Attorney-General will give attention to the point raised by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. I should also like to ask why an ordinary objector should not be placed upon precisely the same footing as an officer?
– I am willing to postpone the consideration of the clause.
Clauses 87 and88 agreed to.
Clause 89 (Form of writs).
Mr. L. E. GROOM (Darling Downs).I wish to ask the Attorney-General if there is to be only one place for the nomination of candidates ? In Queensland, for the Commonwealth elections, a candidate can be nominated at almost any place at which there is an assistant returning officer. I ask the Attorney-General to consider this matter, especially with regard to the Senate elections.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 90 to 99, inclusive, agreed to.
Clause 100 (Form of consent to act).
Mr. O’MALLEY (Tasmania). - I desire to know whether the returning officer is to bethe judge of whether a candidate possesses the necessary qualifications? I had an experience in Tasmania which I shall never forget. The returning officer desired to upset my nomination upon the ground that I had not sent in my naturalization papers, when, as a matter of fact, I was born in Canada.
– I should like to direct attention to paragraph (c) of clause 99.
– The honorable member cannot do that.
– Then I move-
That the Chairman do now leave the chair.
I do so for the purpose of drawing attention to a very serious innovation in regard to the electoral laws, not only of one State, but of the whole of Australia. I am satisfied that if honorable members had noted the provision which is contained in the paragraph referred to, it would have provoked a very strong discussion. That paragraph provides that -
The person nominated, or some person on his behalf, deposits with the Commonwealth electoral officer or divisional returning officer at the time of the delivery of the nomination paper, the sum of £25 inmoney or in bank notes, or in a banker’s cheque.
I object to any deposit being exacted from candidates. The utmost facilities should be given to every man to become a candidate. As the matter is a most important one, I wish to know if the Attorney-General will consent to the recommittal of this clause?
– It will be open to honorable members after the recess to challenge every clause in which they feel that a principle to which they object is involved.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
– I move -
That the House, at its rising, adjourn till Tuesday, 22nd July next, unless Mr. Speaker shall prior to that date, by telegram addressed to each honorable member of the House, fix an earlier day of. meeting.
The understanding is that Mr. Speaker will exercise his power only in the event of the Tariff being returned to this Chamber earlier than is anticipated, or in some equally important and unexpected emergency.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Retrenchment in Defence Department - Influx of Foreigners into Western Australia - Greek Immigrants - Ships’ Stores.
– I move -
That the House do now adjourn.
In doing so I wish honorable members a pleasant holiday, and do not think our bitterest critics amongst the public will dispute that, short as it is, it has been thoroughly well earned. The work accomplished by this Parliament has not yet been realized by ourselves, and I am certain that it has not been realized by those outside our doors. I thank honorable members for the great courtesy they have extended to the Government and myself by so generously assisting us in the transaction of business during the past few weeks.
– In pursuance of the policy of retrenchment which is being adopted in the Defence department, I understand that a great many officers who have been in the service for a number of years are being retired upon a fortnight’s notice. I should like to ask whether anything has been done to soften the blow to them by granting them an allowance?
– I wish to draw attention to an inquiry which is being held in Western Australia regarding the influx of Italians and foreigners into that State. Many complaints have been made regarding the slipshod manner in which the investigation is being conducted. In this connexion I have received a letter from Mr. Beazely, who has taken much interest in this matter, in which he states -
First of all, the blunder has been made of appointing as commissionera gentleman whose ordinary duties only permit a cursory glance at a subject that requires very careful and close examination. In addition to this, when Mr. Roe was appointed, no provision was made for traveling expenses either for himself or witness.
– That is not correct.
– That is the matter to which I wish to draw attention. The writer goes on to say -
The commissioner, however, has no power to call witnesses, nor is he able to allow even travelling expenses to those who might be able to come in from the back country to give evidence.
I draw attention to these statements in the hope that if they are correct the evils complained of will be rectified, whilst, if they are not, a public contradiction will be given to them.
– Is there any truth in the statement which appears in the newspapers of to-day to the effect that a number of Greek immigrants have been allowed, by order of the Attorney-General, to proceed from Wodonga into New South Wales?
– There is not a word of truth in it.
– I hardly thought it was possible that the Attorney-General could have given such an order, because I understand that the policy of the Government is to allow the States Governments to administer their own restriction laws. I could scarcely credit that the Federal Government would interfere, seeing that the State Government of New South Wales had deemed it. wise to intercept these people.
– Will the Attorney-General consult the Minister for Trade and Customs with a view to determining whether, under the Customs Act, it is lawful to tax the stores of ships which enter Only one of our Australian ports, and afterwards proceed beyond the limits of the Commonwealth ? I may point out that these vessels do not compete with our coastal steamers, and I do not think it was ever the intention of Parliament that their stores should be subject to taxation.
Mr. DEAKIN (Ballarat - AttorneyGeneral). - The question of the treatment to be meted out to officers of the Defence department whose services are to be dispensed with has already occupied the attention of the Cabinet upon two or three occasions. The House will be afforded an opportunity of discussing it when it comes to consider the retrenchmentwhich has been effected in that department. Concerning the inquiry referred to by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, I may mention that in the arrangement made with the police magistrate, who consented to act, he was at the very outset allowed a certain sum to cover his travelling expenses, as well as the preparation of his report. At a later stage a request was received that he should be allowed to take evidence upon the gold-fields. That request was granted. No application, however, has been received for witnesses’ expenses. The people interested mostlyreside on the gold- fields, or at Perth and Fremantle. With regard to the so-called Greeks, I have not received a full report as to those admitted into New South Wales ; but they appear in some respects to be undesirable citizens. I am also having a report prepared on the second body of immigrants now in “Victoria. They have never placed themselves in communication with me, andI have taken no action whatever in regard to their entrance into
New South Wales or any other State. The matter referred to by the honorable member for Newcastle will be referred to my colleague and will no doubt receive due attention at his hands.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 4.23. p. m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 20 June 1902, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020620_reps_1_11/>.