1st Parliament · 1st Session
Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
– I desire to know whether the Minister for Trade and Customs has authorized the collection of duties upon produce from Norfolk Island imported into the mainland of the Commonwealth?
– Norfolk Island is not a part of the Commonwealth, and no provision has been made for the free admission of produce into the Commonwealth from that place. The matter is under consideration, but our present impression is that we cannot arrange for free imports.
– Is not Norfolk Island a part of the Commonwealth?
– No ; it is under the administration of the New South Wales Government. Lord Howe Island occupies a different position.
-I should like to know whether the Minister for Trade and Customs has taken any action to relieve the pressure of work, and the consequent inconvenience to the public,at the Customhouse, Sydney?
– Something has been done towards that end, and if there should be any necessity for further action, as there may be, it will be taken in connexion with the preparation of the Estimates.
– Is it a fact that the Minister has varied the regulations under which the officers in the Custom-house, Sydney, are working, to the extent of requiring them to work for half-an-hourextra every day without the payment of overtime? Has he also declined to pay them overtime, as the regulations prescribe?
– There has been no alteration of the usual practice. We do not pay for overtime.
– The regulations provide that the officers shall be paid overtime.
– Overtime is not allowed except when the department is paid for the services of the officers.
– Some time ago the Acting Prime Minister promised to arrange for the sale of Commonwealth Acts and Gazettes in the various States. I recently inquired at the Government printing-office in Adelaide, and was informed that no arrangement had yet been made.
– Some few days ago I signed letters addressed to the Premiers of the different States informing them that supplies of the Commonwealth Acts and Parliamentary papers were being forwarded withthe letters for sale, and acquainting them with the system proposed to be adopted in supplying them in the future. The letters and papers should have reached Adelaide before last Monday. I may explain that there has been a difficulty in making satisfactory arrangements. The Government Printer in Melbourne pointed out that if the whole of the Parliamentary papers had to be supplied to every State, it would necessitate a great amount of bookkeeping and considerable extra printing here.
– I was referring to only the Commonwealth Acts and Gazettes.
– Yes ; but requests have been made for all the Parliamentary papers. We have had some difficulty in arriving at an estimate of the probable requirements of the States. We are sending to each of the States the whole of the Commonwealth Acts, and a selection of State papers in each case appropriate to the State to which they are sent. We are also providing lists of all papers issued by the Commonwealth Government, and these are to be kept at each Government printing-office. The prices will be placed opposite each of the publications, and if they cannot be directly supplied they will be obtainable with little delay from the Government printing-office in Melbourne. I think that the system is by this time complete.
– Suppose that an honorable member requires an Act of Par- liament?
– We supply members with Acts for their personal use at all times free of cost.
– I sent to the Commonwealth office in Sydney for an Act of Parliament and had to pay for it.
– I shall inquire into the matter.
Mr. KINGSTON laid on the table
Excise Act . 1901 and Excise Tariff 1902- Sugar regulations.
asked the Minister for Home Affairs, upon notice -
Whether, in accordance with his declared intention, he has yet approached the Premiers of the States witha view to procuring the abolition, by agreement, of competitive railway rates which are against the spirit of the Commonwealth Constitution, and, if so, with what result?
– The answer to the honorable and learned member’s question is as follows: -
The Ministers for Railways have been approached without result. The Premiere are now being communicated with.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General, upon notice -
What action has been taken to provide that country letter-carriers shall hare their claims to promotion recognised in connexion with the appointment of sorters ?
– The answer to the honorable and learned member’s question is as follows : -
All the papers in connexion with the claim of country letter-carriers to be promoted to the position of sorters have been sent to the Public Service Commissioner for such action as he may consider necessary under the circumstances.
asked the Acting Prime
Minister,upon notice -
– The answers to the honorable and learned member’s questions are as follow : - 1 and 2. The flag approved by judges in the competition of last year was sent to England in December. No communication with reference to it has since been received.
asked the Minister representing the Postmaster-General,upon notice -
Whether the latter has considered a suggestion made to him recently by a deputation from Bendigo, Ballarat, and Geelong, to the effect that persons using the long-distance telephones should have the option of extending the three-minute time limit to five minutes on payment of an additional fee; and, in view of the representations of the said deputation as to the inadequacy of the three-minute time limit in many cases, if he will frame a regulation to the effect suggested ?
– The answer to the honorable and learned member’s question is as follows : -
The Postmaster-General has considered the suggestion, and a regulation has been framed for extending the time-limit to six minutes on payment of an additional fee.
In Committee(Consideration resumed from 29th July, vide page 14699) :
– I notice that in form N, the squares opposite the spaces for the names of candidates are placed on the left hand side of the ballot paper instead of on the right hand as is customary. I think this is likely to cause some confusion.
-Iam informed that it is the general practice to place the squares on the left hand side, which is nearest the surnames of the candidates.
– One of the returning officers told me that it would be inconvenient to have the squares placed on the left hand side.
– I notice that in form R the foot-note directs the voter to indicate his vote by placing the number 1 in the square opposite the name of the candidate for whomhe votes in the first instance. As we have rejected the proposals relating to contingent voting, this will have to be altered.
– The alteration will be made as a consequential amendment.
Schedule agreed to.
Postponed clause 113 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Postponed clause 145 -
No omission of any Christian name or entry of a wrong Christian name, and no mistake in the spelling of any surname, shall warrant the rejection at any polling of any claim to vote if the voter is sufficiently identified in the opinion of the presiding officer, and no female elector shall be disqualifiedfrom voting under the name appearing on the roll because her surname has been changed by marriage.
– I think that the Minister promised to amend the provision in this clause relating to the omission of any Christian name, entry of a wrong name, or mistake in the spelling of a surname.
– I promised to reconsider the clause, and only this morning I discussed the matter with the draftsman.
– I wish to provide that no error in the description of a. man’s occupation or address shall be sufficient to invalidate his claim to vote. Such errors frequently occur, and unless they are specifically provided for they might be used to the detriment of the voter.
– I have discussed the matter with the draftsman, and I really think that, in its present form, the clause accomplishes the aim of the honorable member.
– I do not think that it does. The fact that the provision mentions a mistake in the spelling of the Christian name or surname of any voter carries with it, by implication, a restriction of the power of the returning officer to allow an applicant to vote in cases where such errors or omissions occur. If we provide, generally, that no error in description shall debar an elector from registering his vote so long as his identity is established to the satisfaction of the presiding officer, we shall be giving the latter a certain freedom of action. We certainly ought not to limit his option in the way suggested by the clause.
– Is not the case put by the honorable member sufficiently met by this clause when read in conjunction with clause 65? Under the latter a very wide latitude is given.
– But assuming that an error is not discovered before polling day, when an elector claims a vote, what would be the position? I would further point out that the rolls are prepared in the first instance by certain officials. They inquire the name, address, occupation, &c., of each elector, and it is very easy indeed for them in entering up the particulars to fall into error.
– Would the honorable member’s object be met by inserting after the words “Christian name” the words “or address or occupation”?
– I think so.
– I am willing to agree to that amendment.
Amendment (by Mr. Watson) proposed -
That after the words “ Christian name,” line 2, the words “ or address or occupation “ be inserted.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I am afraid it will be a mistake for us to adopt the amendment proposed. Under the Bill as it stands ample opportunity is given to rectify any errors that may occur. The principle upon which the Court of Disputed Returns must act is that the rolls as prepared are accurate. Now, the honorable member for Bland desires to give the returning officer the power of deciding whether or not they are accurate. I do not think that the Court of Disputed Returns can inquire into the accuracy of any roll. If the amendment be agreed to, the returning officer will really be in a position to correct the rollsupon the very day of election, although the Court of Disputed Returns will have to deal with them as they are printed, and not as they are corrected by the returning officer. Unless the honorable member fears that in its present form the clause will result in the disfranchisement of a number of electors, I think it would be a pity to interfere in the manner proposed.
– I have seen quite a number of electors refused the right to exercise the franchise simply because of an error in their names.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I quite agree with the honorable member for Bland that no mistake in the description of an elector’s occupation as it appears upon the roll, or no error in the spelling of an address, should invalidate his claim to vote. At the same time I would suggest that the amendment is not being made in the best place. It would be better to insert the words proposed after the word “ surname.”
– Then the amendment would refer only to a mistake in the spelling of the occupation or address.
– If an elector were erroneously described as a tradesman, and could not prove that he followed a particular occupation, he would be denied a vote.
– The difficulty is to meet all the cases at which the honorable member aims, without leaving the clause so wide in its wording that it would not be necessary for the applicant to establish his identity. For example, there are so many John Smiths that unless particulars relating to their addresses and occupations were supplied their identity would be completely lost.
– Still a voter has to be identified to the satisfaction of the presiding officer.
– I think that it would be better to insert the words proposed after the word surname.” Amistake in an address is not nearly such a serious matter as the entry of a wrong address. To my mind, the latter should be sufficient to disqualify an elector from voting.
– I quite agree with the remarks of the last speaker. I am afraid that in our anxiety to prevent any elector from being disfranchised we may be opening the door to a very grave abuse in connexion with the electoral rolls, which - as was pointed out by the honorable and learned member for South Australia, Mr. Glynn - really constitute the basis of elections. If the amendment be carried, will it not be possible for a man to present himself at a polling booth, and vote, for example, under the number attached to the name of “John Smith, labourer, of Bacchus Marsh,” claiming that the name should be altered to “William Brown, shearer, of Grenville?” Under the proposal of the honorable member, it would be possible to alter all the particulars upon the roll, except the electoral number. Under such circumstances, how could the latter portion of the clause have any effect whatever? We should thus run a very great danger of allowing people to vote at any particular election who have absolutely no claim to do so. I suggest that either the amendment should be withdrawn, or that the words should be inserted after the word “ surname.” The possibility of a man being deprived of his vote because of a misdescription of his occupation and address - which, after all, depends very largely upon himself - is more than counterbalanced by the danger that would arise under the amendment. I am perfectly certain that its adoption would result in claims being made upon the presiding officer which he would find it very difficult to resist.
– The experience of New South Wales in the earlier stages of its electoral legislation convinces me that there is need for the amendment submitted. Until great liberty was given under the law .in the direction indicated it was a common thing for electors - of whose identity there was no question - to be disfranchised because of some technical error in the spelling of their names, addresses, or occupation. I .have in my mind one case with which I was familiar where an elector happened to be absent from home when the police officer called to collect these particulars. It was customary for him to sign his name as “Patrick J. So-and-so.” The inmates of the house supplied the officer with that name, but were informed that it was necessary for them to give the full Christian name. Accordingly they gave the elector’s name as “ Patrick John,” when, as a matter of fact, it was “Patrick James.” The result was that the nian was disfranchised, because, although his identity was completely established, his Christian name was wrongly given on the electoral roll as “ Patrick John “ instead of “ Patrick James.” The man had to go to the trouble of having his elector’s right cancelled and a new one issued. It is to prevent electors from being disfranchised owing to technicalities of this character that the honorable member for Bland desires to make this amendment. The question of identity is the principal consideration. If a man establishes his identity with the person described on the roll, in whose name he claims to vote, he should not be disfranchised because of any technical error in the description of his name, occupation, or place of residence.’ The original electoral laws of New South Wales were amended in the direction proposed by the honorable member for Bland, and, so far as I am aware, not one of the objectionable practices which the honorable member for Laanecoorie appears to apprehend, has resulted. I do not think there is any reason to view the amendment with suspicion. It will remove what has been found to lead to a great deal of trouble and injustice.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- The case put forward by the honorable member for Laanecoorie is hardly a .fair illustration of the position. What we desire to do is to prevent any one of the various errors which have been mentioned from disfranchising an elector. It is not to be expected that if, as suggested by the honorable member for Laanecoorie, a man went before a returning officer and said, “My name is John Brown, and I claim that the entry in the roll, ‘John Smith,’ refers to me,” his, claim would be allowed. A man’s Christian name and surname, as well as his occupation might be correctly given on a roll, and yet under the Bill as it stands, if his address were wrongly described, he would be deprived of the right to vote. I contend that any one of these errors should not prevent a man from exercising the franchise. In the case of an error the returning officer would require a great deal of evidence to satisfy him of the identity of the claimant. I have k:7own objection to be raised against farmers’ sons, who -were wrongly described on the rolls as “farmers” when they were really farm labourers, having no farms of their own. We must recollect that the rolls are compiled not alone from claims furnished by individuals, but from lists prepared by officials, who mayvery easily fall into errors in describing the occupation or address of an elector, especially when we -remember the jaw-breaking native names of districts, frequently puzzling to a stranger. As long as the identity of the elector is established, there need be no fear that the amendment will give rise to objectionable practices, and unless a presiding officer is satisfied that the error com-
J plained of is only a small one such as I have j suggested, he is not likely to allow the claim- ant to vote.
Mr. SALMON (Laanecoorie). - The amendment is not limited to one error in the description of an elector.
– It cannot be limited.
– I should not care to see it limited. I have in my mind a case in which both the Christian and surname of an elector were wrongly spelled in a roll, but, as the person happened to be a postmaster in a country town, it was possible to obtain a full and sufficient identification, and the vote was allowed. I would point out to the honorable member for Canobolas, that a returning officer has no power to determine whether or not a man has the right to vote. All that he has to decide is whether a person who demands the right to vote is identical with the elector described on the roll, in whose name he claims to exercise the franchise. The identity has to be consonant with a particular person whose name appears on a particular roll. If every detail in a roll is to be altered - as might be done under the amendment - we shall lose all means of proper identification. The honorable member for Bland might well be satisfied with the clause as it stands. I do not know whether the honorable member has a personal knowledge of any case in which a farmer’s son was disfranchised because he had been wrongly described as a farmer instead of a farm labourer ; but Iam sure that in Victoria that would be impossible.
– I say that the objection has been taken, and I believe that under this Bill it would be a valid one.
– Surely not. I do not propose to discuss the matter further.
– Although I think this clause very sufficiently provides for what is intended, I cannot see that there would be any harm in adding the words proposed by the honorable member for Bland. They carry out to the fullest possible extent the intention of the clause that the elector shall be identified in spite of any errors in the description given in the roll. The amendment makes the matter clearer, and cannot possibly weaken the clause as it stands.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia.)I am led to fear that the amendment might be too far reaching in its effects, because of a circumstance which occurred at an election in South Australia, in which a returning officer took it upon himself to fixup a roll on election- day by adding names to it.
-That would be improper under this Bill.
– The returning officer had no power to do anything of the kind in the case I have mentioned. Where it was clearly proved that a name after being placed on a roll had in some unaccountable manner been omitted - perhaps in reprinting - the returning officer thought he had the right to restore it. That power was stretched by the returning officer in the way I have described. Certain persons appeared before him, and said that their names ought to have been upon the roll, as they had sent in their claims. He then called upon the poll clerk to add them to the list. The poll clerk refused, and the returning officer thereupon placed them on the roll himself, and allowed the claimants to vote.
– This amendment does not contemplate such a power.
– I admit that; but
I desire to suggest to the honorable member that returning officers sometimes interpret very widely a power such as this, and, when they are partisans, in a spirit which is not in the interests of the electors. Once an officer is given a discretion to correct an error in certain cases, and to refuse to do so in other cases, a difficulty is bound to arise. It would be much better to confine the power to amend a roll to a case in which a mistake had occurred in describing the occupation of the elector. If we allow the returning officers to adjudicate, and determine whether a wrong address has been given, we may place them in a difficulty.
– I think that some discretionary power should be given to the returning officer as provided for in the amendment. I remember a case in which a man who hadremoved from one street to another after the rolls had been compiled, but who still resided in the same electoral district, was refused the right to vote on the ground that he did not reside in the street named in the roll.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Postponed clause 190, and postponed clauses 198 to 209, negatived.
Postponed clause 210 (Effect of decision).
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I do not think we are proceeding in a proper way. Before we agree to strike out clauses i n this way, we should know what it is in- tended to put in their places. We are shackling ourselves by omitting all these clauses, and a number of them would fit in with the appointment of a political committee. As a matter of fact, they are framed chiefly on the South Australian practice.
– The South Australian practice is not the same as the Committee of Elections and Qualifications, which was asked for last night.
– So many opinions have been expressed that I do not know what has been asked for. In South Australia, we make provision for a presiding judge to assist members of the Parliamentary Committee, so far as the law is concerned, and that system has worked admirably.
– We have said that we do not want that.
– I have risen merely to say that I think it is a great mistake to allow these clauses to be dropped out before we know what is going to be put in their places.
Postponed clause 211 negatived.
– I propose now to move the insertion of a number of clauses which have been drafted to give effect to the decision resulting from the discussion which took place last night. They are somewhat lengthy, and are taken from theVictorian and New South Wales Acts, and founded upon the practice in those States. I presume that they will meet with the acceptance of the committee. It would be useless for me to read the whole of them now, and expect the committee to deal with them. What I propose to do is to ask the committee to agree to the insertion of these clauses, and so have them printed and circulated, and I shall then have them recommitted for consideration, after allowing time to elapse within which honorable members will be able to see them.
– Could not the honorable gentleman tell us the principle proposed without going into details?
– What is proposed is the nomination of a Paliamentary Committee. It is proposed that at the commencement of each session of Parliament the Speaker should issue his warrant, nominating seven members of an Elections and Qualifications Committee. The warrant will be laid upon the table, and if within three days exception is not taken to it the committee will be appointed. There are, of course, consequential clauses to cover details included in the clauses which we have struck out.
– No new principle or practice is introduced?
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- No ; I am adhering to what I understand to be the wish of the committee as expressed last night. I really have not had an opportunity of carefully reading these new clauses myself. I wish to have them printed and circulated, and if it is the wish of honorable members I shall have them recommitted for consideration before the Bill leaves this Chamber.
– I think the honorable gentleman should pledge himself to have them recommitted.
SirWILLIAM LYNE.- I shall do so, because I recognise that it is not fair to the committee that the Bill should be sent back to the Senate without honorable members having an opportunity of discussing these clauses in detail. I move -
That the following new clauses be inserted : -
Part XVII. - Committee of Elections and Qualifications. 197a. (1) In every session of the Senate and of the House of Representatives respectively, as soon as conveniently may be after the commencement of the session, the President or Speaker, as the case may be, shall, by warrant under his hand, appoint seven members of the House, against whose return no petition is then pending, and none of whom is a party to any petition complaining of any election or return, to be members of the Committee of Elections and Qualifications (hereinafter called the committee).
Every such warrant shall be laid on the table of the Senate or House ofRepresentatives, as the case maybe, and if not disapproved by the House in the course of the three next following days on which the House meets for the despatch of business, shall take effect as an appointment of the committee.
Every member who becomes a party to any petition complaining of an undue election or return, or respecting whose return, qualification, or disqualification an inquiry is pending, shall, for the time, be disqualified to serve on the committee, and the President or Speaker, as the case may be, shall name another member in his stead. 197b. If the Senate or House of Representatives disapproves of any such warrant, the President or Speaker shall, on or before the third day on which the House meets after such disapproval, lay upon the table of the House a new warrant for the appointment of seven members qualified as aforesaid, and so from time to time until seven members have been appointed by warrant not disapproved of by the House.
Provided that the disapproval of any warrant may be either general in respect of the constitution of the whole committee, or special in respect of any particular member named in the warrant ; and the President or Speaker may, if he thinks fit, name in the second or subsequent warrant any of the members named in any former warrant whose appointment has not been specially disapproved of. 197c. After the appointment of the committee every member appointed shall continue to be a member thereof until the end of the session ; or until he ceases to be a member of the House ; or until the committee reports that he is disabled by continued illness from attending the committee ; or that he has failed to attend four consecutive meetings without the leave of the committee ; or until the committee is dissolved (as hereinafter provided) ; or until he resigns his appointment (which he may do by letter to the President or Speaker), which resignation shall not take effect until the appointment of another member in his place. 197 d. (1) If the committee at any time reports that, by reason of the continued absence of more than two of its members, or by reason of irreconcilable difference of opinion, it is unable to proceed satisfactorily in the discharge of its duties, or if the House resolves that the committee be dissolved, it shall be forthwith dissolved, and every re-appointment of the committee after its dissolution, as well also as every appointment to supply a vacancy in the committee by resignation or otherwise, shall be made by the President or Speaker by warrant under his hand laid upon the table of the House, on or before the third day on which the House meets after the dissolution of the committee, or notification of the vacancy made by the President or Speaker, as the case may be.
Such warrant shall be subject to the disapproval of the House in like manner as is hereinbefore provided in the case of the appointment of the first committee,
Upon any re-appointment of the committee the President or Speaker may, if he thinks fit, re-appoint any of the members of the former committee who are then not disqualified to serve on it.
Every such new committee or member shall have power to take up and continue the business pending at the time of the dissolution or vacancy, in the same manner as it might have been done by the committee as previously constituted and composed. 107e. The President or Speaker shall appoint the time and place of the first meeting of the committee, and the committee shall meet at the time and place so appointed, but no member shall act upon the committee until he has been sworn at the table of the House by the Clerk, well and truly to try and determine the matter of any petition or other question referred to the committee, and a true judgment to give according to the evidence, and truly and faithfully to perform the duties appertaining to a member of the committee to the best of his ability without fear or favour. 197F. (1) The committee shall have power to adjourn its sittings as it thinks proper, provided that the interval of adjournment shall not in any instance exceed seven (7) days, unless by leave first obtained from the House. In case four (4) mem - bers have not met together within one hour of the time appointed for an original or adjourned meeting, the members present may adjourn within the limits and subject to the restrictions aforesaid.
The committee shall elect its own chairman, and shall have power to regulate the form and manner of its own proceedings.
Such proceedings shall be conducted openly, except when the committee thinks it necessary to deliberate before or after hearing evidence and argument, if offered ; and all questions before the committee shall be decided by a majority of votes, and whenever the votes are equal the chairman shall have a casting vote, and no member of the committee shall refrain from voting on any question on which the committee is divided.
The committee shall be attended by one of the clerks of the House, who shall make a minute of all proceedings of the committee in such form and manner as is directed by the committee, and a copy of the minutes shall be laid from time to time before the House. 197g. (1) The committeeshall have power to inquire into and determine upon all election petitions and upon all questions which may be referred to it by the House respecting the validity of any election or return of a member to serve in the House, whether the dispute relating to the election or return arises out of an error in the return of the returning officer, or out of an allegation of bribery or corruption against any person concerned in any election, or out of any allegation calculated to affect the validity of the election or return, and also upon all questions concerning the qualification or disqualification of any person who has been returned as a member of the House.
On the trial of any such question the committee shall be guided by the real justice and good conscience of the case, without regard to legal forms and solemnities, and shall direct itself by the best evidence it can procure, or which is laid before it, whether it be such evidence as the law would require or admit in any other case or not, and the committee may receive or reject, as it deems fit, any evidence that may be tendered to it. 197h. (1) The committee shall have power to direct the attendance of witnesses, and to examine them on oath (which oath it shall be competent for any member of the committee to administer), and also to send for and examine papers, records, and other documentary evidence, and the committee may, if it thinksfit, receive affidavits or declarations relating to any of the matters referred to it taken before any Justice of the Peace (which affidavits such Justice of the Peace is hereby authorized to take).
If any person summoned by the committee disobeys the summons or refuses or neglects to produce any papers, records, or other documentary evidence relating to the matterunder investigation which has been sent for by the committee, or refuses to submit himself for examination or gives false evidence, or prevaricates, or otherwise misconducts himself in giving or refusing to give evidence, he shall be liable to be imprisoned, with or without hard labour, for any period not exceeding two (2)years.
Any person wilfully or knowingly giving false evidence before the committee or a quorum thereof, or in any such declaration or affidavit, shall be liable to imprisonment, with or without hard labour, for any period not exceeding three (3) years. 197i. The committee shall have the power to inquire whether or not the petition is duly signed, and so far as rolls and voting are concerned, to inquire into the identity of persons and whether their votes were improperly admitted or rejected, assuming the roll to becorrect, but shall not have power to inquire into the correctness of any roll. 197 k. (1) The committee shall determine finally on all questions referred to it, and if it determines and reports to the House that a person returned was not duly elected, he shall cease to be a member of the House ; and if it determines and reports that any person not returned was duty elected, he may take his seat in the House accordingly; and if the committee declares any election to have been wholly void, or declares any sitting member to be unqualified or disqualified a new election shall be held.
If the committee comes to any resolution other than the determination above mentioned, it shall, if it thinks proper, report the same to the House for its opinion and decision, at the same time as it informs the House of such determination, and the House may confirm or disagree with the resolution and make such order thereon as it thinks fit. 187l. (1) Every petition complaining of the undue election or return of a member to serve in the Senate or House of Representatives, or complaining that no return has been made according to the exigency of the writ issued for the election of a member to serve in the Senate or House of Representatives, shall be subscribed by some person who voted or claimed to have the right to vote at the election to which the same relates, or by some person claiming to have had a right to be returned or elected thereat, or alleging himself to have been a candidate at the election, and shall be addressed to the House affected and presented to the Clerk of the House within thirty (30) days after the next meeting of the House, or within forty (40) days after the return of the writ to which the petition relates.
Every such petition shall be forthwith notified in the Gazette, and shall, as soon as conveniently may be after such presentation, be laid by the President or Speaker before the House, and shall by the House be referred to the committee either forthwith or as soon as the committee has been duly appointed or affirmed. 197m. The House may, upon any petition subscribed as aforesaid, and presented to the President or Speaker, refer such petition and the question thereby raised to the committee, and the House shall also have power upon the like petition to refer to the committee all questions respecting bribery or corruption alleged to have been committed at any election atany time within twelve (12) months after the election, notwithstanding that the period in either of the above cases has elapsed, for a petition against the election or return according to the provisions hereinbefore contained. 197n.Noelection shall be avoided on account of any delay in the declaration of nominations, the polling, or the return of the writ, or on account of the absence or error of any officer which shall not be proved to hove affected the result of the election. 197o. Before presenting any such petition to the President or Speaker, the person by whom it is subscribed, or some one on his behalf, shall deposit with the Clerk of the House the sum of fifty pounds (£50) as security for costs, which sum shall be payable towards the costs of the petition as hereinafter regulated, and shall be liable to be applied upon the order of the President or Speaker, either for the purpose of such payment, or for the purpose of restoring the same to the petitioner, wholly or in part, as the casemay require. 197p. All persons subscribing any suchpetition shall be deemed to be parties to the reference, and the sitting member to whose election the petition relates, or any person who voted or who had the rightto vote thereat, or any person complained against in any such petition, may within four (4) weeks after the presentation thereof, by notice in writing to the Speaker, be admitted as a party to support or oppose the same or to defend the return of the sitting member, as the case may be, and every person so admitted shall be deemed to be a party to the reference. 197q. The parties to any such reference made any time after presentation of the petition so referred to may conjointly or severally withdraw their support or opposition, as the case may be, by written notice to that effect under their hands or the hand of their agent to the President or Speaker, and also to the sitting member or his agent, and also to the adverse parties or their agent, and in such cases the parties so withdrawing shall be liable to the payment of all such costs and expenses incurred by any of the adverse parties as the committee in its discretion deems reasonable and just. 197r. The committee may determine and report to the House affected upon every petition so referred to, and may in all cases award payment of all such costs or expenses incurred by any of the parties as the committee in its discretion deems reasonable and just, and name the parties in each case who shall be liable for such payments, and the parties, if any, to whom such payments are to be made. 197s. If costs are awarded to any party against the petition, the deposit shall be applicable in payment of the sum ordered, but otherwise the deposit shall be repaid to the petitioner. 197t. All other costs awarded by the committee, including any balance above the deposit payable by the petitioner, shall be recoverable as if the order of the committee were a judgment of the High Court of Australia, and such order, certified by the committee, may be entered as a judgment of the High Court of Australia, and enforced accordingly.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - Ordinarily the practice proposed by the honorable gentleman would be highly objectionable, but, inasmuch as he proposes to carry out the wish of the committee as expressed by a very large majority last night, and as we are clearly led to understand that the new clauses involve no new principle that will militate against the decision of the committee, we may very well for the convenience of public business allow them to be introduced now, leaving it to the recommittal stage to discuss them in detail if that appear to be desirable.
– New clauses cannot be proposed at this stage.
– Yes, I have dealt with the postponed clauses, and I come now to the new clauses to be proposed.
– Was not clause 99 postponed for the purpose of considering the question of deposits ?
– I think not. There may have been some intention to recommit it, but it was not postponed.
New clauses agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the following new clause be inserted: - 19a. Before reporting on the distribution of any State into divisions, the Commissioner shall invite public attention by advertisements in not more than two newspapers circulating in the State, to the maps exhibited for public information at post-offices, railway stations, State schools, police stations, town-halls, and other public buildings, showing the boundaries of the proposed divisions and the estimated number of electors therein.
Mr. V. L. SOLOMON (South Australia). - We have just passed in a haphazard, happy-go-lucky sort of way a number of new clauses proposed by the Minister, and I do not suppose there’ is a member of the committee who really knows what they contain.
– They are the same as the sections of the Victorian Act.
– They may be one thing and they may be another, but I desire to have an assurance from the Minister that a reprint of the Bill will be submitted to us in order that these clauses may be fully discussed.
Sir William Lyne. I have already assured honorable members that that -will be done.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas).- In Sydney there are two morning .and two evening newspapers, and a large proportion of the people see only one of them. If the announcement is intended for public information it should be published in the four newspapers in that city. I would strongly advise the Minister to reconsider the question of limiting the publication to two newspapers. Assuming that the announcement is intended for public information, it should be published in . as many newspapers as will give it that publicity which is necessary, and nothing short of publication in the leading newspapers -in the chief city of a State will meet that requirement.
– I do not wish the clause to be passed without considering the suggestion which the honorable member for Canobolas has made. The same idea occurred to my mind, but the difficulty is that if we give an unlimited scope to the publication of the advertisement it will mean a very large bill, and that is why the expression “ not exceeding two newspapers “ has been used. If the publication is not limited - perhaps it might be better to advertise in more than two newspapers-the undoubted result will be that every newspaper in each electorate in the State will be clamouring for an order to publish the advertisement, and the advertising bill will be an enormous ohe.
– Could not the publication be limited to the daily newspapers in each capital 1
– In Victoria, I presume that the two leading newspapers are the Argus and Age-
– Why not the evening Herald, which has a circle of readers’ who possibly do not read the other newspapers 1
– The question then arises, where are we going to stop ?
– Stick to the Gazette, and save expense.
– If honorable members are not afraid of incurring expense, and desire to limit the publication to the leading metropolitan newspapers in a State, I do not object, but the provision was framed with the view of avoiding a very large printing bill, at the same time giving every section of the public an opportunity to protest, if it is so desired, against the proposed boundary of a division. But I do not think that the Minister should be placed in such a position that he will have to refuse the advertisement to 200 or 300 newspapers distributed all over the State. I am quite prepared to substitute the word “four” for the word “ two.”
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- I do not think it is necessary to go to all this expense. What is proposed to be advertised 1 It is the fact that the commissioner, in the absence of any further information, intends to divide the State into so many electorates, with certain boundaries. How many persons who frequent post-offices, State schools, and police stations will be interested in the advertising of that fact? How many of them will take any notice of the advertisement ? In the case of altering an electoral roll, every person is vitally interested ; but in the case of dividing a State into electorates there is no necessity to go to the expense of preparing a map to be exhibited at post-offices and other places. Let honorable members imagine how many copies would be required for that purpose. I do not know how many thousands of these buildings there are in the Commonwealth, but I imagine that in New SouthWales they would number 2,000 or 3,000. I do not see any necessity to exhibit the map in that fashion. It would be quite sufficient if the commissioner, by advertisement, gave the newspapers an opportunity to copy the map. When New South Wales was divided, the commissioners exhibited a map, I think, in their office, which the chief newspapers carefully photo lithographed and published for the information of the people. There is no necessity to advertise in the press, or to prepare many thousand copies of an elaborate map at a very heavy cost, merely for the sake of directing the attention of politicians and a few political organizations to the fact that certain divisions were proposed to be made. I would suggest to the Minister that it would be just as well not to insist that a map should be exhibited at the various places named in the new clause.
– The attempt made by the Minister to reduce the cost is, on the face of it, rather inconsistent, because the new clause does not say how many times it is proposed to publish the advertisement. Suppose it were decided to publish in the newspapers an advertisement calling attention to thefact thatatevery post-office there is amap showing the proposed division, that announcement may be made in the space of an inch or of half-a-dozen inches. But, if it is going to be an advertisement to do nothing more or less than call attention to the fact that themap maybe seenat certain buildings, I quite agree with the honorable member for Bland that it will not have the slightest effect, and I apprehend that it would cost no more to give the newspapers, if they did not do it gratuitously, to give them an order, and let them print the map, than to exhibit it at public buildings. I do not think that the proposal is likely to save money. On the other hand, I think that the people will not takethe slightest notice of the advertisements. What we desire to do is to direct the attention of the people to the proposed division, so that it may be modified if necessary. To attain that object let us decide to insert advertisements in the newspapers, and not to print the maps. If the object is to limit the expense, thefirst thing to do is to decide how much money we are going to spend. Otherwise we may spend on 40 advertisements in four newspapers that which should be distributed amongst the various newspapers of the State, and a very great injustice would be done to the country press, which alone, in many parts of the State, supplies a vehicle for conveying information of such a character to the people. The Minister will do well, I think, to drop the idea of exhibiting themap at she post-offices and other buildings. There would be some advantage in putting a notice outside a post-office to the effect that any person could see the map at a certain place, or get a copy of it by sending to the head-office. As a general rule, the last thing a man would dream of doing would be to examine a map exhibited at a post- office. I think that the proposal is only a means of wasting money.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra). - I also think that this new clause involves a waste of money. In my opinion, the best thing we can do is to omit the clause, and insert a provision to the effect that the map should be published in only the Gazette, and if any person desired to have a map, he could send an application to the head office. Any person who was interested in a certain division of the State would make it his business to see a copy of the Gazette when the map was published, and in this way the Commonwealth would save considerable expense.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - I think that the clause is unnecessary. I entirely agree with the remarks which fell from the honorable members for Bland and West Sydney. We shall only be incurring very considerable expense, to no possible purpose, if we adopt the new clause. The people will not be reached by the advertisements, and no good will arise from their publication. I am very doubtful about the public being reached through the medium of the Gazette. I believe that very few persons who get the Gazette ever look at it. Bui it is in the hands of the Minister to circulate effectually the necessary information, and so inform interested persons of what is proposed to be done, and it can be accomplished without incurring anything like the expense which the adoption of this new clause would entail. I suggest that we should abandon this clause altogether and leave it to administration to give effect to the desire of the committee that the public should have sufficient information regarding the distribution of the electorates.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - I am in sympathy with the desire of the Minister to give publicity to the report of the commissioner. A mere ‘ advertisement in the Commonwealth Gazette would not be sufficient, but the publication of advertisements in all the newspapers in the State would involve greater expense than would be warranted: The necessities of the case would be met by advertising in the daily newspapers issued in the capital of the State. There is no necessity to restrict the number to four. It is true that in Sydney only four daily newspapers are published at present, but it is not improbable that a fifth will soon be added to the list. The Government should not be bound down by any obnoxious restrictions with regard to the number of newspapers in which they shall advertise, and I hope the proposal will be amended in the direction I indicate.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I understand that the Minister is proposing to substitute new clauses for clauses 19, 20, and 21, which were omitted. Under the proposal before us expense will be incurred in publishing the first report of the commissioner, and then if the remonstrances from the electors are taken into account, an amended report will also have to be advertised. The intention is to give the electors an opportunity to object to the proposed divisions, but if they do object the chances are 100 to 1 that no notice will be taken of their objection. There may be 100 objections sent in by as many different groups of twenty or thirty electors, and I cannot imagine how the commissioner will be able to take any notice of them. The objections will probably clash with one another, and the commissioner, in order to make confusion less confounded, will disregard them. If, on the other hand, he does act upon the representations of any of the electors, his amended report, as well as that originally issued, will have to be published. The safest course will be to reject the whole scheme. It is not necessary, and it will involve great expense.
– The honorable and learned member is mistaken in supposing that this provision is of no value. We gained some experience in connexion with the last division of New South Wales. The commissioners were required to give information to the public by advertising their proposed distribution of the electorates in two, at least, of the morning newspapers in Sydney, and the result was that representations were made by the electors which caused the commissioners to modify the boundaries in a number of cases. The commissioner may not be sufficiently acquainted with the circumstances of any particular locality to know where community of interest begins and ends, .and where it will be best to draw the dividing line in view of the natural features of the country. The object of the clause is to make the proposals of the commissioner as complete as possible before they are finally submitted to Parliament, and this can only be accomplished by giving the public every information. I will mention one case in which an important alteration was made. The electorate of the honorable member for West Sydney adjoins that of the honorable member for East Sydney. The first proposal was to divide these two electorates by a line running almost north and south, but when this became known it was shown that it would be much wiser to make the dividing line east and west. In consequence of the representations made to the commissioners a division was made very much better than that ‘proposed in the first instance.
– It was better for me.
– I think it was better all round, because it had regard to the community of interests in the two electorates. In the first division those who engaged in shipping would have been grouped with a number of persons who had very little interest in that business, but now the shipping people are all together, while those having other interests are associated in another electorate.
– Is it necessary to have maps displayed at every school - house throughout the State 1
– No ; I think not. I think it is going too far to propose that maps should be displayed at every post-office, railway station, public school, police station, and town hall, and I hope it will meet the wishes of the committee if I amend the proposal by providing that maps shall be displayed at post-offices only. Perhaps it would be better to publish a map in the newspapers as was done on the occasion to which I have just referred.
– I do not think the Government paid for that.
– I am not quite sure, but the publication of maps would not cost very much. The cost of advertising in four newspapers in each State would be a mere bagatelle, and I, therefore, propose to increase the number from two to four. It is important that every opportunity should be given to the public to make their representations to the Commissioner before his report is finally submitted to Parliament. It is very difficult to make amendments after a scheme comes before the House, and it is also very inconvenient to have to alter perhaps half-a-dozen different boundaries in order to provide for one slight change.
– Does the honorable member propose to limit the advertisements to four newspapers ?
– I think that will be ‘ quite sufficient. I am credited with being regardless of expense, but honorable members will find that except in very trivial matters I am very careful regarding expenditure. I do not think it is necessary to advertise in every newspaper in the State, and I should prefer the number of advertisements to be restricted, because where no limit is fixed, Ministers find it very difficult to resist the importunities of newspaper proprietors.
– I think the Minister’s proposal to limit the display of maps is a proper and reasonable one. I had the curiosity a little time ago to find out how many telegraph-offices there are in the Commonwealth, and I ascertained that the number was 2,903. Of course there are a number of post-offices besides those with which telegraph-offices are associated. The cost of issuing 3,000 or 4,000 maps would be very small, and we may readily accept the Minister’s suggestion. I think that perhaps it might be better to publish the advertisements in . weekly rather than in daily newspapers, because the weekly newspapers are most widely circulated throughout the more remote parts of the country.
– My proposal will permit of that, because the advertisements are not to be restricted to daily newspapers.
– It is desirable that the electors in each district should have an opportunity to make representations to the Commissioner regarding the proper boundaries to adopt, because he will probably not be in a position to closely study local interests, or to pay due regard to the physical features of the country. I understand the Minister to propose that a map and a full description of the proposed boundaries shall be published in four newspapers in each electorate.
– No ; it is proposed that advertisements should be published in four newspapers in each State. It does not follow that maps will be published in the newspapers, but the intention is to publish short advertisements directing the attention of the public to the fact- that maps may be inspected at the post-offices. In Sydney and Melbourne the divisions were published in the newspapers as a result of their own enterprise. Probably a similar course will be followed in the present instance. The object of- this clause is to guard against neglect to supply the public with the necessary information.
– Then it seems to me that we are discussing a very trivial matter. Surely the Government have power to insert a short advertisement in the different newspapers. The publication of only four advertisements throughout each State will not adequately meet the necessities of the case. A small advertisement, costing only a few shillings, and referring the public tc the Commonwealth Gazette for full particulars might with advantage be inserted in most of the newspapers.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).In my judgment, all that is required is to insure that full information should be published in the Commonwealth Gazette. It is unnecessa ry to insert the whole of the details in four newspapers in each State. All that we need to guard against is that, the particulars are not supplied in a holeandcorner way.
– Who reads the Gazette ?
– No institution discourages the perusal of the Commonwealth Gazette more than does Parliament itself. Whenever any proposal is to be brought before the people we consistently overlook that publication. In the present case persons are naturally interested in obtaining the information which is to be supplied, and the newspapers in catering for their readers are bound to furnish it. Therefore we can safely trust the Minister not to overstep proper bounds in this connexion. I contend that we shall meet all requirements by publishing the whole of the details in the Gazette, and by inserting in various newspapers a small advertisement directing attention to those details.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas). - I am not convinced that it is wise to limit the insertion of this advertisement to four newspapers in each State. I should be glad if the Minister would accept an amendment providing that it shall appear in the daily newspapers published in the capitals of the States. The honorable member for the Grampians pointed out that it was desirable that the information should be published in the big weekly newspapers, but as those publications are issued from the offices of the metropolitan dailies, the proprietors of the latter, in the interests of their readers, will see that the particulars are given to country residents.
Amendment (by Mr. Brown) agreed to -
That the proposed new clause be amended by the omission of the word “ two.”
Amendment (by Mr. Brown) proposed -
That the proposed new clause be amended by inserting after the word “than” the words “the daily.”
– I think it would be very invidious to provide that this advertisement should be inserted in the metropolitan newspapers only. Such a course of action would constitute a gross injustice to the provincial press. There are many good country newspapers, which are quite as much entitled to consideration as are the metropolitan dailies. Upon the whole, however, I think it would be wise to provide that this advertisement shall be inserted only in the Commonwealth Gazette. That would meet all the requirements of the case, and would be in the interests of economy. All the newspapers appeal very anxious to criticise Parliament in connexion with the new expenditure, so that it is time we begun to economize in that direction.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Batchelor) agreed to-
That the proposed new clause be amended by inserting after the word “ than” the words “ the Commonwealth Gazette.”
– I wish to know how the clause reads.
– Ask the honorable member for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).The fact that the clause as amended will require to be redrafted in order to make it read properly, illustrates the difficulty of dealing with new provisions which are not put before the committee in print. The Minister for Home Affairs is the only honorable member who has the new clause before him, and he should either suggest an alteration, or allow the clause to pass as it stands, and recommit it.
– The words “ not more than “ should be struck out.
– Yes ; but we cannot go back. The provision will require to be redrafted.
– I shall withdraw the clause altogether.
– With all deference to the Minister for Home Affairs, I think that it is unbecoming for him to do anything which may appear to be an exhibition of pique because of his defeat on the last vote. Honorable members are here topass the Bill in a form that appears to them to be most satisfactory, and every honorable member is equally responsible in the matter with the Minister himself. I do not believe in being threatened by the honorable gentleman, or any one else, and I claim that, as the representative of the Government, the Minister is in duty bound to assist the committee in framing the Bill in accordance with their wishes. Of course, he is perfectly right in endeavouring to carry out his desires, but for him to attempt to throw the onus for the difficulty which has occurred upon the honorable member who moved the amendment, is to give an exhibition of pique which I think is unwarranted.
– I am much obliged to the honorable member for the lecture which he has just delivered, and. I shall probably profit very much by it.
The honorable member has accused me of being piqued, but he does not really know what he is referring to. I think the clause is a very unimportant one, and what I propose to do is to ask the committee to negative it. If it be the desire of honorable members, I will then bring in a new clause. I doubt very much whether it is necessary to do more than to negative the clause, because, in view of the vote just given by the committee, the advertisements will be published in the Gazette. That would be done in any case, and no direction is required.
– But they are to be published only in the Commonwealth Gazette.
– There is no authority for anything else. The new clause, as introduced, gave the Government a limited authority to publish the advertisements in certain newspapers. The committee have decided now that they shall appear in the Gazette, and that will be done. I propose, therefore, to ask the committee to negative the clause, and if it be the desire of honorable members to limit the power of the Government in the matter of the publication of these advertisements in any newspaper, I shall bring in a new clause. As it stands at present the clause is unintelligible, and cannot be amended without a great deal of difficulty.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - I think that the best the Minister can do is to follow his very frequent practice, and jettison this clause. As soon as the honorable gentleman sees that the numbers are up against him, he is prepared to throw over this, that, and the other clause, and make it appear that he had really no object in moving them. I think that this clause might very well be omitted, and many other honorable members hold the same view.
– In this clause there is a direction -that copies of the maps shall be exhibited in the police stations and post-offices. That may be a necessary direction, but I should think it rather a matter for regulation than for insertion in an Act of Parliament. If the committee think that the provision ought to be made,’ it is just as well that, in the event of the clause being struck out, another should be substituted containing these directions.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia). - I have not the least objection to the omission of the clause. The desire of the committee has been clearly shown by the vote just taken, and the new clause which the Minister proposes to bring in, should be framed to carry out that decision.
– As the Minister has already made a promise .to recommit certain clauses, I. suggest that we should allow this clause to go through as it is, and deal with the proposed amendments on recommittal.
New clause negatived.
– I move :
That the following new clause be inserted : - 19b. Objections or suggestions in writing may be lodged with the Commissioner not . later than thirty days after the first publication of the proposed distribution, and the Commissioner shall consider all objections and suggestions so lodged before making his report.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - It is highly objectionable that we should be asked to deal with a number of proposed new clauses which we have not had an opportunity of seeing. It is hardly fair that we should be asked to pass them without having the slightest opportunity of studying their effect.
New clause agreed to.
– I may say in reply to the acting leader of the Opposition that these new clauses were promised by the acting Prime Minister when I was unable to be present, and they were, I understand, practically agreed tQ. They have simply been put into form by the draughtsman before being submitted now. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - 19c. The commissioner shall forthwith, after the expiration of the 30 days above mentioned, forward to the Minister his report upon the distribution of the State into divisions, and the number of electors residing in each proposed division, together with a map signed by him showing the names and boundaries of each proposed division.
New clause agreed to.
– I move :
That the following new clause be inserted : - 98a. JTo person who is, or within fourteen days after the issue of the writ, has been the Member of the Parliament of a State shall be capable of being nominated as a senator or as a member of the House of Bepresentatives.
This is rather an important clause. The object is to provide that a person who is a member of a State Parliament shall not, while continuing to hold that position, be a candidate for return to the Senate or the House of Representatives. He must be on the same footing as every one else, and . must resign his position as a member of the
State Parliament before he can contest a federal election. I have been asked by several honorable members to submit this clause. The proposal was suggested in the first instance, by the honorable and learned member for Corio, but I could not accept it in the form in which it was submitted by him.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas).- I understand that the proposal is that no member of a State Legislature shall be eligible for nomination in any election for the Federal Legislature. I do not know that that is either a wise or a necessary provision.
– Is it constitutional to debar any man in this way 1
– I quite understand that it would not be desirable for a member to hold a position in a State House and also in the Federal Parliament: From my little experience of both State and Federal Parliaments I have come to the conclusion that no man can possibly do justice to both positions at the same time. I think it would be a fair amendment to propose that a member of a State House on being elected to the Federal Parliament should be required to resign his position in the State Parliament ; but this proposal dates the resignation further back, and debars any man from contesting an election who happens within fourteen days after the issue of the writs for a federal election to be a member of a State Parliament. I do not see my way to support such a proposal. Personally, I am disposed to give the greatest amount of liberty to the individual in this matter, allowing the electors to decide for themselves. It is a matter which, in my opinion, is properly within their province. If a man while a member of a State Parliament is nominated for election to the Federal Parliament it is the electors who should decide whether they will accept his services.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- It is quite possible that some honorable members may be inclined to support a proposal of this kind, because some of the States Parliaments have passed a similar provision with reference to Federal members standing for seats in the State Parliaments. While that feeling of retaliation is undoubtedly natural, and would incline most of us to take some such action, I still think that the broad principle, that the electors themselves are the best judges of the class of men they require, in either the Federal or States Parliaments, is the best one to follow. The electors can be relied upon, it seems to me, to reject any undesirable or unsuitable candidate for election, and it seems an improper thing for us to seek to limit their choice in the slightest degree. The States Parliaments have made a mistake in seeking, as some of them have done, to debar Federal members from standing for seats in the Parliaments of the States. I agree with the honorable member for Canobolas that it is proper that upon a man taking his seat as a member of the Federal Parliament, he should vacate his seat as a member of a State Parliament. But I think we should be taking a retrograde step in agreeing to a provision of this sort. I am doubtful, too, whether if the matter were tested in court, it would be held that we are constitutionally entitled to make any such provision.
– Yes, we are “ until Parliament otherwise provides” is the reference in the Constitution.
– We have ample power.
– I accept, the statement of legal members on that point. It seems to me paltry, so far as any competition with States members is concerned, to be worried about this matter, and think it would be better to leave the field open to all who may care to enter the lists.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - It is true that there are four States in the Commonwealth which prohibit a Federal member standing for the State Parliament, Almost every State, however, has passed an enactment declaring that when any member of the local Parliament is elected to the Federal Parliament, he shall by reason of that election vacate his seat in the State Parliament ; that is to say, he cannot sit in both Parliaments. It will be in the minds of honorable members who were present that in the Federal Convention it was agreed by a substantial majority that members should be eligible to sit in both State and Federal Parliaments. I dare say that those of us who voted for that, and amongst others who did so is the Minister for Trade and Customs, did not anticipate that the Federal session would last two or three 3’ears.
– The Minister is the cause of it..
– No doubt, but possibly the honorable gentleman did not anticipate that he would be in a position to cause it. However, that was the decision of the Convention, showing a disposition to allow members to sit in both Parliaments. W c cannot revert to that, but I certainly think it ought to be left to the electors to say whether a member of a State Parliament shall be elected to the Federal Parliament. His own electors are the best judges whether, on the one hand, they can afford to spare him from the Parliament of the State, and whether, on the other hand, he is a man who will represent them as they desire to be represented in the Federal Parliament. To deprive the electors of this opportunity is to deny one- of the great rights of the people in the matter of their selection of a representative. lt should always be remembered that with the exception of one State, that of Queensland, the election of any member of a State Parliament to the Federal Parliament vacates his seat in the State Parliament, and so gets rid of any argument that can be used with any material force against it.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I think this is a proposal to establish the present positions which honorable members occupy in this House as close preserves for the sitting members. It practically amounts to a provision that the only person who would have any chance of successfully opposing a sitting member of the Federal Parliament shall not be allowed to be a candidate for that Parliament. It may be a very good idea .from our point of view, but I question whether it is altogether a fair proposal. Personally, I have sufficient self-sacrifice to oppose it. The provision enacted in South Australia was that on a man taking a seat in a House of the Federal Parliament - not on being elected - his position in the State Parliament was vacated. There is no barrier against the members of this House standing for election to the State Parliament. I certainly should not be one to create a barrier against the members of that Parliament standing for a seat in either House of this Parliament in opposition’ to present members. When it is realized that the proposal is entirely undemocratic it will be seen that it is wrong to place the members of State Parliaments in the same category as felons and bankrupts, who are not capable of being elected to a seat in this House.
– I am decidedly opposed to the new clause. I think it was a mistake on the part of the State Parliaments to enact this principle, because it seems to directly limit the choice of the electors, which should be as wide as possible. Circumstances may so happen - will, I believe, frequently happen - between the State and the Federal Government that the electors will require a member of the State Parliament to serve them in this House, or vice versa”. There is no reason why a member of a State Parliament should resign his seat before he is elected to this House. Such a provision would be an unwarranted limitation of the choice of the free electors to get the men who they think will best serve them. On other clauses we have discussed the limited choice of candidates which the electors have. But it strikes me that this clause will limit the number of candidates more than would any other principle which could be incorporated in the Bill. It is totally subversive of all democratic ideas ; it is injurious to the best interests of the Commonwealth ; and if certain State Parliaments have enacted that which is impolitic and unwise, that is no reason why we should follow their example. The clause has nothing to recommend it, while the whole weight of the argument is against it.
– I do not agree with those who say that we are advocating a dog-in-the-manger policy. My experience at the last election was that the candidate who had a seat in the State Parliament had a big handicap over other candidates, since he possessed many privileges, including a railway pass. I have been away from the State for nearly two years, and some of my constituents have forgotten that there is a Federal Parliament:. - “A -member of the’ State Parliament can go through the electorates and make ‘his breath sweet, as it were, and put a “ dig “ in for one. In Queensland it is understood that one or two federal ‘electorates are to be contested by Ministers of the Crown. Is that a desirable state of things to exist 1 They are in a position to confer favours on particular parts of the federal electorates they desire to represent. All they wish to do is to defeat the present representative in this House, and it is quite likely that, if successful, they will resign in order to allow somebody else to run for the seats under their auspices, and so put the Commonwealth to the cost of by-elections. Some honorable members say that the people ought to be afforded an opportunity to elect the best men. In my opinion there are better men outside Parliament than there are in it. The people have a wider choice outside Parliament than in it. Why should a member of a State Parliament have any claim on a federal seat any more than a member of the Federal Parliament should have a claim on a State seat ? In Victoria we had an instance of the electors wishing a member of this Parliament to run for a seat in the State Parliament. What would have been the consequences if he had stood 1 If he had won he would have resigned his federal seat if he had not won, he would have retained his federal seat, but he would have succeeded in keeping some man out of the State Parliament. If I were a member of a State Parliament and thought I had a good chance of winning a federal seat, I should manfully resign, so that I might run on even terms with the other candidate. If any other member of the State Parliament had any courage he would do the same thing. I cannot see why any man should be in a position to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. I hope that the amendment will be carried, so that all the candidates for a federal seat may start from scratch.
Mr. HENRY WILLIS (Robertson).The new clause will not have the effect of limiting the choice of the people, for every person who desires to stand will be eligible for nomination, but a member of a State Parliament would have to resign his seat before he could stand. There is every reason why he” should resign his seat. Honorable members who have addressed themselves to this question had in mind only those federal members who intend to offer themselves for re-election. All persons should be on the same footing. Those who have not sat in the Federal Parliament, and who will ‘have to stump the country at considerable expense, will be at a disadvantage if they have to compete against a man who is provided’ with a railway pass, and is able to use his influence as a Member of the State Parliament in order to promote his candidature. If it is desired to give a wide choice to the electors let it be provided that those members of a State Parliament who desire to contest a federal electorate should be at liberty to do so, after they have resigned their seats. If they are defeated, the people will have an opportunity to elect them to the State Parliament within a few months. The Government proposal can be very safely supported, and full justice will be done to everybody, but if the proposal of the honorable member for Bland is adopted, a very great injustice will be done to those candidates who will not have a. railway pass and other facilities for promoting their candidature.
– I intend to support the amendment on the principle that no man can serve more than, one master at a time. A member of a State Parliament who wishes to do his duty properly by the people will be fully occupied, without angling for a seat in the Federal Parliament. . The only objection I, have to the new clause is that the time mentioned -within which a candidate who is a member of the State Parliament may offer himself is too short. It ought to be 28 days before the issue of the writ, because, if a member of a State Parliament proposes to contest a federal seat, he ought to make up his mind at least a month ahead. As each member of the Federal Parliament is supposed to be an intending candidate for the seat which he now holds, the two candidates do not stand on the same footing, and, therefore, the same rule cannot .be applied to both. I hope that the clause will be passed, and, if necessary, I shall move to extend the period from the issue of the writ from 1 4 to 28 days.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I brought this question under the notice of the House about a month after it first met, because I thought that honorable members should not be subjected to the unfair candidature of men who really shoot from behind a hedge. In Victoria, New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia, the law is that no member of a House of the Federal Parliament can be nominated for or elected to a seat in the State Parliament. So long as that unfair competition is continued, we should certainly protect this House and its members. The States have many departments which affect the electors far more directly than do those which are under the control of the Federal Government, and the members of the States Parliaments, in their peregrinations through the country, come into far closer contact with their constituents than do the federal representatives. The State member, therefore, is placed at a great advantage. If members of State Parliaments were permitted to contest federal seats, there would be a tendency on the part of the electors to confuse the State with federal issues. Members of the Federal Parliament have to resign before they can be nominated for election to the States Parliaments, and State members should be called upon to resign their, seats before offering themselves for election as representatives in this House, so that each can meet on straight and equal terms.
– I wish to point out to the committee, and especially to the honorable member for Bland and the honorable member for Canobolas, who, I think, are somewhat mistaken, that in several of ne States laws have been passed which debar members of this Parliament from offering themselves as candidates for election to the States Parliaments. The New South Wales Act contains the following provision : -
A member of the Parliament of the Commonwealth shall be incapable of being summoned or of being nominated or elected as a member of the Legislative Council or the .Legislative Assembly of New South Wales.
In South Australia the law provides -
No member of either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth shall be qualified for nomination or election as a member of either House of Parliament for South Australia.
The Acts of other States contain similar provisions. There is no intention to enter upon reprisals against the States ; but as a matter of principle it is not wise to permit members, of the States Parliaments to become candidates for election to this Parliament. If that were allowed, a State representative might decide after the election to abandon the seat he had won. in the Commonwealth Parliament, and thus put the Commonwealth to the expense- of another election. I do not consider that that would be a proper condition of affairs, and I therefore acted upon the suggestion of the honorable and learned member for Corio. The only point regarding which I had any doubt was whether fourteen days would be a sufficiently long term to provide for, and I do not think that any special hardship would be inflicted if it were extended.
– I quite concur, with the Minister in the object- he seeks to attain, and also agree with him that fourteen days is too short a period to provide for. The members of the State Parliaments may use their railway passes and their influence, for months before the writ is issued, in furthering their candidature for a seat in either House of the Commonwealth Parliament, and, under all the circumstances, I think that a member of a State Parliament should, in order to- render himself eligible as a candidate for a seat in this House, resign his seat at least 60 or 90 days before the issue of the writ.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia). - I always opposed the disqualification imposed by the States upon the right of members of the Federal Parliament to offer themselves as candidates for election to the States Parliaments. I am somewhat afraid, however, that the States have compelled us to impose a disqualification upon the members of their Parliaments, because, for the sake of uniformity, it is necessary to adopt some such provision as that now suggested. My own opinion is that every elector should be allowed to offer himself as a candidate for a seat in this Parliament. This might not be so advantageous for us, but, as a matter of principle, the freedom of the electors should not be interfered with. I believe that members should be permitted to sit in a State Legislature as well as in this Parliament. In the United States dual representation is permitted in all but fourteen of the States. In Canada the right existed at one time, but that was abolished simply for personal reasons. The denial of the right to sit in both a State and the Federal House has been condemned by an eminent authority like Bourinot,. and in a recent pamphlet issued by him he points out that there is a great dearth of capable men in Parliament owing to this disability. He specially condemned the attempt which was made to embody in the Federal Constitution of 1891 a provision debarring members fj-om sitting in both the Federal and State Legislatures, and particularly cautioned Australians against adopting the principle which we are now considering. I need not read w.hat this great constitutional authority says, but simply mention that he discusses the matter very fully and exhaustively. I believe that the right to sit in both. the State and Federal Legislatures exists in Switzerland, and that it is found of very great advantage. Many matters of legislation may be delegated from the States to the Federal Parliament, and it must be of immense advantage for a representative in the Federal Parliament to be able to speak with the authority of local knowledge upon a subject which his local Parliament has delegated to the higher authority. I believe that a provision for dual representation would diminish rather than increase the causes of friction between the States and the Commonwealth. We have no choice in the matter now that the majority of the States have debarred our members from offering themselves as candidates for seats in the States Parliaments, and it is necessary to secure uniformity by passing this provision.
– The Victorian and Western Australian Acts contain provisions similar to those in the New South Wales and South Australian Acts.
– The Victorian Act prevents a member of the Federal Parliament from sitting in the State Parliament, but not from offering himself for election.
– No doubt the policy of all the States Parliaments is to act similarly, and although I should be inclined to vote against any disqualification such as that now proposed, I do not consider we have any. choice but to pass the clause if it be limited to taking a seat, but not to nomination.
– The honorable member for Yarra stated that the Victorian Act did not debar a member of this Parliament from offering himself for election as a member of the State Parliament. The provision in the Victorian Act reads as follows :-
No member of either House of Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia shall at the same time be qualified for nomination or election as a member of either House of Parliament of Victoria.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia.)I still think that it would be better to allow perfect freedom on both sides, and that there should be no disqualification ; but I find that I was in error when I spoke recently with regard to the law in South Australia. I was under the impression that the provision in the South Australian Act was directed against members of the State Parliament also sitting as representatives in the Federal Parliament. It seems to me that the States have taken up a ‘ somewhat anomalous position, and, under the circumstances, most of the remarks which I made in my former speech do not apply.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas).- I am still strongly of opinion that it would be unwise to, in any way, limit the choice’ of the electors. The question as to who should be nominated should be left entirely in the hands of the people, and it is not for this Chamber to decide. The fact that the States have ‘ been so little-minded as to debar honorable members of this Chamber from being nominated for seats in the States Parliament does not affect the. position, and I am not prepared to enter upon any retaliatory measures. The advantage enjoyed by members of the States Parliaments in connexion with free travelling upon the railways is shared by members of the Federal Parliament, and places them at an advantage over outside candidates. Personally I should be prepared to go to the extent of placing all candidates upon the same footing in that regard. I do not care to follow in the wake of the narrow-minded legislation of the States, but I desire to subscribe to the more liberal principle of giving the electors the widest choice.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra).- I believe that the choice of the electors in selecting their candidates should be absolutely unrestricted, and if we wish this Parliament to be thoroughly representative of the people of Australia we should not place any disabilities upon members of the States Legislatures. So far as Victoria is concerned, it is probable that the reform movement will have the effect of depriving a large number of members of their seats in the State Parliament, and doubtless such a large number of exmembers of the State Parliament will offer themselves as candidates for this Parliament, that the clause now proposed will have little or no effect. It is all very well to urge that a member of a State Parliament who intends to contest a ‘ federal electorate will use -his railway pass for the purpose of canvassing that electorate ; but if he proposes to become a candidate he will not defer his canvass till the last month. He will- be busily occupied in traversing the constituency for months before the election takes place, whilst members from the distant States are engaged with their legislative duties here.- This clause will not prevent a State member from enjoying the advantage referred to, and I trust that it will be rejected.
Mr. PAGE (Maranoa.) - When I previously addressed the committee, I omitted to mention that it is quite possible for an individual to occupy a seat in the Queensland Parliament simultaneously with one in the Federal Parliament. We had an illustration of that when the honorable member for Brisbane was a member of the Queensland Parliament, and, at the same time, occupied a seat in this House.
– We were all in the same boat.
-Exactly. The same remark is applicable to Senators Higgs, Dawson, Stewart, Glassey and Drake, as well as to the honorable member for Kennedy and the honorable member for Wide Bay. The honorable member for Yarra has talked a lot of bunkum in reference to the electors selecting the best men. Privately,’ I have often heard him say that the Federal Parliament is the parliament of Australia ; yet he now claims that the members of the’ States Parliaments are the best men in the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Canobolas has raised a point in reference to the use of parliamentary railway passes. He must know that in a large electorate, which is traversed by a railway, a candidate who possesses a pass enjoys a great advantage over his competitors. We had an instance of that when the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs was seeking election. He was opposed by a State member who was able to travel over the railways in that district free of charge, whilst he himself had to pay his way. It appears to me that the State members occupy a much better position than do the Federal members. The moment that this Parliament is dissolved the salaries of. members cease, whereas the State members will continue to draw their £300 a year. In Queensland some people would be willing to spend £10,000 or £12,000 to capture the seat which I now occupy. They would be prepared to spend a similar amount to unseat the honorable member for Herbert. Indeed, I heard it said that the Premier of Queensland would oppose him if he had to resign his seat a week afterwards. I hope the clause’ will be carried.
Mr. SAWERS (New England).- A good deal may be said in justification of this proposal, because there is no doubt that a State member will possess great advantages over the Federal member in the matter of canvassing for the next elections. The Federal representative may be engaged in Melbourne almost up till the dissolution of Parliament, and may then have to travel over a most extensive electorate in order to address his constituents, while the State member, by means of his rail way pass, may have been canvassing the district for months. At the same time I fear that if the amendment be carried our action will be misunderstood by the outside public. They will conclude that we desire to make this Parliament a close corporation, and to unduly handicap the ordinary citizen. I am prepared to support the new clause, but only on the understanding that coincidently with a dissolution of this Parliament we cease to be representatives in reality, and face the electors in the some way as do other candidates. Hitherto it has been customary after the States Parliaments have been dissolved for their late members to travel over the railways free of charge, in order that they might canvass their constituencies. ‘ I have a vivid recollection that when I contested the New England district it was repeatedly thrown in my teeth that, because I possessed a Parliamentary railway pass, I enjoyed an unfair advantage over all the other candieates. If it is understood that neither State members nor Federal members are to use their railway passes for electioneering purposes, between the date of the dissolution of this Parliament and the election of the next, I am prepared to support the new clause.
Mr. CONROY (Werriwa).- I think that a great deal too much has been made of the fact that State, members, by reason of the possession of a railway pass, will enjoy an advantage over Federal members in connexion with the next election. If that were the only objection to be urged against the clause, it would be trivial indeed seeing that any candidate can purchase a pass to carry him over the railways traversing any electorate, for about £7 or £10 per month. I almost wish that no railway passes had been issued to members’ of this House, because, as the result of the enjoyment of that privilege, I am expected to travel from one State to another - a distance of 1,200 miles - each week, when there is legislative work to be done here. The possession of a railway pass has been a most serious disadvantage to me. I am so thoroughly tired of travelling that I regret that I have it. One of the arguments which have been used in favour of inserting this clause is that members of the Commonwealth Parliament are debarred from sitting in the States Parliaments. But because the States have adopted what seems to me to be rather a narrow view, why should we follow their example ? If the salaries payable to a State member and a Federal member were rolled into one and then doubled, it would not be too much for the work which any individual would be required to do, if he occupied a seatin both Parliaments. The only matter worth considering is whether the State members will not enjoy an advantage over usat the next elections. I do not know that I approve of election contests any more than does any other honorable member. I should certainly like to see an election over the Tariff Bill, but in other circumstances I should not be quite so ready to enter into one. Why should we try to deprive a member of a State. Parliamentof the right to come before the electors when the electors themselves may desire to return him to this Legislature? As a member of this Parliament it would be highly objectionable to me to have opposition from such a quarter, but if the final result were the return of my opponent I should not complain. The rejection of the bulk of honorable members would be the best thing that could happen to them, as they would then be compelled to attend to their own business. Their inability to do so, owing to their duties as members of this Legislature, must cause them considerable loss. This being a Federal Parliament possessing.much broader and larger views than those of the States Parliaments, we should refuse to put any barrier in the way of a man who desires to present himself for election. On these grounds I shall oppose the proposal to impose this barrier.
Mr. MAHON (Coolgardie). - I move-
That the word “ fourteen” be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ twenty eight. “
If my amendment be carried, any member of a State Parliament who desires to contest an election for either House of the Federal Legislature, will be inquired to resign his seat 28 days before the issue of the writ. I think that is a very reasonable limit to fix, and considering the very stringent provisions which have been made by the State Legislatures to prevent members of the Federal Parliament from competing with them, the proposal is only a fair one. The time fixed in the new clause as it stands is very short, and if the extension which I propose is made it will save many complications.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - The amendment would make bad worse. I object to the clause as it stands, but if it were amended as proposed it might absolutely prevent a member of a State Parliament from standing at a by-election, because he might not have an opportunity to resign his seat 28 days before it took place.
– The provision in the States electoral laws justifies reprisal.
– I cannot think that any mistaken action on the part of the States Legislatures would justify us in making it absolutely impossible for a citizenwho happens to be member of a State Parliament to stand at a bye-election for this Legislature. If the clause is to be carried, I hope that it will not be passed with this amendment, which is far too stringent.
New clause agreed to.
– At an earlier stage a point was raised, I think, by the right honorable the leader of the Opposition, as well as by the honorablemember for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, as to what would happen in a case where the bare number of candidates to be returned was nominated and one died before the day of election. It was asked what would be the course followed when a sufficient number of electors was not nominated for an election? I wasrequested to introduce an amendment to overcome such cases. I do not think that they arelikely to occur very frequently, but they are possible, and therefore I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 108a. If, after the nominations have been declared, and before polling day, any candidate dies andthe candidates remaining are no greater in number than the candidates required to be elected, they shall forthwith be declared tobe elected and the writ returned.”
New clause agreed to.
– A difficulty bearing partly, butnot wholly, on the matter with which we have just dealt was also raised, and there seemed to be some doubt as to the proper course to be followed whenever an election wholly or partially fails. To meet that difficulty, I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 108b. Whenever on election wholly or partially fails a new writ shall forthwith be issued fora supplementary election. An election shall be deemed to have wholly failed if no candidate is nominated or returned as elected. An election shall be deemed to have partially failed whenever one or more candidates is returned as elected, but not the full number required to be elected.”
New clause agreed to.
– When we were dealing with the clauses relating to voting by post, some doubt appeared to exist in the minds of certain honorable members as to what should be done with postal ballotpapers when marked. To clear away all doubts, I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 114a. The postmaster, or police, stipendiary or special magistrate, or head master of a State school, or other person employed in the public service of the Commonwealth, or any State, who is appointed by the Governor-General for the purposes of section 112 of this Act, who receives the envelope containing a postal ballot-paper for posting, shall forthwith post it.”
New clause agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ 1 14b. The vote marked on a postal ballot-paper shall not be looked at by any person other than the voter, until the counting of the votes at the scrutiny, and. the envelope in which the postal ballot-paper is placed shall not, after it has been closed, be opened until the scrutiny.”
– I move-
That the following new clause be inserted : - “1 39a. An elector shall only be entitled to vote for the division in which he lives, and for which he is enrolled, provided that an elector who has changed his place of living may continue to vote for the division for which his name is enrolled until his name is transferred to some other roll, if he takes all necessary steps to procure the transfer of his name to the roll of the division in which he lives, forthwith, after he has lived in such division for one month.”
The honorable member for Bland who suggested this clause pointed out that an elector moving from one division to another might, through no fault of his own, be deprived of his vote. Under this new clause, if he takes all the necessary steps to have his name transferred to the roll pi the new division in which he lives, he will have an opportunity of voting for the division in which he lived previous to his application for a transfer, if he has been residing for a month, as required by the Bill, in the new division.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio). - I point out that, as I understand the new clause, it is anabsolute contravention of the new clause proposed by the honorable member for Bland, because it provides that the voter shall vote only in the division in which he lives. I would point out that if this is agreed to, it will probably destroy any chance which the honorable member for
Bland will have of subsequently succeeding with the new clause of which he has given notice.
Mr. WATSON (Bland). - Honorable members are at a disadvantage in not having the text of these new clauses before them, but I dare say that the Minister will be prepared to recommit them if, after they are printed, we find that there is any necessity to further consider them.
– Certainly there will be no objection to that.
– As I heard the clause read, I do not think it quite carries out my idea, which was, to put it simply, that a man who had been out of a district for not more than a month could claim to vote for his old district, and, not necessarily in it, but in whatever district he might happen to be.
– The clause, as I have read it, means that if the voter has left one division and has lived in another for not less than a month, and has made an application for the transfer of his name to the roll of the new division, and anything occurs to prevent the transfer of his name to that roll, he shall in the meantime have the right to vote for the division on the roll of which his name appears, until such time as his name appears on the roll of the new division in which he has been residing for not less than a month.
– I find that the proposed new clause does carry out what I was aiming at, but I think the language is a little confused, and might be made more simple. . The voter, I take it, would have to affirm that he has not been out of the electorate in which he claims to vote for a longer period than is sufficient to qualify him for enrolment in the new electorate, that is for four weeks. He would have to say that he was not living outside of the old electorate for more than four weeks.
– He might have beenliving outside the old electorate for two or three months, and might have applied for the transfer of his name to the roll of the new electorate. It all hinges upon whether he has applied in a proper way to have his name transferred to the new roll after four weeks have elapsedfrom the time he left the old electorate.
– I think it might be more simply stated.
– I have left that to the draftsman ; I did not think the clause read very smoothly, but I have not attempted to alter it in any way.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- As the Minister proposes to consider these clauses more carefully before they are finally passed, I hope he will consider whether he has not really defined “ living “ by fixing the limit at one month. We have dropped the word “residence” in this Bill, and have substituted a far worse word.
– We have a provision in another place providing for the transfer of a name from one roll to another after an interval of onemonth. This provision is to enable a person to vote after he has been a month away from his own electorate.
– We must see these clauses in print before we can decide what the effect will be. So far as the reference here to one month may affect the definition of “ living,” it may be somewhat dangerous. I should like to ask the Minister whether he ought not to adopt the term “ residence “ instead of “ living.”
– There has been great objection to the use of the word “residence.”
– What was the objection? If the honorable gentleman were asked to give a definition of the word “ residence,” and I am sure he found upon consulting the Attorney-General that it was rather a difficultthing to do. Rather than do nothing, the honorable gentleman did something wrong by striking out the word “residence” and putting in the word “ living.”
– The honorable and learned member must remember that we have also used the term “living” in the Franchise Act. That was where the question was first raised.
– I suppose it was our fault to allow it to go, but I am sorry that the alteration has been made, because the English Acts all use the word “ reside.” I looked the matter uponce in Rogers’ book on elections to see which was the better word to use. There is a long series of English decisions defining fairly well the meaning of the word “ reside,” but there are none defining the meaning of the word “ living,” because thatword is not used in the English Acts.
– There is a decision in the Victorian courts that a man resides where he carries on business.
– I know there are many decisions given, but, summed up, the decision generally is that wherea man sleeps is where he resides. Where a man lives may be anywhere. He may live where he sleeps, in the street, or in his place of business. “ Living” is not synonymous with “resides,” but is sometimes used in contradistinction to the word “ resides.” I suppose it is too late now to go back in the matter.
– We should have to go back upon the other Act also.
New clause agreed to.
– I move-
That the following new clause be inserted : - “140a. 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 ‘R1 ‘ in the schedule.”
This clauseis proposed at the suggestion of the right honorable the leader of the Opposition, who pointed out that there was nothing in the form to enable us to find out whether a voter had voted at some other place.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- As I understood the Minister to read the proposed now clause, it provides that -
Any elector may vote at the polling place for which he is enrolled.
Reference to clause 30 will show that the roll is not for a particular polling place, but for a division.
– I shall read the clause again. Honorable members will remember that we have struck out a number of clauses providing for voters’ certificates, but under this clause the voter is allowed to vote at any polling place in the division for which he is enrolled if he will sign this declaration. He is not hampered by being required beforehand to make an application for and secure a voters’ certificate.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra).- The voter’s certificate under the Victorian Act was entirely different from what the honorable gentleman proposes. The clauses in this Bill relating to voters’ certificates were copied from the Victorian Act, under which any person qualified to be an elector could obtain a voter’s certificate at any time within seven days of an election. In Victoria there has always been a great rush by persons who have neglected to have their names placed on the roll to take out voters’ certificates before an election. The provisions for these certificates have been struck out of this Bill, and I do not think the proposed new clause gives anything like the same facilities. I do not know whether the clause proposed by the honorable member for Bland will enable persons who have been living in electorates for only one month to transfer their votes from one electorate to another, providing they do so before the writ is issued. Perhaps the Minister might agree to strike out the word “ division “ in the new clause with a view to inserting the word “ State.”
– No ; that would upset the whole thing.
– I would point out to the honorable gentleman that it would probably take as long for a voter to get from one part of the electorate represented by the honorable member for Maranoa to the central polling place of that electorate, as it would take for a voter to get from any part of the State of Victoria to any part of my electorate of Yarra. I do not, therefore, see that there would be any difficulty at all in what I have suggested. I hope that when we come to deal with the clause proposed by the honorable memberfor Bland, or with that suggested by the honorable and learned member for Corio, something will be done to replace the provisions dealing with voters’ certificates. I realize that if that is not done there will be a great many voters disfranchised.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- The difficulty I have raised still remains. A voter, for instance, is registered in Collingwood, and he is in the division for Yarra. He is not a voter of Collingwood, and there is but one divisional roll.
– This only applies within one division or electorate.
– That may be so, but I am pointing out that the elector is enrolled for a division, and not for a polling place. The only effect of the new clause is that if a man is on the roll for a polling place he can vote in the division.
– But this is a check to prevent him from voting more than once.
– But there is not any roll for a polling place.
– I should like the Minister to point out where that is provided for. I take it that there is to be one divisional roll. In clause 30 it is provided that there shall be a separate roll for each division, and that each roll shall be divided according to the polling places. But there is to be one general roll.
– The elector would be enrolled for the division, then there would be subdivisions for the polling places, and he would be enrolled in one of them. This is merely a check.
– At a previous stage when the Attorney-General was acting for the Minister, I brought up the question of the non-prevention of polling places outside a division for that division, and I was promised that it should receive consideration. Where a town is situated close to the border of two electorates, there should be a polling place in that town for each electorate. Very often, if that is not allowed, electors will first have to go into the town, and then find their way from that town into their own electorate. Again, in such places as Port Jackson, the voting population could be tapped more easily at the terminal of the ferries than could be done if additional booths were distributed throughout the electorate. Both as a saving of expense, and as a great increase of convenience, polling booths outside a division for that division should not be prevented. I do not say that we should provide for the creation of such polling places ; but the electoral officer should not be in such a position, when a request is made, that he would have to say, “ I admit that it would be very desirable, but it cannot be permitted, because the section of the Act specifically says that the polling places shall be within the division.” What I suggest is that the word “ for “ should be substituted for the word “ within,” and that it should be left to the electoral officers and Ministers to decide whether in certain cases it is desirable to have a polling place on the borders of the constituency, but outside the division.I believe that in many cases good results have been known to flow from the exercise of that power.
– The honorable member for North Sydney was kind enough to tell me of the promise which had been made to him, and of which I had not heard previously. In paragraph (b), of clause 26, power is given to the Governor-General to- appoint such other polling places for each division as he thinks necessary.
That provision is held to give power to the Governor-General to appoint polling places even outside the division.
– In other clauses - for instance, in this new clause - it is provided that certain acts can be done only within a division. So that it does not matter if there is a polling.place outside, while the act of voting can be performed only within a division.
– I recognise that. I intend to adopt the suggestion of my honorable friend, and if he will allow the clause to pass in its present form, I shall have it altered at a later stage. I am afraid that if an amendment were made now, as he suggests, it might give the privilege of voting at any polling place. What I wish to guard against is that a roving power is not given to a person to vote for any division in the State.
Mr. THOMSON (North Sydney). - A number of men, employed in Sydney, might reside in some of the harbor suburbs, or there might be no polling place convenient for them to reach on their way to work ; but if a polling place were established at the terminal of the ferry on the city side, they could vote there in their luncheon hour without losing any time, or they could vote on their way to the city, as they would have no distance to go. Is a case of that kind covered by the clause, or would not those men be considered to be absent from their polling place because they had not removed to another portion of the electorate? If a polling place were declared at the terminal of the ferry the men could enrol for that polling place.
– I think it would be better to allow the clause to go as it is ; it can be revised to meet the case put by the honorable member.
Sir EDWARD BRADDON (Tasmania). - I would suggest to the Minister that the clause might be worded in this form -
Any elector may vote at the polling place for which he is enrolled, or at any other polling place to be substituted by the Minister for that for which he is enrolled.
– I prefer not to deal with the question just now.
New clause agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “213a. 1. The allowance to each senator under section 48 of the Constitution shall be reckoned - (a)in the case of a senator chosen at the first election after adissolution of the Senate from the day fixed for the return of the writ ;
in the case of a senator chosen to fill a place which is to become vacant in rotation from the 1st day of January following theday of his election ;
in the case of a senator chosen or appointed to fill a casual vacancy from the day on which his name is certified by the Governor of a State to the Governor-General.
The allowance to each member of the House of Representatives under section 48 of the Constitution shall be reckoned from the date fixed for the return of the writ of his election.
Mr. WATSON (Bland).- This clause is an improvement on the present rule, which does not allow a newly-elected member to draw his salary until he has been sworn in, which may not take place for a considerable period after his election. The Minister might very well go a step further, and allow the salary to commence from the day on which the candidate was elected. I see no reason why a man should not be paid from the date of his election, even though his election may not be proved until the writ is returned. In the electorate of Maranoa at least six weeks will elapse between the date of. the election and the return of the writ, and in the Coolgardie electorate, also, which covers an area as large as New South Wales, a similar interval will occur. If allowances to members are not to be paid until after the writs are returned, those who represent large and widely-scattered districts will probably be deprived of their allowance for a considerable time, during which other honorable members, whose election writs are speedily returned, will be receiving their pay. An honorable member would be expected to enter upon his parliamentary duties from the date of his election, and therefore his payment should be reckoned from that time. If the. allowances were paid from the date of election, in the case of a senator chosen to fill a place which was to become vacant in rotation, two salaries might run on at the same time, but that could not apply where a senator was chosen at the first election after a dissolution. We may, therefore, with perfect safety amend paragraph (a) in the direction I suggest, whereas a similar alteration in paragraph (b) would be attended with the risk indicated.
– The point raised in reference to the elections for the Senate has been thought out, and that is why special provision is made in paragraph (b) for the case of a senator chosen to fill a place which is to become vacant in rotation. There can be no harm in adopting the suggestion of the honorable member for Bland in regard to paragraph (a).
Amendment (by Mr. Watson) proposed -
That the proposed new clause be amended by the omission of words “fixed for the return of the writ,” paragraph (a), with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words “ of his election.”
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- The allowances of honorable members should be reckoned from the date of the declaration of the poll, because until then there can be no certainty as to the result of the election. No honorable member would commence to discharge his public duties until he knew that he was elected. The moment that the poll was declared the duties of a Member of Parliament would fall upon the person elected, and he would be entitled to his allowance from that date. The financial consideration is not of very great importance, because in most cases not more than eight or ten days would elapse between the date of the election and the declaration of the poll, but, as a matter of logic, we should not provide for payment for the performance of duties that cannot be discharged.
Mr. BATCHELOR (South Australia).I do not regard this as a matter of logic, but as one of equity. An honorable member should be paid from the date upon which he is elected. The official declaration of the poll is very often a mere formality, because the result of the election may be known, to all intents and purposes, some time before. In South Australia the practice is to date honorable members’ allowances from the day of election, although the payments are not actually made until after the return of the writ.
Amendment agreed to.
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That proposed new clause be amended by the omission of the words “ date fixed for the return of the writ,” sub-clause (2), with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “day.”
New clause, as amended, agreed to.
Amendment . (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the following new form be inserted to follow form R: - ‘ ‘ Form of declaration to be signed by a voter before voting at any polling place other than the polling place for which he is enrolled.
Polling place. “I declare that I am the person whose name appears as No. [here insert number on roll and name of elector] On the electoral roll for the electoral division of [here insert name of division] 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.
Signature of elector.
Place of living.
Occupation. “ Declared before me the day of 190
Mr. WATSON (Bland). - I move-
That the following new clause be inserted : - “Any elector absent from the division for which he is enrolled may vote forsuch division atany polling place in the State in which he lives, upon taking the oath or declaration prescribed in form T attached hereto. Votes so recorded shall be enclosed by the presiding officer in separate envelopes, and forwarded to the returning officer for the division in which the elector is enrolled, who shall include votes so received in the count, before the result of the polling is officially declared. Provided that making a false oath or declaration under this section shall be punishable by a penalty of not less than five years’ imprisonment.”
As honorable members are aware, the Bill in its present form provides that an elector desiring to record his vote outside the divisionfor which he is enrolled must obtain a postal voter’s certificate. In many cases electors will be unable to obtain these certificates, because they will not have sufficient notice of the necessity for their being absent from home upon the day of the election. Many inland districts possess only a weekly or a fortnightly mail service.. This Bill prescribes a minimum period of fourteen days between the issue of the writ and the date of election, so that even in those districts which enjoy a weekly mail service the elector is allowed only a very small margin of time in which to obtain a postal voter’s certificate. There is a great probability, therefore, that a large proportion of voters will be unable to take advantage of the provisions for voting by post which the committee have seen fit to adopt. Originally it was my intention to submit a clause providing that an elector should be allowed to vote in any State of the Commonwealth upon signing a declaration to the effect that he was a duly qualified voter. A number of difficulties in the wayof administering such a provision have been pointed out to me, and, as a result, I am quite prepared to limit my proposal to the State in which the elector resides. Of course, if the clause be carried, it will be necessary to draft a form to meetthe position. But I would point out that under clause 140a an elector may vote at any polling place in the division for which he is enrolled, by making and signing a certain declaration before the presiding officer. I think that he ought to be allowed to register his vote at any polling place within the State in which he lives, so long as he signs a similar declaration. It will be seen that I have provided a severe penalty for making a false declaration. The only objection that can possibly be urged against my proposal is that in some States it will mean a delay of a few days in the official declaration of the poll. By inserting clause 140a the Minister has admitted that it is reasonably safe to allow an elector to vote at any polling place in the division for which he claims to be enrolled, upon signing a declaration which involves the infliction of a penalty in case of perjury. I think, therefore, that we have a right to go a step further and insure that a voter shall not be disfranchised under the circumstances I have indicated. I believe that, in the absence of some such provision, a large number of electors will be disfranchised in the case of elections for the House of Representatives, and a still larger number in connexion with elections for the Senate.
– Does the honorable member propose that each polling booth shall be supplied with a complete copy of the rolls for the State ?
– No. The presiding officer would have a number of blank ballot-papers supplied to him. If a man attended the polling booth, and claimed a vote for.- a division some hundreds of miles away, he would have to sign a declaration that he was enrolled for that division, and entitled to vote there. The retiring officer would thereupon hand him a ballot-paper, and after he had voted, both the ballot-paper and the declaration would be forwarded to the returning officer at the place where he claimed he was entitled to vote. That officer would examine the roll, and if the applicant’s claim were a bond fide one would allow the vote.
– How long would the adoption of this proposal delay the counting?
– In the case of New South Wales it would not delay it for more than a couple of days. In Queensland, possibly, there would be a delay of some weeks, but under present conditions there is delay in that State. In connexion with the last
Queensland elections, I understand that Brisbane was made a polling place for every electorate. That is a significant fact, seeing that that State has not adopted the system of issuing electors’ rights.
– Did they wait for three weeks before they declared- the poll ?
– Yes. In Queensland, owing to the scattered nature of the districts and the infrequency of the mail services, the official declaration of the poll is delayed for that time under ordinary circumstances. I am satisfied that we shall be reasonably secure if. we insist upon an applicant signing a declaration that he is entitled to vote for a certain division, and provide for the infliction of a heavy penalty in case he makes a false declaration.
Mr. MAHON (Coolgardie).- The object of this clause is a .very good one, but it seems to me that the honorable member for Bland has scarcely provided for .all the difficulties which are likely to arise. For example, if the returning officer for a division has to wait till all the polling places in the State have forwarded to him a return of the votes recorded there, the official declaration of the poll will be unduly delayed.
– I do not propose that.
– Then 1 should like to know how the returning officer for any division can become acquainted with the fact that certain votes are in course of transmission to him. It might take a week for votes polled at Esperance to reach the returning officer at Coolgardie.
– Could he not be advised by wire 1
– If the honorable member would adopt my suggestion that the votes should be forwarded to the nearest returning officer, who would Open them .and wire the results to the returning officer of the division in question, the difficulty would be overcome.
– My object in proposing that the votes shall be sent on to the returning officer of the division for which they are cast is that they may be compared with the rolls for that division.
– Presumably that could be done by the nearest returning officer as well as by the returning officer of the division.
– He “would not have the rolls.
– Why should he not have the rolls ? I do not see how it is possible to defend the delay which must otherwise take place in the declaration of the poll.
– What does that matter.
– We all know the impatience manifested by the public to ascertain the final result of an election. The public would not submit to this. Does the honorable member contemplate the postponement of the declaration of the poll until every vote in scattered districts is received ? Then, again, Ishould like to inquire whether the punishment of not less than five years’ imprisonment is a proper one for a violation of this clause ? A man might be under the impression that his name is on the roll. Probably it might have been on the roll three or four months before the making of the declaration, but owing to his removal from the district, or to the compilation of a new roll in the meantime, it is omitted by accident or design, or by the operation of the law. If that man made a declaration that his name was on the roll, and that he was entitled to vote, it seems to me it would be unspeakably cruel for a court to be compelled to sentence him to not less than five years’ imprisonment.
– The fact that there was no wilful intent would be a sufficient defence.
– Does thehonorable and learned member mean that he can say in advance what would be the opinion of a Judge or ajury in such a case? If a man declared that his name was on a roll for a certain electorate, and upon the production of the roll in court it was found that his declaration was incorrect, how could he prove that it had been there and that he had no wilful intent to deceive ?
– In the same way that a woman charged with bigamy can show that she thought her husband was dead.
– That may be; but I know nothing of bigamy. The honorable member for Bland’s object is a good one, and if it can be secured by any manipulation of this verbiage its adoption would be desirable. If the penalty is mitigated, I shall be prepared to vote for the proposed new clause.
– I hope that the committee will not adopt the proposed new clause. No doubt the honorable member desires to still further liberalize the provisions of the Bill, but I thought that I had gone very far in endeavouring to make it so liberal that every one should have an opportunity of voting. If the clause is carried the Bill will have to be recast in a great many particulars. It would be almost impossible to administer it with any degree of certainty that it was not being abused. No doubt the penalty provided for would act as a. deterrent against fraud, but I think it would be very unwise to insert this provision, especially when under the Bill as it stands, a person has only to sign a declaration to enable him to vote in any division. There is also a provision enabling a polling place to be proclaimed for a division other than that in which it is situated.
– We had that provision for nearly seven years in New South Wales, but it was never of any value.
– We have a provision enabling a polling place to be appointed where there is likely to be a considerable number of persons voting outside the division for which they are enrolled. Then we have the voting by post clauses, which enable any one to vote outside his division.
– If he has notice, and the mail suits.
– Of course, a man must be put to a little inconvenience if he desires to exercise the franchise. As the law stands in most of the States voting by post is impossible. If the proposed new clause were carried, it would be necessary to have all the rolls of a State in every polling place.
Mr.Watson. - No.
– It would be necessary ; otherwise the presiding officer would be absolutely in the dark. I ask honorable members to help me in this matter, because I feel that I am endeavouring to carry a very liberal measure, and I do not wish it to be unduly weighed down by such a provision as this. If it iscarried, we shall have to strike out some of the clauses passed already with the intention of making this the freest, most liberal and democratic measure which, perhaps, has ever been considered by any Parliament.
– What greater danger of personation is there under this proposed new clause than there is under clause 146 ?
– I think there is very much greater danger. It is very difficult to control an election in a State like Western Australia, in an extensive State like South Australia, with its Northern Territory, or in a. large State like Queensland, with its northern, eastern and western districts, without a reasonable possibility of personation or abuse of the Act I hope that the Bill will be passed by the Senate as nearly as possible as amended by us. A provision like that now proposed, however, would do considerable harm, and I urge the committee not to approve of it, although I know it is designed to still further liberalize the Bill.
– I, for one, desire to give the Minister for Home Affairs credit for having introduced one of the most liberal electoral measures that we have had in Australia, if not in any part of the world ; but, on the other hand, I think that it can be made even more complete by the insertion of this proposed new clause. There is a large number of people in the western districts of Australia who, because of the peculiar nature of their occupation, have constantly to shift from place to place. We certainly have the voting by post provisions, but any one who has a knowledge of the westernbushmen - and,I am sure, that the honorable gentleman has had sufficient experience of them to enable him to judge of their manners and habits of life - must know that, rather than go to the trouble of signing declarations or writing letter in order to secure their votes, they would give somebody else £1 to do the work for them. A number of them are not accustomed to writing, and it will be a difficult task for them to fill in a form of any description to enable them to vote. Apart from that, we have to consider the case of men like the carriers at Hughenden. There are about 400 carriers who make Hughenden their headquarters, but who in the course of a fortnight may be scattered over a dozen different districts. They may start out with a desire to vote in the district in which they live, but probably owing to the way in which the mails are run - and in some parts of Queensland there is a mail only once a fortnight, or once a month - it is impossible for them to ascertain the exact time within which they should make application to vote by post. If a clause similar to that now proposed is not inserted in the Bill a large number of these men will be disfranchised. What I have said applies also to a number of miners, but especially to shearers and general bushworkers who have to depend for a livelihood upon getting work from station to station in the large pastoral districts. These men will have no opportunity of recording their votes, because they will be outside of the electorate in which they are enrolled. I do not see that the proposed clause will load theBill in any way at all. An arrangement similar to that suggested was carried out very successfully in the referendum upon the Commonwealth Bill in Queensland, and as the honorable member for Bland has pointed out, at the last federal election Brisbane was made a polling booth for every electorate in Queensland. In each of those cases the provision appeared to work satisfactorily, and I do not know of a solitary case of personation under it which cams publicly before the authorities. In the case of electorates like Kennedy, which contains 170,000 square miles, and Maranoa, which contains 300,000 square miles, it takes from four to six weeks from the date of an election before the poll can be declared. I think that at the last election it took nearly six weeks. In the matter of time, therefore, it would really make no difference to allow electors to vote in any part of Queensland. So far as the result of an election is concerned, the voting at each polling place is telegraphed to the central polling place, and, though the members are not declared elected they know, from the telegrams received by the principal returning officer, that they have been virtually elected, and their anxiety of mind upon the subject is in that way set at rest. While this will not lead to delay in any way, it will be the means of giving a vote to a large number of men who must be disfranchised under the Bill as it stands, with all its liberal provisions. I quite realize that the Government have made great efforts to try to give every man a vote ; but the insertion of this clause will render the Bill more liberal than it is at present, and under it voters will have an opportunity of recording their votes which they are not given under the Bill as it stands.
– With the honorable member for Kennedy, I am desirous of giving all credit to the Minister in charge of the Bill for having stepped out of the rut of the old States legislation in this matter, and for having given to this Parliament an Elections Bill which is far away ahead of any similar measure in force in any of the States. At the same time, if I see any defects in it, or any possibility of making further improvements in it, I take it that it is my duty to have those defects remedied or further improvements made - with the Minister’s consent if I can, and without it if I cannot. There may be something in the contention of the Minister that this amend- ment will practically nullify a number of the machinery clauses he has introduced in other parts of the Bill ; but if I dare venture prophecy, assuming that this amendment is not carried, and these machinery clauses stand, after the first election held under the Bill the honorable gentleman will find that it will be necessary to amend it to meet the requirements of itinerant voters, in the direction proposed by the honorable member for Bland. In addition to what has been stated by the honor- able member for Kennedy, I may say that in New South Wales there are large numbers of men who are shearers as well as carriers, and who very often at a time when an election is taking place are travelling to the various shearing sheds. It may happen that a similar circumstance may arise during federal elections, a,nd under the safeguards provided by the Minister in this Bill the result will be that these men will be disfranchised, because it will be impossible for them to tell for any number of da)’s ahead where they will be on the polling day. That will depend upon circumstances. It will be impossible for them to comply with what is required by these machinery clauses. They cannot write to inform the authorities, and if they could they would not indicate where it would be possible for them to get a reply to their communications. They are here to-day and away to-morrow, travelling hundreds of miles to visit the different shearing sheds in order to find employment. That is the condition of affairs which the honorable member for Bland is endeavouring to meet, and the proposal he makes will more nearly meet it than any other proposal I have yet seen. The Minister fears that some difficulty will arise from the fact that the presiding officers will not be able to identify the voters, and that it is possible that some evilly-disposed persons may make use of this facility to influence an election. I do not think there is any great fear of that. First of all, the man claiming to vote under this proposal has to make a declaration, and, if in that declaration he claims a right to which he is not entitled under the law, he renders himself liable to stringent pains and penalties. That is so far as the individual himself is concerned. So far as the influence of his vote upon the election is concerned, it will be nil, because the vote has to be sent to the returningofficer for the district for which it is recorded, and if it is found that the person making the declaration is not entitled to a vote for that district it will not be allowed. I do not see that there is any necessity for having the electoral rolls of all the electorates of the Commonwealth at each polling booth. That would be altogether too cumbersome, and there are clauses dealing with other votes which can be brought into operation in connexion with votes under this amendment. If it is found that the “person recording a vote under this clause is not entitled to record a vote the returning officer will disallow the vote.
– How is he to know that?
– B - By comparing it with his roll.
– Supposing the real man is John Jones, and he has not’ already voted?
– If the man who claims to be John Jones is not John Jones, when the vote comes through to the returning officer of the district for which he has voted, and it is found that John Jones has voted within the electorate, he will disallow the vote.
– Supposing John Jones has not voted ?
– If these facilities are given, there will be fewer persons entitled to vote who will not exercise the right to do so. The reason why large numbers of persons at present do not exercise their right to vote is because of the difficulties placed in their way. If the returning officer finds that the real John Jones has voted within the electorate, he will disallow the other vote.
– Supposing John Jones has cleared out to Port Darwin ?
– If the returning officer is aware that John Jones is in Port Darwin he will disallow the vote. If honorable members object to this proposal because they cannot legislate against a fictitious John Jones, they should, on the same .ground, object to other provisions in the Bill, in which he is not as effectively legislated against as he will be under the clause proposed by the honorable member for “Bland-
I know of hundreds of men travelling in the country who would exercise their right to vote if facilities were given them to do so. They will take more trouble to exercise a vote than the city men, in whose behalf polling booths have been applied for at the ferries, so that they may be able to vote going to or from their work. Unless some such clause as that proposed by the honorable member for Bland is inserted in the Bill, men who have to travel hundreds of miles inland in search of work will be disfranchised. The great outcry in New South “Wales in the past has been in connexion with the . disfranchisement of such men. Though the proposals of the Minister* go a long way, he will find that after the next election he will be asked to amend his democratic measure in the direction indicated by the honorable member for Bland.
– I should like to say in support of the new clause that although the Minister says that this is a very liberal measure, that is no reason why we should not make it still more liberal. We want this measure to be the best the Federal Parliament can turn out, and we desire to avoid the necessity for amendments of the law after the next election. This is the first Federal Elections Bill, and we desire that it should bear the impress of this Parliament as a thoroughly radical measure.
– How would the honorable and learned member punish the man who did wrong under this clause?
– I remind the honorable member for Melbourne Ports that my electorate is 60 miles, and I understand that the electorate of Maranoa is about 400 miles from one end to the other. Under the Bill as it stands, a man is permitted to vote in any part of the Maranoa electorate, though it extends practically from the Gulf of Carpentaria down to the New South Wales border. No one appears to see any difficulty about that, but when under this clause it is provided that a man may vote a ‘ little outside of a division in Victoria, it is objected to. But the whole of Victoria is not so large as the electorate of Maranoa. Honorable members appear to fear that personation may take place under the new clause, but if we allow a man to vote 60 miles away from his ordinary polling booth* we may as well allow him to vote 600 miles away from it. I wish particularly to meet the case of shearers, which I know would be met by the new clause. I am told that the voting by post provisions meet that case, but I do not think they do. Any one who has had experience of that system knows that it is not availed of unless there is a large amount of electoral interest awakened. In the first place a man has to write an application to a returning officer ; in the second place he has to wait until it comes back ; in the third place he has to go before a postmaster ; in fact, the process is such that very few persons voted by post at the last Victorian election, although there was a great desire, and also a necessity, for the introduction of the system here. In Victoria we have not a shearing class such as exists in Queensland. We have a number of cockatoo farmers and farmers’ sons who only take to shearing in the slack farming season. These men cannot leave their work in the western district to go before a postmaster, but on polling day, which is a national holiday with them, they could go to vote, and it is of very great importance that they should be able to do so. In view of the experience of this system in Queensland and New South Wales, it is absurd to say that this provision is a great .advance on present legislation, or ‘that the Bill will break down if it is inserted. I do not sup- pose that the people of Queensland have been greatly inconvenienced by men voting in Brisbane. If occasionally they have to wait for returns to come in, I think it would be right to declare the state of the poll in the immediate locality, and it would only be in the case of a very closely contested election that a-man need have any doubt as to what the result would be, because only 200 or 300 men would vote in this way for. each division. I believe that if this provision is not made now, a time will come when an amendment of the law will be necessary, because it is a reform wise, useful, and necessary, for which we have been waiting for many years.
– I am heartily in sympathy with the spirit of this amendment. I listened with very great pleasure to the remarks of the honorable member for Kennedy in support of it, but I shall be obliged to vote against it, because I believe it would be absolutely unworkable, and certainly lead to many attempts at personation. In this Chamber we are very apt to forget the enormous size of this continent. Supposing an elector living on the Victoria river, in the Northern Territory, were to vote in Warrnambool, a month would have to elapse before his vote could reach the returning officer. It is urged that the shearers and the bush workers move about from place to place in Australia. On the other hand, how many merchants who visit England lose their votes ? They consider that they will do better for themselves by going to England than by remaining in Australia and voting. In just the same way a shearer or a bush worker considers that it will be better for him to get his wages than to vote. Again, how would it be possible to convict a man of personation? To do so it would be necessary to take a photograph of each voter and possibly a thumb impression, to be attached to the vote when it was sent to the returning officer.
– Perhaps the objections of the honorable member for Capricornia to this principle would have been of more value if they had been offered to clause 140a, which has been passed. Although that clause was surrounded with all the dangers which he has portrayed with such detail, he was dumb when it was proposed by the Minister, but immediately another clause carrying out the same principle but to a greater extent is submitted he becomes indignant. He was in error in assuming that it seeks to allow a man to vote anywhere within the Commonwealth. It refers now to only the State. .Taking his own electorate of Capricornia, would it not be as difficult to secure the * identification of a voter who might be within his division, but yet several hundred miles from his home on the day of election, as it would be if he were in Brisbane? Or taking the case of a man who resided at Albury, in the Hume electorate, and went to Corowa, the probability is that it would be just as difficult to identify him in one place as in the other. In my own district, I can produce thousands of men who are not known 20 miles beyond the place where they happen to live. Under clause 140a they can vote anywhere within their division, but immediately they step over the boundary of that division, although they may be nearer their home by 20, 30, or 100 miles, they are not allowed to vote. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports has suggested that it will be impossible to identify John
Jones, but what greater likelihood is -there of identifying a voter before the returning officer for Melbourne Ports than before the returning officer for Melbourne ?
– Because he is a local man, and is well known.
– How many thousands of local men are not known to any person who presides in the polling booth ? I undertake to say that if the honorable member were made returning officer for his electorate, where the population is concentrated, he would not know 20 per cent, of the electors. Before I went to a country district, I lived for twelve years in West Sydney. I was secretary to a labour league in 1891, when we returned four labour candidates for the district, and I undertake to say that no man in the polling booth knew more than 15 per cent, of the voters on the roll. There is just as much danger of personation under clause 140a as there is under my amendment, and in the divisions of the city I believe there is a greater probability of impersonation. If a n umber of men at a booth in the city can recognise only 20 per cent, of the voters, they would not recognise 5 per cent, of the voters in the country. Of course, they would know all the men living in their own locality, but if a man came from a place 30 or 50 miles away, probably he would not be known at all. In a country electorate in Victoria or New South Wales, only prominent persons, such as the mayor, the aldermen, and a few business men are known outside the locality in which they live. I am informed that in Tasmania no great amount of trouble has arisen from the operation of this system. If clause 140a applied to the whole State, instead of to the whole division, I should not be advocating this amendment. In my view, the Bill does not provide for a man who desires to vote at a Senate election wherever he happens to be on polling day. If I thought that there was any reasonable ground for fearing that my amendment would lead to personation to any large extent, or even to any moderate extent, I should not be advocating its adoption ; but I am convinced that there is no great danger to be feared on that score, and that the means of. identification are as complete in this instance as they are in the case of an offence under clause 140a.
Mr. BROWN (Canobolas).- The amendment provides that the penalty for an offence shall be imprisonment for a term not less than five years. That seems to he too Draconic, and I suggest to the honorable member for Bland to use the words “ notmore than five years,” leaving to the J udge the option of fixing the penalty according to the gravity of the offence.
– I donot share the fears of the Minister with regard to this clause. The provisions for identification in clause 140a are no more effective than those now proposed, and the chances of personation are no greater than in connexion with postal voting. I am afraid that there is not much prospect of the committee agreeing to the clause, but I believe that the time will come very soon when we shall recognise the necessity of making this further liberal provision.
– I hope the committee will agree to the proposed new clause, because it is useless for us to afford facilities for placing persons upon the roll, and giving them the right to vote, unless we offer them every opportunity for exercising the franchise. We have already provided for the cases of absent voters, but many men will be unable to take advantage of the facilities offered. The risks of personation under the proposed new clause will be far less than in connexion with postal voting, because the chances of identification are greater. Very few men would incur the risk of imprisonment for a long term in order to enjoy the privilege of fraudulently voting for a particular candidate. In the States where pastoral pursuits are largely followed, thousands of men have to leave their homes every year to follow their occupation as shearers, and if elections are held in their electorates during the shearing season, they will practically be disfranchised unless some provision is made such as is now suggested. It may be urged that these men could vote by post, but they are often so far removed from the centres of information that some time might elapse before they learned that an election was to take place, and they might not then be able to obtain their voters’ certificates and comply with all requirements before the polling day. In many cases practical difficulties would render it impossible for electors to vote by post. In view of the safeguards provided, it need not be feared that any large percentage of fraudulent votes will be recorded. The difficulties of identification under the system proposed by the honorable member for
Bland would not be. greater than in many of the cases for which we have already provided.
Question - That the proposed new clause be inserted - put. The committee divided.
Question so resolved in the negative.
New clause negatived.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I move-
That the following new clause be inserted to follow clause 1.19 : - “Where any person who has received a postal ballot-paper satisfies the postmaster or officer that his sight is so impaired that he is unable to vote without assistance, such postmaster or officer may and at the request of such elector shall for him in the presence of a witness (if so desired by such elector) mark the postal ballotpaper as such elector may designate, and shall read over to the elector the declaration on the counterfoil, and indicate to such elector the place for his signature, and if desired, shall enclose the ballot-paper in the envelope produced.”
We have already made provision in the Bill by which persons who are blind may vote, and the clause now proposed, which is intended to increase the facilities afforded to electors so afflicted, is taken from the Victorian Act, in which it has been found very usef ul.
New clause agreed to.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio). - I move-
That the following new clause be inserted to follow clause . 124: - “An elector’s right issued to an elector not later than two days before polling- day shall authorize such elector to vote at the election at any polling place within the division.
Alist of the names of all persons voting on such elector’s rights shall be kept by each deputy returning officer, and sent by him to the returning officer immediately after such election, and such list shall be open to the inspection of any candidate.
This is a proposal of some importance, and is intended to meet the condition of things for which voters’certificates in Victoria were previously issued. The Bill does not prescribe any particular time when the rolls shall be compiled. They may be prepared six months before an election takes place, or - as in the case pointed out by Senator Best - they may be compiled two years prior to an election. I hold that if a person takes up his residence in any district six months prior to an election, or if he has taken out an elector’s right since the date of the holding of the last revision court, he should be entitled to vote.
Mr. TUDOR (Yarra).- I admit that the language of this clause is slightly involved, owing to the use of the term “ elector’s right “ for the first time in the Bill. All reference to voters’ certificates having been entirely removed from the measure, the object of the honorable and learned member for Corio isto replace it by this clause. The Minister must acknowledge that there are a certain number of persons in the community who are continually upon the move, and it would be impossible for them upon the day of election to urge that they still had the right to vote for the particular residence which previously qualified them.
New clause negatived.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I move-
That the following new clause be inserted to follow clause 174 : - “ Every candidate may, after reasonable notice, use for one meeting without fee or charge, any school, hall, or meeting place belonging to anyState, municipality, or public body, or in connexion with which there is paid any Commonwealth, State, or municipal grant, subsidy or money. “
Mr. Glynn. - Yes.
– Am I assured by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that it is so ?
– Most certainly.
– Then the honorable member for Corio agrees with him, and I ask leave to withdraw the clause.
New clause, by leave, withdrawn.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I move-
That the following new clause be inserted to follow clause 174: - “The chief electoral officer shall supply to every candidate without chargeas many copies of the electoral roll as there are polling places in the electorate.”
I amassured that in New South Wales the practice has been to supply a candidate with twelve copies of the electoral roll free of charge.
– It is not provided for in an Act of Parliament.
– That is what I object to. InVictoria only some of the candidates have been able to get copies of the roll free. I take it that when a candidate is contesting an election he is performing a public duty, and therefore the Government should relieve him from expense as far as it reasonably can do so, particularly now that he can spend so little on electoral expenses. The proposal that every candidate shall be supplied with one copy of the electoral roll for each polling place in the electorate which he is contesting is a very reasonable one, and I hope the Minister will accept it.
– So far as I am concerned, it will be done without providing for it in an Act of Parliament.
– But I should like to see provision made for it in the Bill.
– It seems to me that the proposed new clause would give an opportunity to an impecunious candidate to make money. A candidate often offers himself for election threemonths before polling day, and if a man were hard up all that he would have to do would be to set up 20 or 30 others as candidates, each of whom would be entitled to a number of copies of the rolls. He would then be able to sell these rolls at 6d. or1s. each, and make a small fortune out of the business.
New clause negatived.
Mr. CROUCH (Corio).- I certainly feel that honorable members are under an obligation to me for bringing these clauses forward, although I am sorry that they have not been received with the appreciation they deserve. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted to follow clause 176 : - “No action, suit, or other proceeding whatsoever shall be brought or maintained whereby to charge any person upon any contract or agreement for the loan of money, or the doing of any work or service, or the supply of any goods for or towards, or concerning, or in carrying on or prosecuting any election of a senator or member under this Act.”
This provision is taken from the Victorian Act, and I am informed that a similar one exists in the New South Wales Electoral Act. It prevents an)’ wagering, or any excessive prices being paid for goods that have been sold to a candidate. In Victoria the provision has been used in cases where committees or individuals have ordered goods without the consent of a candidate. I know of several cases in which it has been raised as a successful defence, and I do not think it has been abused. Knowing that it has proved of value in Victoria, the Minister might well accept it.
Mr. GLYNN (South Australia).- I am not quite sure whether there is a provision in the Victorian Act in relation to electoral expenses.. A provision similar to that now proposed by the honorable and learned member existed in the South Australian Act, until we inserted a clause providing for election expenses up to a certain amount. Why should we not allow a tradesman or any one else to recover as long as the law enables a certain amount of expenditure to be incurred ? If the honorable and learned member intended to prevent the recovery of claims for election expenses beyond the £100 limit which we have fixed, the proposal would be fair one, but it could not be carried out. The old law was generally, I think, that no election expenses could be recovered, because it was the desire of the Legislatures to put down such expenditure. In this Bill, however, we allow election expenditure up to £100 by every candidate.
– Under the old law it was not illegal to spend money on electors.
– Before a limitation upon election expenses was inserted, a provision such as this was contained in several Acts, and I remember defending a case in which action was taken to recover an account ha respect of election expenses. But in placing a limit upon the expenses of candidates, we declare that up to that limit certain expenditure shall be lawful. What difference does it make whether the candidate obtains credit or settles in cash? The honorable and learned member says that in one case it is all right, and that in the other it is all wrong. We could not provide to prevent recovery of any claim beyond the £100 limit, because no tradesman would know whether or not a candidate had incurred expenses up to £100. I think that the clause should be rejected.
New clause negatived.
– I move-
That the following new clause be inserted to follow clause 190: - “Any person incurring or authorizing expenditure on behalf of a candidate without the written authority of the candidate or of his agent authorized in writing shall be guilty of a contravention of this Act.”
I do not wish to labour the matter in asking the committee to support this proposal. I think it fairly well justifies itself. We propose to limit election expenses to £100 in the case of elections for this House, and if we wish to make that provision at all effective, some such clause as this is absolutely necessary. Since giving notice of the amendment I have been informed by several honorable members of instances within their own knowledge in which large sums of money were expended on behalf of certain candidates, and met by friends of the candidates, who had no actual knowledge of the transactions. I believe, however, that in most cases the candidate would have been able to get near the actual circumstance if he had attempted a wild guess. There is another direction in which I think this clause would operate to advantage. Every honorable member must be aware of cases in which he has been confronted with accounts incurred without his authority, but which he has felt obliged to pay. This clause would protect a candidate from any unauthorized expenditure, and if the committee is really in earnest in its attempt to limit election expenses, I have fair reasons for hoping that there will be a majority in favour of the clause.
– If the committee is determined logically to carry out what is evidently the aim of several of the clauses in the Bill, and bo put down illegal practices, and the undue expenditure of money in elections, the proposed new clause must be accepted. It seems to me that the clauses relating to election expenses will not go far enough without this addition, because whilst a candidate is restricted to the expenditure of money in certain ways, and is limited to a total expenditure of £100, we know that friends of candidates will be found ready to spend money in all directions. There is nothing that I can see in the Bill to prevent them from doing so ; but this clause, short and simple as it is, will effectually carry out all that certain honorable members have advocated in reference to undue expenditure. There is no doubt that in advancing the interests of a candidate, many people incur expenditure of which the candidate knows but little until the election is over. Then a conscientious man is met with bills relating to expenditure for purposes with which he would have had nothing to do, and although he objects to this expenditure, there are not wanting firm friends who say, “ Oh, don’t have any bother about it; you are in now; square up, and look pleasant.” If we intend seriously to grapple with this difficulty, we ought to pass some such stringent clause as this, which, simple as it is, will be very effectual, because if it is made illegal, as it ought to be, to spend money in an election, without the knowledge of the candidate himself, and the amount to be expended is limited, we shall secure all that is aimed at. I see no reason why a man placed in the possession of means or wealth should be able to use those means or that wealth in promoting the return of a certain candidate, whilst others have no such friends to spend money in their interests.
– I will accept the proposal.
New clause agreed to.
– In theearlier part of the debate this evening the honorable member for New England said that he had been subjected to a considerable amount of adverse criticism owing to the fact that, as a member of the Stats House, he was enabled to travel on the railways free of charge for the purpose of prosecuting his candidature for a seat in this House; while his opponent, who was not so favoured, had to pay his own travelling expenses. It seems to me that it would be unreasonable to deprive an honorable member of this privilege, and equally unreasonable to pit him with those privileges against a man not so favoured. I agree with the- honorable member that candidates should be on the same footing. The reason for this is stronger now, because the electorates for the House of Representatives are very extensive ; while an electorate for the Senate.comprises the whole of a State;Unless some facility like that which I am about to propose is extended to candidates, many men will be unable successfully to contest an election, and particularly an election for the Senate. In the latter case, the only chance of his return will be his inclusion in a bunch, run practically by the influential newspapers, unless he is a wealthy man, able to bear the cost of travelling to the principal towns within the State. I move -
That the following new clause be inserted : - “ On the close of a nomination for the House of Representatives or the Senate the returning officer shall supply the nominated candidates other than the retiring members of such Houses with a pass entitling such candidates to travel over the State railways within the electorate during the period between the date of the nomination and the declaration of the poll.”
– That will give us a good rush of candidates.
– It is objected that this clause will induce a rush of candidates; but I do not think that there is anything in the objection. Even with this concession there is no fun in travelling, and there is expense attached to it. People will not travel very far for the mere pleasure of it. I do not anticipate any very great increase of expense to the Commonwealth on that score. It is unfair that a candidate drawn from the ranks of the public should be handicapped by this charge, when the late member, with whom he is contesting the seat, is not so disadvantaged. Further, I say that the matter should be looked at from the public, rather than from the private stand-point, and on that ground the proposal should receive reasonable consideration. I consider that this is a concession which the Commonwealth may very well extend to all candidates. A similar concession was extended in New South Wales to the candidates nominated to the Federal Convention, and it did not cause any undue rush of candidates on that occasion.
– How many put up ?
– Not a great many. There was, I believe, a larger number of candidates at the last federal election. In the elections to the Federal Convention there wasa labour bunch often nominated, and at the Senate election only two candidates were run in the labour interests. I respectfully submit the proposed new clause to the committee, and I hope it will receive favorable consideration.
– I should like to know whether under existing arrangements the passes at present used by members of this Parliament will be available after a dissolution? If they will not, it would be as well to excise the reference in the proposed new clause to candidates “other than the retiring members of both Houses,” so that the clause shall apply to all candidates.
– I may explain that I used that expression on the assumption that retiring members of Parliament would still be able to use their passes. If they are prevented from using them, the provision should certainly apply all round.
– I should like to know from the Minister whether federal members will be able to use their passes after a dissolution? If they will not, the clause, as it stands, will act unfairly.
– I do not think it will be carried.
– I think it ought to be carried. I think we should provide travelling facilities for bonâ fide candidates. We are safeguarding the constituencies against bogus candidates by provisions already agreed to in the Bill, and, under the circumstances, I do not see why candidates should not receive travelling passes.
New clause negatived.
Title agreed to.
Bill reported with amendments.
Motion (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -
That the Bill be now recommitted to a Committee of the whole House for the reconsideration of clauses 8, 12, 22, 23, 24, 26, 28, 33, 34, 35, 64, 67, 99, 128, 136, 159, 163, and . 165.
– I should like to ask the Minister to add to the list clause 174, dealing with electoral expenses. There is a matter connected with that clause with which I should like to deal.
– I ask the honorable member not to press for the recommittal of that clause now. There will be another recommittal of the Bill before it leaves this Chamber. I have considered the clause to which the honorable member refers, but I have not quite decided what amendment I can agree to in it.
– I would ask the Minister to include clause 151 in the clauses to be recommitted. There is a majority of honorable members opposed to that clause as it stands.
– I ask the honorable and learned member not to press for that. At another stage I shall not object to therecommittal of that clause.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
In Committee (Recommittal) :
Clause 8 (Assistant Returning Officers).
– During the discussion which took place with respect to outlying polling places, I gave a promise that I would try to deal with the question in the manner desired by honorable members. It was suggested that where there was a very small number of votes likely to be recorded, they should be sent to the returning officer without being counted. I am going to propose an amendment suggested, I think, by the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs. I move -
That the following words be added : - “But no assistant returning officer shall be appointed in or for any portion of a division, in which less than100 electors are enrolled.”
That means that in outlying places, where there is an objection to the counting and sealingof ballot-papers, a presiding officer, and not a returning officer, shall conduct the poll. A presiding officer has not the same power as has a returning officer, and therefore he will not count the votes, but will send the ballot-box to the nearest returning officer. I hope that honorable members will agree to this proposal without much debate, because it was well thrashed out the other night, and it is the best solution of the difficulty which I can offer.
– As I understand this proposal it will not prevent a presiding officer or a polling booth from being appointed for smaller places.
– I do not see any objection to it.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 12 -
Each State shall be distributed into electoral divisions equal in number to the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen therein.
– I move -
That after the word “the,” line 3, the following words be inserted: - “Senate to be chosen therein for the election of members of the Senate and into electoral divisions equal in number to the number of members of the.”
When the Bill was introduced into the Senate it was not merely a machinery measure. It gave prominence to this leading principle, that the basis of representation should be community of interest. Clause 18 provides, as regards the House of Representatives, that in the distribution of States into divisions the commissioner shall give due consideration to community of interest. For the purpose of giving effect to the same principle in regard to the Senate elections, a proposal was made to introduce a system of proportional representation - a system which its advocates claimed would, with more exactness than any other, give all interests in the community a voice in the election of candidates. But it was rejected very much on the ground that it was somewhat hair-splitting in its methods. It was urged that it might give to what were called faddists an opportunity of electing a candidate to the Senate. I do not take that view, because the quota would be so large that any party which could elect a member could hardly be regarded as faddists. But the proposal was rejected without providing in any shape or form for such a class of representation as I think is absolutely necessary. My own objection to the mode of election by proportional representation is not that which was put forward in the Senate, but that which I have in regard to the block vote, and that is that in polling a Stateas a constituency it is altogether unmanageable. In such States as Victoria, and possibly also in New South Wales, it gives an undue advantage to those candidates who are known to a large number of voters in thetowns. In fact, only men who have large town interests and are well known in town either through.their business connexions or by their friendships, have a chance to be elected. I do not feel that there is any strong.objection to a town man representing a country constituency - that is, if he is elected by the country vote. We hear a good deal about unconscious bias. No doubt the bias of a town man if he were representing a country electorate would be in favour of country interests ; but if he has first to look to a large town vote and then, possibly, to pick up the other votes by which he would be elected from large centres of population, the bias would be against the -country interests. I do not wish to raise the town-versus-country cry. I merely wish to make that distinction between rural and urban interests which has been recognised since the first dawn of the federal idea. Men who live in the country probably make their living in a harder way than do men who live in the city. They are more economical in their habits than are the people who live in the towns; especially those towns which have sprung up rapidly, as Melbourne did from outside influences in the old days. I have been led to submit this proposal because at the Senate elections for Victoria the voting of Melbourne alone would have returned the men elected if there had been no votes cast in the country. With the assistance of a statement which was published by the Argus after the poll was declared, I was able to make an analysis of the town and country votes. I found that the same six men would have been returned if there had not been a single country vote polled.
– What would have been the effect of counting the country votes only ?
– If we take the country votes only, one candidate who was eighth on the list would have been fifth, and therefore elected. Notwithstanding that he was beaten by some 10,000 votes by two candidates, he would have beaten one of them by 1,109, and the other by 3,794.
– Is that the only change there would have been 1 1
– Yes. except that on the country vote one candidate who was returned would have been eleventh on the list. That seems to be an extraordinary position of things. The position will only be aggravated now that we have adult suffrage. In 1900 in Victoria the proportion of females to 100 males in Melbourne was 109-78 - in 1901 the percentage was 111 - as against 91-50 in the country, leaving a difference of 18-28 per cent, in favour of the town. In Tasmania there were 111 -30 females to 100 males in Hobart, as against 83-33 in the country, leaving a difference of 22–80 per cent, in favour of the town. In New South Wales there were 100-50 females to 100 males in Sydney, as against 84 in the country, leaving a difference of 16-50 per cent, in favour of the town. In Queensland there were 100-09 females to 100 males in Brisbane, as against 74-49 in the country districts, leaving a difference of 25-60 per cent, in favour of the town. In South Australia there were 108-08 females to 100 males in Adelaide, as against 84-48 in the country, leaving a difference of 20-60 per cent, in favour of the town. While in Western Australia there were 89-93 females to 100 males in Perth, as against 58 in the country, leaving a difference of 31-83 per cent, in favour of the town. It is very plain that Melbourne, containing 41 percent, of the total population, returned the senators for the State. It seems to me that the essence of representative government is that the most remote people in the country should have an opportunity of making their voices heard. There seems to be no such opportunity now, so far as this State is concerned. I have read the arguments which were advanced in the Convention about polling a State as one constituency - arguments such as that the House of Representatives should not be duplicated, and that there should be political uniformity. I could understand those arguments very well if there were any advantage to be gained, but it seems to me the only difference in this case is that the dominant party in Victoria won the Senate seats all along the line. I believe it is also a fact that in New South Wales the dominant party won the Senate seats right along the line. I would rather see those who represent the rural interests of New South Wales acting in concert with those who represent the rural interests of Victoria and other States, and the representatives of the towns doing the same thing. Although we in this corner are divided on certain questions, I sometimes find myself in accord with the honorable member for Bland, and never more so than the other night when he said, in speaking on the Loan Bill, that it is altogether wrong in principle that one set of people should find money for another set to spend. Primarily the country people find the money which constitutes the wealth of the country. All other interests are subsidiary to and dependent on country interests, and it is a curious anomaly that in any branch of the Legislature they should not be able to have their fair and proportional share of the representation. Many years ago a prominent politician of Victoria asked what men at the plough could know about finance. In those days they certainly knew that it was not a good thing to spend a guinea in order to earn a sovereign, and many of them would still have been at the plough if they had not recognised that. It would not be a bad thing if we introduced here some of the methods of the country people in that regard. But there is another objection to large constituencies that weighs more strongly with me than any of the disabilities I have mentioned. In Victoria we have resorted to one of the most pernicious systems that has ever been introduced into political life, namely, that of voting by ticket. The press has been blamed for having introduced this method, but I think unjustly so, because the first ticket was put forward not by the press, but by a political association. Of course the press afterwards took up these tickets, and thus they have been blamed for initiating the system. I cannot speak with any authority regarding the smaller States, but I feel sure that if we continue to follow the course of polling the whole State as one constituency, the ticket system is inevitable, or we shall land ourselvesinastateof confusion worseconfounded, because the electors generally will know little or nothing of the men who are offering themselves. However energetic candidates may be, they cannot possibly make their views known to the whole of the electors of the State, and we shall become more and more committed to the ticket system. I desire to refer to one or two of the American methods of working parties into which we shall very likely drift. In the first place,’ the regular party tickets are issued, but if any section of the community is not satisfied, a third or citizen’s ticket is put forward. Assessments are made for the purpose of paying election expenses. Those who subscribe most largely, in the course of time establish claims to have their names placed on the party tickets, and other men who work hard for their party, and who may be what some would call good generals and others simply clever tricksters, have their services recompensed in a similar manner. So far as I have been able to judge, as an onlooker for the greater part of my life, during which I have not taken an active part in politics, Australia has hitherto kept her hands very clean, so far as corruption in political matters is concerned. The seeds of corruption do not seem to readily germinate here ; but if the system of polling each State as one electorate is perpetuated, we shall bring about a most undesirable state of affairs. The struggle for party predominance will become more and more severe, and there is no telling to what lengths the fighting may be carried. I think it. would be well to have our Senate composed of men possessing a large experience of public affairs. At the Federal Convention it was urged that if each of the States were polled as one electorate, the most prominent and desirable men in politics would probably be selected, but the system has not so far had that effect. Instead of returning veterans to the Senate, we have among the representatives in that Chamber some of the very youngest men in politics. If we desire to see the best men returned to the Senate, it will be much better to adopt the American semi-nominee system through the Houses of the States which act as electoral colleges.
Mr.F. E. McLean.- That would lend itself to party operations as readily as would the ticket system.
– I do not think it has worked badly in America. A notable remark, to which Fiske gives some prominence, was made by Mr. Mason, a member of the American Convention. At the time of the revolutionary war some members of the United States Senate were elected by popular vote, others by the votes of members of the Lower House, and in one case; - that of Maryland - by an electoral college. In moving a motion relating to the. mode of electing the President, Mr. Mason said that to refer the choice of the chief magistrate to the people would be as unnatural as to refer a trial of colours to a blind’ man.
– The President of America is practically elected by popular vote now.
– No ; the President of the United States is appointed by the Electoral College. It is quite true that once the Electoral College is formed it may be fairly well surmised who the President will be ; but that was not the original intention. In Victoria the effect of polling the whole
State as one electorate has been to absolutely disfranchise the country districts. Melbourne alone would have returned those members who were elected to the Senate. Some honorable members do not seem to understand the difficulties attached to recording votes in the country. They would probably have a better appreciation of them if they had had our experience at the last election of long drives through the country in bad weather. Not only are the numbers against the country electors, but also the want of facilities for voting, and now that adult suffrage has been introduced, the country districts will be placed at a still further disadvantage, becauseit will be utterly impossible in many cases for the womenfolk to leave their homes on the same day as the men in order to vote. I hope this proposal will be carried, because I believe that the principle underlying it is much sounder than that contained in the Bill.
– I desire to support the amendment. When the Convention Bill was under consideration in the various States I carefully studied its provisions, and came to the conclusion that it contained five or six serious blots - so serious as to induce me to oppose it and vote against it at the federal referendum. The provision for polling each State as one electorate was one of the blots to which I then drew attention. When the Bill was referred to the Parliaments of the various States every one of them carried resolutions in favour of the division of the States into electorates for the purpose of returning members to the Senate. Unfortunately, however, the members of the Federal Convention, who had been returned by the electors of their respective States voting as one constituency, declined to pay any regard whatever to the wishes of the people as represented by the States Parliaments. Although the people accepted the Bill, they did so with the full knowledge and conviction that it contained this very serious blot. There could be no better method of conveying the wishes of the people than through the Parliaments and the press of the various States, who with singular unanimity supported the division of the States into electorates.
– Queensland did not take any part in that movement.
– Queensland was the only State that didnot avail herself of the opportunity of making her voice heard. The predictions that we then made that the country districts would be disfranchised have since proved correct. In Victoria, over half a million souls are within the metropolitan area, whilst in the country districts there are 700,000 souls. Yet the 700,000 residents in the country have not been able to return one representative to the Senate.
– Then the majority must have been divided against itself.
– The majority must necessarily be divided. If it were possible to induce the country districts to hang together and vote for their own representatives they could return a very fair proportion of members to Parliament. But, unfortunately, there are always local jealousies, and, moreover, the residents in the eastern parts of the States know nothing of those in the western portion, and vice versâ. Therefore it is impossible, under existing conditions, for a country representative to secure a seat in the Senate. I admit that six. excellent representatives were returned for Victoria, but however good the men may be it is not right or fair that the residents in one part of the State, having an area of only about 10 miles in diameter, should return the whole of the representatives of the Senate, and that the electors in the rest of the State should be disfranchised. I think we all agree that the laws of the Commonwealth ought to be a fair reflex of the aspirations of its people. That cannot possibly be the case so long as the Senate, which has co-ordinate powers with this Chamber, is representative only of one city in each State. What is true of Victoria applies with equal force to the other States. I venture to say that if the matter were investigated it would be found that the large cities in those States have practically returned the whole of the members of the Senate. It is not necessary for me to labour this point. The sense of justice of every honorable member should at once satisfy him that the whole of the Commonwealth should be fairly represented in both branches of the Legislature. A city man might be just as anxious to represent the interests of his country constituents as a country resident. But, unfortunately, he would not be familiar with provincial conditions. He would not be acquainted with the legislation that is suited to the circumstances of the country, and, therefore, no matter how anxious he might be to forward its best interests, it is unreasonable to expect him to do so. Honorable members should take this matter into caref ul consideration, and I hope that upon due reflection they will see the justice and wisdom of dividing the States into separate electorates for the return of members to the Senate. I have much pleasure in supporting the proposal.
– The proposal of the honorable member for Grampians is one which deserves every consideration, though I do not quite agree with the form in which it has been moved. Its author has evidently overlooked the fact that the Constitution provides that half the members of the Senate shall retire every three years, leaving six years of office for each senator. Consequently, if we divide any State into six equal electorates, each half of that State alternately will have an election for the Senate only once in six years. To my mind, the best way of overcoming that difficulty would be to divide the States into three constituencies for the Senate, so that one member for each electorate might retire every three years.
– What about a dissolution?
– In that case, the constituencies would return two members each.
– They would not be single electorates then ?
– No. That is the only way in which the sub-division of States into electorates for the Senate can be satisfactorily worked. To me it certainly seems desirable that an opportunity should be given to the electors every three years to register their opinions upon the general lines of policy which have been adopted by the Senate during that period. I suggest to the honorable member for Grampians that he should put his proposal in such a form that, if the principle of dividing the States into electorates for the Senate is affirmed, we shall not be prevented afterwards from amending it in any direction that may be deemed desirable. Regarding the principle at stake, it seems to me that, though it is an admirable theory that the States should be represented by men returned by the whole of the electors, it is one which does not work out in practice. I quite appreciate the motives which prompted those who spoke in the Federal Convention in favour of the principle. They desired to get away from parochial ideas in respect of the great affairs of State. Every one of us, I think, desires that the other Chamber shall, as far as possible, represent the broad ideals of each State in regard to the great matters of policy to be decided. But, in practice, that object has been found absolutely impossible of accomplishment. The possibility of its failure was recognised by the Convention when they inserted, in section 7 of the Constitution, the proviso that the present method of election should continue only until the Parliament otherwise provided. They foresaw the likelihood of their theory not proving as successful as they desired it to be. The chief trouble with the present system is that it restricts the choice of the electors. There is necessarily only a small proportion of the candidates with whose views they are acquainted, and consequently people have to rely upon some newspaper for guidance. They cannot do anything else if they are to vote with any semblance of intelligence. This condition of affairs results in a newspapermade Senate, or in a “ machine “ made Senate, if the newspaper in one place is not so powerful as that in another. In any case the choice of the electors is restricted. I am aware that it is sometimes urged that small electorates usually return men who have no breadth of view, so far as general questions are concerned ; but at least they insure that the electors shall have an opportunity of becoming familiar with the proposals of the candidates. In the senatorial elections in New South Wales a good number of the candidates spent considerable sums of money and no little time in travelling from one point to another with the object of placing their opinions before the voters. But they found it absolutely impossible to reach with their voices any large proportion of the electors. The result was that only those men who had been long associated with polities, or who enjoyed some re cent notoriety - desirable or otherwise - polled any large number of votes. Their ability did not weigh so much with the electors, the bulk of whom, in ignorance of the qualifications of the remaining candidates, were content to abide by the old maxim that “The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.” Thatis a state of affairs that we ought to do our best to remedy. The objection that the proposal if adopted would result in the duplication in the Senate of the representation in ‘ this Chamber does not appear to me to be a sound one. I fail to perceive that any bad results would flow from it. If’ honorable members entertain the view that there should not be a duplication of the representation in this Chamber, their position demands that they should demonstrate the evil effects which are likely to accrue from such duplication. At the same time, I do not admit that duplication would exist to the extent -that some honorable members seem to anticipate. In New South Wales, for example, there are 26 electorates for the House of Representatives. If that State were divided into three electorates for the Senate, duplication would not be likely, because the whole of the metropolitan area, comprising about one - third of the State, would form one constituency ; whilst the northern and southern portions of the State would each constitute another district. Consequently, eight or nine of the present electorates for the House of Representatives would be included in one electorate for the Senate. The result of the polling in one of these constituencies for the Senate would, I am satisfied, be entirely different^ from that obtained in the electorates for the House of Representatives. Another aspect of this question has reference to the representation of minorities, and in that connexion it seems to me that this is a desirable proposition. A great deal of objection has been raised to proportional voting, upon the ground that it is not necessary to provide for the representation of minorities ; but I hold that under the system of territorial divisions, with single electorates, there is in most instances a roughandready representation of the minority. Therefore, though many of us may not approve of the systems which have been suggested from time to time, with a view to giving exact representation to minorities, we may at the same time fully indorse any proposal which produces in a roughandready way that result. I trust that the committee will affirm the wisdom of subdividing the various States into electorates for the Senate. At the same time, I would suggest to the honorable member for Grampians that he should take a test vote upon the first three words of his proposal - viz., “for the Senate” - so as not subsequently to preclude its amendment in any way that may be deemed desirable.
– It will be admitted that the case in support of the amendment has been very fairly and ably put by the three honorable members who have spoken in its favour. But the view which I take, is that the provision contained in section 7 of the Constitution is not a blot, but one of the most important features embodied in that instrument of government, and should not be lightly interfered with. I venture to say that the view which has been submitted seems to fail to recognise the real constitutional position of the Senate in the scheme of federation. The argument seems to regard the two Houses as if they were two Houses of a unitarian system. If ours were a unified system of government, one could hardly object so strongly to the proposal, but I ‘venture to remind the committee of the real position of the Senate as delimited by the Constitution. The Senate, as provided by the Constitution, is not merely a second chamber of revision and review, not merely a Chamber representing what has been described as the sober second thought of the nation, but a Chamber in which the States of the Federation are represented in their corporate capacities. As to the evil which has been referred to, if the position of the Senate were altered as suggested by this amendment, it would become a more formidable rival of this House than it is at present. If the Senate recognises its true constitutional position as a States House, as it ought to be made to do - and will, no doubt, have to do when the contest begins in earnest; - it will have to realize that it represents State interests, State views, and State rights. That is its proper position so far as it is a States House. But if the Senate is to be taken from the exalted position which it occupies at present as representing these States as corporateentities, and made to represent mere fragments or sections of States, it will be in a much stronger position than it occupies at present as a States House. It will be able to say that it represents, not merely the States, but electorates or divisions, of the Commonwealth in the same way as does the House of Representatives. I would draw attention to section 7 of the Constitution, which says that the Senate shall be composed of Senators “ for each State,” showing that Senators are elected to represent not sections or fractional territorial divisions of States, but the States as corporate wholes. We can only maintain and preserve that fundamental position of the Senate as a States House by insisting that the senators for each State shall be returned by the electors of each State as a corporate unit. This proposal would destroy utterly the corporate unity of the Senate as a States House. Stress has been laid by the honorable member for Grampians upon the fact that no country representatives were elected to the Senate. I venture to say that the Constitution never contemplated the election of either “city or country representatives to the Senate. It contemplated the election of men representing the States as wholes, and if we take away that provision and say that senators shall be elected by six, or even three electorates, we will destroy that fundamental principle of the Constitution. Men will be returned representing divisions carved out of each State, and will consider themselves to be mere territorial, instead of State, representatives.
– The privilege of doing so was extended to Queensland.
– The fact that Queensland did not exercise the power is a strong argument in favour of allowing the constitutional provision to remain as it is. I would remind honorable members that it was not thought necessary to provide for the division of two of the smaller States into electorates for the House of Representatives; that it was considered preferable to allow the constitutional provision to remain, showing that the State authorities thought there must be some convenience in the system. Apart from that fact, however, I venture to take this opportunity of reminding the committee of the real position of the Senate in our constitutional system as a States House. The reason why the Federal Convention insisted upon one State one electorate, was to provide a constitutional security that the Senate should be constantly reminded of its real place in our parliamentary system - that it does not occupy the position of a mere second chamber of review in the ordinary sense of the term, but that of a States House charged with the duty of watching State interests. It will be much better for this House if that position is maintained. To some extent it limits the position of the Senate instead of enlarging it and increasing its dominant power. Consequently, in every contest which may arise between this House and the Senate the real touchstone will be this : Is the attitude taken by the Senate intended to preserve a State interest or a State right ? If the Senate can show that its attitude is intended to vindicate a State interest or right, then its position will be a strong one ; but if it relates merely to the right of an individual within the Commonwealth, or rights and interests common to the whole Commonwealth, the position of this House will be much the stronger one. The proposal which has been submitted is intended to strengthen the position of the Senate at the expense of this House, and to deprive it of its corporate capacity as a House for the representation of the States. In fact, it would be the first blow levelled at our federal system, and a most serious one indeed. The time is not yet ripe for the adoption of any system of unification such as some people desire. We have launched on a Federal Constitution, but I consider the amendment, if carried, would be in the direction of unification, and a serious blow to the autonomous position of the various States. I do not think that it would in any way improve the position of senators. They would not occupy the same position as they do now, but the amendment would tend rather to bring about a position of affairs calculated to promote conflicts between the two Houses, instead of promoting unity and harmonious working. This House represents every cranny, nook, crevice and corner of the Commonwealth. Every possible interest that is entitled to representation is represented here.
– Why should any part be disfranchised in the other place ?
– The whole includes the part. The people vote as a State.
– What is the position in Victoria, where they have taxed the country lands and allowed city land to go free?
– I do not think there is any such danger to be feared. The Senate is intended to preserve State rights and interests as a whole, and this House is designed to represent urban, rural, and city electorates. All interests are represented here, and we do not want to take any action to convert another place into a House representing sections or terri- tories. We want it to be not .merely a replica of this House, but ‘ a House differently constituted from this, to operate as a ‘ House of review. The principle of State unity is secured in the United States of America by the election of the senators by the various legislatures.
– We do not want that.
– Certainly not. The Federal Convention considered that. The only way to insure State unity was to provide for the election of the senators by the States - one electorate one State. It would be a serious revolutionary change in our Constitution to adopt the amendment, either for dividing the States into six or three electorates for the Senate.
– It is hardly necessary for me to speak on ‘ this question, because the views that I hold have been so ably advocated by the honorable and learned member for Bendigo. But I regret that a principle of such importance, and of such far-reaching results, should be discussed in this haphazard manner in committee. It is a constitutional point of the greatest importance, and it is rather unwise for us to discuss it and settle it, as it were, in committee on an Electoral Bill. I think that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo’s position is unassailable, and that any such alteration as that proposed by the honorable member for Grampians would be subversive of the spirit of the Constitution. I fully and thoroughly indorse al] that the honorable and learned member for Bendigo has said. If we destroy the distinction between the Senate and this House - as we should do by adopting this proposal- we shall really strengthen the position of the Senate and weaken the position of the House of Representatives. I regret that the Senate has been constantly referred to in this House as a kind of upper chamber, just as are our Legislative Councils under the old colonial Constitutions. But it is not so. As the honorable and learned member has said, the Senate is a States House representing State interests, while we in this Chamber represent the people of the Commonwealth. Any attempt to alter the present system would be. ultimately to alter it at the expense of the powers and privileges of this House when we come into conflict. I do not fear the position of equal State representation in the Senate. From the very outset of the federal movement I accepted the fact as a logical one, that if we were to adopt federation the States must be equally represented in the Senate, and that any attempt to divide them into electorates for that House- would be to destroy the symmetry and harmonious construction of the Constitution. It seems to me that the only difference between the two Houses is, that this House represents the people of the Commonwealth, while the Senate represents the States in federal union. I think the question is so important that it is a pity that we should enter upon its consideration and attempt its solution in a proposal for a new clause in an Electoral Bill. I sincerely hope the committee will not adopt the proposal, because it is totally subversive of the whole of the design of the framers of the Constitution.
– I quite agree with the honorable member for South Sydney that this is not a favorable opportunity for discussing so import1 ant a question as that involved in the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Grampians. Undoubtedly the Constitution does contemplate that the Senate shall be the Chamber representing the States as States. That is the view running right through the Constitution, and it appears to me that no better way of securing the proper representation of the States could be devised than by having each State voting as one electorate. I think that the honorable member for Grampains would be well advised if he were not to press his amendment upon the committee. It opens up issues of such vast magnitude, and traverses constitutional grounds which require such serious consideration, that I believe we ought not to approach it unless by way of a separate Bill. It would not involve an amendment of the Constitution certainly, as Parliament has reserved to it the power of making any such alteration if it sees fit to do so. But this does not appear to be a favourable time to discuss such a great question. Honorable members must see that it involves, as the honorable member for South Sydney has said, the subversion of the spirit of the Constitution. The Senate exists in the Constitution as the Chamber representing the States as States, and I quite agree with the honorable and learned member for Bendigo that the House of Representatives is the Chamber which represents the people of the community and every interest in the community. It would be a most unfortunate thing if we were to try and make distinctions I between town and country in elections to the Senate. The honorable member for Gippsland made a very forcible speech in favour of the amendment, but I think he gave his own case away by the statement that the country voters outnumbered the metropolitan voters, and yet the result of the senatorial elections was to disfranchise the country electorates. That could not happen if the interests of the country electorates vere one. If they were one they would vote together. If there was any community of interest, such as the honorable member sought to suggest, that community of interest would assert itself, but the fact that it did not assert itself, and that the country vote was divided against itself, shows that there is no such question arising in connexion with elections to the Senate. It would be an unfortunate thing if we were to introduce into these elections mere parochial questions. Even in this House I venture to say there are honorable members who are personally unknown to thousands of their constituents. The honorable member for Bland tried to make a very .strong point by saying that it was impossible for a candidate to make himself generally known over the wide area of a State. It is absolutely impossible for a candidate to make himself well known over the wide area of a federal electorate at all. He must be taken very largely upon his reputation and upon the recommendation or nomination of political parties. I fail to see why we should throw such odium upon what are called the nominations of political organizations and newspaper support. It is altogether a fanciful idea to imagine that the free and independent elector of the Commonwealth or of any electorate in a State sits down and calmly picks out his man, knowing all about his qualifications, and votes for him as if he were the only man voting, and there were no other questions to be considered in connexion with the election. We know that in practical politics political organizations and newspapers exercising large influence will always guide the opinions of electors. The average elector seeks and requires guidance in selecting a candidate.
– Horace Greely used to give them guidance for 4s. 6d. a year,
– I venture to say that the average elector throughout the
Commonwealth is anxious to secure the guidance of political organizations and of an intelligent press in determining the candidate in whose favour he shall cast his vote.
– The Age, for instance.
– We must put up with the Age, and with other newspapers. It may not suit our ideas to find a 1 paper of which we disapprove having a dominating influence, but those are things we must put up with. In our political system, newspapers will ever exercise weighty influence in shaping public opinion, and in supporting the election of individual Members of Parliament. Political organizations must do the same. If there were no political organizations and no party newspapers, and if every man went to the poll to vote without any direction or guidance, we should have a less effective representation of the people than we have to-day. We should all. be at sixes and sevens, and the Parliament so elected, probably, would not be representative, in any sense, of a considerable body of electors at ali. I venture to think the honorable member for Grampians might seek some better opportunity of deciding this very large and important question. It would be fairer to the House, and to the subject which the honorable member has so much heart, if it were dealt with by a separate Bill which could be discussed in fairly, and which would have a better opportunity of receiving proper attention at the hands of honorable members than the subject can have in a mere discussion in committee upon an Electoral Bill like this.
– I do not see what better opportunity the honorable member for Grampians could have. He has pointed out that the reason he brought forward ;he amendment is that there has been excised from the Bill, as originally introduced, the proposal for the representation of diversity of interests. That proposal applied to the Senate, and has, indeed, been accepted for this House. This proposal has been called “revolutionary “ by the honorable and learned mem.ber for Bendigo, and “subversive of the spirit of the Constitution” by the honorable members for South Sydney and Lang, but the Constitution gives us the right to make this alteration.
– That was intended to provide for a division between North and South in a big State.
– The members of the Federal Convention were evidently not very strong upon the point which has been urged. If they had been as strong as some honorable members seem to suppose, surely they would not have left to this Parliament the power to make such an alteration ? It is said that the Senate is to represent the States. I quite agree ; but how is it to represent the States unless each State has an opportunity of sending there representatives who will represent the views of the States. Unquestionably, under the present system large cities like Sydney and Melbourne, with enormous numbers of voters who have an opportunity of acting together politically, are able to secure an undue influence in the Senate. It is said that because, for representation in this House, the States have been divided, this House represents the people. If that be so, it would appear that the people of South Australia are not represented here at all, because that State elects its representatives to this Chamber as one electorate.
– That is put right in this Bill.
– At present, at all events, it would appear that the representatives from South Australia in this House do not properly represent the people of that State. The only hope for the Senate being properly representative of the States is in the division of the States into three constituencies for elections to that Chamber. The honorable member for Bland has pointed out that it would be impossible to work the Constitution with six electorates in each State for the Senate. But if each State were divided into three, there would be some opportunity for the representation of country interests there. I hope this opportunity will be availed of by the committee, and that the amendment proposed by the honorable member for Grampians will be carried.
Mr. SKENE (Grampians). - I desire to accept the suggestion of the honorable member for Bland, and I ask leave to withdraw my amendment in its present form.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
Amendment (by Mr. Skene) proposed -
That the words “for the Senate” be inserted after the word “ divisions.”
– It is not very often that upon these questions I have the misfortune to differ from my honorable and learned friend, the member for Bendigo, but I do differ from him in regard to this matter. When the Federal Convention was in session this question was raised, and I took the view that it would be far better to have the States divided into electorates for the election of senators. The Minister of Defence then pointed out, just as the honorable member for Bland has pointed out to-night, that it would be impracticable to divide the States into six electorates, for the reasons which have been so ably stated by the honorable member for Bland. I was one of those who supported a proposal, and I think that upon one occasion I proposed it, to divide the States into three electorates, in order to obviate the difficulty arising from large electorates, to prevent country districts being overshadowed by large town populations, to give greater facilities for proper representation, and to prevent undue advantage being given to monied candidates. I do not consider that this is any breach whatever of the Constitution. In the first place, the Constitution does not contain a rigid rule. The Constitution has said in this instance, as in a multitude of others, that “until Parliament otherwise provides “ a certain practice shall prevail. It, therefore, will be no greater breach of the Constitution to alter this particular provision, which is in force only until other provision is made by Parliament, than to alter any other temporary provision. Further, I think it is no breach of the spirit of the Constitution that the Senate shall be regarded as the States House, because we are not impairing, and cannot impair, the principle of equal representation - the central principle of the Senate. It makes no difference how the internalaffairs of representation are regulated. It matters not whether in a State there are six electorates returning one senator each, or whether there are three electorates returning two senators each, or whether there is only one electorate returning six senators. So long as the provision stands that each State sends an equal number, the Senate is a States House. The line of demarcation is whether the number of members shall be proportioned to the population, or whether so many shall be returned for each State, and that principle is untouched, whether we have in a State one electorate or a number of electorates. Consequently, I see no attack on the principle of the Senate being the States House. I do not intend to repeat the reasons which have been so well put by previous speakers, but for those reasons I differ from the opinion of the honorable and learned member for Bendigo.
– I quite agree with the honorable and learned member for Indi, that the principle is not State representation through the whole electorate, but equality of representation. There is a Bill either introduced, or about to be introduced into the American Congress, to pro- . vide for the direct election of the Senate by the people. Of course it would be impossible where States have a population of 5,000,000 or 6,000,000 to adopt the principle of the State voting as one electorate. They will be forced into sub-dividing the States. Nevertheless, I think we ought not to make a change without very serious consideration. The principle of election by the whole State has worked exceedingly well. I think that the Minister for Trade and Customs will agree that there is a great deal to be said for the election of even the members of the House of Representatives in small States, on the principle of the State voting as one electorate, because in that way we get more the average opinion of the people. We get, too, men who have been tested in public life, and a man- can be returned for a far smaller expenditure. If these arguments, would tell in favour of our State voting as one electorate for its representatives in this House, they would tell with far greater strength in favour of the senators being returned by the State voting as one electorate. We must have some principle of difference between the Houses. Not only must we have equality of representation, but there must be something, from the point of view of a unitarian Constitution, to distinguish the Houses. There is equality of electoral rights - the same electors return the members of each House, but there must be some difference in the point of view from which the Houses would regard a question. Whether a State is represented by 26 or by 6 members does not affect its point of view; it affects only its power. The point of view depends on how the men have been selected. The greater the electorates the less subject to petty influences are their representatives, and the more likely are they to take a broad and average view of matters. For that reason we expect to have in the Senate a point of view which is different from that which would be taken in this House, and that is an advantage. The cure for the complaint of the honorable member for Bland is the one which was taken notice of in the Convention, and that is to apply some principle of proportional representation to the Senate elections. It cannot be applied in the Bill, for it has been rejected, but that is the cure. Even in a State like New South Wales, where there might be a quota of 150,000, there would be an opportunity for those who take a country point of view, as distinguished from the pure centralization point of view, to combine and return a proportion of the six senators. I think we had better stick to the return of the six senators by the whole State. As the Constitution Bill was originally drafted the State voting as one electorate was to return the senators, ‘ and there was no power in the Federal Parliament to change that provision. Then came the recommendations from the State Parliaments. New South Wales recommended that there should be a division of the States. “Victoria recommended that the- Federal Parliament should be allowed to sub-divide the States. Three States recommended that the power of sub-division should be vested in the State Parliaments. Owing to the necessity of giving a recognition of the genera] desire that it should not be permanently fixed in the Constitution that the State was to vote as one electorate, the Convention decided that the Federal Parliament should have the power of sub-division. Any one who will look through the debates will see that the bulk of opinion was in favour of retaining, as far as possible, the principle of polling the State as one electorate.
– I did not intend to speak, but I wish to express my appreciation of the speeches of the honorable and learned member for Indi and the last speaker. I am glad to learn that the amendment is not inconsistent with the principle of the Constitution Act. I am favorably disposed towards the amendment, and I do not base my support on the ground that it is going to secure to the country any greater weight in the Senate than can be secured under present arrangements. But without such a provision a man of small means will not have an opportunity of adequately contesting a seat, and the representation will be under the control of large press interests. The amendment, however, will secure a very much better and healthier representation in the Senate for the large States.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted - put. The committee divided.
Majority … … …. 12
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clauses 22, 23, and 24 consequentially amended and agreed to.
Clause 26 (Polling places).
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the following words be added : - “ Provided that no polling place shall be so appointed after the issue of the writ, and before the time appointed for its return.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 28 (Where electors to vote in case polling place abolished).
Amendment (by Sir William. Lyne) agreed to -
That the following words be added: - “Provided that no polling place shall be so closed after the issue of the writ, and before its return.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 33 (Persons entitled to have their names on roll).
Amendment (by Sir William. Lyne) agreed to -
That the following words be added : - “But no person shall be qualified or entitled to have his name placed upon more than one roll, or upon any roll other than the roll for the division in whichhe lives. “
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 34 -
The Commonwealth electoral officer in each State shall . . . after the commencement of this Act and thereafter every three years prepare lists of all persons qualified . . .
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the words “and thereafter every three years “ be omitted.)
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 35 verbally amended and agreed to.
Clause 64 (Limit of time for transfer).
– I propose to omit this clause, as I have provided in another part of the Bill for limiting the time for transfers.
– Shall we have another opportunity of considering the matter if sufficient provision is not made elsewhere?
Clause 67 -
Save as before provided in the case of transfer, no addition to . . . theRoll . . . shall be made …
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the words “ Save as before provided in the case of transfers “ be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words, “ claims and applications for transfers receivedby the returning officer or the registrar before the issue of the writ may be registered after the issue of the writ, but otherwise. “
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 99 (Requisites for nomination).
– I would ask honorable members not to debate this clause at the present stage,because it deals with a very important matter, namely, the deposits to be made by candidates, and I have promised to reconsider it before the Bill is finally taken out of committee.
– Will the Minister also consent to the recommittal of clause 105, which is contingent upon the passing of clause 99 ?
Clause agreed to.
Clause 1 28 (Substitute).
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the following words be added : - “ and may, if authorized by the retaining officer so to do, appoint one or more assistant presiding offi- cers to assist him in presiding at any compartment in a polling booth, and any assistant presiding officer may, subject to the direction of the presiding officer, exercise all or any of his powers.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 136 (Ballot-papers initialed).
Amendment(by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the following words be added: - “The initials of the presiding officer shall be placed on the back of the ballot-paper in such a position as to be easily seen when the ballot-paper is folded so as to conceal the names of the candidates.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 159 (Informal ballot-papers).
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the following new paragraph be inserted : - “(c) In elections for the House of Representatives it has (not being a postal ballot-paper) no cross in a square opposite the name of a candidate, or has crosses in squares opposite the names of more than one candidate, or being a postal ballot-paper, it has no candidate’s name written on it, or has the name of more than one candidate written on it; or”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 163 (Scrutineer at elections for House of Representatives).
Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to -
That the following words be added: - “and assistant returning officers.”
Clause, as amended, agreed to.
Clause 165 verbally amended and agreed to.
Bill reported with further amendments.
Motion (by Mr. Deakin) proposed -
That the House do now adjourn.
– I should like to ask the Acting Prime Minister what business it is proposed to proceed with to-morrow ?
– The Bonus Bill.
– I wish to direct attention to a newspaper statement to the effect that the Federal Government is transmitting all weather telegrams to Mr. Wragge free of cost. Mr. Wragge purports to be a meteorologist. He is a remarkable gentleman, who is regarded by the Australian people in much the same way as a rain-god is viewed by the Hottentots, and his statements are received with an extraordinary amount of credence. Only within the past month this gentleman, who pretends to be a scientist, attempted to excite the fears of the superstitious and ignorant. He supplies the newspapers with weather forecasts, which it will be found by any one who takes the trouble to read them are almost invariably wrong, but he locates many storms away in the Antarctic Ocean where there are no meteorological stations, so that his predictions cannot be checked. For instance, the other day he located a storm 1,600 miles to the south-east of the Leuwin, and another 1,000 miles to the east of Hobart. If he is in the habit of receiving revelations from these quarters - because it must be borne in mind that he has no scientific data to guide him - surely it is preposterous that the Commonwealth should offer him such mundane assistance as can be derived by means of the telegraph at a cost of something like£15,000 annually? There could not possibly be a greater reflection upon the so-called scientific knowledge of this man than was supplied by the quiet answer which was recently given by Sir Charles Todd, the Deputy Postmaster-General of South Australia. Mr.Wragge insisted that the observations taken at Cocos Island at 9 a.m. should be delivered to him in Brisbane by noon of the same day. The quiet reply of Sir Charles Todd was that Mr. Wragge had entirely overlooked the fact that 9 a.m. at Cocos Island represented 12.30 p.m. at Brisbane, so that he was really asking thatthe wire should be delivered to him half -an-h our before the observation was taken. Mr. Wragge, I repeat, is a sort of Hottentot rain-god. I believe that he spent a portion of his time amongst the blacks under the impression that they possessed a knowledge of storms which the white man did not. Why do the Government not select one of the rain-gods in South Africa, and send telegrams to him? Just as much reliance is to be placed in one as in the other. I should not have brought this matter forward but for the fact that these forecasts are daily appearing in the newspapers.
Only the other day we find Mr. Wragge affirming that the phases of the moon influence the rainfall. He is absolutely ignorant of the fact that the varying phases of the moon occur simultaneously all over the world. Therefore, if the new moon is ushered in with rain it ought to be wet all over the world during that month, or vice versa. I. mention these facts only to show the necessity for cutting off from such an advertising scientist the large expenditure which is now being incurred. I have been informed that Mr. Philp, the Premier of Queensland, made a request to the Commonwealth Government that Mr. Wragge should continue to be supplied with free weather telegrams. One cannot fail to be sorry that Mr. Philp did not consult some one who had read even a sixpenny primer upon meteorology.
– Go easy.
– I cannot go too hard when dealing with a man who endeavours to excite the fears and superstitions of a large number of ignorant people, who are ready to believe the statements of one who is called a scientist. I desire to expose charlatanism wherever I find it. Mr. Wragge has also dealt with the question of the spots upon the sun. I might point out that over 100 years ago a French astronomer, just before going mad, ascribed to these spots directly the opposite effect to that ascribed to them by Mr. Wragge. The individual in question so successfully advertised himself that a number of people were induced to believe his predictions. The matter, however, was referred to a commission, which pointed out that the maximum and minimum of spots noted on the face of the sun occurred within eleven years, and that, as the earth, in its journey round the sun, revolves upon its axis 365 times in one year, it was extremely probable that the whole of the earth’s surface would be affected by them if any part were. But they drily added that they had’ not received any information of any remarkable change one way or the other. I mention these matters so that the Federal Government will not do anything to encourage a man of this kind. They, at all events, should send their telegrams to those who will not try to make an evil use of them, but will deal with facts as they are, and not pretend, when they draw upon their imagination, that they are using scientific data. If
Mr. Wragge says that he is a prophet, just as much attention should be given to his predictions as are given usually to those of prophets, and we can let him have as big an advertisement as he likes. It is only because he holds himself out as a scientific man under the aegis of the Government that I take this opportunity of showing the public what I and others who know something about the matter conceive to be the case.
Mr. JOSEPH COOK (Parramatta).I, on the other hand, hope that the Government will not take any hasty action in consequence of the diatribes of the honorable and learned member for Werriwa. We have had a wonderful revelation of meteorological knowledge in about ten minutes. I did not .know that the honorable and learned member had such unheard-of stores of information on this subject. I do not pretend to know anything about the matter, but I believe there are thousands of people who have to depend on the weather in connexion with their livelihood and believe most implicitly in Mr. Wragge. To carry out the suggestion of the honorable and learned member, that before the Government deal with Mr. Wragge they should consult the astronomers of the various States, would be similar to this Parliament consulting the honorable and learned member before deciding anything with regard to the Government. To consult the other astronomers in regard to. any proposal emanating from Mr. Wragge would be, in my opinion, the shortest way to obtain an adverse answer. Metaphorically speaking, they hate each other like poison ; and the suggestion that the Government should “appeal to other astronomers on any subject in which Mr. Wragge is concerned is absurd in the extreme. They do not like Mr. Wragge, and I dare say Mr. Wragge does not like them. There is all the more reason, therefore, why the Government should not consult them in anything relating to the Government Astronomer of Queensland. My position is that the Federal Government ought to continue to treat Mr. Wragge as they are doing until further investigations can be made. I say this in the interests of thousands of people on our coasts to-day who pay all possible attention to his predictions, and often shape their course accordingly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.25 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 30 July 1902, viewed 6 July 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1902/19020730_reps_1_11/>.