House of Representatives
15 October 1903

1st Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. Speaker took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 6204


MINISTERS laid upon the table the following papers -

Copy of the correspondence between the Treasurer of Victoria and the Treasurer of the Commonwealth with regard to the Victorian loan of ?5,000,000.

Alteration of regulations respecting the issue of small arm ammunition .

Regulations respecting appointments to first commissions in tho corps of Australian Engineers (permanent sections).

Alteration of regulations regarding the financial administration of publio moneys received or disbursed in connexion with Defence Corps.

Regulations for the appointment of officers to the general and instructional staffs of Australian Light Horse and Australian Infantry.

The Clerk laid upon the table

Retnrn showing cost of military inspectional tour and military staff rides.

page 6204


Sir LANGDON BONYTHON (on behalf of Mr.. Speaker, as Chairman) laid upon the table the following report : -

The Li brary Committee has the honour to report as follows : -

. The committee has realized that the duties intrusted to it by the Houses of the Federal Parliament are of the utmost importance, as it has looked forward to the probability of the establishment of a Federal Public Library, of which the Parliamentary Library will be only one department. It is also impressed with the importance of securing and preserving all works and documents connected with the discovery, settlement, and early history of the various States of the Commonwealth, and their attainment of responsible government, as well as their aspirations after Federation, including also all records relating to the establishment of the Commonwealth itself.

There are now 3,039 volumes in the Library. These comprise statutes of Great Britain, of the various States of the Commonwealth, and of other countries, as well as parliamentary papers, law reports, constitutional manuals, and works of reference. A very generous donation of 2,433 volumes has been made to the Library by the Government of the United States. This includes Congressional documents, statutes, and the Con- gressional Record, and in additiou there are several thousand pamphlets dealing with a wide variety of subjects of governmental concern. These have been classified and are being catalogued.

The committee is devoting special attention to Australasian literature. Already 445 volumes, some of them very rare, have been purchased, special efforts being made to secure all such works as are likely to be increasingly difficult to obtain as time goes on.

The committee is endeavouring to, form as complete a collection as possible of all official and other literature, and documents, including originals, relating to Federation, both before 1891 and since that date, ‘ and especially of the pamphlets, broad-sheets, and polemical matter published in all the States from all points of view, during the campaigns which preceded the referenda on the acceptance of the Constitution. The Governments of some of the States have presented sets of parliamentary papers on the subject, and the committee will probably secure a complete series of these for the whole of the Commonwealth.

A very fine collection of cuttings from tho illustrated papers at the time of the proclamation of the Constitution, and the opening of the first Parliament, has been presented by Mr. A. Gilchrist, of Murtoa, Victoria. Mr. Glynn, M.P., Mr. R. R. Garran, C.M.G., Mr. J. K. Reid, Clerk of the House of Assembly, Hobart, Dr. Machattie, of Bathurst, New South Wales, and others, have made valuable donations of Federal literature. Some important papers have been purchased, and negotiations are in progress for the acquisition of others.

A system has been temporarily adopted by which current literature of all kinds is provided for honorable members, but not retained in the Library unless of permanent value.

All current official publications of the States of the Commonwealth, including Hansards and statutes, and also of other countries whose issues are likely to be useful, are obtained, and, as far as possible, by exchange instead of by purchase. The committee desires to acknowledge the courtesy so far extended to it in this matter by certain States.

Newspapers from all parts of the Commonwealth are filed in the Library, and two leading journals from each State are bound. There are now seventy-eight bound volumes of newspapers in the

Library, dating from July, 1901. The files will be completed, as far as possible, back to the date of the inauguration of the Commonwealth, in January, 1901.

Ordered to be printed.

page 6205



– I desire to know from the Minister representing the PostmasterGeneral when overtime is to be paid, according to the regulations, to the letter sorters and carriers in the Sydney postoffice 1

Minister for External Affairs · BALLAARAT, VICTORIA · Protectionist

– I shall endeavour to inform the honorable member within the next hour or so.

page 6205



– I wish to ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether any decision has been arrived at as to when public servants occupying premises belonging to the Government are to derive the benefit of the provision in the Public Service Act that the rental of such premises shall not exceed ten per cent of the salary of the officers occupying them 1

Minister for Home Affairs · SWAN, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · Protectionist

– I understand that the Public Service Commissioner has the matter under consideration, and that he will make a recommendation to the Government almost immediately.

page 6205



– I wish to ask the Minister for Home Affairs whether instructions have been issued that at the elections for the Senate the votes are to be all placed in one box and counted only by the Divisional Returning Officers 1


– The count will be made by the Divisional Returning Officers 12 f and Assistant Returning Officers in all cases. Speaking from memory, I think that the Act provides for that.

Mr Glynn:

– The instructions seem to be at variance with the Act.


– I do not think so; but if they are they will have no effect. I asked to be supplied with certain information this morning, but I have not yet obtained it. The Act provides that the votes shall be counted by the Returning Officers and the Assistant Returning Officers, and if there is anything in the regulations which points in any other direction, I will see that they are altered.


– Has the Minister for Home Affairs yet considered the matter to which I directed his attention yesterday, regarding the appointment of assistant Returning Officers at polling places in large centres of population ?


– Yes ; provision will be made wherever it is necessary. I am informed that in cases where the constituencies are circumscribed, no difficulty will be experienced in counting the votes, because the work can be distributed.. At the same time I am of opinion that, speaking generally, it will be more convenient to have the counts made at the places where the votes are collected, and that course will be followed.

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– I desire to ask the Prime Minister when the Government expect to be able to deal finally with the question of the Federal Capital site ?


– From what I learn as to the prospects in another place, the Seat of Government Bill is not likely to reach us before late to-morrow, if then. Consequently I do not anticipate that we shall be able to deal with the question before Tuesday. I hope that honorable members ; will take this as an intimation that, if possible, the Bill referred to will be the first business to be dealt with on that day.

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– In view of the fact that several members- of the first Federal

Parliament intend to retire, does the Prime Minister intend to take any action in the direction of conferring honours upon them 1


– I Understand that the honorable member desires to know whether it would be possible to make any appropriate recognition of the services rendered by members of the first Federal Parliament who do not intend to submit themselves for re-election, or who do not succeed in the forthcoming contest. Although the question has been presented to me rather suddenly, my own feeling is that some recognition is merited. I think that the public will realize that the members of the first Parliament occupied an unique position, and that, irrespective of any claims they may have in other respects, a recognition of that fact would he appropriate. I will give the matter such consideration as I can.


– All the honour honorable members need is to be found upon the statute-book.

page 6206




– I desire to know from the Prime Minister what progress has been made with the Pacific Cable Agreement, arid whether any more business-like steps are being taken by the Pacific Cable Board to increase their business ?


– I have no specific information upon the subject, but it may not be inadvisable to mention that Earl Jersey, who is kindly acting - during the absence of Mr. Heary Copeland, the Agent-General for New South Wales - as a member of the Pacific Cable Board, on behalf of the Commonwealth, cabled to me two days ago that he would be able to make a definite statement very shortly.

page 6206




asked the Treasurer, upon notice -

Whether he has seen the comments recently made and reported on the Federal finances relating to the State of South Australia, and will he inform the House thereon ?

Treasurer · BALACLAVA, VICTORIA · Protectionist

– I am not at present aware of the way in which the Treasurer of South Australia has obtained the figures which he has used: but they do not at all agree with the figures of the Commonwealth Treasury,- which show the actual cash received and paid during the three months. I might mention shortly that the Treasurer of South Australia puts the Customs receipts at about £10,000 less than last quarter, whilst, as a matter of fact, the actual decrease is only between £5,000 and £6,000. In this instance the South Australian Treasurer has omitted to add the Inter-State adjustments, and is really comparing figures which are not oh the same basis. With regard to the Post and Telegraph Department, the South Australian Treasurer shows a falling off of £5,000, whilst our actual receipts show an increase of £2,500. He shows the total falling off for the quarter as £14,000, whilst the actual falling off in receipts has amounted to only about £3,000.

Mr Glynn:

– He has not made any allowance for the Pacific Cable either.


– So far as the receipts from the Post and Telegraph Department are concerned, one would expect a falling off, not so much in consequence of any action taken by the Federal Parliament as of action taken by the States themselves with regard to the Eastern Extension Company’s agreement, which means a loss of revenue to the States, and with regard to the Pacific Cable, which means a considerable loss of revenue to South Australia. As a matter of fact, a peculiarity of this quarter is that the receipts show an increase. With regard to expenditure, also, I cannot follow the figures of the South Australian Treasurer. He shows a considerable increase of expenditure, amounting to some £30,Q00. I have directed that expenditure in the various States should be proceeded with as early as possible, instead of being kept back to the end of the year and the last quarter. Heavy expenditure will naturally be shown for the last quarter, unless we proceed with our expenditure early in the year. In repairs and maintenance the expenditure was £1,-500; new works and buildings, £7,500 ; mail subsidy, which is ordinarly paid later in the year, £3,400; mails, paid earlier than usual, £11,000; military payments, made earlier than usual, £3,000 ; increases in salary, arising mostly in consequence of our having to carry out the Public Service Act, and the greater portion of which would have been incurred in any circumstances in the States, amount to £4,000. This gives a total expenditure of £30,400. The details are as follow : -

Comparison of Receipts and Expenditure credited and debited respectively to the State of South Australia. {: .page-start } page 6207 {:#debate-9} ### RECEIPTS {: .page-start } page 6208 {:#debate-10} ### PUBLIC SERVICE AMENDMENT BILL {: #debate-10-s0 .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN:
Minister for External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist -- With the consent of the House, I move - >That the Standing Orders be suspendedso as to enable a Bill for an Act to amend the Public Service Act to be introduced and passed through all its stages without delay. The Bill contains but one clause, amending paragraph (c) of section 80 of the Public Service Act, to enable us to extend the time during which those who have passed the examination under the Act may have an opportunity to enter the public service. Under the Act as it stands at present, after the passing of the examination, they may be called upon for duty at any time during nine months, and it is thought advisable that the period should be extended to two years. The period of nine months subsequent to the first examination is now almost exhausted, and under the eircumstances in which thepublicserviceof the Commonwealth is conducted, by the filling up of all possible vacancies in one Department from another, it is found that, as a matter of fact, in two of the States not a single one of the successful candidates at the examination has yet been called upon. I have consulted the Public Service Commissioner, and find that, in his opinion, two years would probably be a better period to provide for. The present condition of affairs is partly due to the exceptional circumstances attaching to the commencement of the Commonwealth, and the proposed amending Bill is intended simply to prevent those who have passed the examination from being struck off the list of eligibles before they have had any opportunity to secure the reward to which they are entitled. The proposal is eminently fair. It has been commended by many honorable members already, and on the last occasion by the honorable member for Wide Bay. I trust that at this stage of the session theHouse willallowthis extremely simple and non-controversial measure to pass through all its stages without delay. The principle clause of the proposed Amending Bill reads - >Paragraph c of section SO of *the Commonwealth* > > *Public" Service Act* 1902 is hereby amended, and shall be taken to have been amended from the commencement of that Act by substituting for the words, "nine months" the words "two years." Paragraph c of section 80 is to this effect : >The Governor-General may make regulations - (c) For examinations for fixing the fees payable for entrance examinations and for registering in the order of merit the names of all persons who have passed the entrance examinations, and those candidates who have been qualified at any such examinations may be appointed to fill subsequent vacancies arising within nine months thereof. If the Bill is agreed to, that provision will read " within two years thereof." {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr Watson: -- Is it the intention to make the period of two years a permanent provision *1* {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- Yes. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill presented and read a first time. Motion (by **Mr. Deakin)** proposed - >That the Bill be now read a second time. {: #debate-10-s1 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Wide Bay -- I think it is fair that some reason should be given for the introduction of this measure. 1 am very glad that the Government have introduced it. I have a list showing the state of affairs that exists in New South Wales and in the other States. In New South Wales, amongst the males who have passed the examination for telephone attendants, out of forty-eight only seven have been appointed, and the time is now nearly up. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr Thomson: -- A great many may be over age. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- Then they cannot be appointed. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- Amongst the female successful candidates, only fifteen have been appointed out of forty who passed. In Victoria, only three have been appointed out of twenty-seven males who passed, and only four out of eighty females who passed. In Queensland, eleven males passed, and none have been appointed ; twenty females passed, and only one has been appointed. In Western Australia, twelve males passed, and none have been appointed. In Tasmania none have been appointed out of five who successfully passed the examination. Honorable members will see that it is quite unjust that the Act should be allowed to remain as it is, and I venture to think they will beunanimous in granting the concession proposed by this Bill. {: #debate-10-s2 .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr WATSON:
Bland -- I quite agree that there is a necessity for extending the time ; but I doubt whether it is wise that, as a permanent provision of the law, we should permit of an extension from nine months to two years. It appears to me that two years is too long a period to elapse after each examination duringwhich successful examinees may he appointed. {: .speaker-KNJ} ##### Mr Mauger: -- It will not be long in passing. {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr WATSON: -- I think there should be an examination every year. I can understand two years being a reasonable period at the inception of the Commonwealth Public Service, but I do not think it should be made permanent. I think that perhaps eighteen months would be a fair period to allow. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- That was my intention ; but I have been informed that two years would be a better period, and will do no injustice to any one. If the successful candidates are exhausted sooner we can have another examination. {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr WATSON: -- I point out that for some of the grades the examination age is limited to between fourteen and sixteen years. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr Thomson: -- The age for appointment is fixed in some cases at sixteen years. {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr WATSON: -- A lad or a girl may be just under fourteen years of age, and may be over the age before the next examination comes round, if a period of two years is to be allowed to elapse between the examinations. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- This will not prevent examinations being held. {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr WATSON: -- If the list were not exhausted I take it that no examination would be held. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- When the list is approaching exhaustion the examination is held. It takes some time to give notice of the examination to conduct it, to go through the papers, to place the successful candidates in order, and so on. The Department will take care to keep up a steady supply. {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr WATSON: -- I think that it would be wise to substitute eighteen months for two years. Question resolved in the affirmative. Bill read a second time. *In Committee :* Clause 1 agreed to. Clause 2 - >Paragraph (c) of section eighty of the *Commonwealth. Public Service Act* 1902 is hereby amended, and shall be taken *to* have been amended from the commencement of that Act, by substituting for the words "nine months" the words "two years. " {: #debate-10-s3 .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr WATSON:
Bland -- In order to test the feeling of the Committee upon this matter, I move - >That the words "two years" be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words "eighteen months." Under the Public Service Act the strong feature underlying admission to the Public Service of the Commonwealth is that it shall be by competitive examination, and not merely by examination. It is not sufficient that a lad may be qualified to pass a certain examination - he must be able to obtain a greater percentage of marks than other candidates. If every candidate who secures a mere " pass " can remain upon the list of those who are eligible for appointment for a period of two years, the provision may operate to the detriment of smarter young men or women who may qualify twelve or eighteen months later. If we unduly extend this period, we shall incur the risk of destroying in a large measure the competitive aspect of admission to the service. To my mind, eighteen months is a reasonable term to prescribe. If the list of successful candidates is not exhausted within that time, those who have not secured appointments may very well be asked to again submit themselves for examination if they are not over age, and if they are to give place to others. {: #debate-10-s4 .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN:
Minister for External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist -- This is a matter for the consideration of the Committee. Honorable members have heard the list which was read by the honorable member for Wide Bay. It shows that in some States, although nearly nine months have elapsed since the first examination was held, not a single successful candidate has been appointed to the Commonwealth Public Service. It is exceedingly doubtful whether that list will be nearly exhausted in another nine months. It was these circumstances which prompted an amendment of the Act in the direction of extending to two years the term during which successful candidates at the first examination should be eligible for appointment. As, however, this provision is intended to be of a permanent character, I do not feel inclined to resist the alteration proposed. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- Would it not be better to appoint them according to the number of marks which they obtain? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- That is the course which is at present followed. Amendment agreed to. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Bill reported with an amendment, and passed through all its remaining stages. {: .page-start } page 6210 {:#debate-11} ### STANDING ORDERS {:#subdebate-11-0} #### In Committee : {:#subdebate-11-1} #### Standing Order 1- >In all cases not provided for hereinafter, or by Sessional or other Orders, resort shall be had to the practice of the Commons House of the Imperial Parliament of Great Britain and Ireland in force on the 1st day of January, 1901, which shall be followed as far as they can be applied to the proceedingsof the House of Representatives. {: #subdebate-11-1-s0 .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN:
Minister for External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist -- I suggest for the convenience of honorable members that upon the first Order any general remarks which they may desire to offer should be permitted, and that we should then proceed to consider each rule in its turn. The first chapter contains a proposal of some importance. It is that in cases which are not provided for in these rules, resort shall be had to the practice of the House of Commons upon the 1st day of January, 1901, which practice shall be followed as far as it can be applied to the proceedings of this House. As honorable members are aware, a provision of that kind is customary in most, if not all, of our States Legislatures. It is possible that emergencies may arise which are not fully provided for by these Standing Orders. In such circumstances, we must either remain without a chart or refer to some other source of authority. For the past half century or more it has been the practice in all the Legislatures of the British Empire to turn to the House of Commons for guidance in such cases. The 1st January, 1901, has been chosen as the date upon which the Commonwealth was inaugurated, and upon which honorable members, therefore, may fairly be assumed to have been familiar with the purport and character of the practice under which the business of the House of Commons was transacted. There are, indeed, few, if any, occasions upon which advantage is likely to be taken of this Order. So far as the Standing Orders Committee are able to see, they have provided in these rules for all contingencies which can arise. Nevertheless, in the modest spirit of not believing that they have sounded every possible depth or marked every possible quicksand, this provision has been introduced to enable light to be acquired upon the unforeseen difficulties which may occur, and to avoid having to interrupt the procedure of the House by an endeavour to establish some precedent of our own. I am aware that there is something to be said both in favour of and in opposition to this proposal. There are those who contend that the House should not be bound except by express words and particular provisions. There is something to be said in support of thatview; but it appears to the Standing Orders Committee, which is a very responsible body, and includes members of all political parties, that it would be wise to provide in advance against circumstances which, after all, may happen, and in which it may be found that, full and careful as these provisions are, something has been left unprovided for. {: .speaker-KCO} ##### Mr Glynn: -- Does "practice" mean something analogous to common law? {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- Yes. In this way, so far as the experience of the mother of Parliaments can afford it, we have all the guidance which we can need. {: #subdebate-11-1-s1 .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr THOMSON:
North Sydney -- I am quite sure that the Committee are very desirous of giving **Mr. Speaker** permanent Standing Orders ; but I would point out that it was the duty of the Government to submit these Orders at a much earlier period of the session. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- What should we have sacrificed *1* {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr THOMSON: -- I am satisfied that the Prime Minister did not attempt to ask the Committee to deal with the Standing Orders at an earlier date, because he felt that they would be so closely examined and criticised that other important business would have to be sacrificed. It is for that reason that I consider that, in the absence of notice, the Standing Orders cannot now be dealt with in a couple of days. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- These are not the Standing Orders first put forward. They have since been twice revised. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr THOMSON: -- I am aware of that. They left the hands of the Committee only on the 7th inst., and now, without any notice, we are asked to deal with them. They are exceedingly important, and should receive the fullest consideration of every honorable member. Not only have we had no notice of the intention of the Government to ask us to deal with them ; but the indications have been that we should not be called upon to do so during the present session. The late Prime Minister indicated that he did not anticipate that an opportunity for their considerationwould occur before the prorogation, although I believe he stated that if time permitted they might be dealt with. The Prime Minister, when alluding on Thursday week last to the business with which Parliament would be asked to deal before the close of the session, said - >The Senate will have the whole of next week to dispose ofthe various Appropriation Bills before them - the principal Appropriation Bill, that relating to works and buildings, and the two minor Bills relating to arrears. Those measures will occupy the time of the Senate during next week. If this House is fortunate enough to make its selection of the site - as I hope will be the case ; if necessary sitting late and long for that purpose - We sat late and long and made a selection - then, in the week following, the members of another place will have an opportunity of agreeing or disagreeing with us ; whilst we on our part shall take up the Defence Bill, and the minor measures that are still before Parliament. Those minor measures comprised the Patents Bill, the Extradition Bill, and several other Bills, and we have dealt with them. That business will occupy us while the Senate is considering the question of the site. If the Senate agrees with what we have done, practically the work of the session is over, and we shall depart. If the Senate does not agree - though I cordially hope they will - we shall take steps to endeavour to arrive at some harmonious agreement. Mr.Deakin.- In answer to the honorable member for Wide Bay, I mentioned that if an opportunity offered we should deal with the Standing Orders. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr THOMSON: -- I do not object to the fulfilment of that promise, but I contend that notice should have been given. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- I did not regard the Standing Orders as being tantamount to a Government measure, and that is why I did not mention them on the occasion to which the honorable member refers. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr THOMSON: -- If the Prime Minister had given a week's notice of his intention to ask the Committee to deal with the Standing Orders, he would have been quite justified in asking us *now* to consider them. I have ho desire to obstruct the passing of permanent Standing Orders ; on the contrary I am willing that the Prime Minister should now give notice and call upon us to deal with them next week. My contention is that we should have ample opportunity to examine the proposed Orders. If we have not we shall have no chance of passing them this session, and the time occupied in their consideration will have been wasted. If notice were given we should be able to carefully study the Orders in private; to compare them with those of the Imperial and States Parliaments, and thus to avoid many difficulties and objections which would otherwise impede the progress of our work in Committee. The time occupied by the Standing Orders Committee in drawing up these Orders is an indication of the attention which they require. The Committee entered upon its work early in the history of the Parliament, and concluded it only on the 7th inst. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- The Standing Orders have been under consideration since the 18th July, 1901. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr THOMSON: -- Quite so. It would be far better for us to hold to our temporary Standing Orders than to adopt these Standing Orders with the idea that they may be amended at some other time. On the other hand if they are to be permanently adopted - and any Standing Orders to which we agree should become permanent - they must receive the fullest examination. I for One find myself utterly unable to deal with them now as they should be dealt with. It is the proper function of an Opposition, and, indeed of every honorable member, to see that any Standing Order which might take away our privileges or give honorable members undue licence, is carefully considered. If the consideration of this matter were postponed for a week, we should have ample opportunity to thoroughly examine the proposed Orders. In order that they may receive the consideration they deserve, I am perfectly willing to attend here for another week. I hope that the Prime Minister does not think of forcing the Standing Orders through the Committee without due notice. If the attempt be made so many questions will be raised that it will be impossible to deal with them in a couple of days. I think the Prime Minister should adopt my suggestion, give a week's notice of his intention to call upon honorable members to consider the Orders, and invite the House to sit for another week in order that they may be dealt with effectively. {: #subdebate-11-1-s2 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Wide Bay -- I have no doubt that, although the honorable member' for North Sydney requires further time for their consideration, he is particularly desirous that the Standing Orders should be passed without delay. I would remind him that they have been before honorable members for many months. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr Thomson: -- They did not leave the hands of the Standing Orders Committee until the 7 th inst. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- The alterations made in the original draft are exceedingly few. {: .speaker-L2I} ##### Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- Can the honorable member explain the alterations that have been made *1* {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- I would respectfully submit a suggestion to the honorable member for North Sydney,' and the honorable member for Macquarie, who, I am sure, are anxious that this matter should be disposed of. This, instead of being the worst occasion for the consideration of new Standing Orders, is the best, because we are within a few weeks of appealing to our constituents, who will either re-appoint or disappoint us, and neither the members of the Opposition nor the supporters of the Government know with certainty what their position in the Chamber will be next Parliament. Therefore, we have now an opportunity to discuss the matter free from even unconscious bias, and I submit that the disability of not having had a week's notice of the intention to consider the new Standing Orders is more than counterbalanced by that advantage. No doubt there are members of the Opposition who are competent to point out very fully the evils or dangers attaching to the passing of any proposed rule or Standing Order, and we cannot do better than utilize the two days at our disposal in dealing with the matter. {: .speaker-KQP} ##### Mr McDonald: -- Most of the members of the Opposition wish to leave for their homes to-night. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- In that case, they can hardly object to allowing those who stay here to deal with the matter. Any Standing Order likely to create a stumbling block can be postponed. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr Thomson: -- Then a good many will have to be postponed. **Mr. SYDNEY** SMITH (Macquarie).If the honorable member for Wide Bay had given the attention to the proposed new Standing Orders which might have been expected from his speech, he would be able to tell the Committee in what respect they differ from the Standing Orders now in force. He expects us to pass, without consideration, Standing Rules and Orders of which some are quite contrary to those under which we have been working for the last two-and-a-half years, and without which the people of the Commonwealth might have been called upon to pay extra taxation to the extent of £1,000,000 or more. {: .speaker-KQP} ##### Mr McDonald: -- Is the honorable member satisfied with the present Standing Orders? {: #subdebate-11-1-s3 .speaker-L2I} ##### Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- I have never complained of them, though I believe that we should have efficient Standing Orders. The late Prime Minister stated distinctly that he would not ask the House to consider the proposed Standing Orders this session unless there was a general expression of opinion in favour of passing them without much debate. As the honorable member' for North Sydney has pointed out, the action of the Government in postponing their consideration lest they should delay other business indicates the importance which they attach to them. {: .speaker-JZF} ##### Mr Fuller: -- There is not a quorum present now. {: .speaker-L2I} ##### Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- We all know what the result would be if I were to call attention to the state of the House. We have been informed that similar Standing Orders were presented to the Senate, and that a standing order similar to that now under discussion was practically struck out by the members of that body. The honorable member for Wide Bay assents to the proposition that we should ha ve Standing Orders of our own, and yet he wishes us to accept a rule under which the Standing Orders of the House of Commons shall apply to our proceedings in cases not specially provided for. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr Fisher: -- Does the honorable member object to that *1* {: .speaker-L2I} ##### Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- If we are going to consider Standing Rules and Orders for the conduct of our proceedings, let us deal with the matter fully. I was told last evening that no important change would be made by the adoption of these Standing Orders ; that except for arrangement and a few unimportant amendments, they were practically the same as the Standing Orders now in force. I find, however, that standing order 84 takes from honorable members the privilege of showing reasons why a debate should or should not be adjourned, and why the Chairman should or should not leave the Chair, a privilege which we have enjoyed for the last twoandahalf years. Although in the House of Commons they have very stringent rules for the regulation of their procedure, in order to save public time, their Standing Order is that - >When a motion is made for the adjournment of a debate or of the House during any debate, or that the Chairman of Committees do report progress or do leave the Chair, the debate thereupon shall be confined to the matter of such motion. It is now proposed to go beyond that, because the new Standing Order provides that motions for the first reading of a Bill, motions " that this debate be now adjourned," motions in Committee " that the Chairman report progress and ask leave to sit again," or " that the Chairman leave the chair," shall not be open to debate. I have not had an opportunity to thoroughly study the new Standing Order, but I took the trouble to compare some of the new Orders with the old ones, and I then discovered that several of those now proposed would require very serious consideration. Mi-. Kingston. - I wish that the new Standing Order, which would prevent discussion upon the question, " That the Chairman leave the chair," had been in force long before. {: .speaker-L2I} ##### Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- No doubt that would have suited the purposes of the right honorable and learned gentleman ; but the people of the Commonwealth do not share his view. They recognise that, with the assistance of the present Standing Orders, which permit discussion upon such a motion as that referred to, we were able to perform good service for them. We exercised our rights in order to prevent the imposition of taxation upon them without proper consideration. After midnight on one occasion the Government wished us to consent to taxation proposals involving £1,000,000 per annum, and we felt it our duty to protest. The fact that we were right on that occasion was amply demonstrated at a later stage, because the discussion of the Government proposals occupied over a fortnight, and the impositions upon the people were lessened to the extent of some hundreds of thousands of pounds. If it had not been for the rule now in force it would have been impossible for honorable members to make an effective protest against the course proposed by the Government. Honorable members may differ from us, but 12 g they must admit that we took no unfair advantage of the Standing Orders. We felt very strongly, and we had to adopt extreme measures ; but no one can in fairness say that we abused our privileges. I am not moved by any personal considerations in this matter, because I do not expect to be always in Opposition. I believe that after the. next general election the members of the Government will be transferred to this side of the Chamber. Eight or nine years ago, the Standing Orders Committee of the New South Wales Assembly proposed some very stringent rules which were supported by the Government of the day, and passed during the absence of a number of members of the Opposition. Within fourteen days, however, the Government were defeated. In that respect T believe that history will to some extent repeat itself. We desire to be fair to the Ministry even to the very last day of this Parliament, and to secure them against unjust treatment when they find themselves in Opposition. In view of the promises made by the late Prime Minister, and the other indications that were given that the Government had no intention to proceed with the Standing Orders this session, I think their consideration might be very well postponed until the next Parliament. The rules of the .House of Commons afford opportunities for free discussion upon all the motions which under the new Standing Orders would have to be passed without debate. I think that the reasons which I have put forward for a postponement are well worthy of consideration. We should have had no objection to consider the Standing Orders if they had been brought forward some weeks ago. Though we might object to some of these proposals, we should not object to their consideration even at this stage of the session if honorable members had beer, given notice that the Government intended to proceed with this business. It could not then have been said that it was rushed through during the absence of honorable members who had expressed a desire to discuss it. I am aware that the Prime Minister desires that the Standing Orders should be dealt with during tho present Parliament, but he will admit that honorable members are not to blame for the fact that this is the first opportunity presented to us for their consideration. We should not be asked to consider them in tho absence of so many honorable members. {: .speaker-JUJ} ##### Mr Cameron: -That is their fault. {: .speaker-L2I} ##### Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- That may be, but the honorable member would not himself consider it fair if, after giving him a promise that they would not proceed with a measure in which he was interested, the Government pushed it through in his absence. I hope that the Government will not proceed with the consideration of the Standing Orders to-day. I have shown that a very important alteration, contrary to the practice of the House of Commons, is proposed in one of them. {: #subdebate-11-1-s4 .speaker-L17} ##### Mr WILKS:
Dalley -- It is not permitted to every honorable member of this House to adopt a "yes-no" policy. Three or four weeks back I remember strongly supporting the honorable member for Dalley in his lamentations upon the absence of Standing Orders, and I cannot now with any degree of consistency object to consider them when they are submitted by the Government. Honorable members who usually sit with me on this side are anxious to return to Sydney, but I am willing to sacrifice myself by remaining in Melbourne to assist in the discussion of this business. At the same time, I remind the Prime Minister that the Senate occupied no less than seven weeks in dealing with somewhat similar Standing Orders ; and I ask how the honorable and learned gentleman can possibly hope that there will be time for a full discussion of these Orders in the remaining hours of the present session. The Standing Orders Committee, which included some eminent constitutional lawyers, were occupied for nineteen sittings in completing the draft Orders, and they were engaged from the month of June, 1901, to 7th October, 1903, a period covering two years, in the work. It cannot, therefore, beexpected that we shall make very much progress today. If the Prime Minister were disposed to allow Standing Orders of vital importance to be postponed, I could understand his proceeding with the discussion of the remainder. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- I am willing to postpone the critical Standing Orders if we can get on with the others. {: .speaker-L17} ##### Mr WILKS: -- Then it will remain for honorable members to point out which are the critical Standing Orders. For instance, Standing Order No.84 gives very strong closure powers, and it must be admitted that in the exercise of the closure honorable members require to be safeguarded and protected. A call of the House might with advantage be resorted to in connexion with these critical Standing Orders. If the Standing Orders are not the political Nirvana of honorable members, they are to a great extent the guiding star of our deliberations. The honorable member for Macquarie informs me that the first Standing Order is a most critical one. I am not to be led astray on that account, because the honorable member, in this matter, is a Greek bringing gifts, and we are advised to beware of the Greeks when they do this. As the Prime Minister is prepared to postpone the critical Standing Orders, we might pass those which are not critical ; but *1* remind honorable members that the Senate, which contains onlythirty-six members, took seven weeks to discuss the Standing Orders adopted for that Chamber. That will give honorable members some idea of the length of time which the discussion of our Standing Orders will occupy. I admit the excellent work doneby the Standing Orders Committee. Honorable members representing all shades of political thought were represented on that Committee, and that is a warrant to us that the proposed Orders have been carefully considered and criticised. I am extremely pleased that so much heed has been paid by the Prime Minister to the grievance which I ventilated upon a previous occasion in reference to the Standing Orders. ' I compliment the honorable gentleman upon having submitted these Orders, and I can assure him of my supportin securing their adoption. Nevertheless it must be recognised that honorable members are not in a proper frame of mind to seriously consider the whole of them upon such exceedingly short notice. I see no reason why we should not adopt the practice of the House of Commons when contingencies arise which are not provided for in our own Standing Orders. That practice has been followed in our States Parliaments, and has also been adopted by other legislative bodies throughout the Empire. These Orders will require the most careful scrutiny ; but if the Prime Minister is determined to proceed with their discussion upon the present occasion I shall do my best to assist him. {: #subdebate-11-1-s5 .speaker-KDD} ##### Mr G B EDWARDS:
SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- Only this afternoon the Prime Minister I was asked whether he would consider the desirableness of awarding some recognition of the position of members of the first Commonwealth Parliament. I do not think that we could erect a better monument to our honour than would be provided by leaving to our successors a good sound set of Standing Orders. On the other hand I should be sorry to allow my name to go down to posterity as one who had taken part in hurriedly authorizing the permanent use of these Orders. There is nothing more important with which we can deal, and I hold that a proper set of Standing Orders should have been submitted to this House some time ago. Personally I have done what I could to bring about that result. At the request of **Mr. Speaker,** I took a copy of these Orders home at the close of last session and during the recess I examined them very carefully. I prepared a number of amendments which suggested themselves to my mind, some of which have since been adopted. But I find that a set of Orders entirely different in many respects from those previously submitted has now been substituted'. Some of them are of such great importance that we should scarcely be called upon to consider them during the last hours of an expiring Parliament. Although I devoted myself entirely to a perusal of these Orders this morning, I was unable to read the whole of them. The work of comparing them and of referring to similar Orders which have been adopted by other Parliaments, necessarily involved much labour and occupied considerable time. It is, therefore, manifestly unfair to ask honorable members to deal with them this afternoon, although I am not averse to devoting two or three days to the consideration of them before we disperse. Seeing that they were laid upon the table of the House only late last evening, it is absurd to expect us to discuss them this afternoon. Many amendments require to be made in them. Indeed, they seem to be full of minor blemishes. The very grammar of some of them is disgraceful, and the same remark is applicable to the diction which is employed. It is obvious that they cannot have been revised by any person possessed of a legal training. Take as an example the series of Orders which relate to motions and amendments. Throughout the whole of these the terms " question " and " motion " are used alternately, whereas it is apparent that any proposal submitted is a " motion " so long as it is being dealt with by the House, and becomes a " question" only when it is put from the Chair. That is an instance of the slipshod character of these Orders.Rule 84 relates to the closure. I do not for a moment suggest that some sort of check should not be imposed upon the abuse of free discussion. All legislative bodies have been forced to the conclusion that some such provision is necessary. But the proposals which are contained in Standing Order84 are very drastic, and appear to me to be altogether unwarranted. It seems to me that at least a couple of days would be occupied in the discussion of a Standing Order of that character, and I see no possibility of the Committee being able to deal with the whole series this week. At the same time, the matter is so important that I, for one, am willing to attend here next week, and to assist in securing the final adoption of permanent Standing Orders for the government of future Parliaments. It is somewhat to our credit that in the absence of any permanent Standing Orders **Mr. Speaker** has been able to keep the proceedings of the House within the bounds of decorum. In view of the fact that we have been working in such circumstances, I think that we may compliment ourselves on the way in which we have obeyed the Chair. It is highly desirable that we should adopt Standing Orders which will command the respect of the House, and I trust that the Government will not press the Committee to proceed with this important work this afternoon. They should set apart next week or the succeeding week for the discussion of this business. I am prepared to devote a whole week to its consideration ; but I certainly am not prepared now to deal with it. **Mr. THOMSON** (North Sydney).- I am not quite satisfied as to the scope of this Standing Order. A legal member of the House whom I have consulted considers that it might extend so far as to cover the closure rule which is in force in the House of Commons, while another lay member holds the same view. I am not prepared to say that it would, and I think that the Prime Minister should give us a clear statement on the point. We might be quite willing to adopt certain practices of the House of Commons, but wholly unwilling to accept others. {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr Watson: -- Why should we not rely on **Mr. Speaker** to deal with any matter not provided for by our own Standing Orders? {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr THOMSON: -- That is another question which this Order involves. We have to decide whether **Mr. Speaker** should create precedents for this House ; or whether he should of his own free will follow the precedents of the House of Commons in cases in which he believes they apply. This Standing Order expressly provides that in cases not provided for he shall follow the practice of the House of Commons ; but there is a great difference between making an expressed declaration in writing to that effect, and simply enabling **Mr. Speaker** to follow the House of Commons precedents where he thinks it desirable to do so. What does the use of the word "practice" involve *1* Is the whole practice of the House of Commons under its Standing Orders, and in accordance with its precedents, to be adopted ; or are we simply to adopt the precedents of the House of Commons ? The two honorable members to whom I have referred seem to think that this expression will cover the closure rule. {: .speaker-L2I} ##### Mr SYDNEY SMITH:
MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES · FT -- Another place struck out that provision in its draft Standing Orders. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr THOMSON: -- If we are to adopt the closure rule, we should not do so in the , dark. I am not discussing the point whether it is desirable or undesirable to adopt that rule ; but I contend that we should not in the dark adopt any practice of the House of Commons. Honorable members have not had sufficient opportunity to inquire into the practice of the House of Commons to enable them to understand what this term will cover, and I should like the Prime Minister to give us some information on the point. He should tell us how far this Order will extend, and give us good reasons for it. {: #subdebate-11-1-s6 .speaker-K4P} ##### Mr WINTER COOKE:
Wannon -- I think that some honorable member of the Standing Orders Committee should explain the reason why it is proposed to depart from the temporary Standing Order which provides that - >In all coses not provided for hereinafter, or by sessional or other orders, resort shall be had to the rules, forms, and practice of the Commons. ... The Order now before us omits the words, " rules, forms, and," and I think it should be explained why it is proposed to make this alteration. As to the point mentioned by the honorable member for North Sydney, I would remind the honorable member that it is proposed to practically follow the temporary Standing Orders, in which we have the words - >Rules, forms, and practice .... in force at the time of the adoption of these Orders. The Committee, however, has substituted for the words "at the time of the adoption of these orders " the specific date, " 1st January, 1901." I quite understand that no really serious alteration is involved in that change ; but I do not know exactly what the use of the word "practice" implies. {: #subdebate-11-1-s7 .speaker-JUJ} ##### Mr CAMERON: -- It will cover everything. {: .speaker-K4P} ##### Mr WINTER COOKE: -- It might do so. It seems to me that when a Committee is appointed to draw up Standing Orders for our guidance, and departs from the temporary Standing Orders under which the business of the House has been conducted, it is incumbent upon some honorable member of that Committee to give reasons for the proposed change. At present we are quite in the dark, and we have not had time to study the Standing Orders put before us. In these circumstances, therefore, it is more than ever necessary that we should receive the assistance of members of the Standing Orders Committee. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN: -- I feel that we are at present binding ropes of sand. In view of the complaints from all parts of the Committee there appears very little prospect of making any considerable progress, and if honorable members opposite, who have expressed a desire to have a further opportunity to acquaint themselves with these Standing Orders, will agree to lend us their assistance in making any reasonable effort to pass them which the necessities of next week's sittings will permit, I shall be prepared to agree to an adjournment. Strong representations have been made privately to me by honorable members who are anxious to support the passing of the Standing Orders that they require time for further consideration in order to satisfy themselves as to certain of the principal Orders. I have communicated with **Mr. Speaker,** who considers that he would not be debarred from taking part in a discussion upon rules of procedure, which must necessarily affect the whole House. Consequently, if honorable members will familiarize themselves with those parts of the Standing Orders which seem to them to call for explanation, **Mr. Speaker** will be prepared on the next occasion to assist us, by giving the results of the deliberations of the Standing Orders Committee. That remark will apply to the Standing Order now before us, and on the understanding which I have named I shall not endeavour to detain honorable members any longer. There appears to be no possibility of our soon obtaining the measure we have been hoping to receive from another place. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 6217 {:#debate-12} ### SPECIAL ADJOURNMENT *Resolved* (on motion by **Mr. Deakin)** - That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday next. {: .page-start } page 6217 {:#debate-13} ### ADJOURNMENT {:#subdebate-13-0} #### Attendance of Members : Electoral Administration : Public Service Regulations Motion (by **Mr. Deakin)** proposed - That the House do now adjourn. {: #subdebate-13-0-s0 .speaker-L0Y} ##### Mr WILKINSON:
Moreton -- I wish to ask the Prime Minister if he will have a return prepared and laid on the "table, showing the number of days of meeting of this Parliament and the attendance of honorable members. {: .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr Deakin: -- Certainly. {: #subdebate-13-0-s1 .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr WATSON:
Bland -- I desire to suggest to the Minister for Home Affairs the propriety of having a circular prepared for the guidance of the electors. It need not be a lengthy or a costly publication, but on the contrary should be short and concise, and, following the example, of **Mr. Punch,** should set forth a number of " Don'ts," because the procedure to be followed under the Commonwealth Act differs in many respects from that provided for by the Acts of the States. For instance, we have made it a penal offence for a person to spend money on behalf of a candidate without his written authority. That provision should *he* made known to prevent persons from inadvertently offending against the law. {: .speaker-KW6} ##### Mr Thomson: -- If that provision is strictly enforced, it may happen that no candidate will be properly elected. {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr WATSON: -- If leaflets such as I suggest are circulated free of cost, or are made available at a small charge, they will be of advantage to the community generally. I wish also to ask the Prime Minister if he will give time for the consideration of the Senate's message in regard to the Public Service Regulations. That business is set down on the notice-paper, and, in courtesy to the Senate, we should give consideration to it before we adjourn. {: #subdebate-13-0-s2 .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER:
Wide Bay -- I have a request to make of the Minister for Home Affairs. There is every indication that there will be serious trouble in connexion with the holding of the Commonwealth elections unless prompt steps are taken to preventconfusion. I would thereforesuggest that the Minister should instruct the Secretary of his Department, Colonel Miller, to visit every State in the Commonwealth and give as much information as he can as to the working of the Act to as many returning officers as can be gathered together in the principal cities. {: .speaker-F4R} ##### Mr Watson: -- **Mr. Lewis** has already visited the various capitals. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- The only man from whom I have any hope of getting satisfaction within the short time available is Colonel Miller. What I suggest could be done within a week or ten days. {: .speaker-KFJ} ##### Sir John Forrest: -- It would take Colonel Miller three weeks to go to Western Australia and back. {: .speaker-F4N} ##### Mr FISHER: -- If Colonel Miller is unable to visit Western Australia, the people of that State will have the advantage of the presence of the right honorable gentleman himself. I think that Colonel Miller's services should be given to the other States at least. {: #subdebate-13-0-s3 .speaker-JUJ} ##### Mr CAMERON:
Tasmania -- Will the Prime Minister state definitely whether he means to go on with the Standing Orders next week, with your valuable assistance, **Mr. Speaker,** until they are completed? I feel considerably aggrieved at being brought to Melbourne from Tasmania again and again, and then, after two sittings of the House, being compelled to idle away the remaining five days of the week. I came over at great inconvenience to attend this week, and I find that we are going to adjourn after practically only two sittings. Will the Prime Minister make us a definite promise that he will, next week, proceed with the consideration of the Standing Orders until they are disposed of? If so, I shall be here to take part in the deliberations. {: #subdebate-13-0-s4 .speaker-K4I} ##### Mr HUME COOK:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · PROT -- I wish to say a word or two in support of the suggestions which have been made in regard to the coming elections. I have been speaking to some of the officers of the Electoral Branch in regard to the matter, and I find that there is a disposition to be somewhat niggardly in providing for polling booths. It must be remembered that during the forthcoming elections there will be twice as many voters in Victoria at least as there have been on previous occasions, of whom more than half will be women. A mile may not be very far for a man to walk to record his vote, but it is a long distance for a woman to go, and women can hardly be expected to ride fifteen or twenty miles, as men have been accustomed to do in country districts. If the elections are to give a true reflex of the opinions of the people of Australia, we must afford every facility for the recording of votes by both men and women. I hope therefore that the Government will not, in order to save a few pounds, put any obstacle in the way of obtaining the fullest voting possible. I understand that there is also a disposition to be a little too economical in regard to the appointment of assistant returning officers. If all the votes cast in a division are to be brought to one booth to be counted, the announcement of the result of the election will in many cases be delayed for a week after the polling day. To obtain expedition, more assistant returning officers must be appointed, and the Government should not stand in the way of a speedy announcement of results. With regard to the day upon which the elections should be held, the popular view seems to be that Saturday should be chosen. I have no objection to Saturday, but I wish to point out that if the elections are held on that day, the poll clerks and others engaged in the scrutiny will have to stop work at midnight, and begin again on Monday morning, so that that may cause the postponement of announcements of some of the results until at least Tuesday. If these two or three points are taken into consideration by the Government, they will greatly facilitate the administration of the Act. **Mr. SYDNEY** SMITH (Macquarie).With regard to the suggestion of the honorable member for Bland, I would point out that some days ago I spoke of the advisability of preparing a short statement for the information of electors. I feel sure that it will be a good thing to adopt such a course. The provisions of our Electoral Act are so stringent that full information should be supplied to the public regarding them, so that they may be advised of the exact nature of the offences which they might otherwise be liable to commit. I hope that the Minister will see that the matter is attended to as early as possible. I hope, too, that timely notice will be given of the dates of nomination and polling. The Act contains certain provisions regarding State members, and we do not wish anything to be done which may cause them to feel a grievance against us. We do not wish them to be able to say that they had not sufficient time in which to send in their resignations. {: #subdebate-13-0-s5 .speaker-KYR} ##### Mr KIRWAN:
Kalgoorlie -- I wish to make a suggestion in regard not so much to the day as the date of the elections. I suggest that the elections should not be held upon a date too close to Christmas, because a considerable displacement of population takes place during the holiday season. Many thousands of people then leave the district which I represent, and spend their holidays in the coastal districts ; and, if the elections are too long deferred, they will bedisfranchised, or will be put to the inconvenience of voting by post. It has been suggested that the elections should be held on 17 th December, but that would be toolate. Mr: POYNTON (South Australia).Referring to the day upon which the elections should take place, I may point out that the practice in South Australia for many years has been to hold the elections on Saturday, and that the results have been satisfactory. A large number of working men are free on Saturday afternoons, whereas if the polling takes place upon an ordinary day they have to obtain permission from their employers before they san go away to record their votes. {: #subdebate-13-0-s6 .speaker-KDF} ##### Mr R EDWARDS:
OXLEY, QUEENSLAND · PROT; FT from 1913; ANTI-SOC from 1906; LP from 1910 -- I understand that it is intended to appoint postal officials as returning officers in the various States. I have nothing to say against that proposal, except that the officers may not have the necessary experience to enable them satisfactorily to conduct the elections. I suggest that men of practical experience should be appointed, or otherwise, great dissatisfaction may be caused. {: #subdebate-13-0-s7 .speaker-009MD} ##### Mr DEAKIN:
Minister for External Affairs · Ballarat · Protectionist -- In reply to the honorable member for Moreton I may state that there is such a record as that he referred to, and that **Mr. Speaker** will be prepared ta lay it upon the table. The various suggestion!) which have been made with regard to electoral administration have been noted by my honorable colleague, the Minister for Home Affairs, on whose behalf I promise careful consideration. Many of the points mentioned have already been more or less dealt with, or are under consideration by the officers of the Electoral Department. Information is being supplied to the press from time to time, and probably a summary of instructions or warnings may be circulated throughout the Commonwealth. As the honorable member for Bland has stated, the " Don'ts " are very important. The most important of all is - " Don't vote for any except a Ministerial candidate." Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 4.13 p.m.

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 15 October 1903, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.