House of Representatives
16 May 1940

15th Parliament · 2nd Session

Mr. Speaker (Hon. G. J. Bell) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.

page 911


Mr. JAMES presented a petition from certain old-age pensioners and other citizens, praying that immediate consideration be given to the question of increasing the pension from the present rate of£1 a week to £1 10s. a week.

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– Is the Treasurer able to say whether the Treasury has issued any instructions to the private trading banks to call up any overdrafts which may be outstanding by clients of such banks on the ground that the money is required for investment by the banks in government loans? Have any instances of such action come to his notice, and, if so, can he say what protection the Government will give to people whose interest is fully paid up on overdrafts but have been advised that overdrafts must be liquidated for the purpose mentioned?


– The. answer to the first part of the honorable member’s question is “ No “. There is no justification for any such suggestion. I have not been advised of any cases, but if the honorable member, or any one else,will bring instances before me, I shall have them investigated and see that appropriate action is taken.

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– Is the Minister for Supply and Development satisfied with the progress being made with the manufacture of munitions in annexes and will he make a statement on the subject?

Minister for Social Services · PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES · UAP

– Yes. Steps are being taken to speed up the work in the annexes as well as in every other form of our war effort.

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– I have received a report this morning that on German merchant vessels interned in the Netherlands East Indies are numbers of vacuum cleaners, valued at several thousands of pounds, and destined presumably for use in Australia, to the detriment of Australian manufacturers of such appliances. Will the Minister take action to protect the Australian manufacturers - there are two factories in Sydney and one in Melbourne - against any possible loss of trade and resulting unemployment?


– I am unaware of the report to which the honorable member has referred, but I shall confer with my colleague, the Minister for Trade and Customs, and see that an answer is conveyed to the honorable member as soon as possible.

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Mi nistebial Statement - Cessation : Terms of Agreement - Proposed . Industrial Conference - Trade Union Advisory Panel.

Prime Minister · Kooyong · UAP

by leave - I am glad to be able to inform honorable members that last night an agreement was signed by representatives of the unions involved in the coal dispute in the following terms : -

  1. The combined unions concerned, bo as to maintain continuity of production, undertake during the war to abide by the awards of the court in respect to any industrial dispute. Resort shall be had to the industrial machinery provided by law.
  2. That upon such undertaking being given, the Commonwealth Government, conditional upon work being’ resumed, agrees to provide for the withdrawal of all free labour which has taken the place of the members of the combined mining unions during the strike and who were memberg of these unions at the inception of the strike.
  3. Said unions agree that work shall be resumed immediately.
  4. On the date of resumption, on the assurance of the unions, the Chief Judge has undertaken in that event to call a conference.

The conference shall be called and presided over by a judge of the Court of Conciliation and Arbitration.

  1. That, on the failure of the parties to agree on the outstanding differences, those differences shall be referred to the court for immediate determination.
  2. That, in respect of approximately 60 men previously employed at Maitland Extended who, under the above terms, would not be re-employed at that mine, the Commonwealth Government, in co-operation with the Government of the State of New South Wales, undertakes to find suitable employment for them as soon as possible.

I desire to add one or two comments for the information of honorable members. It will be seen that this agreement involves the withdrawal of a small number of men referred to as “ free labour “ who had been engaged in the place of union labour. The Government, and I am sure the people also, fully appreciate the action of volunteers in coming forward, and it is, of course, essential that their position should be adequately protected. For that reason, the Government has undertaken to see that these men who came forward shall be adequately compensated.

Two points emerge from this settlement which are worth some emphasis. The first is that the settlement completely upholds the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration and provides a real assurance of recourse to the industrial machinery provided by law for the settlement of disputes in industry during the war. That, I believe, Ls a matter of great importance and considerable value; on more than one occasion I have stated that it is the great principle involved in this dispute. The other point which I emphasize is that, by arranging to place certain volunteers and to compensate others, we have succeeded in obviating what might otherwise have proved a constant source of irritation. All honorable members with experience with these matters will agree that it is undesirable, if it can be avoided, to have a thorn in the side of an organized union in the form of persons who do not belong to the union working in the same mines with others who belong to the union. I have throughout fully recognized the importance of avoiding that state of affairs because I have had sufficient experience of these matters to realize that it is one of the most fruitful sources of irritation and dispute. It was for that reason, among others, that the Government has exhibited in this matter what I think will be admitted to be considerable patience. It wanted to avoid- that position if possible. The settlement succeeded in avoiding it, on terms which I believe will be satisfactory to every one.

The final stages of this matter were discussed by my colleagues, the Attorney-General (Mr. Hughes) and the Treasurer (Mr. Spender), in Sydney with the Government of New South Wales and the interests concerned. I appreciate the success that they were able to achieve as the result of those discussions.

May I just add this, while I am making a statement on the subject of industrial relations: This war may well be a long one. It may well, in the- ordinary course of events, give rise to industrial difficulties, and we shall need in all these matters of industrial relationships, a very great measure of understanding and co-operation between employers and employees, all of whom are greatly interested in the result of the war. I myself am prepared, if the suggestion finds acceptance in the relevant quarters, to convene at this stage a conference of employers and employees in Australia, with a view to looking over our general industrial machinery, and discussing the kind of problems that may arise, so that we may achieve a full measure of coordination in this great national struggle.

In particular, I think the time is now opportune - and I suggest this to the Leader of the Opposition (Mr. Curtin) - for reconsideration by the trade unions of their former attitude to the suggestion, when made by my predecessor, Mr. Lyons, and later by myself - to set up a trade union advisory panel to advise the Government, and to act as the representative of organized labour. I made that proposal before, and I now repeat it most earnestly. Many matters will arise, particularly in .regard to the supply of munitions, and the marshalling of our industrial effort in Australia, regarding which the advice of men accustomed to deal with industrial matters from the point of view of the employees would be of great value. I can imagine many situations in which the Minister concerned, or the Government, would be greatly assisted by the advice and cooperation of such a panel. The Government could say, “ Here is a difficulty coming along. We want to discuss it with you now. We want you to tell us frankly where the shoe may pinch “. The trade unions’ representatives will, in their turn, be able to say to us from time to time, “ Here is a difficulty we want to bring under your notice”. I am sure that the existence of such a panel, similar tothe industrial panel that theGovernmenthas already set up to advise it, would be able to bring a special degree of knowledge to bearon such problems , as might arise, and thus prevent many disputes by calling attention to them before they attain the magnitude that would make a settlementdifficult. A little give and take atthe right time ; can often pre- vent disputes from.developing. I offer this suggestion for the sympatheticconsiderationofthe Leader ofthe Opposition. I : am sure that, with his co-operation,the trade unions can be made to realize that this proposal holds great promise for them, for the Government : and for our nationaleffort.

Thisis not ; a time for giving/three loud cheersbecause one side has succeeded or anotherside has failed. The Leader of theOpposition has : been working anxiously, together with other honorable members, for a settlement ofthe dispute. This is an opportunity for saying not onlythat we are thankful that this particular disputehas passed,butalso thatwe should set about doing everything –we -can, in a spirit ofco-operation,to avoid a repetition of it.

Leader of the Deposition · Fremantle

-byleave - : I think we can allbe thankful that the Prime Minister (Mr. Menzies) has been able to makethis statement to us to-day, namely, that the dispute in the coal-fields has been settled, and that, sofar as the economic requirements of the nation to-day are related to coal, we can look forward to a completely satisfactory situation regarding future supplies.

In respect -of the larger subject of industrial co-operation, which the Prime Ministerhas mentioned, I have but to say that, notOnce or twice,but several times, Ihave urgedthat such a course he taken. There is unquestionably much greater value : in an attempt tosettle an industrial dispute by conciliationthan by somemethod in which conciliation is subordinated to an intervening authority. Understanding on the part ofthe employers of the needs and aspirations ofthe men is nodisservice to the employers. It is, I ; believe, an advantageto the nation. Similarly, I believe thatthere will inevitably arise difficulties which the employersthemselveswill find insurmountable, (Unless the trade unions, through their representatives, have some realization of what thosedifficulties are. A mere declaration by one side that it needs some change, without any intimation of the reasons and circumstances underlying the claim, generally meets with a point-blank refusal. I feel that, at this very critical period in the history of Australia, everything is to be gained by both partiesacceptingthe invitation of the Prime Minister to convene a conference, and by entering into it with a sincere spirit, and with genuine goodwill towards the interests of Australia as a whole. I give to the proposal, so far as my influence is concerned, my entire support and co-operation.

As for the trade unions panel, that is, I think, a matter incidental to the general question of the relations between labour., the employers and the Government. I shall ask the trade unions to review the matter. I desire to make it plain that the trade unions did not give a pointblank refusal to the request that they joinsuch a. panel.Therewas, I think, some misunderstanding which can be clearedaway, and then, I . believe, the Prime Minister will realizehis -wishes.


- by leaveHike the Prime Minister(Mr. Menzies) and the Leader of the Opposition(Mr. Curtin), I am pleased to see the termination of thisunfortunate dispute. I have played my part at all times in trying toputbef ore the Prime Minister the opinions of theworkers concerned.Ihave in no way tried to harass the Government in itsattempts to ‘bring about a settlement. I told the Prime Minister,however, that he would not succeed in his attempt to induce the miners to offer themselves as free labourers in the mines. It has been demonstrated that the miners continued to be loyal to their organization,because the Prime Minister has admitted that only 60 volunteers offered themselves, and they were not members of the Miners Federation. I have had a lifetime of experience in the coal-mining industry, and was a working miner until the time I entered Parliament. Therefore, I can claim to havesomeknowledge ofthe matter, and I advised the Prime Minister long ago that he should invoke the provisions of the Industrial Peace Act in this dispute. The provisions of ; this act have never been broken by the miners, though they have been broken by the owners. The act provides machinery for nipping industrial disputes in the bud, for settling, them before they have really begun. Harmony prevailed in the coal industry while that act was in operation and I feel sure that if it were re-instituted and properly carried out - it was not properly carried out before - trouble would never arise in the coal industry again. Now that the coal strike is over, I ask leave to withdraw the motion of which I have given notice.

Leave granted.

Mr Menzies:

– Before the honorable gentleman sits down, when he says “ sixty “ he means 60 men. He is in error in thinking that that is the total. My reference was to 60 men at the Maitland Extended - one mine.


– What I make clear is that not one member of the Miners Federation offered for duty.

Mr Rosevear:

– I take it from the Prime Minister’s statement that the Chief Judge of the Arbitration Court is to sit immediately to determine matters in dispute in the coal industry. As the major question in dispute is the question” of hours; I ask the PrimeMinister whether it is to be understood that the decision ofthe Chief Judge on the question: of hours in the industry will be final, or whether it will be subject to appeal before’ the Full Court;, as was the case in the last dispute?


– The Chief Judge hasundertaken to call a conference on the date of the resumption of. work with a view to ascertaining whether the parties can agree. If they do not agree, the matters will be referred to the court.. The question whether they will be determined by the Full Court or by a single judge will Be decided by the character of the references made to the court. The ordinary procedure will be followed I do not undertake to say what the ordinary procedure will be.

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– Now that the coal, strike is over, will the Postmaster-GeneraL take the necessary steps to see that the shipping companies get sufficient supplies of coal in order to ensure that there will be no undue delay in the shipping services between Sydney and Hobart and Melbourne and Launceston.

Minister for Commerce · BARKER, SOUTH AUSTRALIA · CP

– That question should he addressed to me.

Mr Mahoney:

– Then do your job and answer it.


– I will endeavour to do the job, if not to the satisfaction of the honorable member, at least to the satisfaction of the country.

page 915




– Has the Treasurer granted permission to the Perth City Council to raise a loan of £70,000 f of municipal purposes?


– I shall answer that question to-morrow.

page 915




– On Friday last the honorable member for New England asked, without notice, questions, first, about the reference of tobacco to the Tariff Board for inquiry and report, and,, secondly, about the inclusion of tobacco in the list of prohibited imports from non-sterling countries.

I have consulted my colleague, the Minister’ for Trade and Customs, and he advises me that the tobacco question was referred to the Tariff Board for public inquiry and report consequent upon representations’ made to him by the Victorian Tobacco Growers Association. The Tariff Board has arranged for the public inquiry to commence on; the 27th May aft Melbourne, and to be continued at Sydney. Should the necessity arise, consider ation will be given laterby the Tariff; Board to the question of extending the inquiry to other centres. The last inquiry by the Tariff Board info the tobacco question was held early in 1932.

Under the Customs (Import Licensing) Regulations, no licences have: been issued for importations of tobacco leaf from non-sterling, countries except in. respect of leaf on order from previous crops before the date ofo operation of the regulations and a very limited quantity required forblending, purposes. The value of this latter quantity would not exceed £A.35,000. The question of alternative sources of supply of tobacco leaf hitherto imported from non-sterling countries has been engaging the attention of the Department of Trade and Customs. Two avenues presented themselves, namely {: type="a" start="a"} 0. Domestic production. 1. Increased importations from other sterling sources. Domestic production in Australia has in recent years fallen short of the actual consumption of Australian leaf. Over the last three years the consumption of all leaf has averaged 25,776,000 lb. per annum, of which Australian leaf averaged 5,686,000 lb., but production of Australian leaf has averaged only slightly more than 4,500,000 lb. Manufacturers are, therefore, drawing on their Australian leaf stocks, which are not in as healthy a position as might be desired, considering the fact that they include some dark and low-grade leaf for which there is a limited demand. A conference of growers, manufacturers and Commonwealth and State officers is scheduled for July with a view to examining the possibilities of expanding production in suitable areas. An increase of domestic production would be welcomed, provided, of course, that leaf of the right type were produced and it were grown in proved areas. Endeavours are being made with some success to divert to sterling areas some of the trade in tobacco leaf previously held by non-sterling countries. It is obvious, however, that the demands of other Empire countries, particularly the United Kingdom, on the available leaf of suitable quality produced in other sterling countries do not provide Australia with sufficient openings immediately to supplement to any great extent its own domestic production. In view of the need for maturation of tobacco leaf and the present and potential supplies of leaf from Australia and othersterling sources, there is considerable doubt as to the ability of these sources to cater immediately for an appreciable proportion of the demand previously met by non-sterling countries. Accordingly, consideration will be given shortly to the question of the issue of licences for tobacco leaf from nonsterling areas, but it is not practicable at this juncture to state the extent to which importations may be permitted. It is not desired, however, that manufacturers should cease their endeavours, the necessity for which has been pointedly shown to them, to secure all available quality leaf from sterling sources including Australia. {: .page-start } page 916 {:#debate-8} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-8-0} #### TASMANIAN APRICOT-GROWERS {: #subdebate-8-0-s0 .speaker-JXL} ##### Mr FROST:
FRANKLIN, TASMANIA -- Has the Minister for Commerce received a request from the Minister of Agriculture in Tasmania for assistance to the Tasmanian apricotgrowers on account of the failure of the 1940 crop? If so, what action has been taken to give them assistance? {: #subdebate-8-0-s1 .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
CP -- That request was made, and a reply to the Minister of Agriculture will be made within a day or two. {: .page-start } page 916 {:#debate-9} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-9-0} #### INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS Reported It alo- Japanese Agreement. {: #subdebate-9-0-s0 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
WEST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Is the Minister for External Affairs in a position to make an authoritative statement about the reports of agreements between Italy and Japan, one agreement dealing with the question of a naval pact? It is reported that the effect of such a pact would be that both countries could jointly plunder the far eastern possessions of Britain and France. If the Minister has any authoritative information on this point, what steps is the Government taking to safeguard our internal position inasmuch as there may be inhabitants of this country who may be inclined to give allegiance to either of those foreign powers in the event of such a pact being completed ? {: #subdebate-9-0-s1 .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN:
Minister for External Affairs · INDI, VICTORIA · CP -- I have seen in this morning's press reference to the matter raised by the honorable member. The Government has no knowledge whatever of any naval pact, either agreed upon or in process of discussion, between the governments of Italy and Japan. The Government" understands that negotiations were recently conducted between these two powers in respect of a trade agreement. {: .page-start } page 917 {:#debate-10} ### WAR IN EUROPE {:#subdebate-10-0} #### German Invasion of Neutral. Countries : Ministerial Statement {: #subdebate-10-0-s0 .speaker-009MB} ##### Mr McEWEN:
Minister for External Affairs · Indi · CP -- *by leave* - I shall give to the House a short account of the position of the fighting in Belgium, based on the latest official information received. The most serious advance of the enemy has been in the neighbourhood of Sedan, where the River Me use has been crossed in places to a depth of several miles. The first counter-attack made by the French on the 14th May was unsuccessful, but a second counter-attack succeeded in checking the German advance. Farther north, near Dinant, the Germans have crossed the Meuse on a front of some miles. In north-east Belgium, Belgian troops have made some withdrawal towards Louvain and Antwerp. This was carried out in good order, and the morale of the Belgian troops is reported to be good. British troops are in contact with the enemy not far from this sector. At Liege, the Belgian forts are still resisting. So far, the enemy attack has apparently relied for the most part on armoured fighting vehicles. German losses in this respect have been heavy, particularly in tanks, of which the French are reported to have destroyed a considerable number. There are indications that the effects of the Allied air bombardment on the German lines of advance have been of great severity, and that the German troops employed in the advance are becoming exhausted after five continuous days without rest. One important part of the Allied air effort has been against enemy columns in the southern area of the fighting. Honorable members may have seen press reports of a particularly heavy air engagement, in which British aircraft attacked pontoon and permanent bridges across the Meuse. In this action, two permanent bridges and two pontoon bridges were destroyed, and several others received direct hits. A large number of bombs was also dropped on enemy columns and troop concentrations, and rows of tanks packed tightly in village streets were attacked, with ensuing blockage of the roads. From this engagement, 35 of the attacking aircraft failed to return. In subsequent operations at night, however, equally successful results were obtained with the loss of only one machine, although almost as large forces were employed. From the enemy side, air attacks have continued on an intense scale by day, but appear not to have been particularly heavy at night. The advance of British troops to their positions consequently does not appear to have been materially interfered with. Meanwhile, increasing indications are coming to hand of an impending German attack against Switzerland. The Swiss, however, have their preparations for resisting invasion well in hand. In August last, the Swiss frontiers were occupied by the frontier defence force of about 80,000 strong, and it is estimated that, with complete mobilization, which was reported to have been effected on Tuesday, the 14th May, the total Swiss Army would be 500,000 men. With respect to the position of the Netherlands East Indies, German sources have apparently been spreading in Japan reports to the effect that British troops are entering the Indies in civilian disguise. There is, of course, no word of truth in these reports, and formal denials of them have been issued in London. In Holland, the German occupation is extending over the greater part of the country. It is understood, however, that five-sixths of the total Dutch oil supplies of 450.000 tons were destroyed in time to prevent their falling into German hands, and that the remaining one-sixth was rendered unfit for use. It is announced to-day that President Roosevelt has addressed a strong peace appeal to Signor Mussolini. *No* details are known, but it is thought that the President will amplify the appeal in his address to Congress this afternoon. {: .page-start } page 917 {:#debate-11} ### RABBIT SKINS {: #debate-11-s0 .speaker-KV7} ##### Sir FREDERICK STEWART:
UAP -- On the 15th instant the honorable member for Watson **(Mr. Jennings)** asked me whether, in view of the heavy demand in respect of military headwear, steps were being taken to fix the price of rabbit skins. . I am now able to inform him that there is at present very close consultation between the Department of Commerce and the Commonwealth Prices Commissioner^ with a view to accomplishing this purpose, and that it is hoped that finality will he reached almost immediately. {: .page-start } page 918 {:#debate-12} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-12-0} #### INDUSTRIAL TRIBUNALS {: #subdebate-12-0-s0 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES -- Will the Prime Minister consider the possibility of establishing machinery that will enable minor industrial disputes to be dealt with quickly? The disposal of many claims frequently occupies a considerable period because, of what may be regarded as cumbersome legal processes, and it would appear desirable that the unions should be able to place their cases before an industrial tribunal which would deal with the matter in the early stages, before it reached major proportions. {: #subdebate-12-0-s1 .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES:
UAP -- The aspect of the matter referred to by the honorable member is receiving attention. {: .page-start } page 918 {:#debate-13} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-13-0} #### CENSORSHIP {: #subdebate-13-0-s0 .speaker-KK7} ##### Mr JENNINGS: -- I produce a copy of the publication *Soviets To-day.* Will the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs state whether such publications are totally banned, or are allowed to publish any news that may pass the censorship? {: #subdebate-13-0-s1 .speaker-KUG} ##### Mr SPENDER:
UAP -- I have no knowledge of the subject-matter of the honorable member's question, but I shall have investigations made and shall see that an answer is conveyed to him. {: #subdebate-13-0-s2 .speaker-KRE} ##### Mr SHEEHAN:
COOK, NEW SOUTH WALES -- I ask the Minister who is acting for the Minister administering the Department of Information, whether the censorship in Australia is based on advice received from the Imperial authorities? {: #subdebate-13-0-s3 .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES:
UAP -- In the absence of the Minister administering that department, I ask the honorable member to allow me to furnish him with an answer to-morrow. {: .page-start } page 918 {:#debate-14} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-14-0} #### MARIBYRNONG MUNITIONS ESTABLISHMENT Dismissal of Men {: #subdebate-14-0-s0 .speaker-KCM} ##### Mr DRAKEFORD:
MARIBYRNONG, VICTORIA -- I ask the Minister for Supply and Development if it be a fact that 75 men employed in a section of the munitions establishment at Maribyrnong have been given one week's notice of the termination of their employment and that the notice expires tomorrow? If so, has this action been caused by a shortage of coal, or a shortage of steel arising from a deficiency of coal supplies? Will the honorable gentleman, in view of the settlement of the coal dispute and the desirability of retaining the services of experienced and skilled men, have arrangements made for the transfer of the men concerned to other work until the shortage has been overtaken, thus avoiding their dismissal ? {: #subdebate-14-0-s1 .speaker-KV7} ##### Sir FREDERICK STEWART:
UAP -- 1 shall have the matter investigated this afternoon. {: .page-start } page 918 {:#debate-15} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-15-0} #### DEPARTMENT OF SUPPLY AND DEVELOPMENT {: #subdebate-15-0-s0 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- I ask the Minister for Supply whether he will undertake to make an authoritative report at an early date on the work of his department? I should like to know what is being done in connexion with the annexes, and also in connexion with the construction of aircraft at railway workshops. Will the Minister also deal with the developments in connexion with the Pratt-Whitney equipment that is being manufactured at Lidcombe, in New South Wales? I ask for a public assurance, also,, that the position in regard, to supplies from the United States of America is satisfactory?. I make this request in view of the statement reported yesterday to have been made by the Mayor of New York to the effect that the United States of America had insufficient anti-aircraft guns to defend Coney Island. {: #subdebate-15-0-s1 .speaker-KV7} ##### Sir FREDERICK STEWART:
UAP -- It is my intention to make a statement on the whole subject at an early date. The data are now being prepared. {: .page-start } page 918 {:#debate-16} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-16-0} #### NATIONALIZATION OF COAL {: #subdebate-16-0-s0 .speaker-KLM} ##### Dr MALONEY:
MELBOURNE, VICTORIA -- I ask the Prime Minister whether the Government will give consideration to the desirability of nationalizing coal, and of appointing a coal-master-general to discharge duties similar to those of the PostmasterGeneral ? {: #subdebate-16-0-s1 .speaker-N76} ##### Mr MENZIES:
UAP -- The suggestion of the honorable member will be considered. {: .page-start } page 919 {:#debate-17} ### QUESTION {:#subdebate-17-0} #### WOOL APPRAISEMENTS {: #subdebate-17-0-s0 .speaker-KMZ} ##### Mr MARTENS:
HERBERT, QUEENSLAND -- Has the Minister for Commerce received a letter from the Townsville Harbour Board concerning the wool appraisement scheme ? Has the letter been considered, and when may we expect a decision to be announced? {: #subdebate-17-0-s1 .speaker-JTY} ##### Mr ARCHIE CAMERON:
CP -- The letter has been received, and the matter is being considered. I cannot say when finality will he reached. {: .page-start } page 919 {:#debate-18} ### DEFENCE BOOT AND SHOE CONTRACTS {:#subdebate-18-0} #### Formal Motion of Adjournment {: #subdebate-18-0-s0 .speaker-JOS} ##### Mr SPEAKER (Hon G J Bell:
DARWIN, TASMANIA -- I have received from the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** an intimation that he desires to move the adjournment of the House for the purpose of discussing a definite matter of urgent public importance, namely, " The failure of the Government to compel compliance by the boot and shoe manufacturers with the conditions of the contracts for the manufacture of boots and shoes for the defence forces, and the circumstances attending the transfer from Sydney to Melbourne of Senior Examiner S. G. Gill, and the reasons for such transfer ". **Mr. WARD** (East Sydney [3.14].- I move - That the House do now adjourn. {: #subdebate-18-0-s1 .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Is the motion supported ? *Five honorable members having risen in support of the motion,* {: #subdebate-18-0-s2 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES -- In asking the House to consider " the failure of the Government to compel compliance by the boot and shoe manufacturers with the conditions of the contracts for the manufacture of boots and shoes for the defence forces, and the circumstances attending the transfer from Sydney to Melbourne of Senior Examiner S. G. Gill, and the reasons for such transfer ", I assert that there can be no graver criminal act by any individual in the community to-day than that of any manufacturer who takes advantage of the national difficulties in order to enrich himself by failing to comply with his contract to deliver goods to the Government in accordance with specifications. Honorable members of every political party in the House have, on many occasions in recent weeks, drawn the attention of the Government to the fact that the boots being supplied by contractors for various arms of the defence forces are of inferior quality. Offences of this kind become much more reprehensible when evidence is available that not only are certain departmental officers conniving with the manufacturers in their avoidance of the terms of their contracts, but also the Minister administering the department, after having perused the files, as he has indicated in correspondence to me that he has done, declares that he is quite satisfied with the attitude adopted by his officers. The circumstances surrounding the transfer of Senior Examiner S. G. Gill from Sydney to Melbourne supply ample evidence to support the charge that I am making against the Government. **Mr. Gill** is a public servant of 28 years' experience. For the last eleven years of that period he has been engaged on inspection work in Sydney in connexion with leather requirements for the Government. During the whole of that period he has given satisfactory service. Like other examiners, **Mr. Gill** received written instructions as to how he must carry on his duties. Among these instructions was the following: - >It is moat important that the utmost care and vigilance in the examination of goods submitted by contractors for acceptance be exercised by all members of the examining staff. > >It is to be clearly understood that the maintenance of contract supplies in conformity with sealed pattern, specification, etc., is considered so important that any instance of laxity on the part of the examiners in this respectthat may be brought to notice will be regarded in a serious light. I am sure that every honorable member will agree with the desirableness of such instructions. **Mr. Gill** carried out his work in accordance with his instructions and no question was raised as to his qualifications, or manner of doing his work, until last year, when McMurtries Proprietary Limited, boot and shoe manufacturers, New South Wales, made certain complaints on the subject. Following upon these, a conference was held at McMurtries factory in Sydney, which was attended by **Mr. Gill; Mr. Potts,** he ( Chief Inspector of Stores and Clothing; **Mr. Nettheim,** managing director of McMurtries Proprietary Limited; another gentleman of the same name; **Mr. Michaelis,** a director of the company who is now factory manager; and **Mr.** Braun, who was then factory manager. It was admitted by McMurtries Proprietary Limited that **Mr. Gill** had allowed them as much latitude as was in bis power as an examiner without permitting a reduction of the standard of the boots. A representative of the company asked permission to go to the ordnance stores at Leichhardt to compare the standard of their boots with similar types manufactured in Melbourne and Adelaide, which, he declared, were not comparable to their product. Upon that, **Mr. Potts** said, " That is not cricket ". This, E submit, is evidence that not only are the boots manufactured by McMurtries Proprietary Limited for defence purposes below the stipulated quality, but also the boots being manufactured in the other States are even more inferior. Evidently those being manufactured in Melbourne and Adelaide are of much lower quality than those being manufactured in New South Wales. Further evidence that this is actually the case is afforded by the complaints of the honorable member for Bendigo **(Mr. Rankin)** about the quality of the boots being supplied in Victoria. That honorable gentleman has no doubt had practical experience on the matter. Following upon the conference at McMurtries* factory, a report was received from the secretary of the Military Board that **Mr. Gill** is lacking in personality and judgment, and "is temperamentally unfitted to remain in charge of this work ". That was discovered only after **Mr. Gill,** despite pressure brought to bear upon him, had refused to do other than carry out his instructions, and had insisted that the boots supplied should comply with the specifications and the sealed pattern. A deputation comprising **Mr. Michaelis,** representing McMurtries Proprietary Limited; **Mr. A.** E. Matthews, who tendered for boots in 1914-18; and **Mr. Goldstein,** -of Rightwear Shoe Company and president of the boot manufacturers of New South Wales, waited on **Mr. Potts,** the Chief Inspector of Stores and Clothing, in Melbourne. Although the Minister, in his correspondence with me, attempted to create the impression that it was a representative deputation, it was admitted by the gentlemen themselves that they were not representative of the whole of the boot manufacturers of New South Wales. They spoke only in general terms in regard to the complaints made against **Mr. Gill.** There is no record of evidence being supplied by them which can be construed to show that **Mr. Gill** was not qualified to continue as an inspector. Shortly after the deputation waited upon him, **Mr. Potts** reported - >It has been apparent to me for some time thai **Mr. S.** G. Gill, senior examiner of boots and leather-work in Sydney, is temperamentally unfitted to efficiently conduct, inspection work without causing endless friction with and irritation to contractors. He is too exacting in his demands on manufacturers and expects production to b*< strictly to the letter of the specifications, which, of course, is out of the question under the present emergency conditions ... A climax was reached yesterday when a deputation from Sydney boot manufacturers called on me, and stated that they refused to tender for boots while **Mr. Gill** was in charge of the inspection work in Sydney. In view of the urgent need for large production and reasonable inspection, I would recommend an immediate change . . . That shows conclusively that the only complaint against **Mr. Gill** was that he was insisting that the contractors should supply goods in accordance with the specifications and the sealed pattern. **Mr. Potts,** who was then the Chief Inspector of Stores and Clothing, had himself issued instructions to **Mr. Gill** and the other examiners that, unless they exercised strict supervision, a serious view of their laxity would be taken by the department. Yet, following a deputation from a number of boot manufacturers - and I emphasize that they were not representative of the whole of the boot manufacturers in New South Wales - he was prepared to recommend an immediate change. In order to show that the department and the Government desired to avoid publicity in regard to this matter, I shall relate how it was proposed to transfer **Mr. Gill** to Melbourne. In the first place, he was not to suffer any reduction of status, but was to continue as a senior examiner, notwithstanding that he had been described as temperamentally ununited for that position in Sydney. That was done so that **Mr. Gill** would not make any fuss about the transfer. At the time, there was novacancy in Melbourne for a senior boot examiner, but in order to make possible the transfer of **Mr. Gill,** a new position of supervisor was created there, and **Mr. Goldin,** who was a. senior examiner there at the time, was appointed to that position, thereby creating a vacancy which **Mr. Gill** could fill without loss of status or reduction of salary. Moreover, in order to avoid any complaints by **Mr. Gill,** the Government agreed to pay the whole of his removal expenses. **Mr. Gipps,** the Chief Inspector of Munitions, in a recommendation to the Staff Inspector, said - >As no reduction in status was involved in the transfer of this officer, it was considered preferable that he be informed on arrival in Melbourne of the reasons forhis transfer. **Mr. Gill** was not to be advised before leaving Sydney of the reason for the transfer, because it was feared that he might offer some protest. Evidently, it was thought that if he were removed to Melbourne without loss of status or salary, he would be prepared to accept the situation without complaint, in which event the public would be unaware of the unsatisfactory slate of affairs that existed. If **Mr. Gill** was not to insist upon strict adherence to the specifications and sealed patterns, why were any examiners of boots required at all, and why was it necessary to prepsire specifications and retain patterns? Is it to be suggested that, in time of war, contractors may ask certain prices for their goods, but that the Government shall not insist upon such goods being up to the standard commensurate with such prices? Is it contended that in time of war contractors may supply any rubbish which they may like to offer? The only offence committed by **Mr. Gill** is that ho insisted on the specifications being adhered to. During the whole of his experience in this class of work, **Mr. Gill** has had trouble with only two manufacturers of boots. One of them was McMurtries Proprietary Limited, and the other, the Finely Shoe Company. In 1929, when **Mr. Gill** had trouble with the latter company, because he refused to pass boots of inferior quality, Mr.R. B. Goldin, the Senior Examiner in Melbourne, wrote to **Mr. Gill** in Sydney, as follows: - > **Mr. Finely** considers that you are very drastic in your examination ... do not worry, it is much better to have a report like that than have complaints that inferior boots are getting past. I was talking to **Mr. Potts.** Be will be over, and I told him straight that you would not reject boots if they were up to the sample, and you can depend that he will, back you up. I told him it was grand to see you watching the interest of the department so well . . . stick to your guns, boy, thedepartment will not let you down. They will find **Mr. Potts** will not give them much sympathy. **Mr. Potts,** who eventually recommended **Mr. Gill's** transfer to Melbourne, following a deputation from certain boot manufacturers, wrote to **Mr. Gill** in 1929, when trouble occurred with the Finely Shoe Company, in the course of which he said - >You have no doubt been more than a little worried about the number of boots you have had to reject during the last few months, but I want to assure you that you need not be at all anxious about the department's attitude towards you in the matter. From our point of view, it is an indication that you arc carrying out your duties well and faithfully, and that you are not allowing yourself to be influenced in any way by the attitude of the contractor. . . In the meantime, please carry on as you are now doing, and do not let things unduly worry you. **Mr. Gill** states that when the quality of the goods supplied by the Finely Shoe Company showed some deterioration, **Mr. Finely** remarked to him that they had " something in common, apart from their business ". If honorable members care to use their imagination, they can put a proper construction on that remark. Such a statement made to a Government examiner by a manufacturer who has contracted to supply goods to the Government can have only one meaning. It was a deliberate attempt at corruption. If the Government had done its duty, **Mr. Gill** would have been commended for resisting the temptation to slacken in the performance of his duty. Despite threats and promises, he continued to do his duty ; and now he asks for an independent inquiry, so that he may present his case and produce evidence in support of it, and that the boot manufacturers and the Government should be required to present their case. So far, the Government has not agreed to an independent inquiry. Let us see who comprised the deputation to **Mr. Potts.** The deputation consisted of a representative of McMurtries Proprietary Limited, a representative of the Rightwear Shoe Company of Sydney, and **Mr. A.** E. Matthews. Some time ago, the Minister for Supply and Development **(Sir Frederick Stewart)** had some trouble with those gentlemen. He then expressed some strong views regarding them - views which, no doubt, he still holds in some measure. The Minister said - >An attempt has been made at flagrant profiteering. I have finished making statements about this matter. I propose to use the most extreme powers available to me. We are going to get good boots for the troops without profiteering. Later, he said - >On the16th November, I submitted to this House a statement. ... In the course of that statement I referred to a concerted attempt by certain boot manufacturers in New South Wales and Victoria to exploit the department and the community by adherence to a predetermined scale of prices . . . such scale representing increases of up to 30 per cent. and 40 per cent. on the prices that had previously prevailed. ... I think it necessary to place on the records of this House the facts upon which my allegation was based, facts which are supported by relevant documents. ... I regret having to affirm that a perusal of these documents ... discloses a deliberate attempt at war profiteering on the part of at least ten manufacturers. . . . Included among those ten manufacturers were the three firms which eventually waited as a deputation on **Mr. Potts** and demanded that **Mr. Gill** should be transferred from Sydney to Melbourne. I repeat that the only charge against **Mr. Gill** is that he required the contractors to supply boots according to specifications. Before **Mr. Gill** saw me in connexion with this matter, he had approached the Minister for Supply and Development. The Minister, in a communication to a colleague, wrote - >I have, no personal knowledge of Gill or his temperament, but if the information given in these papers, including very recent commendation from his superior officers, is to be believed, he seems to have a prima facie case. You will recall that there has been recent criticism both in Parliament and elsewhere. alleging that our inspection of boots in particular was of a perfunctory nature, and as Gill urges that his present transfer is directly due to his insistence on contractors standing up to specifications, I think the matter is one which might merit some consideration. You will note that heis asking that his case be referred to an independent inquiry.Presumably the departmental action proposed would be able to stand up to this. Evidently, the Minister believed at that time that an independent inquiry was warranted, but he was wrong in saying that he presumed that the Government was able to stand up to an inquiry. I come now to the most amazing phase of this matter. After **Mr. Gill** was order to be transferred from Sydney to Melbourne, an appointment was made to the position vacated by him. His successor was no other than **Mr. W.** B. Austin, a brother of the general manager of the Austin Shoe Company of Melbourne, which also is a contractor for the supply of boots to the Government. If a proper inquiry is instituted into the whole of these transactions, I have an assurance from other manufacturers of boots that they are prepared to come forward and make statements with regard to the way in which Government activities are carried on. They fear that if their names were made public at the moment they would be victimized in connexion with future Government contracts. In order to show that this action on the part of the Government is not supported by boot manufacturers generally, I mention that the following firms have given a statement to **Mr. Gill,** in which they say that he has carried out his work in a. proper manner, and has shown to them every consideration - >Farleigh Nettheim Proprietary Limited, > >Ford Sherrington, > >North Australian Rubber Mills Limited, > >E. Bowden and Son Proprietary Limited, > >Walther Stevenson Proprietary Limited, > >Hansman Proprietary Limited, > >Gregory Proprietary Limited, > >Niccol Proprietary Limited', > >Angus and Coote Proprietary Limited. [Leave *to continue given.]* That expression of confidence in **Mr. Gill's** capacity and fitness should carry considerable weight. The only evidence to the contrary is that of the representatives of three firms which the Minister for Supply and Development said have been guilty of war profiteering. Without any inquiry at which **Mr. Gill** might have had an opportunity to defend himself, the department, in very suspicious circumstances, decided to transfer him to Melbourne. I naturally expected, when this matter was brought under the notice of the Minister, that he would institute an inquiry into it, and I was, therefore, amazed when I received this letter from him as his final reply- I regret I am unable to meet your wishes in this regard. You will, of course, appreciate the necessity for officers to be controlled by the department which employs them, and that *vo* situation could be allowed to develop which tends to reverse such a principle. I feel that to prolong the correspondence in this mutter would serve no good purpose, more especially when it is realized that, by seeking outside influence, **Mr. Gill** is contravening a statutory regulation which renders him liable to serious disciplinary action. I have read **Mr. Gill's** file and anr quite satisfied that his -case has received full and equitable consideration. In these circumstances, I think you will agree it is better to close the matter at this stage. No one objects to the principle that employees should be controlled by their superior officers, but there is every reason to object to the manufacturers, who are supplying goods to the Government, being able to control the heads of departments so as to induce them to make recommendations " against their officers, who are trying to perform their duties satisfactorily. The Minister states that he has seen the file, and I ask him, does he agree with the report of **Mr. Potts,** Inspector of Stores and Clothing, in which he states, on the 17th October, 1939, that the objection to **Mr. Gill** was that he was too exacting in his demands on the manufacturers; that he expected production to be strictly to the letter of the specifications, " which, of course, was out of the question in the present emergency conditions " ? I ask the Minister whether, in his opinion, an officer should be transferred because he insists that iiic goods supplied are up to specifications, and in accordance with the sealed pattern? If the Minister will make an inspection of the camps now - not in a month's time, when the evidence can be removed - he will find that thousands of pairs of boots, with the soles worn through, have been thrown aside without any attempt '> repair the soles, while new boots have been issued to the trainees. Why is this ? Evidently, because the firms supplying the boots have been able to persuade the authorities to issue new boots in all cases, instead of having the old ones repaired. And this is the same Government which is all the time making appeals to tho community to support it in, what he terms, a full-blooded war effort! From the evidence I have produced, it is clear that the friends of the Government are more concerned with making profits than with bringing the war to a successful conclusion. We know that, in every war, when private manufacturers have had contracts for the supply of military equipment, they have been prepared, if laxity of inspection permitted it, to handicap the troops in the field by supplying inferior equipment, inferior arms and defective munitions, because they have been more anxious to get profits for themselves than to render service to the nation. This is a further example of the same kind of thing. Already, threats have been made against **Mr. Gill,** a man with 28 years' service, eleven of which were spent in the position he occupied in Sydney, and all that time never one word was said against him. When he applied for a reclassification only last year, **Mr. O'Connell,** an officer of the department, reported veryfa vor ably regarding him, and recommended that his request be granted. Now, as the result of the action taken against him, he is broken in health. Since his transfer he has suffered a breakdown. He is at present under medical treatment, and he will probably never be fully restored to health. He has suffered all this because he tried to do his duty faithfully as an examiner in the department. Evidently, honest examiners are not required by the departmental heads. But surely the examiners should insist that the contractors supply goods in accordance with the specifications and the sealed pattern. I leave the matter there, convinced that the Government and the department have a case to answer. I hope that **Mr. Gill** will be vindicated, and that action will be taken to prevent the supply of inferior boots to the department. **Mr. Gill** should be restored to his former position, and. compensated for loss of time and injury suffered to his health. {: #subdebate-18-0-s3 .speaker-KVN} ##### Mr STREET:
Minister for the Army · Corangamite · UAP -- I have listened, I flatter myself, with exemplary patience, to the speech of the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward),** and I could not help contrasting it with two other speeches 1 heard recently, one made yesterday by the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Curtin),** in his cool, calm and dignified manner, and the other made by the Minister for External Affairs **(Mr. McEwen),** who drew attention to a state of affairs in the world with which, apparently, the honorable member for East Sydney is not familiar. The honorable member, in moving his motion, said - >I ask c'.ie House to consider the failure of the Government tu compel compliance by tlie boot and shoe manufacturers with the conditions of the contracts for the manufacture of boots and shoes for the defence forces, and the circumstances attending the transfer from Sydney to Melbourne of Senior Examiner S. G. Gill, and the reasons for such transfer. The supply of boots is a matter for the Department of Supply and Development. Inspection is a matter for the department which I administer. The appointment of examiners, whose responsibility it is to see that tlie boots comply with the specifications and the sealed pattern, is also the responsibility of my department. The procedure is that the Department of the Army notifies the Department of Supply and Development of its requirements. The Department of Supply and Development than calls tenders, and contracts are let. During the period in which the work is being done, examinations are made at various stages of manufacture. When the boots are completed, they are issued to ordnance for issue to the troops. Details of the method of inspection are interesting. The firm is required to make up, before proceeding with the manufacture of the bulk supply, two pairs of completed boots, and two pairs of boots in component parts. Both the completed boots and the component parts are checked with the departmental sealed pattern and the specifications. If they are found to be satisfactory they are sealed, and they govern the supply under that contract. During the course of the contract, the boots are examined in the component parts before assembly, and the final examination is made pf the fully completed boot. Before they are issued, they are stamped on the upper and on the sole with the examiner's mark. In the initial stages, a few difficulties always arise regarding .production, but once they are overcome the percentage of rejects is not high, and they are mainly due to faults in construction. That does not mean that there is necessarily any laxity in inspection methods. The reason is that, as far as possible, faulty material or workmanship is eliminated in the early stages of manufacture. For example, certain of the boot examination staff are known as stuff -cutters, who are expert men on bottom leathers, and their activities are confined to this phase. These men examine and approve all outer, slip, through and insoles, and also a proportion of stiffeners and heel leathers before they are used, and it is a.t this stage that a considerable number of rejections is made. That procedure facilitates delivery, and saves time by preventing faulty material being used. Similar precautions arc taken regarding the upper leather, and at times the hides are referred to inspector.-: before being cut. The purchase and cutting of hides is the responsibility of the contractor. Naturally, under existing conditions, the inspection staff has been greatly augmented by the appointment of temporary hands, but the greatest canis taken in selecting men, who must be practical tradesmen. They are interviewed before appointment, and their credentials fully established. Up to the period just before the war, the bottom stuff used was a through sole of 9 gauge and an outsole of 10 gauge, which gave ample service under militia training conditions, but it was not regarded as strong enough for war service conditions. When military camps werri of only eight to twelve days' duration, with a number of Saturday afternoon and night parades thrown in, the wear and tear on military boots was not very great; but with the outbreak of war, when militiamen were put into camp for a month, and then for three months' training, and when the Australian Imperial Force was formed, and camps were established at Puckapunyal, Ingleburn, and elsewhere, it became apparent that boots of a different type were necessary. Accordingly; a through sole of *1* gauge, a slip sole of 5 gauge, and an out sole of 9 gauge' were specified, which were reinforced by cutlan bills, which are heavy, square nails or slugs. Generally both kinds of boots gave satisfaction. though I admit that, during the changeover, complaints were received regarding the wearing qualities of the boots. It is generally expected that soles should wear, under military conditions, for six weeks. That is the minimum, though sometimes they will give good service for periods up to nine weeks. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- That is a very short period. {: .speaker-KVN} ##### Mr STREET: -- The boots are put to very severe tests, as the honorable gentleman perhaps realizes. Contractors for boots are in every capital city of the Commonwealth. In all they number from seventeen to twenty. It is, perhaps, suggested that the Government is anxious 10 assist contractors to avoid their contractual obligations, but I remind the House, as did the honorable member for East Sydney, of the action taken by my colleague, the Minister for Supply and Development, in September last when he submitted certain manufacturers to severe castigation in this House. That was two months after the particular incident to which the motion refers. "What the Minister for Supply and Development had to say on that occasion did not convince me that he had any particular goodwill towards any of those manufacturers. It is with regret that I have to speak about an individual and a public servant, but much as I regret it, it is forced upon me to do so. One does not like to discuss failings or points of a particular individual, but, in the circumstances, I consider that it is my duty to reply to the case put forward by the honorable member for East Sydney and, in doing so, I must mention more frankly than I care the failings or otherwise of an individual. Before doing so, however, I must state that at no time has the capacity, quality, or skill of **Mr. Gill** been in question. He is, without doubt, a first-class tradesman. That is admitted by everybody. He does his job thoroughly and has had a long and honorable service in the department. I am very glad to be able to say that, but, notwithstanding all those admirable qualities, I am satisfied, after my perusal of the file, that he is temperamentally unfitted for independent inspection work; for work which is not under direct superrision. I shall traverse again the history of this case, which was substantially told by the honorable member for EastSydney. In October, 1939, **Mr. Potts** made his report. I say quite frankly that with one section of that report I did not agree. That is the section from which it is to be inferred that there should be a slackening of standards. I think that is badly expressed. All honorable gentlemen are conversant with what is known as a regulation strike. They know that a regulation strike is a thing which is correct in law and correct in detail, but which,' when carried to its logical conclusion can bring unfortunate and unexpected results. After **Mr. Potts** had made his report, which was as read by the honorable member for East Sydney, the matter was discussed by the Staff Inspector and various departmental officers, and the opinion was held that, notwithstanding the skill of **Mr. Gill,** he was temperamentally unfitted to carry on his job of isolated inspection. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- In Sydney, but not in Melbourne. {: .speaker-KVN} ##### Mr STREET: -- I am coming to that. I said that it was considered that he was not fitted for isolated inspectorial duties. This was not something which suddenly came out of the blue as the result of a visit by certain boot manufacturers to **Mr. Potts;** it had been, growing for some time. I do not know, but it is not unreasonable to suppose that the present ill health of **Mr. Gill,** which I regret, started some time before his receiving notice of his transfer to Melbourne, and that his temperament was affected by the breakdown of his health. It was the considered opinion of the Sydney officers that, although **Mr.. Gill** was a good examiner, he was unsuited for isolated inspection. They thought, however, that he could do excellent work under supervision. Early in December, the Chief Inspector a.approved his transfer to Melbourne. In view of his skill, there was to be no reduction of his status or salary and, as is the case with all public servants who are transferred, he was to be moved to Melbourne at the expense of the department. **Mr. Gill** then appealed against his transfer, mainly on the grounds that he had always carried out his duties well, that he had never been the subject of adverse criticism by the department, and that the transfer placed him at a financial disadvantage. The permanent head decided that the decision should not be varied, I stand by every word that was written in the letter which was read by the honorable member for East Sydney. The permanent head of the department must control the employees inhis department. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- Had **Mr. Gill** been in Sydney for some years? {: .speaker-KVN} ##### Mr STREET: -- Yes. The permanent head is, of course, the controlling officer of his department, and his word, subject, of course, to the Minister, must be law. A peculiar state of affairs would exist if any individual member of a department could, through political channels, challenge the decision of the secretary of a department and make a demand for a departmental inquiry. {: .speaker-KMZ} ##### Mr Martens: -- On the Minister's own admission, there were good grounds in this case. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: **- Mr. Gill** was transferred on the report of **Mr. Potts,** with which the Minister disagrees. {: .speaker-KVN} ##### Mr STREET: -- No. I disagreed with one section of that report, The honorable member for East Sydney should be fair, if he can be. The honorable member read a letter concerning remarks made upon this case by the Minister for Supply. It was first brought under my notice by the honorable member for Martin **(Mr. McCall),** in whose electorate **Mr. Gill** lives. Reference was made by the Minister for Supply to a' recent recommendation by one of his officers - the same statement was made in a letter to me by the honorable member for East Sydney - but it was made in 1929. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- Was that **Mr. O'Connell** ? {: .speaker-KVN} ##### Mr STREET: -- No, I shall come to **Mr. O'Connell,** but the honorable member for East; Sydney implied that the previous letter had been written a month or so before, whereas it was eleven years old. The ' honorable member read " 1939 " instead of " 1929 ". I come now to **Mr. O'Connell.** The Staff Inspector, during a recent visit to Sydney, discussed **Mr. Gill's** case with the Supervising Officer, Sydney, **Mr. O'Connell,** and that officer stated very definitely that **Mr. Gill** had, for some time past, demonstrated his unfitness for a detached charge inspection position because of his temperament. He added that there had been continual turmoil and expressed the view that **Mr. Gill** should be allotted to a position where he would be under supervision. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
EAST SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES · ALP; LANG LAB from 1932; ALP from 1936 -Was it **Mr. O'Connell** who said that? {: .speaker-KVN} ##### Mr STREET: -- Yes. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- It does not appear on the file. {: .speaker-KVN} ##### Mr STREET: -- No, it is subsequent to the file. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- I should have seen it. {: .speaker-KVN} ##### Mr STREET: -- I have not concealed anything from the honorable member. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- The Minister has placed things on the file in order to gain additional evidence. {: .speaker-KVN} ##### Mr STREET: -- My action are correct. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- I do not think so, {: .speaker-KVN} ##### Mr STREET: -- I have no doubt about that. After the 12th January, when his appeal was rejected, **Mr. Gill** submitted a further appeal and said that **Mr. Potts** had, on many occasions, told him that hecarried out his work well, that he had suggested that **Mr. Austin** be brought from Melbourne to Sydney and that he had at that stage asked for a departmental inquiry. It was **Mr. Potts** who had made the original unfavorable report. The secretary to the department at the end of January ruled that the previous decision must stand and **Mr. Gill** was ordered to report for duty in Melbourne. Since then **Mr. Gill** has not been on duty and has been on "sick leave". It would be dangerous if individuals in a department could embark on this course in order to override the decision of the permanent head. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- A little daylight does no harm. {: .speaker-KVN} ##### Mr STREET: -- No, but there are some people who would say that there is no harm in washing dirty linen in public. It is competent for me to take disciplinary action against **Mr. Gill** for a breach of the regulations, but no action has been taken against him. I do point out, however, that one cannot allow indiscriminate flouting- of regulations by officers of departments. Thehonorablemember for East Sydney said that Mr.Gillhadbeen transferred because be insisted upon specifications. That means: of course in- effect, that nobody else in the department has insistedon specifications. The honorable member says by implication that every examiner in Sydney; with the exception of Mr: Gill is. dishonest, that- every officer, with the exception of one; does not insist upon correct specifications, that they allow themselves to be swayed by manufacturers and the troops tobe issued with inferior material. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -.- The Minister is telling the inspectors that if they are not dishonest they will be dismissed. {: .speaker-KVN} ##### Mr STREET: -- Such a suggestion- does not warrant a reply. What the honorable member for East Sydney has implied is an unwarranted slur on a fine body of men who do the job that they are employed todo. **Mr. Gill,** too, comes within that description, but he has not the temperament to enable the department to function smoothly and effectively. If the work of the department is to be hung up because one individualhas not the temperament to carry on the job, it *is* my duty, in company with the Minister for Supply, to see that the work is not hung up and that thetroops get their equipment. {: .speaker-10000} ##### Mr SPEAKER: -- Order ! The honorable gentleman has exhausted his time. Mr.Curtin - I move - >That the Minister have leave to continuehis speech.. Motion (by Mir. Bernard Corser) proposed - >That the question be now put. {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- The Minister has not finished. I moved that he be given leave to continue; but the motion moved by the honorable member for Wide Bay **(Mr. Bernard! Corser)** prevails. Motion- (by **Mr. Bernard** Corses) put - >That the question be now put. The House- divided. **(Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)** {:#subdebate-18-1} #### Ayes . . . . . . 33 {:#subdebate-18-2} #### Noes . . . . . . 28 {:#subdebate-18-3} #### Majority . . . . 5 Question so resolved in the affirmative. Original question put - >That the House do now adjourn. The House divided, **(Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.)** {:#subdebate-18-4} #### Ayes . . . . . . 28 {:#subdebate-18-5} #### Noes . . . . . . 33 {:#subdebate-18-6} #### Majority . . . . 5 Question so resolved in the negative. {: .page-start } page 928 {:#debate-19} ### COMMONWEALTH ELECTORAL BILL 1939 {:#subdebate-19-0} #### Second Reading Debate resumed from the loth May *(vide* page 850) on motion by **Mr. Perkins** - >That the bill be now read a second time. And on the amendment by **Mr. Lazzarini** - >That all the words after "That" be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words " the bill be withdrawn pending the railing of a conference between the Governments of the Commonwealth and the States with a view to ensuring a uniform practice in respect to enrolment and voting for Commonwealth and State elections ". {: #subdebate-19-0-s0 .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr CURTIN:
Leader of the Opposition · "Fremantle -- I desire to amplify the observations made by the mover of the amendment. The Government is proposing a radical change in the system of voting at Commonwealth elections, and the mover of the amendment, a,-d honorable members generally on this side of the chamber, desire that before this is done, a conference of representatives of Commonwealth and State Governments shall be called to consider the advisability of seeking a greater degree of uniformity in respect of both enrolments and voting practice. In a democracy where adult suffrage is in vogue no one can gainsay the value of uniformity in these two matters. As the present system of voting has obtained practically throughout the history of the federation, I submit that we should be very careful not to do anything that may confuse the people. Uniformity is desirable because, substantially, the voters at Commonwealth elections are also the voters at State elections. It is proposed in the bill that the vertical form of the ballotpaper which has hitherto been in use for Senate elections shall be replaced by a ballot-paper in the horizontal form. Before a serious variation of that description is brought into effect, the State governments should be consulted, for, hitherto, voting for both Commonwealth and State elections has been on approximately the same form. Speaking as a member of the House of Representatives, and having the elections for this House in mind, I consider that it would be somewhat silly to depart from the system of the alphabetical sequence of the names on the ballot-paper. To draw the names of candidates out of a hat in order to determine their position on the ballot-paper would, it seems to me, offer a gratuitous and entirely unjustified affront to the intelligence of the electors. The argument in support of that proposal as revealed in this debate is, briefly, that candidates whose surnames begin with letters that appear early in the alphabet have an advantage over other candidates, the presumption being that numerous electors go into the polling booth and give blindly their No. 1 preference to the first name that appears on the ballot-paper. I do not believe that an examination of the results of the elections for the House of Representatives over the years would justify that contention. My own name begins with the third letter of the alphabet. Yet I have been at the bottom of the ballot-paper on which only three names appeared. I am glad to say that so impeccable is the intelligence of the electors I represent that any alphabetical disability which that position may be considered by some people to be causes me no hardship whatsoever. If honorable members care to examine the number of persons with names beginning with " S " or " W " or any of the lower letters of the alphabet who have held seats in this House, they will be forced to the conclusion, I believe, that alphabetical sequence has very little part in election results. What will happen if this proposed alteration is made? People going into the polling booth well knowing for whom they wish to vote will have to read the ballotpaper from top to bottom to find the name of the candidate to whom they desire to give their No. 1 preference. We are, in fu et, being asked to depart from the method of listing names which, hitherto, has been used invariably in ballot-papers and is still used, and will continue to be used, in directories, indices and catalogues of all kinds. Our people are actually to be asked to disregard the system in which they have been trained and which is coin mon in connexion with all educational curricula. How does the Government propose to overcome the alleged advantage, which I do not agree exists, of candidates whose names appear at the top of a ballot-paper? Instead of the present Alphabetical precedence, it is proposed to use a form of lottery by drawing the names of candidates out of a hat. It would be a reproach to our standards of intelligence to adopt that course. Personally, I would prefer to suffer any supposed disadvantage of the present system. To draw the names out of a hat would also, in my opinion, be detrimental to the dignity and prestige of this Parliament and is a course which is entirely unwarranted. Apparently, we should not have heard Anything about this extraordinary proposal except for the belief of certain Ministerial supporters that, in the last Senate elections, Government candidates suffered a disability because all of the 1 ja bour party candidates in one State happened to have names which began u i th the letter " A ", and appeared in the first group on the ballot-paper. That situation came about, I suggest, without «ny premeditation whatsoever on the part of the authorities of the New South Wales branch of the Australian Labour party. What happened on that occasion * us not characteristic, and nothing of the kind occurred in any of the other States. The Government is proposing that we :-hall use a horizontal ballot-paper. But *>-vi:n* if" that be done, the candidates whose names appear on the left-hand side of the lin i lot-paper will still have an advantage, for, in all our writing practice, we commence to write near the left-hand margin of the paper. Consequently, we are being asked to substitute one so-called advantage for another. It should be borne in mind that the second or third group of candidates on the ballot-paper for Senate elections has, in the past, quite often been successful. It is simply not true that the first group of candidates is elected as a matter of course. The informalities that occur at Senate elections are due partly to the fact that electors are called upon to exercise a preferential vote for a much larger group of candidates than in respect of elections for the House of Representatives, and they are also obliged to indicate preferences for many more than the number of candidates required. Moreover, some difficulty arises because different forms of preferential voting are in use in different States. No doubt, also, the legal obligation that rests on all adults in this community to record their votes, unless they care bo take the risk of incurring a penalty of £2, is a factor in the situation. A number of people who go unwillingly to the polling booth take a kind of bizarre delight in mutilating the ballot-paper. The honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. Anthony)** yesterday drew attention to the fact that, in his constituency, the number of Labour votes for the Senate wa3 2,000 more than the number of votes recorded for the Labour candidate for the House of Representatives. But that is not an unusual occurrence. It is due to considerations which can be easily explained. The fact is that the candidates for the House of Representatives are usually much better known in a constituency than are the candidates for the Senate. I have no doubt at all that the present honorable member for Richmond and also the former honorable member **(Mr. R. Green)** were much better known in the constituency than the Candida! es for the Senate. This would mean that both the honorable gentleman and hi? predecessor would receive a substantial personal vote. For this reason, I contend that the variation in the number of votes recorded in the constituency for the Labour candidate for the House of Representatives and the Labour candidates for the Senate had practically nothing to do with the initial letters of their surnames. In all these circumstances, **Mr.. Deputy. Speaker (Mr. Prowse);** - and may I say thatI am glad to see you sufficiently recovered in health to) be back in the chamber. again- sin - I urge that, before anyserious alteration is; made: in our system of voting,, the Government shall call a conference of representatives of Commonwealth and State- Governments' to consider this whole subject, and particularly to see whether an agreement can be reached to obtain more uniformity in our systems of enrolment of voting, I therefore support the amendment,. {: #subdebate-19-0-s1 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
Leader of the Australian Labour pasty - nonCommunist · West Sydney -- The only value that I can see in. the amendment is that if it be carried, it may delay the operation of the scheme of voting outlined: in. the bill. To that extent only, the amendment may be. said to have some merit. When we consider the present divergence of Commonwealth and. State electoral methods, and also the jealous way in which the State authorities seek to guard their local autonomy,, it. must be. apparent to us that very little value would accrue from the holding of a conference on this subject. It may be assumed; I think, that the State authorities are reasonably well satisfied with their electoral procedure. At present, our methods of enrolment are, to a considerable degree, uniform. At any rate, in four of the six States, a single card is used for Commonwealth and Stateenrolment purposes,, and there is a good deal of collaboration in electoral matters. No doubts the State governments could advance good reasons for such differences as now exist in enrolment and voting methods, and I can see no reason to justify an assumption that they would agree, at a conference) to vary their procedure in any material way. A change of government might bring that about. It is fairly definite, that the State governments are opposed to changing- existing customs, and therefore they would be particularly reluctant to alter laws which have an important, effect upon their own political future. The main differences of opinion between the States and the Commonwealth! Government over the proposals contained in this bill are likely to arise from the suggestion that the names of candidates should not appear on the ballot-paper in alphabetical order. The States have no interest in the Senate voting-paper; because it does not affect them. The question of the order in which candidates? names should- appear on the ballot-paper therefore seems; to be the only probable cause of disagreement between the Commonwealth; and' the States; and is also the question that we are opposing in this Parliament. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- What about: optional preferences? {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- Members, of the Queensland Parliament consider that the system of voting, in that State suits its conditions, and they would be reluctant to alter it. As the right honorable member for Yarra **(Mr. Scullin).** has reminded me, the casting of preference votes at Queensland State elections is optional; electors are allowed to vote straight, out in favour of one candidate. The. party which. I have the. honour to lead is. opposed' to the bill and has no desire that it should, be made the subject of any conference with the States-. I. understand that the. Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Cur tin)** holds, the. same view. In, his speech he mentioned good reasons why the system of placing names on the ballot-paper should not be. changed...He referred to the lottery idea and the question of the form that the Senate ballotpapers should take, arguing that candidates whose names were placed on the left-hand side of the ballot-paper would be in a good a position as those, whose names appear on the top of the ballotpaper under the present system. Who would participate in this proposed conference ? . I would strongly appose any suggestion that electoral officers alone should do so, because I consider that powers relating to the election of the Commonwealth Parliament should not be delegated to. any other authority than the members of this Parliament themselves. I would favour the appointment of a select committee from the members, of this. Parliament, or a body including members, chosen by the State Parliaments, if it were absolutely necessary to hold a conference. The matter should not be handed over, simply to electoral officers. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- They could only make recommendations to the Parliament. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- That might be so, but my opposition to such a conference would still remain. Perhaps the right honorable member for Yarra will agree with me that power to deal with this problem should not be vested in any body of persons outside of this Parliament. {: .speaker-F4Q} ##### Mr Scullin: -- I agree with that. This Parliament must make the final decision. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- It is not desirable that electoral officers should be given any more rights than they have at the moment. Most members of Parliament have sufficient knowledge of conditions affecting voting, the recording of postal votes, and the compilation of electoral rolls to deal with this subject adequately. It is our duty to know these things, because our organization is based upon complete knowledge of them. Therefore, authority to alter our electoral system' should not be passed on to any other body. The individual merits of the clauses of the bill are matters for discussion in committee. At that stage of proceedings, members will have an opportunity to test each proposal and decide whether or not it should be accepted. I would strongly object to submitting the proposals contained in this measure to any kind of conference. {: .speaker-KMZ} ##### Mr Martens: -- A conference need not deal with the provisions of thisbill alone. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- I and my supporters have no desire to submit the subject of electoral reform to any body outside the Parliament. We regard the present method of electing the Parliament as satisfactory, therefore our opposition to this measure is complete and we will resort to all of the means at our disposal to prevent its passage through this House. The subject is not one for further investigation of any kind. The method of printing ballot-papers for Senate elections is in accordance with custom established over a long period of years, and it is generally recognized as the most satisfactory one. The method of submitting candidates- names in alphabetical order has been adopted in so many cases that it would be wrong to change it. Our position, therefore, is simply one of unqualified opposition to this measure. We want no changes of the electoral system, and we wish to vote the bill out without submitting its proposals to any conference. The amendment moved by the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini)** has value only if it has for its purpose the delaying of the passage of this measure, but we consider that it does not go far enough; it should be designed to prevent any further consideration of these particular proposals. {: #subdebate-19-0-s2 .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK:
Assistant Minister · Riverina · CP -- The general attitude of members of the Opposition towards this measure has been clearly expressed by the last speaker. The Opposition has sought to defer consideration of the bill on the ground that a conference should be held to discuss its proposals in order to bring about uniformity of electoral laws. The substance of all Opposition speeches, however, has shown that they simply desire to block the bill. The Government does not consider that the necessity for obtaining uniformity is sufficient justification for deferring or withdrawing the bill. It considers that anomalies exist and amendments of the law are necessary, and that although it may not be possible to secure perfection at one step, it is possible to progress step by step towards that end. This bill is designed to simplify methods of voting and provide opportunities for some electors who, in the past, have been debarred from recording their votes, to do so in future. It may not be known to some honorable members that a conference was held in 1915 for the purpose of securing uniformity of Commonwealth and State electoral laws, and that since that time further efforts have been made at irregular intervals. To-day common electoral rolls are used for the Commonwealth and the States of New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. An offer to Queensland and Western Australia to follow suit is still open, subject only to the condition that the States shall pay half the cost of printing the rolls. The Commonwealth will take., the responsibility of collecting the names of the electors. Some of the anomalies which exist are not within the power of the Commonwealth to rectify. The States have sole power to remove them and, therefore, the Commonwealth does not consider that it should delay thi3 measure in order to consult with the States first. There are in existence anomalies much worse than those that have been mentioned by honorable members opposite. *[Quorum formed.* One of the most objectionable applies in both Tasmania and Western Australia. In those States a person must reside for a minimum period of six months before he is eligible to vote. If an elector residing in, say, Victoria should move to Tasmania, he becomes ineligible to vote in Victoria at the end of three months, yet is ineligible to vote in Tasmania for six months. For State elections ho is disfranchised for three months. It is not the responsibility of the Commonwealth to remove that anomaly. The States have the power to do so, and it is their job to bring their electoral laws into harmony with those of other States. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- The anomaly to which the Assistant Minister has just referred does not affect Commonwealth voters. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK: -- No, but it is a matter for the States to deal with. There can be uo justification for delaying the passage of this measure on account of anomalies which can only be dealt with by the States. Most honorable members will recall that efforts were made during the regime of the Bruce-Page Government to eliminate duplication of State and Commonwealth services. A common form of income tax return for Commonwealth and State purposes was introduced, and an attempt was made to co-ordinate electoral rolls. Four of the States came into line with the Commonwealth in the matter of electoral rolls, and the two which have remained aloof can do so at any time under the conditions which have been accepted by the others. The honorable member for Melbourne Ports **(Mr. Holloway)** said that -a conference could formulate proposals that would be acceptable to all States and the Commonwealth. It should have been evident to the honorable member that that proposition is impossible. Even during this debate the honorable member for Kalgoorlie **(Mr. Green)** made a request which, conflicted with the proposal made by the honorable member for Herbert **(Mr. Martens).** The honorable member for Kalgoorlie made an appeal on behalf of residents in remote parts of Western Australia who are unable to vote at elections because they cannot return their postal votes before election dates, and he supports the clause which provides for this; but the honorable member for Herbert said that postal voting would be abolished altogether if he had his way. {: .speaker-KF9} ##### Mr Green: -- The honorable member for Herbert was referring particularly to hospitals and institutions that were close to polling booths. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK: -- The honorable gentleman's words were that he would " abolish postal voting altogether ". That proves that at least two honorable members of the Opposition hold conflicting view? in regard to one clause of the bill. Hence, it is unlikely that a conference would bring about complete accord. The most important job of this Parliament is to make laws for the welfare of the people, and in view of the fact that in this democratic country every one is entitled to vote at an election of parliamentary representatives, there is a further obligation on Parliament to provide every possible facility for those electors to record their votes. The bill includes a provision that a postal voter may apply for his ballot-paper ten days before the date of an election. His vote will be counted if it reaches the returning officer within seven days after the election, provided that the letter containing it bears a post-mark showing that it was posted before the close of the poll or if the divisional returning officer is satisfied that such was the case. Those provisions are designed to assist electors in remote parts to record their votes. In addition, provision is made whereby a person desiring a postal vote, instead of having to make his application to the returning officer for the division, will be able to apply to the registrar. Whereas it may now take a week for his application to reach the divisional returning officer, he will in future be able to get a ballot-paper promptly by applying to the registrar: {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- Who is the registrar? {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK: -- An officer who will be able to receive applications and enrol electors in outback subdivisions. The honorable member for Cook **(Mr. Sheehan)** and the honorable member for Denison **(Mr. Mahoney)** took exception to the provision that a justice of the peace is the only person eligible to witness a postal vote. The honorable members are under a misapprehension, because section 91 of the principal act provides a long list of authorized witnesses. It includes persons occupying various official and semi-official positions in the community. It is now proposed to add secretaries of hospitals to that already long list. Doctors, matrons of hospitals and midwives are already included. Section 91 also provides that postal votes may be witnessed by all persons or classes of persons employed in the public service of the Commonwealth or of a State, who are declared by proclamation to be authorized witnesses within the meaning of this act. {: .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr Gander: -- No person other than the matron or a doctor may sign a postal vote in a hospital. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK: -- Secretaries of hospitals will now be eligible to sign. {: .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr Gander: -- At present no justice of the peace may enter a hospital to witness a postal vote. Does the bill alter that? {: #subdebate-19-0-s3 .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK:
RIVERINA, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- The authorized witnesses are set outin section 91 of the principal act. {: .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr Gander: -- I shall be satisfied if all who are on the list are included. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK: -- The list includes a justice of the peace. It is proposed that the grouping of candidates on the ballot-paper for the Senate elections shall be vertical, and the ballot-paper horizontal. The ballot-paper for the House of Representatives will remain as before. {: .speaker-009FQ} ##### Mr Curtin: -- Except that the names will be drawn out of a hat. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK: -- It is proposed that lots shall be cast in order to decide the position on the ballot-paper. Although there have been many protests against the alphabetical arrangement of the names of candidates, some honorable members still contend that a candidate whose name begins with a letter early in the alphabet derives no advantage therefrom. If that be so it seems rather strange that there has been such keenness to secure the nomination of candidates the initial letter of whose names is " A ". In the hope of securing election, one ex-member of this House, whose name began with a letter towards the end of the alphabet, changed it to one commencing with a letter near to the beginning. {: .speaker-KLC} ##### Mr Mahoney: -- Nevertheless, he was defeated. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK: -- That is so. It is difficult to say how great is the advantage gained by candidates with names commencing with letters early in the alphabet, but it is a fact that few, if any, candidates with such names would expect to enhance their chances of election by changing them. The existing legislation has been abused - I do not say that any one political party has been particularly guilty in this connexion - but the Government considers that the opportunity for abuse should no longer exist. Accordingly, this measure proposes to stop it. Henceforth, no candidate will gain any advantage by reason of the initial letter of his name commencing with a letter at or near to the beginning of the alphabet; the order of names on the ballot-paper will be decided by lot. The honorable member for Maribyrnong **(Mr. Drakeford)** signified his support of the system of proportional representation, as did other honorable members, but the Government must regard the practicability of the legislation which it brings forward. It is aware that efforts to introduce proportional representation have failed, chiefly because members of the Senate have opposed that system. At the moment there is little prospect of proportional representation becoming law. The Government has acted wisely in taking a step at a time, by removing as many anomalies as possible, increasing the facilities for voting in remote districts, and in amending the ballot-paper to give to each candidate an equal chance of any advantage that may be attached to the first position on the ballot-paper. The honorable member for Denison some time ago suggested that persons broadcasting election addresses and comments should be subject to the same conditions as now apply to printed matter. The Primary Producers Union of Western Australia, and others, have made similar representations. Provision has been made in the hill to comply with these requests. The Government is convinced that the bill before the House will improve the election system. {: .speaker-KMZ} ##### Mr Martens: -- From the Government's point of view. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK: -- No. The alterations proposed will give an equal opportunity to every candidate. I commend the bill to the House. Question put - >That the words proposed to be omitted **(Mr.** Lazzarini's amendment) stand part of the question. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.) AYES: 32 NOES: 24 Majority . . 8 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Amendment negatived. Original question put - That the billbe now read a second time. The House divided. (Mr. Speaker - Hon. G. J. Bell.) AYES: 32 NOES: 25 Majority . . 7 AYES NOES Question so resolved m the affirmative. Bill read a second time. *In committee:* Clauses 1 and 2 agreed to. Clause 3 (Assistant returning officers). {: #subdebate-19-0-s4 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
Leader of the Australian Labour party - nonCommunist · West Sydney -- I should like the Minister to explain each clause as we come to it, so that honorable members may know its full significance, and be in a position to decide whether any amendment is needed. {: #subdebate-19-0-s5 .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK:
Assistant Minister · Riyerina · CP -- This is purely a machinery proposal. Its sole purpose is to ensure that the provisions of section 9 of the principal act should apply in the case of a referendum in the same way as in an election. At present, while assistant returning officers for an election are appointed by the Chief Electoral Officer, their appointment for a referendum requires the formalities of Executive Council actions. The adoption of theproposed amendment will remove thispurposeless inconsistency. Clause agreed to-. Clause 4 - >Section 26 of the principalact is amended by adding at the end thereof the following sub-section.: - " (2),The Minister may, by notice in the *Gazette,* declare *any,* sub-division tobe a remote sub-division for the purposes, of this act." Mr.LAZZARINI (Werriwa) [5.13].- *No* definition is given in this bill of' what a remote subdivision is. Apparently,it is assumed that the term is defined. in the principal act, but that is not so. I should like an explanation from the Assistant Minister: {: #subdebate-19-0-s6 .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK:
Assistant Mini's ter · Riverina. · CP -- Honorable members will recall that there is a provision for the extension of the time during which applications may be lodged for the application of the postal voting provision. So that this will not apply to subdivisions where there is no need for postal voting, the Minister is given authority in this clause to declare, by notice in the *Gazette,* that, any. division is a. remote division. It is. merely- a formal clause, and is consequential on. the provisions in clauses 8 and 9 of the bill, which provide that in remote subdivisions applications may be made for postal votes to the registrar for the subdivision. {: #subdebate-19-0-s7 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa .- Evidently, the Minister is to be the sole judge of whether or not a particular subdivision is to be declared a remote subdivision. It would be better, I think, if this power were vested in the Electoral Officer, or the divisional, returning officer. The public would then be assured that no opportunity existed for interfering with the course of an election for the benefit of any party. Once the people begin to fear that an attempt is being made to "monkey" with the electoral system, a serious blow will be struck at the democratic principle. {: #subdebate-19-0-s8 .speaker-KCM} ##### Mr DRAKEFORD:
Maribyrnong -- There is much merit in the suggestion of the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini).** The power to declare whether or not a subdivision is a remote one should not- rest' with the Minister. This power should be in the hands of an independent person such asthe Chief Electrical Officer, or the divisional returning officer. The Assistant Minister will have to give a more satisfactory explanation of this clause if he wishes to dispel thefeeling that it may be used to advance the interests of one political party at the expense of another . The general purpose of the clause may be very. good, but the method proposed is objectionable. Unless the Minister can give a more satisfactory explanation. I am disposed to vote against the clause. {: #subdebate-19-0-s9 .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK:
Assistant Minister · Riverina · CP -- It is, the practice now for the Chief Electoral Officer tomake a recommendation to the Minister,, but if honorable members would prefer it, there is not objection to substituting the Chief Electoral Officer for the Minister in the clause. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- Will the Minister make that amendment ? {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK: -- I will. {: #subdebate-19-0-s10 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
Leader of the Australian Labour party - nonGommunist · West Sydney .. - I am not satisfied with that. My view is that the member for any particular electorate understands more fully the. requirements of his. electorate than probably anybody else. I am not inclined to delegate powers away from the Parliament. I am more inclined to the view that the. power should be reposed in the Minister, because, if he misuses that power, he can be dealt with in Parliament, whereas the Electoral Officer cannotbe so dealt with. Once his actions are criticized in Parliament, the charge is levelled that an attack, is being made against a public servant who has not the opportunity to defend himself. The Minister, however, is in Parliament to face any charge that may be made against him, and to. defend himself if he has any defence to advance. My view is that declaration of any subdivision to be a remote subdivision should be made by the Minister on the recommendation of the member concerned. The political affiliations of that member would not affect matters, because, although he might recommend that a subdivision be declared tobe a remote subdivision for the purpose of obtaining the votes of his supporters in that subdivision, the fact remains that bis opponent would similarly obtain the votes of his supporters. The memberknows his electorate for it is his duty to represent it, to travel over it, and to know whatever postal difficulties exist. He knows the time that is needed to enable him to get in touch with his electors. I suggest, therefore, that the declaration of remote subdivisions should be based on the recommendation of the member for the electorate concerned and that the proposed new sub-section read - (2.) The Minister may, on the recommendation of the member for the electorate, by notice in the *Gazette,* declare any subdivision to be a remote subdivision . . . {: #subdebate-19-0-s11 .speaker-JVR} ##### Mr NAIRN:
Perth .- I move - >That after the word " may" the words " on the recommendation of the Chief Electoral Officer " be inserted. That would make the proposed new subsection read - (2.) The Minister may, on the recommendation of the Chief Electoral Officer, by notice in the *Gazelle,* declare any subdivision to be a remote subdivision for the purposes of this act. All action must be taken by the Minister, but, if it is left to the Chief Electoral Officer to make the recommendation, the objection of the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini)** disappears. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- What is wrong with the member for the district making the recommendation ? {: .speaker-JVR} ##### Mr NAIRN: -- There is always objection to an interested party. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- The Chief Electoral Officer may be an interested party. {: .speaker-JVR} ##### Mr NAIRN: -- Oh no! {: .speaker-JF7} ##### Mr BEAZLEY:
FREMANTLE, WESTERN AUSTRALIA · ALP -- The honorable member apparently does not think that people are human. {: .speaker-JVR} ##### Mr NAIRN: -- The member could make a recommendation to the Electoral Officer, who is impartial, and I suggest that the Minister should act on that officer's recommendation. {: #subdebate-19-0-s12 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter .- I object to this proposed new sub-section in its present form, because it gives too much power to the Minister. The amendment suggested by the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn)** would partly meet my objection, but it would not remove it entirely because it does not limit the number of electors enrolled in a subdivision which could be declared to be a remote subdivision. As the clause stands, the Minister may declare any subdivision to be a remote subdivision. I should like to see added to the amendment moved by the honorable member for Perth a proviso that the number of electors enrolled in a subdivision. declared to be remote shall bo less than 100, or whatever figure is thought to be the proper limit. I am not prepared to allow the Minister to declare a subdivision in my electorate, which has 5,000 on the roll, to be a remote subdivision. It would be grossly unfair to expect 5,000 electors in one subdivision to be postal voters. A Minister, if he had the power proposed in this clause, could, in order to embarrass a sitting member to whom he was politically hostile, declare a subdivision to be remote for the purpose of making the electors within that subdivision postal voters. I do not trust postal votes. I have what is essentially a Labour seat; it is at least 80 per cent. Labour, but at each election at which 1 have been opposed, I have always received a minority of the postal votes. That is a strange thing in an electorate like the Hunter electorate, which is preponderantly Labour. It shows that manipulation occurs somewhere. I see no objection to confining the Minister to declaring subdivisions of a certain number of electors to be remote subdivisions on the advice of the divisional returning officer. {: #subdebate-19-0-s13 .speaker-KMW} ##### Sir CHARLES MARR:
Parkes -- A bogy has been raised. In most of our acts, the Minister is specified as the authority. The honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** said that the Minister could be brought before the judgment seat, if we can call it such, of this Parliament, but that the Chief Electoral Officer could not. Every honorable member who has had experience of elections, and the Electoral Department generally, will agree that our electoral laws are administered scrupulously fairly. No charge could be made against the Chief Electoral Officer. The Minister agreed, on the suggestion of the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini),** to substitute the words " Chief Electoral Officer " for the word " Minister ". I point out to the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** that no subdivision has an enrolment of 100. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- I am not "wedded to that figure. {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Sir CHARLES MARR: -- Perhaps it was the honorable gentleman's intention to state " polling centre ". Any subdivision could be specified but it is difficult. Consider the honorable member for Kalgoorlie **(Mr. Green).** He has polling centres in the north-west of his electorate at which there might be only half a dozen voters. {: .speaker-KF9} ##### Mr Green: -- This clause is the only clause which, to me, is worth a damn. {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Sir CHARLES MARR: -- I should think that every honorable member would agree that there are remote subdivisions in electorates like those of the honorable member for Kalgoorlie, the honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan),** the honorable member for Darling **(Mr. Clark),** the honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Blain)** and other honorable members whose electorates are vast areas in the far north, north-west, or in central Australia. I cannot imagine any part of the electorate of the honorable member for Hunter being declared a remote subdivision. There would certainly be no remote subdivisions in Parkes or West Sydney. Returning to the point made by the honorable member for West Sydney, I do not think that any Minister would be charged in this House in the way that the honorable member suggested because 99 out of 100 Ministers would act on the recommendation of the Chief Electoral Officer. Nevertheless, I have no objection to the suggestion made by the honorable member for Werriwa. I do suggest, however, that it would be foolish to send everything to Canberra. Why not allow the electoral officer in Western Australia to declare subdivisions in that State to be remote subdivisions? {: .speaker-KCM} ##### Mr Drakeford: -- Why not the divisional returning officers? {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Sir CHARLES MARR: -- No. I think the State electoral officers should be the men, but the Minister has accepted the suggestion made by the honorable member for Werriwa. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- The honorable gentleman has missed my point. I said that I did not want to see the power which should reside in the Minister delegated to others, because the Minister is the man who can be dealt with in the House. {: .speaker-KMW} ##### Sir CHARLES MARR: -- I appreciate what the honorable gentleman has in mind, and in some respects I agree with him. If the Minister is responsible and does wrong, he can be charged with his wrong-doing on the floor of the House. {: #subdebate-19-0-s14 .speaker-KF9} ##### Mr GREEN:
Kalgoorlie .- I trust that the Minister **(Mr. Nock)** will see his way clear to make this clause workable. The reason I spoke yesterday was that I know that men in many subdivisions of the Kalgoorlie electorate have never voted. None of the lighthouse men on a coastline of 3,000 miles has ever voted. It is my concern to see that they, as well as other men who at present are denied the opportunity to vote, are allowed to exercise their lawful privilege. The men that I have iD mind particularly are employed on outback stations, and other men, some of them 70 or 80 years of age, who, scorning the dole, make a slender living fossicking for gold in distant parts of the State. There is one place called Pilbarra, where there are 20 prospectors. Once, that was a thriving centre. Those men take an intelligent interest in politics. They want *Hansard* and actually read it, whereas we in this Parliament are content merely to read our own speeches. Those men should have the opportunity to vote. It means a lot to them. They are great Australians in their own way. The divisional returning officer has arbitrary power in respect of what polling booths shall be established, and on his advice the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State could determine what should be described as remote subdivisions. When we receive complaints, or consider that « polling booth should be established in any part of our division, we communicate with the divisional returning officer. Tha t cannot be regarded as " pulling strings ". {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr Gregory: -- I endorse everything the honorable member has said. {: .speaker-KF9} ##### Mr GREEN: -- From my point of view, this is the most important clause in the bill. Mr.PATERSON(Gippsland) [.5.36].This is an important and a useful clause. I strongly support the amendment suggested 'by the . honorablemember for Perth (Mr.Nairn). Mr.Lazzarini. - The Assistant Minister has agreed to accept it. Ma:. PATERSON. - It reasonably meets theobjection of the honorable mem- memberfor Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini)..** A good deal of objection could be taken to providing that the member forthe divi- sion should bethe person to make the recommendation, for the simple reason that no one is less disinterested in the matterthan is he.He would still have the opportunityto press for thedescription "remote" to beapplied to any particular subdivision. He could make representationseither to the Minister or to the Chief Electoral Officer. The matter should he handled bythe Minister, onthe recommend atonof fheChief Electoral Oficer. Thereis quite a good dealof precedent for such a provision. In some of our marketing legislation, for example, the sectionsaresodrawn that the Minister may take certain action, by notice published intheGazette, upon the recommendation of , a particular authority, which isnamed.That isallthat ishere suggested. {: #subdebate-19-0-s15 .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR:
Dalley .- From my reading of the original act, it would appear thatit has contained section 2.6since its inception.; thereforethat section . hasbeen in operation for a period of 22 years, yet it has just occurred to the Gvernment . that it needs to be amended. When an original act is to be disturbed, we should at least be given some explanation or excuse for departure from the original terms. The Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** has not cited a single example in support of the necessity for amending the act as it stands. What possibilities does the honorable gentleman foresee? Has he been able to show that in the past substantial injustice has been done to a considerable number of electors ?I suggest that he has not. Unless he can convince the committee that there is substantial reason for departure from the terms of the original act, I have no hesitation in saying that both the proposal of theGovernmentand any suggested amendments of it. should be rejected by the committee. The original act provides that each (division shall hedivided intosubdivisions, and that the boundaries of each subdivisionshall be specified by (proclamation. . The Government proposes to amend thatby providing that the Minister may, bynotice publishedinthe Gazette, declane any such subdivisionto be aremote subdivision for the purposeof theact. That isavery important power togive to the Minister. I amnot particularly concerned as to whether we are dealing with the proposalto give to theMinister that power, or the amendment ofthehonorable member for Perth : **(Mr. Nairn'),** -which I understandis to give thepower to thedivisional returningofficer. WhatIwant to know is: At what date is it proposed that these particular subdivisions shall hedeclared remote subdivisions? No indica- tionhas been given as to whenthedeclaration must he made. Would it have to be made before the date of nominations, or before the date of issue of the writs-? At what stage does the Minister propose that he shall have the power to declare what are remote subdivisions ? At what particular time does the mover of the amendmentpropose that these places shall 'foe declared remote subdivisions bythe divisional returning officer.? The sponsor of neither proposal has stated any time at which either the Minister or the divisional returning officer shall declare these places to he remote subdivisions. Even if we solve that knotty point, the question arises as to what is a remotesubdivision. Is the matter tobe determined according to the number of persons who happen to he enrolled, the distance between theheadquarters of the divisional returning (officer and the prospective remote subdivdsion, or means of access between the divisional returningofficer and the remote subdivision? The Assistant Minister ought to give us some indication of what is in the mind of the Government. To-day, with aeroplanes and other modern means of transport, space is being annihilated, and places that were once regarded as remote can now be considered as comparatively close. The honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** advanced another proposal. Although I hate to disagree with him, I believe that the last thing which we as a democratic chamber should consider is the opinion of the sitting member as to what subdivisions should be described as remote. Summing up, I cannot see any reason - and none has been advanced - for departing from the provisions of th, original act. {: #subdebate-19-0-s16 .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN:
Northern Territory -- I support the amendment. If the honorable member for Dalley **(Mr. Rosevear)** desires to learn something about remote areas I invite him to accompany me to my electorate in a couple of months' time. The amendment will provide a solution of the problem to which the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn)** addressed himself. The period prior to polling day at which a declaration of remoteness may be made is a matter of some importance. No doubt it will be dealt with in a later clause. I have always found the Chief Electoral Officer very considerate in dealing with remote places. [ think we could leave it to him to draft a definition, for he is well acquainted with every division. {: #subdebate-19-0-s17 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
Richmond .- Honorable members who represent divisions with remote areas, such as Kalgoorlie, Swan, Kennedy, Darling, the Northern Territory, and even my own electorate, realize the importance of this matter far better than does the honorable member for Dalley **(Mr. Rosevear),** who apparently was speaking as the deputy leader, in the second degree, of the nonCommunist Labour party. At present, electors who desire to record postal votes have to send their applications to the divisional returning officer at Cairns, Kalgoorlie, or the head-quarters of the electorate, very many miles distant from where they themselves are located. To do so requires a good deal of time. Briefly, the proposition before us is that the presiding officer at a subdivision shall be given authority, which is now held only by the divisional returning officer, to grant such applications. That procedure would greatly simplify matters for people residing in outback areas. The decision of the Minister to accept- the amendment will, I am sure, be applauded by people in the outback. We may well leave it to the common sense of the Chief Electoral Officer to draft a satisfactory definition of remoteness. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr Rosevear: -- When is the declaration to be made? {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- No doubt the Assistant Minister will elucidate that point. I welcome the amendment. {: #subdebate-19-0-s18 .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK:
Assistant Minister · Riverina · CP -- The Government cannot accept the suggestion of the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** that the member for the district should be granted so much power in this matter. Members may' make representations to the Chief Electoral Officer and, in fact, they often do so. Moreover, their suggestions are very frequently given favorable consideration. It would, however, be quite a different matter to repose complete power on this point with honorable members who succeed one another from time to time. The honorable member for Dalley **(Mr. Rosevear)** will hardly expect me to take seriously certain humorous references in his speech, particularly in view of the remarks made by honorable members who represent such constituencies as Kalgoorlie, Kennedy, Maranoa and the Northern Territory. The electoral officers arc quite familiar with the difficulties of the situation and may be relied upon to deal with them equitably. Their administration of the law has been spoken of with appreciation by honorable members. Certain areas will be proclaimed as remote for the purposes of this provision. If, later, additional areas need to be similarly proclaimed the appropriate action can be taken. I accept the amendment of the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn).** {: #subdebate-19-0-s19 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
Leader of the Australian Labour party - nonCommunist · West Sydney -- Seeing that the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** has admitted that honorable members make representations to the Chief Electoral Officer regarding the subject we are now discussing, I can see no reason why my proposal should be lightly brushed aside. The tendency is to suggest that it is improper to make such representations. I desire that attitude of mind to be corrected. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr Nock: -- There is a difference between making representations and having full authority. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- I ask that all makebelieve on this subject be abandoned, and that we deal with realities. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr Nock: -- The position at present is that the Chief Electoral Officer may, or may not, act on the representations made to him by honorable members. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- I am advocating that the authority should rest with a person answerable to Parliament for any action that is taken. The Minister and honorable members generally are directly answerable to Parliament. The Chief Electoral Officer is in a somewhat different category, as he is a public servant. I desire the power to be delegated to persons who are answerable to Parliament. {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr Blackburn: -- At present it is quite competent for any candidate to make representations. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- In my opinion, the sitting member has a better knowledge of these matters, particularly if he has represented the district for any length of time, than the Chief Electoral Officer can possibly have. I am net concerned about whether any advantage is likely to accrue to either " A " or " B " ; my main purpose is to ensure that the best thing shall be done for the electors. The member for the district is, in my opinion, better qualified than the Chief Electoral Officer to form a judgment on the issues involved. I am quite satisfied that the honorable member for Kalgoorlie **(Mr. Green)** knows his electorate far better than the Chief Electoral Officer can ever know it. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- The member for the district is at present able to make representations, and they arc frequently favorably received by the Chief Electoral Officer. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- Seeing that what I nm asking for is already, admittedly, the normal procedure, we should provide for it in the law. Honorable members are not likely to advise changes in these matters except for substantial reasons. I desire to dispel the atmosphere of mystery that seems to shroud some of these matters. {: .speaker-KYI} ##### Mr Prowse: -- There is nothing to stop an honorable member making representations if he desires to do so. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr Anthony: -- If the suggestion of the honorable member for West Sydney were adopted, what would be the position in Maranoa, seeing that the sitting member does not intend to contest the seat at the next election? {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- I do not propose that every member should be obliged to suggest changes. The conditions in Maranoa may be satisfactory, in which case changes would be unnecessary. We should be frank about these matters. In my opinion, the sitting members are far letter qualified than most people to give advice to the Chief Electoral Officer as to what is necessary to meet the convenience of the electors. {: .speaker-KVN} ##### Mr Street: -- In what way does the present provision fail to meet the views of the honorable member? {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- It has been suggested that the political party opposed to the sitting member might be biased and that injustice might be done to electors in remote areas. The Minister's attitude might not be impartial; that is why this argument arose. . {: #subdebate-19-0-s20 .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr LANE:
Barton -- I ask the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** if this clause is necessary. Section 28 of the act already gives power for each division to be divided into subdivisions and the boundaries of each subdivision to be specified by proclamation. Is the committee to understand that a remote subdivision is different from an ordinary subdivision? If so, are voters resident within it entitled to special privileges for voting ? {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr Blackburn: -- Only in relation to postal voting. {: .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr LANE: -- There is nothing in tho bill to say that voters in a remote subdivision shall have a special right to postal votes. {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr Blackburn: -- An amendment proposed in clause 8, paragraph *b,* deals with that point. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr Rosevear: -- The Government wants to give privileges to remote subdivisions. {: .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr LANE: -- The Assistant Minister has not yet explained on what grounds a " remote subdivision " will be declared. 1 would not say that there was a remote subdivision, say, in the electorate of the honorable member for Dalley **(Mr. Rosevear).** {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- Shark Island would be termed a remote subdivision. {: .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr LANE: -- If the Assistant Minister will explain to the committee what special concessions are to be made to remote subdivisions, honorable members may understand the reason for clause 4. Up to the present the honorable gentleman has not stated why it is necessary to create remote subdivisions. {: #subdebate-19-0-s21 .speaker-JVJ} ##### Mr MULCAHY:
Lang .- 1 agree that the Minister should give some adequate explanation of the term " remote subdivision ". Even after listening to the discussion which has taken place I am still not clear as to whether every elector in a remote subdivision must vote by post. All subdivisions in country areas include large towns as well as stretches of the " Never Never ". Will the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** tell me whether all voters in remote subdivisions will be obliged to vote through the post, even though many of them may be living in towns ? {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr Rosevear: -- The Assistant Minister has not been frank enough. {: .speaker-JVJ} ##### Mr MULCAHY: -- That is true, unfortunately, and the committee deserves to have a more satisfactory explanation. Although I have participated in election campaigns in rural electorates such as Gwydir, I still find it difficult to imagine what is meant by the term " remote subdivision ". {: #subdebate-19-0-s22 .speaker-KCM} ##### Mr DRAKEFORD:
Maribyrnong -- The acceptance by the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** of the suggestion originally made by the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini)** and. subsequently moved in the form of an amendment by the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn),** removed some of the objections entertained by members of the Opposition. Nevertheless, I cannot agree with some of the arguments advanced from the Government side. The honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** has suggested that the member of Parliament for a division should be empowered to make recommendations to the Electoral Officer or the Minister regarding the proclamation of a " remote subdivision ". I contend that the Minister should not have the power to declare a " remote subdivision " merely by giving notice in the *Gazette.* The point raised by the honorable member for Dalley **(Mr. Rosevear)** in this connexion was very pertinent. The bill makes no stipulation as to the time when the Minister may give such notice in the *Gazette* and,, therefore, it is possible that he may do so immediately prior to an election. It was suggested by the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** that, in that event, the Parliament could deal with theMinister in this House; but some honorable members might lose their right to sit in this chamber as the result of the Minister's action. The authority tocreate remote subdivisions should beremoved *as* far as possible from any political influence. For that reason I would refuse to give the Minister any authority in the matter. It would be more satisfactory for the power to beconferred on electoral officers alone. It is suggested that the Minister has power to give notice in the *Gazette* of various things, such as the appointment of a chief polling booth and therefore should havethese powers also, hut I feel that thematter should be removed from the sphere of political influence. I am prepared toagree that an electoral officer should have the right to make a recommendation, but not that the Minister should have complete power to deal with it. I cannot seehow it would be possible in the present circumstances for Parliament to deal with *a* Minister who might make a recommendation either to the advantage of himself or his colleagues or to the disadvantage of members of the Opposition. It is difficult to learn the exact meaning of remote. For instance, the honorable member for Barton **(Mr. Lane)** who has stressed the meaning of the word but who has added nothing to the value of the debate might be described as a "remote subdivision " of a member of Parliament. Various definitions of the word " remote " are given in H. C. Wyld's *Universal Dictionary of the English Language,* such as the following : - >Far removed, retired, distant; the past participle of a verb meaning to move, put away; removed to a distance, far away, sequestered,, secluded, out of the way, as:' "The remote regions of the earth"; separated in spirit, feeling, sympathy, interests, from other men; aloof, distant, as : " To keep oneself remote from hitman passions and affections"; un friended, melancholy. The Minister could have a wide selection of meanings to choose from when declaring, a " remote subdivision ". The honorable member for Kalgoorlie **(Mr. Green)** submitted a. powerful argument about the difficulties of providing for such voters as lighthouse keepers, prospectors and others residing in " remote " localities. *Sitting suspended from. 6.15 to 8 p.m.* {: .speaker-KCM} ##### Mr DRAKEFORD: -- Some honorable members appear to have some doubt as to the meaning of the word " remote ". According, to the dictionary which I hold in my hands the word has many meanings'. I shall give some of them to. the House - " Remote " means, distant; removed from by many descents in pedigree; *a remote ancestor;* many degrees, removed from, a common ancestor; *a remote cousin, kinsman.;* having but a slight logical relation; *your argument has a very remote tearing, on the question;* having, but a slight causal connexion; indirect; our *actions often Have but* a *remote effect on events ; the influence we exert on the conduct of others is sometimes very remote;* farremoved from what is possible or probable; unlikely to happen;a *remote possibility; not' the remotest chance of success;* far. from completeness,. sameness, truth-,, fact,, etc:; unsubstantial, shadowy, vague.;I *have not theremot- est idea what you mean;the portrait' bears not' the remotest resemblance to you.* The *Oxford Dictionary,* I understand, contains even more extensive definitions of the word,, but I shall not read" them. now. The particular definition, to which. I wish . to refer is that, which, defines. " remote. as. " removed, to a. distance; distant; far away ; secluded ; out of the way". A remote district would be one which is out of the way. The honorable member for Dalley said that the. provision would not accomplish what the Minister desired. He also said that this clause has been in operation: for twenty years and that he did not. consider it. necessary to have a change. I am sorry that the honorable member- has become a reactionary.. I. favour a. change, provided that there is first a proper inquiry to determine the best methods of bringing if about. The Assistant Minister has failed to show what relation this clause bears to the provision relating with postal voting.. Amendment agreed to-.. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clause: 5 (Printing of rolls). {: #subdebate-19-0-s23 .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK:
Assistant Minister · Riverina · CP -- Previously there was no provision; to cover a by-eection or a referendum. The clause is merely a machinery provision to meet such a contingency. Clause agreed to. Clause 6: (Alteration of rolls). {: #subdebate-19-0-s24 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa .- This clause seeks to amend section 47 of the principal act by omitting, the second proviso to paragraphhof sub-sectionI. The proviso- reads - - >Provided' further that where a Registrar removes any such namehe shall send by post- tothe elector whose name is so removed notice of the. fact. That provision which has been in the Electoral Act for a long time, prevents names from being removed from the roll without the knowledge of the elector. Why is it to be eliminated, seeing that it is a safeguard of the rights of electors ?' It is not sufficient that the electoral office receives notification from a postman that a certain person is not at a certain address. It may happen that the voter has left his usual place of. abode for a short" period, intending to return later ; or- the house in which an elector resides may be closed for a period whilehe is absent. Should the elector's name be removed f rom the roll because the postmanhas notified the electoral office thathe has left his usual place of abode', the elector may Be deprived of his vote without: having: a chance explain his temporary' absence.. He should be notified ofthe intended removal ofhis name from the roll. Unless some satisfactory safeguard is substituted for the existing proviso itshould not be repealed: {: #subdebate-19-0-s25 .speaker-JUQ} ##### Mr CLARK:
darling -- Paragraph *h* of sub-section 1 of section 47 of the principal act is of a contentious nature. Only a week before an election a person may ascertain that his name is on the roll which is exhibited for publicinformation ; but it may happen that the effective roll is one kept by the divisional returning officer, and' that: names which appear on the: public roll have been deleted' from his roll'In such an event, the elector would not know that his name hadbeen crossed off the roll until he went to the polling booth to record his vote. That has happened on many occasions. It is the practiceof various bodies *to* send in to the electoral office lists of names of persons who, they say, have ceased to reside in particular areas. Those names are sent to the Commonwealth Electoral Officer, who, in turn, may send a certificate to the divisional returning officer, whereupon the names of the persons included in the certificate are removed from the roll, perhaps within a few days of an election. An elector, who has inspected the roll and found his name thereon, may be prevented from voting because of the certificate from the Commonwealth Electoral Officer. I am aware that by calling at the polling booth in the district where he usually resides, a person may vote by making a declaration. Mr.Lazzarini. - There is no guarantee that his vote will be counted. {: #subdebate-19-0-s26 .speaker-JUQ} ##### Mr CLARK:
DARLING, NEW SOUTH WALES · LANG LAB; ALP from 1936 -- If he votes as anabsent voter at an adjoining pollingbooth, his vote wall not be counted. The proviso, which this clause seeks to omit, should be retained. The proposal of the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** is not democratic ; no person should be disfranchised without firstbeing given warning of the intention to remove his name from the roll. Mr.PATERSON (Gippsland) [8.12].- A name may not be removed by the registrar unless hehas satisfied himself that the voter has secured enrolment on another roll.The first proviso to paragraph *h* of sub-ection 1 of section47 of the prinicipal act reads - >Prodded *thattheCommonwealtihElectoral* Officer . shall not-issue sucha certificate unless he is satisfied that theelector has ceased to : be qualified for enrolment on that roll, and has secured enrolment on another roll. if seems to me that, if that condition is carried out, the elector could hardly have secured enrolment elsewhere without being aware of the fact, becausehemust seek to have his name placed on the other roll. That being so, the second proviso is unnecessary. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr Lazzarini: -- No. {: #subdebate-19-0-s27 .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr PATERSON:
GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA -- That is my reading of the proviso. {: #subdebate-19-0-s28 .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR:
Dalley .- I am interested in the interpetration of the Law by the honorable member forGippsland **(Mr. Paterson),** because' it is in conflict with the practiceof returning officers. After the last State election in New South Wales, a case came before the court, in which it was alleged that interested persons had notified the divisional returning officer that certain people did not live at stated addresses. The usual procedure is for the divisional returning officer to send out a letter to the person who is supposed to have left the district, or to have died, notifying him that a protest has been made against the retention of his name on the roll. In many instances the elector to whom such an intimation is addressed is not. dead, nor has he left the districtGenerally, when he receives the notice he thinks that some mistake has been made, and does not realize until too late that his name has been struck off the roll. I am aware that he has ten days in which to notify the divisional returning officer that his name should be retainedon the roll, but frequently that is not done. The fact is that, on the protest of an interested person during an election campaign, an elector's name maybe struck . off the roll. {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- Without having secured enrolment elsewhere? {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -Yes. During the last State elections in New South Wales., where a similarsystem obtains, it was stated that at least : a couple of hundred persons an one electorate, who had never left the district to reside elsewhere, were refused votes because their names did not appear on the roll. In some instances they did receive notificationthat some one had protested against their names being on the roll-, hut, knowing that they had never left the district, and concluding that some (clericalerror had been made, they let it pass. Someof them may even have , gone to the post office to check the roll,but the copies that areto be found in post offices are, as we know, generally out of date. Itcan heunderstood, therefore, why asafeguard of the kind which it is now proposed to remove, isso very necessary. Asthingsare now,the divisional returning officer has firsttobe notified that some one objects to the presence of a name on the roll. Then it is his duty to notify the person against whom the objection is taken that, unless an explanation is received from him within the next ten days, his name will be struck off. That safeguard should not be removed, and the Assistant Minister **(Mr.- Nock)** has not given any satisfactory reason for the proposed change. He professed concern for persons living in remote areas, and said that he wanted to make sure that all persons entitled to a vote, no matter how far away they lived, should have a vote. Having said that, he now shows complete unconcern whether persons, who may be living quite near the returning officer, have votes or not. Unless the Minister can show why the second safeguard against the possible disfranchisement of the electors ought to be removed, the committee should vote against the clause. {: #subdebate-19-0-s29 .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK:
Assistant Minister · Riverina · CP -- Honorable members seem to have gained a wrong impression about this matter. There are two separate sections of the act involved, sections 55 and 47. Section 47 deals with the removal of names upon the receipt of a certificate from a returning officer in another electorate that the person in question has had his name put on the roll of the second electorate. For instance, if the Chief Electoral Officer advises the divisional returning officer for Calare that an elector formerly residing in Calare has been registered as an elector in Hume, nhat person's name will then be taken off the Calare roll. When that was done, it was the custom in the past to notify the elector that the change had been made. It is considered by the department, however, that the issue of such notification is a waste of time and an unnecessary expense because, in fact, the elector himself had made the application for the transfer. Section 55 has to do with the objection by some one to the presence of an elector's name on the roll. When such an objection is lodged, the name is not removed until the elector is notified. If, after the lapse of a certain time, the divisional returning officer receives no reply from the elector, his name is then removed from the roll. {: #subdebate-19-0-s30 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter .- -I disagree with what the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** has said on this point, and also with the remarks of the honorable member for Gippsland **(Mr. Paterson).** This proposed amendment of section 47 of the original act will make it unnecessary for a returning officer to notify the elector that his name has been struck off the roll. The original act contains these words - >Provided further that where the registrar removes any such name he shall send by post to the elector whose names is so removed a notice of the fact. That is a most desirable safeguard. We know that many men are absent from their homes the whole week working on jobs in distant places, and return home only during the week-end. In some cases the names of such men are removed from the roll, and when I have protested to the returning officer on their behalf it has been explained to me that the postman advised the office that the person's letters were not being accepted at his home address, and that his name had, therefore, been removed from the roll. A person who merely changes his address from one street to another in the same town may be struck off the roll if he fails to notify the electoral office of his change of address, but how is he to know that he has been struck off unless he is notified of the fact? It might cost the department the price of a few postage stamps and some stationery to send out these notifications, and work might be provided for a few clerks, but it is worth it. We .should not be trying to curtail employment at this time; we should be trying to make work. Let me say, in passing, that divisional returning officers and clerks in the electoral office are not paid nearly enough. The basis upon which their salaries are computed may be all right for tlie greater part of the year, but it takes no account of the extraordinarily heavy overtime work thai is thrown upon them at election time. I am convinced that it would be wrong to abolish this safeguard. The practice of removing from the roll the names of persons who have not accepted their mail is in itself wrong, and this proposal to. refrain from notifying them of such removal is doubly wrong. {: #subdebate-19-0-s31 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
Richmond .- I was surprised that the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** should enunciate a new principle in respect to the electoral rolls, namely, that one of the purposes to be achieved in the preparation of the rolls was to provide more employment. I think that our object should be to obtain efficiency and economy, if we can do so without impairing the effectiveness of the electoral system. It has been suggested that the sending out of notifications of the removal of names would involve only the use of a few postage stamps and a little stationery, but I remind honorable members that the number of such notifications would be enormous in the course of a year. I have read in the press that, between one election and another, about 20 per cent. of the names appearing on the roll for any division are struck off or transferred to other rolls, and 20 per cent. of several million voters amounts to hundreds of thousands. When an elector makes application to have his name placed on the roll of another subdivision, he must sign the card provided for the purpose. Only when the card bearing his signature is received by the divisional returning officer is a certificate issued to the returning officer of the other subdivision notifying him of the receipt of the card, and the enrolment of the name. The words proposed to be removed from section 47 (1) *h* are - >Provided further that where a registrar removes any such name he shall send by post to the elector whose name is so removed notice of the fact. The Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** says that it is unnecessary for the registrar to send this notice because the elector himself has signed an application for enrolment in another subdivision. The proviso contains no protection for the elector. All that it means is that there is unnecessary cost in sending out hundreds of thousands of notices to people informing them that the electoral office has done what it has been asked to do. Section 55, as the Assistant Minister has pointed out, covers cases of objection being taken to the names of persons being on the roll. The section provides that the person objected to shall be notified of the objection. In the interests of economy, efficiency, and saving of time, the amendment proposed should be made. {: #subdebate-19-0-s32 .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr BLACKBURN:
BOURKE, VICTORIA · FLP; ALP from 1937; IND LAB from 1941 .- Section 47 of the principal act provides means for removing from the electoral roll the names of persons. It provides among other things that the name of any deceased elector may be removed and that any name removed by mistake as the name of a deceased elector may be reinstated. Under section 55, if objection is taken to the presence of an elector's name on the roll and the Electoral Officer concerned receives notice of that objection and that objection is decided against the elector, his name may be removed from the roll. Among other things section 47 says that - {: type="i" start="1"} 0. . a registrar may alter any roll kept by him by - {: type="a" start="h"} 0. removing a name from the roll by direction of the divisional returning officer upon the certificate of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer. Provided that the Commonwealth Electoral Officer shall not issue such a certificate unless he is satisfied that the elector has ceased to be qualified for enrolment on the roll and has secured enrolment on another roll. Provided further that where a registrar removes any such name he shall send by post to the elector whose name is so removed noticeof the fact. {: type="i" start="1"} 0. . . The position is that the present law safeguards the elector against deprivation of his vote through a mistake of the electoral office. That proviso proposed to be removed enables a person whose right to be on the roll has been wrongly challenged, as it might be in a small percentage of cases, to say that a mistake has been made. Mistakes are very often made. Although it is highly efficient, no one who has had any experience of elections or of election appeals can believe that the Commonwealth electoral machinery never makes mistakes. In fact, it has protected itself against the consequences of its mistakes by specifying that an election shall not be voided by mistakes made by the office unless it is proved that such mistakes have altered the result of the election. The point that I make is that if the second proviso is cut out the elector whose name has been struck off the roll is deprived of the opportunity to say that a mistake has been made. This proviso has been in the act since 1918 and I am not sure that it was not there before then. Its object is to protect the elector against deprivation of his vote owing to a bona fide mistake which the department has made. Remember that if a man's name is removed after objection it is removed after he has had notice of the objection and has had the opportunity to answer. it, but, in this case, the name may be removed without the elector concerned receiving the slightest notice of the fact. The removal may be due to a mistake such as confusion of names or confusion of cards. I concede the existence of section 121, which enables a person disfranchised to claim that his name has been struck off the certified list owing to an error of an officer or a mistake of facts and that he can claim a vote. But that provision does not safeguard him against a mistake by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer, in my view, although it may safeguard him against a mistake by a subordinate or against some clerical error. It therefore seems inadvisable to cut out the safeguard contained in the proviso. If the person had been given notice of objection, had had opportunity to answer it, and the objection had been decided against him after his failure to answer, he would not be prejudiced; but in this case he might be deprived of his rights to vote by a mistake made by an officer and acted on by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer. Even if the electoral office does have to send out a considerable number of notices the proviso should be preserved, because it is a safeguard against the disfranchisement of a number of electors. How small that number is, does not matter. {: #subdebate-19-0-s33 .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN:
Northern Territory -- I support the remarks of the honorable member for Bourke **(Mr Blackburn)** who is the only honorable member who has elucidated the position. Names are taken off the roll without notification to the electors concerned. As an instance of that, my sister, who lives in the Maranoa electorate, went to Perth to see another sister. In her absence some busybody saw to it that her name was taken off the roll. When she returned a couple of months later she found that she was no longer on the roll. Fortunately the divisional returning officer asked her if she wished to have her name reinstated. That was done. I am particularly concerned with my own electorate, the Northern Territory. Sixty per cent, of the electors in the Northern Territory move around the Territory. The mining population, particularly in the southern end of the Territory, is a moving population. There are three divisions in my electorate : Darwin in the north, Batchelor in the centre, and Alice Springs in the south. At Tennant Creek, in the central division, there is a big population of miners. Those miners move 180 miles south from time to time to mine for wolfram in the subdivision of Alice Springs. They spend, say, two months in the south and then return to Tennant Creek for four montis. Except at Darwin, voting in the Northern Territory electorate is done by post. The returning officer at Darwin does not know where to send the postal voting cards in many cases. He generally sends them in a bundle to Alice Springs or Tennant Creek. A car has then to be engaged to take the cards to the wolframfields 200 miles away at Hatch's Creek. Many of the miners there were disfranchised at the last election because there were no facilities for the postal voting cards to be delivered to them. I ask the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** to realize that my electorate is unique. There should be some provision for a man to be notified before his name is transferred from the roll of one division to the roll of another division and to ensure that no one shall have his name taken off the roll until he has been advised of what has been done. {: #subdebate-19-0-s34 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN:
Batman .- I confess that I do not understand why the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** insists upon the removal of what appears to be a useful safeguard in the interests of the elector. I assure him that I approach this matter entirely in a friendly spirit and in good faith, with the knowledge that he, like other Ministers, accepts a brief from his department and that proposals of this kind usually result from the mature consideration and experience of experienced nien. Therefore, I think that there may be something implicit in this which I have not yet succeeded m getting into my head; but I have read the proposed amendment carefully and I have read sections 47 and 55 of the act to which the Assistant Minister referred. Now section 55 refers exclusively to the case of an objection. It reads- >When an objection is made by or lodged with a Divisional Returning Officer, the Divisional Returning Officer shall forthwith give notice of the objection to the person objected to. Then follow provisions as to the kind of notice and as to how that objection is to be dealt with, and the section sets out that the objection may be upheld or dismissed. That section refers to that kind of case exclusively, but when we turn to section 47, which is the subject-matter of the proposed amendment, we find that the main object of that section is to set out the additional powers possessed ,by the registrar for correcting and amending the roll and mistakes in the set-up of the roll. For example, he has been given various powers of removal of names. Paragraph c enables him to remove the name of any deceased elector and paragraph c enables him to reinstate any name removed by mistake as the name of a deceased elector, which carries us to the position which I stated at the beginning. He has the power to reinstate, by direction of the divisional returning officer, any name that has been removed by mistake and, by direction of the divisional returning officer on the certificate of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer, the power to remove a name from the roll. "We need not, therefore, trouble ourselves further with section 55, in considering this proposed amendment of the act. I ask the Assistant Minister to bear in mind that submission of mine. We are no longer concerned with that, because it is grouped in this section as one of the powers of removal. But the main safeguard underlying all of these powers of removal which are vested in the registrar resides in this provision which it is now proposed to repeal, and the reason for the repeal of which I have so far been unable to understand. " Provided "., says the act - and to me says it very naturally and very wisely - " that where a registrar removes any such name under any of these powers of removal which are vested in him, he shall send by post to the elector concerned whose name is so removed, a notice of the fact ". That, it seems to me, is the crux of this section. I ask the Assistant Minister why his department has directed its mind to the removal of this final and necessary safeguard which enables the elector to assert his right to have his name restored to the roll when, from whatever cause, it may have been removed. Maybe I have not apprehended the full significance of what the honorable gentleman said. I cannot imagine the reason for this proposed repeal of the only safeguard which the elector has in respect of enrolment. {: #subdebate-19-0-s35 .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr JAMES:
Hunter .- Very rarely do I speak twice on a clause, but the insistence of the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** in this case is beyond my understanding. If an elector moves from one street to another, he leaves his new address with the Postal Department. Although the Electoral Department is justified in removing hia name from the roll in respect of the address that he has left it must, under the act, inform him of the fact. It is now proposed to repeal that provision. From time to time, the accusation has been made that dead men have been resurrected for the purpose of voting at elections. How are the electoral officers to know when a person is dead ? In 1929 it was alleged, I believe in respect of Eden-Monaro, that men were dug up out of the cemetery to vote. The original act protects the electoral officers in respect of those who seek to impersonate dead men or women. So long as that provision remains in the act, a letter addressed to a person who is dead will ultimately be returned to the department through the dead letter office. Under this proposal, a letter will not be sent, and consequently none will be returned, with the result that once again the United Australia party will receive an enormous vote from the cemeteries. No logical reason can be advanced in support of the proposal. How are names to be removed from the roll if letters are not to be sent out to ascertain the whereabouts of electors? No answer has been made by honorable members opposite to the arguments advanced from this side of the House. The honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Blain)** made out a case that deserves every sympathy. Similar conditions exist in far-flung electorates such as Kalgoorlie and Kennedy, in which men travel from one place to another probably 100 or 1,000 miles distant, in following their occupations. How are they to be notified that their names have been removed from tlie roll? The greatest hardship will be caused to outback electors. We know that hardship is imposed on those who live in congested areas in the cities if they move from one address to another. I know of a man who had been on the roll for 47 years. He moved from one little village to another not far distant, and his name was removed from the roll. At election time, he wondered why he was not enrolled. He did not know that he had to notify the department of his change of address. The honorable member for Darling **(Mr. Clark)** stressed a point that I cannot refrain from amplifying. I have seen in the office of my returning officer rolls that have numerous erasures of names, yet the rolls displayed at the post office do not show these erasures, and any elector who consults the displayed rolls believes that he is still enrolled. The confusion will be made worse by the deletion from the act of the provision that the returning officer shall notify by post an elector whose name has been struck off the roll. We all want clean voting. I do not say that it is true, but the allegation has been made that some unscrupulous persons have voted in the names of men and women who have been long since dead. Let us at least prevent the adoption of such tactics by any individual who may feel so disposed, by allowing this section of the act to remain in it. {: #subdebate-19-0-s36 .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr LANE:
Barton .- The honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James),** and the party to which he belongs, know more about bow to put dead men on the roll than anybody with whom I am acquainted. I happen to represent an electorate where the voting is very close, and I assure honorable members that if I am not very watchful in every portion of that industrial area a few hundred names have to be removed from the roll a month after the poll has been taken, because relatives of persons residing in the elec torate are registered in time to enable them to vote at the election. It ill becomes honorable members opposite to try to make us believe that they are " Simon Pures ". We know something about the way in which names are added to and removed from rolls. The system of checking the roll is, I understand, that when an elector moves from, say, Barton to Reid the registrar at Reid, on receiving an application for enrolment, makes an examination of the index cards. He may thereby ascertain that, according to the age and signature of the elector, he is identical with the person who has moved from Barton. He then sends n notification to the elector's former address in Barton, well knowing that it will be returned to him because the person has left there and gone to Reid. The object the Government has in mind in deleting the second proviso to paragraph *h* of subsection 1 of section 47 is to improve the efficiency of the Electoral Department and to avoid useless clerical work. I have had a good deal of experience in these matters. I have my *74,000* constituents all recorded both alphabetically and in odds and evens in their various streets. Although I know how necessary adequate cheeking is, I cannot see any purpose in doing unnecessary work. I have seen a good deal of roll-stuffing in my time, and I am sure every other honorable member who has had many years of experience in political life knows how necessary it is to make adequate provision to prevent the names of dead men from being restored to the roll. It is particularly necessary in electorates like Barton, where the result of a poll may be altered by 100 votes or so one way or the other. I well remember on one occasion that when the back of one of my scrutineers was turned, a parcel of 100 votes changed places on the table. However, that is beside the point at the moment. As the object of the proposal now before us is to prevent unnecessary work and to improve the efficiency of the Electoral Department, I shall vote for the clause. {: #subdebate-19-0-s37 .speaker-KCM} ##### Mr DRAKEFORD:
Maribyrnong -- Seeing that the committee has had the advantage of the expert legal advice of the honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Blackburn)** and the honorable member for Batman **(Mr. Brennan)** concerning the meaning of sections 47 and 55 of the Electoral Act, and that no adequate reply has been made to their contentions, 1 cannot understand why the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Noel?;)** wishes to proceed with this proposed amendment. In my opinion, the arguments of the honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. Anthony)** were completely answered by the honorable member for Batman. Section 47 of the principal act confers upon ti registrar certain powers which are set out in eight paragraphs, all of which deal with the alteration of the rolls. Two provisos follow paragraph *h,* the second of which reads - > Provided further that when a registrar removes any such mime he shall send by post to tin' elector whoso name U so removed notice of the fuel. Clearly, that proviso affords a valuable safeguard to the elector against the improperor inadvertent removal of his name from the roll, and I can see no reason whatsoever why it should not be retained. I have no desire to reflect upon the registrars, for I believe that they, and the electoral officers generally, do their work faithfully and well ; but. at every election, some people discover to their amazement that their ninnes have been removed from the roll without justification. In such circumstance?!, an elector may record a vote under section 121, but he has no means of ascertaining whether the vote recorded in such circumstances is effective, for it remains within the discretion of the divisional returning officer whether the vote shall be recorded or not. If clause 6 of the bill is agreed to, the number of voles recorded under section 121 will be greatly increased with a consequent loss of efficiency. We should all aim to make our electoral machinery as efficient as possible, and I can see no reason why we should agree to the removal of the valuable safeguard now sought to be deleted. If the Government desires us to believe that its only object in introducing this bill is to improve the electoral machinery, I urge it either to give adequate consideration to the arguments advanced by the honorable member for Bourke and the honorable member for Batman, or else to advance some more cogent arguments to justify the repeal of this proviso. {: #subdebate-19-0-s38 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa .- There is a' real Country party touch about this proposed amendment. Honorable members who represent that party have shown great eagerness to liberalize the conditions applicable to postal voting, but they seem determined to make it moredifficult than ever for people in congested areas, who may move from place to place in the course of a year, to record their votes. On every occasion when I have spoken at the declaration of the poll I have expressed my admiration of the work of our electoral officers, and of the efficiency of our electoral machinery, but [ have not yet met an officer of the department who has suggested that the departmental procedure is infallible. Yet the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock),** . by asking us to agree to this clause, postulates that very thing. I ask -the ' honorable gentleman to examine the electoral roll for any subdivision that he chooses to select, and he will find numerous Smiths, Browns and Williamses. In many cases, even the initials of different electors are similar, and it is quite easy to appreciate that mistakes may occur. I snail instance the case of my own sister-in-law. She had been living at our home, but afterwards went te Holbrook. She had her name transferred to the appropriate subdivision iri that electorate. Subsequently, she came back to live with us. Yet, for three general elections, she repeatedly received a. " Please explain " letter from the Hume electoral office asking why she had not voted ! It was only after I had brought the matter under the notice of the Electoral Department that the mistake was rectified. As a matter of fact, the only way for an elector to ascertain with certainty that his name is on the roll, is to ask that an examination of the certified roll be made at the electoral office. Yet 90 per cent, of the electors seem to think that if they see their names on a roll at a post office they must necessarily be entitled to vote. They fail to realize that to be absolutely certain on the point they must cause the certified roll to be examined. The Assistant Minister has had considerable political experience and, I have no doubt, lias been approached outside polling booths on election day by persons whose names have, in their *view,* been improperly removed from the roll. These safeguards hare been inserted in the electoral law because every possible step must be taken in a democratic country to ensure that electors will not be deprived of their votes, and that the electoral machinery will be regarded as a clean and efficient instrument through which the people can express their views openly and without difficulty. That is the whole basis of our electoral law, and it is a matter for deep suspicion that the Government should introduce an amendment designed to liberalize the expression at the ballot-box of the views of one class of voter while removing a safeguard protecting another class. Such action makes the electors think that party politics have trespassed in this preserve. I do not suggest that that is so, but it is the conclusion which will be arrived at by many of the voters. I have always raised my voice against any enactment which allows politics to interfere with the electoral system, upon the integrity of which the very fate of our democracy depends. The fact that the Government has introduced this proposal just prior to an election will create suspicion in the minds of many people. When a safeguard that has been a part of our law for so long is removed, the structure of democracy is disturbed. Does the Assistant Minister pretend that by passing this clause he will be able to effect savings of public money by dismissing a few clerks ? Of course he does not. The Assistant Minister would jump to his feet and indignantly deny that suggestion if honorable members on this side of the chamber made it. , I want to know why the Government has decided to do away with this safeguard. It cannot have any reason except, possibly, the hope that Labour candidates may slip up at election time in some of the congested areas where the Labour vote is usually predominant. I cannot read any other meaning into the clause, unless the Minister submits a more adequate explanation than he has so far given. I agree with the honorable member for Batman **(Mr. Brennan)** and the honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Blackburn),** two men who, because of their legal training, can analyse an act of Parliament possibly better than the Assistant Minister. They do not make statements without having good reasons for doing so. To meet the demands of the Opposition the Government has only to withdraw clause 6, and leave intact section 47 of the principal act. The Government should at least leave the .matter until after the next elections, when it can be considered properly in conjunction with a thorough overhaul of the whole of our electoral machinery. Possibly thousands of people will be disfranchised at the elections if the Government proceeds with this proposal; because the rolls are about to be compiled and, with tlie beginning of seasonal employment in the spring and early summer, many voters will be moving from place to place, and changing their names from one roll to another. There is no justification for clause 6 of the bill. {: #subdebate-19-0-s39 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
Richmond .-- Though I appreciate the presence of those who are here, I am thankful that there are not more lawyers in this chamber, because they invest with all sorts of legal complexities anything set out in simple language. The amendment proposed by the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** is so simple in form that any layman should be able to understand it without recourse to legal opinions. The objections of the honorable member for Darling **(Mr. Clark),** the honorable member for Hunter **(Mr. James)** and others were to the effect that safeguards should be maintained in order that people will not be struck off the rolls without their own knowledge or consent- {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- And so that the electoral officers will know when electors die. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- Exactly. These considerations are important. I agree with honorable members that anything which provides that people should be properly notified of objection being taken to their enrolment should be retained in the act. The position envisaged by honorable members opposite, however, is similar to one in which a man might go to a post office and tell the postmaster that be wished to change his address, giving written authority for the postmaster to do so, and then . for this Parliament to compel ttc postmaster to ask the man by letter whether he objected to the change of address being made. No person's name can be struck off the roll unless it has first been placed on another roll. That is all that this section means. The proviso in question states - >Provided that the Commonwealth Electoral Officer shall not issue such a certificate unless he is satisfied that the elector has ceased to be qualified for enrolment on that roll and has secured enrolment on another roll. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- Supposing that, in spite of those protections, the electoral officer not being infallible, a name is removed by mistake? {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- If a name is removed by mistake, it is also possible that a notice sent through the post may not reach the individual concerned. Honorable members opposite have raised a huge edifice of conjecture about the possibility of an electoral officer making a mistake. They want the Government to continue to enforce electoral officers to send out, not hundreds, or thousands, but hundreds of thousands of notices. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- Oh! {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- If the honorable member who has just interjected " Ob " would make inquiries, as I have done, he would discover that the number of transfers during any triennial period amounts to about 20 per cent, of the number of names on the roll. Twenty per cent, of an enrolment of 2,000,000 or 3,000,000 would mean many hundreds of thousands of names. A great deal of work, which the electoral officers suggest is unnecessary, such as printing huge quantities of stationery in order to duplicate an existing safeguard, would be entailed. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr Rosevear: -- All people who move *are* notified at their new addresses that they have been enrolled.. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- No. No person's name is interfered with unless he first signs an enrolment card asking for his name to be put on a roll in another division. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr Rosevear: -- That is not so. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- It is so. The elector is absolutely safeguarded. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr Rosevear: -- The honorable member -is ignoring altogether paragraphs *a to g* of sub-section 1 of section 47 of the act. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- They are not affected by paragraph *h.* All of the objections raised by the honorable member for Hunter and the honorable member for Darling are quite legitimate, but the honorable members will find, if they study section 55, that the matters which they raise are adequately covered. The honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Blain)** mentioned the instance of his sister taking, a trip from the Maranoa electorate to "Western Australia, and having her name deleted from the Maranoa roll in the meantime; but he admitted that his sister received, a notice informing her that her name had been removed from the roll. {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr Blackburn: -- That is according to the existing law, which the Government now seeks to destroy. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- She was notified that something had been done in connexion with her enrolment. {: .speaker-KJQ} ##### Mr James: -- But she would not have been notified if the provisions in clause 6 bad been in force. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- The only person whose name is interfered with is the one who has asked for that to be done by signing a requisition for enrolment in a different subdivision. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- Or, in good faith, he thinks that is so. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- I agree that there is a possibility of some mistake occurring. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- Hence the proviso which the Government now seeks to delete. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- But mistakes in matters of this kind can be very few because the electoral officer must have a certificate from some other returning officer before- {: .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr Gander: -- The honorable member is wrong there. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- Section 47 of the act states - >Provided that the Commonwealth Electoral Officer should not issue such a certificate unless he is satisfied that the elector has ceased to he qualified for enrolment on that roll and has secured enrolment on another roll. Unless the officer is satisfied on these points he will not and cannot remove the elector's name from the roll, and the only way in which he can he satisfied is for the elector to sign un application for transfer. That is the reason for this proposed amendment to section 47 of the act, which seeks to delete the proviso - >Provided further that where a Registrar removes any such namehe should send by post to the elector whose name is so removed notice of the fact. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- Why was that put in? Mir. ANTHONY.- It was put in as a safeguard-- {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- Exactly. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- It was put in as a safeguard during the period when the Electoral Office was in course of establishment. The Assistant Minister did not think all this out by himself; it came to him in the form of a recommendation from the electoral officers, as the result of their long experience with Commonwealth electoral law. They have, no doubt, recommended that this proviso is unnecessary, wasteful and inefficient. I trust that the Assistant Minister will stand firm, in the interests of economy and efficiency, particularly as no section of the community will suffer from his so doing. If any detriment is suffered at all, it will be suffered as much by the electors of Richmond as by the electors of West Sydney, or D alley, or any other electorate. If I thought that the deletion of this proviso would cause detriment, I should oppose its removal from the act ; but I am confident that its retention will mean a waste of time and money. {: #subdebate-19-0-s40 .speaker-KZ9} ##### Mr RIORDAN:
Kennedy .- The honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. Anthony)** has missed the point. He quoted from the first proviso, and referred specially to the words, " and has secured enrolment on another roll ". He did not deal with the caseof an individual who has not secured enrolment on another roll, which case is covered by the second proviso. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr Nock: -- His name will not be removed from the roll. {: .speaker-KZ9} ##### Mr RIORDAN: -- There are many ways of removing a name from the roll. The honorable member for Richmond said that this proviso was inserted when the Electoral Office was being established. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr Anthony: -- I presumed that. {: .speaker-KZ9} ##### Mr RIORDAN: -- The proviso was inserted in the act in 1911, after ten years offederation, because it was found to be necessary. It has been found necessary ever since then. Why is it that almost on the eve of an election, the Government now desires the removal of this proviso? It is concerned chiefly with Melbourne interests to the detriment of the rest of Australia. What does it know of the trials and tribulations of people living in remote districts ? Ministers do not visit those localities, but prefer, in times of peace at least, to visit England. In my electorate there are men engaged in the pastoral industry who have to travel thousands of miles every year in order to obtain work. A man may be employed at, say, Clermont, in the central district of Queensland, and then move on to Cloncurry in the northwest, and later to other places. His home may be at Longreach, in the middle west, but economic circumstances force him to seek work away from his home. Indeed, many such men are absent from their homes for most of each year. I know of an instance in which the name of a man who had lived in one house for 43 years, but through economic circumstances was compelled to seek work away from home, was removed from the electoral roll during a temporary absence. In that case, the elector was advised of the proposal to remove his name from the roll ; otherwise he might have attempted to exercise the franchise only to find that he was not enrolled. After a number of elections had taken place this proviso was inserted in order to protect nomadic workers by ensuring to them their inherent right to exercise the franchise. The Government does not realize that many men have to travel long distances in order to obtain work. It may be acquainted with men in Melbourne who, though not constantly employed in one job, obtain work in one place for several months, after which, perhaps, they receive the dole until another job is found for them. At no time do they really leave their homes, but in the sparsely settled areas of the continent conditions are different. The retention of the proviso is a safeguard of the rights of voters, and a guarantee that the names of electors will not be removed from the roll unless they are advised of the intention to do so. Should the proposal of the Government be agreed to, these nomadic workers will have to scrutinize the electoral roll every time they return home. It is not democratic to filch from men their right to exercise the franchise. I realize that the proviso does not mean much to supporters of the Government, because most of them are either property holders or " bosses " and do not have to travel over the countryside looking for work; but it means a great deal to the men who shear sheep, or cut cane, and, in slack seasons, have to travel from place to place to secure work. {: #subdebate-19-0-s41 .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr BLACKBURN:
Bourke .- As the honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan)** has said, this provision was inserted in the act in 1911. In that year a bill was introduced which contained a provision to amend section 62 of the act of 1902 by adding thereto the following sub-section - >A roll may be altered by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State by striking out the name of any person, if he has proof that the person has ceased to be qualified for enrolment on that roll and has secured enrolment on another roll. That proposal would have had the same effect as this clause will have, if agreed to. It did not contain any provision for giving notice to the elector concerned. When the bill came before the House of Representatives, the then honorable member for Darling Downs, **Mr. Littleton** Groom, objected to the clause on the ground that it did not provide for notice being given to a person whose name was to be removed from the roll. The Government of the day agreed to an amendment requiring notice to he given. The bill was re-committed in order to consider Government amendments, and the then Attorney-General **(Mr. Hughes)** moved that the following words be added: - and the Registrar shall send by post, to any person whose name is so struck out, notice of the fact. Thatwas an amendment of the Government's bill. Honorable members will see that the official view then was the same as it is now, namely, that there was no need for notice. The bill originated in the Senate; the amendment which I have mentioned was made in the House of Representatives. When the bill was returned to the Senate, that chamber agreed to the amendment made by the House of Representatives. **Senator Pearce** said that it seemed to be an improvement, and **Senator McColl** said that a similar amendment had already been proposed in the Senate when he had suggested that no person's name should be removed from the roll until after he' had had one month's notice of the proposal to make a change. On that occasion, the Parliament decided against the officials of the department. After all, the Electoral Office exists for the benefit of individual voters. I have a high regard for the integrity and ability of the electoral officers, but they are just as capable of making mistakes as others are. The scheme of the Electoral Act has always been that no person shall be deprived of his vote until he has had an opportunity to show cause why it should not be taken from him. This proposal, if agreed to, will take away that safeguard. It is true, as the honorable member for Richmond said, that a mistake may affect his electorate as well as any other; I am concerned, however, not with the interests of political parties, but with ensuring that persons who are entitled to vote should be able to exercise that right. I do not think that we should put inconvenience to office and the cost of stationery before the grave injustice that would be done to a man who is deprived of a vote he ought to have. The point which **Mr., later Sir Littleton,** Groom took did not occur to me, though it ought to have, namely, the confusion that often takes place between two persons of the same name, or almost the same name. For instance, my son and I have names that are almost the same and we have the same signature. We write alike. He has transferred to a New South Wales electorate, and it is quite possible that my name might have been removed from the roll in mistake for his. Mistakes are possible, and machinery of all sorts is devised to prevent or correct them. 1 agree that this clause will apply only to the case where a man's name has been removed by the registrar on the authority of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer because he is satisfied that the man has transferred to another electorate. The point is this, however: a man's name might be removed without the man being given the opportunity to defend his right to be on the roll, and the man whose name is removed may not be the man regarding whose card the Electoral Officer had under consideration. A mistake might have been made. If a mistake occurs only once in a thousand times it is still important. The honorable member for Richmond said that hundreds of thousands of persons change their electorates during the period between elections. If, as the result of all this changing, only 100 persons lose their right to vote, it is an important matter. [ have looked at section 121, and I am convinced that it would not enable a person to vote whose name had been struck out in this way, because no person may, under that section, be enabled to vote who is not entitled to have his name on the roll. There is a difference in administration between the certified list and the roll. If a man can satisfy the returning officer that he should be on the certified list he is entitled to vote, but he cannot do that unless he is entitled to bo on the roll. It may be that only 20, or 50 or 100 persons will be affected through errors, but why should they be deprived of their votes merely in order to save stationery and time? This safeguard was inserted by persons who knew what they were doing. Any one who knew **Sir Littleton** Groom knew that he was not an alarmist. He was anxious to preserve the rights of the smallest minority, and to safeguard the right of every one entitled to a vote to exercise that vote. He stood for a principle which we should make it our business to preserve. I do not say that the removal of this safeguard will give an advantage to the Government party, or to any other party. The Electoral Office is probably perfectly impartial in making this proposal. Its only purpose is to save the cost of stationery and printing, to effect war-time economies in regard to those items, and in regard to salaries. We should not seek to make those economies, however, if there is a chance of disfranchising even a tiny majority. {: #subdebate-19-0-s42 .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN:
Batman .- The honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Blackburn)** has put this matter in its proper historical perspective, and as he added some arguments in support of our objection to the deletion of this clause which I had intended to advance myself, it is now not necessary that I should do so and I content myself with a short reference to section 47 *h* of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, to which the honorable member for Richmond **(Mr. Anthony)** devoted close attention, as did also the honorable member for Gippsland **(Mr. Paterson).** I have not been without hope that I might have convinced them that there was something worth while in this objection of ours, even though they may regard it as a case of Greeks bearing gifts. I did succeed, apparently, in convincing the honorable member for Richmond, by interjection and interrogation, that there was a danger of mistake, at least the possibility of mistake, and I say that the elector is entitled to be warned of that mistake, so that he may take steps to have it corrected. The honorable member said that, while there was such a possibility, it was so remote that it was undesirable to retain the safety provision. Then, rather inconsistently, he said that, as a safeguard against this possibility, we were seeking to impose on the Electoral Department the obligation to send out hundreds of thousands of notices. That, of course, is a clear absurdity, for reasons which I shall now explain. In section 47 of the act, the powers of the Electoral Office are set out in detail. Paragraph *h* is as follows : - {: type="a" start="h"} 0. Removinga name from the roll by direction of a Divisional Returning Officer upon the certificate of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer provided that the Commonwealth Electoral Officer shall not issue such a certificate unless he is satisfied that the elector has ceased to be qualified for enrolment on that roll and has secured enrolment on another roll. He must be satisfied that the elector has secured enrolment. My comment upon that is that the Electoral Officer, not being infallible, may remove the wrong name. He may act in error. All of the facts go to prove that the Electoral Officer is not infallible. Our experience demonstrates that names are, in fact, removed by mistake from time to time. The honorable member for Bourke used the illustration of two persons with the same name, or similar names, perhaps members of the one family. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr Nock: -- Could they he of the same age, the same occupation and the same address ? {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- In the case of members of the same family, they might quite easily be of the same name, the same occupation and have the same address. The Assistant Minister presupposes the practical impossibility of error on the part of an electoral officer, but that is an utterly absurd assumption, and entirely contrary to the experience of every member of this House. I have a ripe experience in this matter, and I know that. names have been wrongly removed, names which ought to have been reinstated. This is where the statement of the Assistant Minister cuts across that of the honorable member for Richmond. The former said that it is impossible that such mistakes should occur, whereas the latter said that the retention of the proviso would involve the sending out of hundreds of thousands of notices. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr Anthony: -- I did not say that there would be hundreds of thousands of mistakes. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- I have sufficient confidence in the Commonwealth Electoral Officer to believe that there will not be a large number of errors, but I also have sufficient confidence in the democratic principle to say that, though the number he great or small, the rights of the electors should be preserved. I had hoped to have the support, not of a large number of honorable members opposite, but of some of the more fairminded and reasonable honorable members opposite. Of course, the honorable member for Barton **(Mr. Lane)** regards this matter in the light of his experience in roll manipulation. I say nothing about that. I have no doubt that he is skilled in such matters. He has a ripe experience of how rolls should be dealt with in a difficult electoral situation. I am innocent in regard to these things. As a matter of fact, we in the God-fearing garden State of Victoria never have professed to be on equal terms with the more experienced representatives of electoral hush-ranging as it has been developed in the State of New South Wales. The honorable member for Gippsland **(Mr. Paterson)** and I now meet upon a common ground on that high ethical plane upon which Victorians move, as you know, **Mr. Deputy Chairman,** being a representative of New South Wales. The **DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mr. Collins).** - I ask the honorable member to connect his remarks with the clause immediatelv. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- I had hoped it was obvious that what I say is the coping-stone of that historical edifice raised so skilfully by the honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Blackburn).** But there it is; the honorable member for Barton apart, I cannot conceive that what we are contending for can in any sense be regarded as a party claim. My friend, the honorable member for Kennedy **(Mr. Riordan),** as a representative of a wide area in the State of Queensland, has a very intimate knowledge of the outback, and there must be something in what he says, namely, that the omission of this proviso will operate particularly harshly against the nomadic working-class people. I have not addressed myself to that aspect of the case. I was content to base my argument on electoral justice, pure and simple, and from that aspect it would appear to me that the injustice is as much to the electors of the honorable members for Richmond and Gippsland as to my own. It is the same with the constituents of the honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Blain).** It does not matter whether the divisions are small geographically or wide geographically; the question is directed to electoral justice alone, and, because I think we have made it abundantly clear, superabundantly clear, that there is a danger of mistake, and because this wise provision already exists in the act requiring that notice be sent to the person who has become improperly disentitled to vote, we say that that safeguard should be maintained by the Government in the interests of the electors of Australia. I am sorry that we have not heard earlier from the Assistant Minister. I should be delighted to hear from him now that he has heard these repeated arguments, which have become stronger with practice and with further reading.- {: .speaker-KXT} ##### Mr Paterson: -- And reiteration. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr BRENNAN: -- Well, no. I have presented a new phase in my latest address, as did the honorable member for Bourke in reviewing the history of this matter. I should be glad now to hear from the Minister, and I do hope that he will yield this point, which will serve the interests of an unknown number of electors - we know not how many; but some for certain - and that in this first measure which he has had the responsibility for piloting through this chamber hewill show that he can manifest as a Minister that broad-minded regard for public interest which, as a private member, on the question of the wheat interests, he has always manifested in the past. {: #subdebate-19-0-s43 .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr LANE:
Barton .- After listening to two lawyers cloud the issue - [Quorum *formed]* - I should not have risen had it not been for the fact that the honorable member for Batman **(Mr. Brennan)** and the honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Blackburn)** clouded the issue. I rise to present the layman's point of view. Throughout my life, I have always advised people to keep away from lawyers if they want to keep out of trouble. The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN. - Order ! The honorable member will connect his remarks with the bill. {: .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr LANE: -- I suggest to the laymen here that they should read the section in this way - " The Registrar may alter the roll by removing a name from the roll by direction of the Divisional Returning Officer upon the certificate of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer after he has received a notification that the elector has been enrolled in another electorate". I contend that that is what the section means. {: .speaker-JSC} ##### Mr Brennan: -- Suppose that the Commonwealth Electoral Officer has not been so advised. {: .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr LANE: -- The honorable member for Batman has merely put up a skittle in saying that mistakes will occur. I have not seen one man who will not make, a mistake. Mistakes cannot be shut out. What happens is that, when a man leaves one division and goes to another, he notifies the divisional returning officer that he wishes to be enrolled in that division. The application for enrolment is indexed and it goes to the electoral office, where it will be seen. When it is seen, his name will be removed from the roll in the first division and placed on the roll in the other. There is no need for the man concerned to be notified by letter that his name had been transferred from one roll to another, because he himself has applied for the new enrolment. {: .speaker-KCM} ##### Mr Drakeford: -- Now everybody misunderstands. {: .speaker-KZF} ##### Mr LANE: -- I am sure the honorable member would misunderstand. He and his colleagues are merely stonewalling, because they do not want the bill to go through. {: #subdebate-19-0-s44 .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR:
Dalley .- A good deal of confusion arises from the fact that there are really two classes of disqualification, that which arises from mistakes and that which arises from legitimate directions from the Commonwealth Electoral Officer. There are two distinct methods by which an elector's name may he removed from the roll. There are two provisos in section 47. Where the honorable member for Barton **(Mr. Lane)** and other honorable members on his side of the committee have gone astray is that they continue to cite the proviso which deals with legitimate removals, and fail to conceive that the proviso under discussion deals with disqualifications which have been made by mistake. That is why the Opposition claims that the second proviso should not be removed. Sub-section *la* of section 47 provides for correcting any mistake or omission in the particulars of the enrolment of an elector, and sub-section c for removing the name of any deceased elector. There are many ways in which an elector can have his name removed from the roll. Anybody with any experience around polling booths, particularly in congested areas, will know that there are hundreds of people who, on election day, find that their names have been removed from the roll, although they have been living in the division for a considerable time. It is no exaggeration to say that. They make declarations and are given what are known as " section votes ". If honorable members inspect the returns of any general election or by-election, they will discover that there are large numbers of those people. They are the people who are protected by this particular provision which the Government proposes to wipe out. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr Nock: -- The honorable member is quite wrong. The honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Blackburn)** put the position clearly. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- The honorable member put up a very good case. But the Assistant Minister's own reply was wide of the subject. The Minister got so hopelessly confused between sections 47 and 55 that he did not know what he was saying. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr Nock: -- Yes, he did, and the honorable member for Bourke confirmed what he said. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- That is the position. There is nothing unfair in what I say. The Assistant Minister made out that honorablemembers of the Opposition did not know what they were talking about and that what they were driving at was really contained in section 55. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr Nock: -- . Section 58. {: .speaker-L08} ##### Mr ROSEVEAR: -- The honorable gentleman was entirely wrong. It is those people who go to the polling booth on election clay, who, never having moved from their address and never having made application for removal of their names, find that their names have been removed from the roll. The honorable member for Gippsland **(Mr. Paterson)** should know that that happens in hundreds of cases. There must have been laxity in the administration, because, if those people had been informed, as provided for, they would never have had their names struck off the roll. That confusion is operating in the minds of honorable members. They cannot distinguish between the two classes provided for in this section, namely those who are struck off the roll by mistake and those who are legitimately struck off. The first proviso in paragraph *h* of subsection 1 of section 47 of the principal act deals with those who are properly struck off, but the second proviso deals with those who are improperly struck off. I repeat, that if this particular provision had been operated in its entirety by a divisional returning officer, there would not have been such a huge number of applications for sectional votes on election day. This is the only safeguard which is provided in respect of an elector whose name has been removed from the roll by mistake. It is wrong for the Government to attempt to abolish the only means that those people have of rectifying a mistake that may be made by the department. {: #subdebate-19-0-s45 .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK:
Assistant Minister · Riverina · CP -- The honorable member for Dalley **(Mr. Rosevear)** is labouring under the same misapprehension as when he first spoke. Had he been in the chamber to hear the speech of the honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Blackburn)** he would have heard that honorable member admit that the clause applies only to persons whose names have been enrolled for another electorate. With regard to the other statement of the honorable member for Bourke, I point out that when this provision was inserted in the act in 1911 the details which had to be furnished with an application for enrolment were not the same as they are to-day. The inclusion of this provision was then warranted. To-day, any elector who desires to be enrolled has to fill in an application form, which is indexed. If he has already made application for enrolment with respect to another electorate, that also has been indexed. The one is compared with the other. For more than 20 years, the applicant for enrolment has had to give his Christian names and surname, age, date and place of birth, occupation, present address, and personal signature. All of these details are compared with those supplied on the application for enrolment for the division in which he was previously enrolled. {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr Blackburn: -- There was a card index in 1911. **Senator Pearce** said that that made it possible to do what the section provides. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK: -- The Commonwealtl. Electoral Officer has advised me that all of these details had not to be supplied on the application form at that time. An applicant for enrolment who happens to be a married woman has now also to give her maiden name. No notice is sent to electors who apply for transfer and fill in completely the application form, indicating on it the electorate in which they are enrolled as well as the electorate to which they desire to be transferred; but if the applicant fails to state where he was last enrolled, it is the duty of the Commonwealth electoral staff to search the records, in order to obtain this information, and to compare his earlier application with that made for the new electorate. If the Commonwealth Electoral Officer is satisfied that the applicant for fresh enrolment is identical with the person already enrolled, he is justified in sending a certificate to the divisional returning officer, authorizing the removal of the name from the roll. Only in such circumstances have applicants so far been notified under the provisions of the principal act. It is now proposed that such notices shall not be sent. The Commonwealth Electoral Officer has advised me that, where the practice has been followed, the majority of the notices have been returned through the dead letter office. It is an absolute waste of time and expense that should cease. Question put - >That the clause be agreed to. The committee divided. (Deputy Chairman - Mr. Collins.) AYES: 29 NOES: 22 Majority . . 7 AYES NOES Question so resolved in the affirmative. Clause agreed to. Clause 7 - >After section seventy-two a of the principal act the following sections are inserted: - 72c. Candidates nominated for election to the Senate whose names are included in a group in accordance with the provisions of section seventy-two a of this act may notify the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State ot the designation of the political party or parties represented by the candidates whose names are included in the group, and where a notification in pursuance of this section is received by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer from each of the candidates whose names are included in the group not later than twelve o'clock noon on the day of nomination and the designation set out in all the notifications is the same, that designation, subject to any variation, addition or omission which the Commonwealth Electoral Officer thinks fit to make, shall appear in the ballotpapers above the names of the candidates in the group: Provided that where a notification in pursuance of this section is not received by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer from each of the candidates whose names are included in a group not later than twelve o'clock noon on the day of nomination or where the designation set out in the notifications received from all the candidates is not the same, the designation which shall appear above the names of the candidates in the group shall be that determined by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer. {: #debate-19-s0 .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr BLACKBURN:
Bourke .- Clause 7 proposes to insert in the act two new sections 72b and 72c. The former deals with the order of names in the grouping of Senate candidates. It permits the candidates in any group to determine for themselves the order in which their names shall appear on the ballot-paper. That is a reasonable corollary of the grouping system, and I do not think that any objection could be offered to it; but what I feel an objection to is the appearance on the ballot-paper of the names of parties. That, in my opinion, would be a very serious and retrograde step for us to take. The plan adopted by the Government has been taken from American legislation dating back to 1889. The American electoral system has always assumed the existence ofparties, and it has been the object of that system, as far as possible, to drive the electors into one or other of the two great parties. Before 1884 - I believe before the adoption of the Australian ballot system in America - the Government of the United States of America did not prepare ballotpapers ; they were prepared by the parties, and the party officers stood outside the doors of the polling booths. If you were a democratic elector, you took the democratic ballot-paper. If you were a republican elector, you took the republican ballot-paper. Alongside those representatives of the two main parties there stood a few privateers, who held in their hands stickers - a piece of gummed paper containing a name which was not on one of the party tickets. For example, for Attorney-General you might vote for John Brown instead of for one of the party candidates. You took the democratic or the republican ticket, and if you wanted to vary it you pasted a sticker over the name on that party ticket. When the Australian ballot system was adopted, a divergence of opinion manifested itself. Massachusetts adheres to the system that we used to adopt of putting all of the names vertically down the ballot-paper in alphabetical order; that was the old system. On the other hand, the Indiana law is the basis of the proposal that we are now considering. It is that names of the candidates shall appear on the ballot-paper in their party groups, in parallel columns. At the top of the ballot-paper appears the names of the parties, and all that you have to do is to put a tick against it. You do not worry about the candidates unless you wish to vary your vote. You may vote for some candidates belonging to one party and to some belonging to another party. But if you want to vote for the Republican party, you put a tick against " republican " at the top of the column. To vote for the Democratic party, a tick must be put against the name of that party at the top of the column. This, of course, is all in keeping with the general idea of American politics. As a matter of fact, the presidential system of the United States of America would be unworkable if more than two great parties were in the field. There has not been a third considerable party since 1912, but when the Progressive party functioned in that year, the Republican party, which had millions of votes cast for it, could only carry two States. The corollary is that the people of the United States of America are really confined to two parties. In that country the parties are regulated by law. The selection of party candidates is governed by law, and a man has a legal right to remain a member of a party although the party may wish to expel him. He may also remain an elected member of the party and vote in the selection of its candidates in spite of the contrary desire of the party concerned. If a man indicates that he is prepared to vote the Democratic ticket he must be recognized as a Democrat and given a vote in the Democratic primaries. I foresee grave dangers to Australian political life if we introduce that principle here. Even if we apply it merely to Senate elections, we may make a breach, in our political system for which we shall be very sorry. Under the British system parties are not recognized in law. The introduction of the party factor into our electoral organization will, to my mind, tend to discredit the whole system. The really wonderful thing about the British electoral system is that it has always remained independent. There have been electoral scandals in Canada and "the United States of America, but the British and Australian systems have been invariably, I believe, above suspicion. I desire earnestly that they may remain so. However, I must assume that, as this provision has been agreed to by the Senate, and as the majority of the honorable members of this House seem to be in favour of it, the principle will become law. I shall therefore discuss it with that in mind. I point out one grave objection to the proposed new section 72 c which, as drafted, will give the Commonwealth Electoral Officer a measure of discretion to alter the names by which the various parties desire to be designated. Personally, I think that discretion should be disallowed. If a party chooses to call itself the Australian Labour party or the Australian Labour party - non-Communist, or the United Country party or the Victorian Country, party, it should be permitted to do so and the Commonwealth Electoral Officer should not be permitted to interfere. The proposed new sub-section 72q reads - Candidates nominated for election to the Senate whose names are included in a group in accordance with the provisions of section seventy-two a of this act may notify the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State of the designation of thepolitical party or parties represented by the candidates whose names are included in the group, and where a notification in pursuance of this section is received by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer from each of the candidates whose names are included in the group not later than twelve o'clock noon on the day of nomination and the designation set out in all the notifications is the same, that designation, subject to any variation, addition or omission which the Commonwealth Electoral Officer thinks fit to make, shall appear in the ballotpapers above the names of the candidates in the group: I direct particular attention to the following words:- subject to any variation, addition or omission which the Commonwealth Electoral Officer thinks fit to make. Unless those words are deleted the Commonwealth Electoral Officer may be directly drawn into our party struggles. If any party names are to go on the ballot-paper, they should be the names chosen by the parties and not the names chosen by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer.. I therefore move, - >That the following words, proposed new section 72c, *be* omitted: - " subject to any variation, addition or omission which the Commonwealth Electoral Officer thinks fit to make," It would be quite wrong, I contend, to permit the Commonwealth Electoral Officer to say : " I shall not allow this designation, to appear on the ballotpaper ". .. Immediate difficulties may arise in this connexion which will affect the Labour' party and 'the Country party. What will happen, for instance, if the Victorian Country party, the Country party with which the Premier of Victoria is associated, and also the party favoured by the president of the Victorian Country party, each arranges to run three candidates for the next Senateelection inVictoria? The positionof the Electoral Office would become impossible. But the Commonwealth Electoral Officer should not be drawn into any dispute on the subject. If that shouldhappen our electoral administration will immediately come under suspicion and serious strife may follow; I am personally opposed to the printing of any party names on the ballotpaper,butif such names are to appear, they shouldbe the names which the partiesconcerned Select, and not the names which the Commonwealth Electoral Officer chooses. I hope the committee will see the force of my amendment. {: #debate-19-s1 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa -- Whilst I support the amendment I direct the attention of the honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Blackburn)** to the following proviso to proposed new sub-section 72c: - Provided that where a notification in pur suance of this section is not received by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer from each of the candidates whose names are included in a group not later than twelve o'clock noon on the day of nomination or where the designation set out in the notifications received from all the candidates is not the same, the designation which shall appear above the names of the candidates in the group shall be that determined by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer. I ask him what he thinks would be likely to happen if there is an ambiguity in any proposed designation? {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr Blackburn: -- I suppose in such a case the Commonwealth Electoral Officer could use some such term as " non-party " or " independent ". {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- Like the honorable member for Bourke, I am personally opposed to the proposal that party names should appear on the ballot-paper, but I am also opposed to the provision that the Commonwealth Electoral Officer may alter or omit the names chosen by the parties. Party politics should be kept entirely apart from our electoral administration. I do not agree that the Commonwealth Electoral Officer should be authorized to say to any party, " You cannot use the name you have chosen. You must use the name that I shall choose ". If that procedure is permitted strange results may follow, not only in connexion with the Labour party, but also in connexion with the Country party. Moreover, an alteration on the ballot-paper of the designation chosen by a particular party may have the effect of making confusion worse confounded for the electors who, having studied leaflets, advertisements, and circulars issued under the name of a particular party, and having decided to vote for that party may, on receiving their ballot-papers at the polling booth, be unable to find the name of that party upon it because the Commonwealth Electoral Officer has chosen to make some alteration. I can see no justification whatsoever for giving to the Commonwealth Electoral Officer any discretion in this matter. The Government is, in fact, putting its electoral officers in an invidious position. I am sure that they do not want to accept this obligation, and it is not right to force it upon them. I ask the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** if it is right to force an electoral officer to determine what political name shall be borne by a group of candidates, which fails to notify him of the designation it wishes to have. A position may arise in which one candidate may wish his group to bear one name, and another may favour another name. In that case also, the obligation would be on the Electoral Officer to invent a name. {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr Blackburn: -- The honorable member is right about that. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- There is no question about it. The proviso does not state that the Electoral Officer may name any group of candidates; it stipulates " The designation shall be that determined by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer ". That is ridiculous. 1 do not know whether the Electoral Officer or the Assistant Minister conceived this idea, but it is a most absurd provision to insert in the Commonwealth Electoral . Act. By what stretch of imagination, common sense, logic, or anything else, and on what right., has the Government decided to compel electoral officers to undertake this obligation? I have no doubt that the electoral officers do not wish to undertake it. {: #debate-19-s2 .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY:
Richmond .- The objections raised by the honorable member for Bourke **(Mr. Blackburn)** might well be considered by the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock).** *[Quorum formed.)* I would. go further than the honorable member for Bourke and suggest that the Government should delete the entire provision relating to the designation of groups of candidates if it decides to accept the honorable member's suggestion. {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr Blackburn: -- I would like to see that done also. {: .speaker-JLZ} ##### Mr ANTHONY: -- The electoral officers may be placed in a most invidious position if the power to determine desig nations is taken away from them. Two different groups of candidates, as the honorable member for Gippsland has interjected, may wish to be designated as "Labour party". Both of them would be entitled to use this designation if the electoral officer were not allowed some discretion. Two or more groups of " Country party " candidates might also nominate. I believe that the Assistant Minister must go the whole of the way and delete all reference to party designations, if he accepts the amendment. An electoral officer might be forced otherwise to accept some fanciful or objectionable designation which would make the ballot-paper appear ridiculous. {: #debate-19-s3 .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK:
Assistant Minister · Riverina · CP -- The Government is prepared to accept the two suggested amendments. Amendment agreed to. Amendment (by **Mr. Blackburn)** agreed to - >That the proviso be omitted. Clause, as amended, agreed to. Clauses 8 to 11 agreed to. Clause 12 (Authorized witnesses). {: #debate-19-s4 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
Leader of the Australian Labour party - nonCommunist · West Sydney -- This proposal to include secretaries of hospitals among authorized witnesses of postal votes might be regarded as widening the opportunity to take those votes in hospitals but, at the same time, it might cause a restriction to be imposed by State governments. Those governments, having control over hospitals, might declare that no other persons but secretaries of the hospitals shall be empowered to undertake the duties of collecting ballotpapers and distributing applications for postal votes. {: .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr Gregory: -- That could not be done under Commonwealth law. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- But it could be done under State law. The inclusion of secretaries of hospitals among persons entitled to undertake duties in connexion with postal voting would give the State authorities an opportunity to make regulations preventing other persons from entering those institutions in order to carry out electoral duties. That would exclude people for whom provision is probably made in the act. The Commonwealth Government's intention is to liberalize this provision, but, in the very process of liberalization, the State authorities may seize a chance to impose restrictions not contemplated by the Commonwealth. That has actually happened in New South Wales. State governments might, for instance, prevent bona fide representatives of the Labour party from entering hospitals in order that their supporters could record their votes as they wished. Many people in hospitals are sick, infirm or aged; sometimes their eyesight is not good and their capacity to understand exactly the procedure set down in the application forms for postal votes and for recording such votes is such that they need guidance from people upon whom they can rely and who are willing to show them how to vote in the way in which they wish. The provisions already contained in the act are adequate and therefore members of my party will oppose this proposed alteration because of the risk that the Government's intentions may be defeated, by action on the part of the State governments. {: #debate-19-s5 .speaker-JNX} ##### Mr BARNARD:
Bass .- The principal act contains a long list of persons who are authorized to witness postal votes. Secretaries of big hospitals will probably not wish to undertake this extra duty, whereas secretaries of hospitals which accommodate only a few patients may wish to exercise a little extra authority, in which event the danger pointed out by the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** becomes real. The list of authorized witnesses includes officers of the Public Service, electoral officers, postmasters and postmistresses, stipendiary and special magistrates, justices of the peace, school-teachers, lighthousekeepers, permanent-way inspectors, and others. It seems a sufficiently comprehensive list, and I cannot see any reason for adding to it secretaries of hospital boards. Unless the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** can give a good explanation for this addition, I think that the clause should be opposed. {: #debate-19-s6 .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr NOCK:
Assistant Minister · Riverina · CP -- Representations have been made to the Government by executive committees of country hospitals and associations in Victoria for the addition of secretaries of hospitals to the list of authorized witnesses. It is felt that secretaries of hospitals are placed in an invidious position in not being authorized to witness postal votes when nurses, midwives, and others, who are junior to them, as well as medical officers may do so. There are no sound grounds for the objection of the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley),** because a hospital board which desired to make some exclusive provision could as easily apply it to the matron or a doctor as to any one else. {: #debate-19-s7 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa .- I do not object to secretaries of hospitals being added to the list of authorized witnesses, but I would be happier if sick people in hospitals were not subject to interference by political canvassers. I can imagine myself voting against any clause which might lead to patients in hospitals being worried. Any inmate of a hospital or maternity home, who expresses a wish to obtain a postal vote, should be able to get one; but the practice of representatives of political parties canvassing inmates of hospitals for votes should be discouraged by the authorities. I know that this sometimes takes place, and I object to it. {: #debate-19-s8 .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr GANDER:
Reid .- I desire to know from the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** whether the persons referred to in section 91b of the principal act, as well as secretaries of hospitals, will be free to witness postal votes in hospitals. {: .speaker-F4T} ##### Mr Fadden: -- The proposal is merely to add secretaries of hospitals to the list. {: .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr GANDER: -- I want to know whether any of the authorized persons mentioned in the list can go into a hospital and witness a postal vote cast by a patient. Will the Assistant Minister include a provision in the bill authorizing such persons to enter hospitals for that purpose ? {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr Nock: -- The Commonwealth Government has no control over hospital regulations. The .persons mentioned in the act are eligible to act as witnesses of postal votes. {: .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr GANDER: -- In the State hospitals of New South Wales - there are two in my electorate and two in the Werriwa electorate - the only persons who may witness postal votes are doctors or matrons' associated with the institutions. No justice of the peace is allowed to act in that capacity. {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr Nock: -- Commonwealth legislation does not prevent them. {: .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr GANDER: -- Will the Assistant Minister make representations to State governments that any candidate may send canvassers to hospitals to solicit votes? {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr Nock: -- I cannot promise to do that, because the hospital authorities control their own affairs. {: .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr GANDER: -- Something should be done. I am not greatly concerned about adding secretaries of hospitals to the list. At election time, a State hospital may be gazetted as a polling place. Should that be done, would I, not being an inmate of the hospital, be entitled to vote there? {: .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr Nock: -- 1 think that an elector may record his vote at any gazetted polling place. {: .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr GANDER: -- At the State hospitals in New South Wales, the authorities will not allow inside the ground any one who is not an inmate of the institution. Moreover, no how-to-vote cards may be distributed within such institutions by any person who is associated with any of the candidates. If there are four candidates, as there have been at times in the Reid electorate, the authorities will permit some person to sit outside the polling booth and hand out to each person who wishes to vote four howtovote cards. It is practically a case of shuffling the cards and taking your pick. Fortunately, the electors of Reid have shown wisdom in selecting me as their representative, but the time may corns when that may be altered. The Assistant Minister would be well advised to see that provision is made for justices of the peace, or other authorized persons, to go into these institutions for the purpose of witnessing postal votes, and also that how-to-vote cards may be distributed by canvassers on behalf of candidates. {: #debate-19-s9 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
Leader of the Australian Labour party - nonCommunist · West Sydney -- During the Corio by-election campaign a polling booth was placed inside the grounds of the flying school at Point Cook, which was prohibited territory so far as the general public was concerned. I brought the matter before the Chief Electoral Officer in Melbourne, and said that I believed that no restriction whatever could be placed on free access to that polling booth. My contention was upheld, and free access to the polling booth was given. I put scrutineers in, and also persons outside the booth, instructing them to see that the provisions of the electoral law were observed. No canvasser went within 30 feet of the entrance to the booth. {: .speaker-K9A} ##### Mr Gander: -- Persons entering the booth had to pass an armed guard. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY: -- If the State institutions in New South Wales, to which reference has been made, have adopted the procedure mentioned, their decision could logically be challenged. But perhaps it would be better if the Commonwealth were to provide polling booths outside the grounds. I do not think that there should be a polling booth in any military ground which ordinarily is not free to the public. Polling booths should be outside such areas, even if that necessitates the erection of temporary booths. {: #debate-19-s10 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa -- Clause 12 deals with the witnessing of postal votes. I agree with the remarks of the honorable member for Reid **(Mr. Gander)** regarding postal votes by hospital patients. In dealing with these State institutions, we are confronted with State regulations. Where a hospital contains as many as 800 or 1,000 voters, the suggestion that a polling booth should be erected outside the hospital grounds is a wise one, and the Government should give consideration to it. Many hospital patients are old persons who have pioneered this country. They are worthy of every consideration. Their rights should not be interfered with by any regulation made by a State government. {: .speaker-KZX} ##### Mr GEORGE LAWSON:
BRISBANE, QUEENSLAND · FLP; ALP from 1936 -- If there were no polling booth within the hospital, how could patients who are not allowed to leave the building exercise the franchise ? {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- They could exercise a postal vote. Clause agreed to. Progress reported. {: .page-start } page 963 {:#debate-20} ### BILLS RETURNED FROM THE SENATE The following bills were returned from the Senate without amendment: - War Pensions Appropriation Bill 1940. Invalid and Old-Age Pensions Appropriation Bill 1940. {: .page-start } page 964 {:#debate-21} ### SUGAR AGREEMENT BILL 1940 Bill received from tlie Senate and (on motion by **Mr. Street)** read a first time. {: .page-start } page 964 {:#debate-22} ### ADJOURNMENT Industrial Conference: Dilution of Labour- **Mr. E.** O'Dea- **Mr. J.** W. Beasley, M.P. - Northern Territory Contracts: Settlement of Industrial Disputes - Military Contracts at Ingleburn. Motion (by **Mr. Street)** proposed - >That the House do now adjourn. {: #debate-22-s0 .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr BEASLEY:
Leader of the Australian Labour party - nonCommunist · West Sydney -- This afternoon, the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** made a statement, at the conclusion of which be mentioned a proposal to call a conference of employers and employees. With that proposal, I understand, the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Curtin)** concurred. Since the statement was made, [ have given the matter some thought, and feel that before approval is given to the idea very close consideration should be given to it by the parties concerned. If the proposal is to be regarded seriously - and I have no doubt that the Prime Minister intended that it should - it is desirable that the terms of reference under which the conference is to be called should first be drafted. It would be useless to convene a conference unless the parties had some knowledge of the matters to be discussed, and perhaps decided upon. One matter which might well be discussed at such a conference is the provision of a formula for bridging the gap between fixed .wages and rapidly increasing prices. It is not necessary to enumerate in detail the various items of expenditure in the household of the worker, but we know that substantial increases of price have taken place in respect of tea, bread and meat, and it is even suggested that the price of sugar may increase by a £d. per lb. The time-lag between price .increases and wages adjustments is too long. It used to be about five months. It has now been reduced to three months and, I understand, it is proposed to reduce it further to two months. Another matter for discussion is the proposal for the dilution of labour in certain crafts. I understand that an agreement has been reached on this subject between the Amalgamated Engineering Union and the Commonwealth Government. I do not know whether the Government intends to bring this agreement before Parliament, or to introduce legislation to give effect to it The agreement does not apply to all trades. In fact, many of the unions are opposed to it. I am concerned with the position after the war of the men who are to be admitted to certain trades under the agreement. It .is important to the unions concerned that the situation should be clarified, so that the standard of skill in the crafts may be preserved, and the wage standard for that skill maintained. It may be provided that the agreement with the engineers' union is to be dissolved at the end of the war, but the men who will have been admitted during the war cannot be dissolved, and they may continue in the craft to become a source of irritation in the organization. Another matter which might be considered is the repatriation of members of trade unions who have joined an expeditionary force, or the Militia. That will involve finding jobs for them in industry after the war, and also providing for those who have filled the jobs during the period of the war. All of these matters are worthy of close and serious consideration. However, the point which I particularly emphasize is the need for informing the probable participants in the conference of the matters and the terms of reference which will come before it, of the decisions which it is hoped to reach, and of the means to be employed to implement those decisions. {: #debate-22-s1 .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI:
Werriwa -- I do not know whether the honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley)** is trying to place the Leader of the Opposition **(Mr. Curtin)** in a false position, but I point out that my leader did not agree to anything in reply to the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies).** He simply indicated that he was prepared to endeavour to induce the industrialists to join in some scheme which would keep industry free from industrial trouble during the war. I do not think that any other construction could be placed on his remarks. He certainly did not sign a blank cheque. {: .speaker-JPN} ##### Mr Blackburn: -- The matter is one for the unions themselves. {: .speaker-L07} ##### Mr LAZZARINI: -- Yes, and that is what the Leader of the Opposition indicated. I rose particularly to refer to two challenges to statements made recently by me in this House. 1 do not like my veracity to be challenged, and I am prepared to repeat what 1 have already said. **Mr. O'Dea,** the secretary of the Shop Assistants Union in Sydney, took me to task in the last issue of *The Century* regarding a statement that I made about a certain cheque. I said that the cheque was returned from the bank because there were not sufficient funds to meet it. That statement was technically wrong, but certainly the secretary of the union would have been in a much stronger position if he had allowed my statement to pass, because everybody knows that, in the commercial world, cheques are, at times, signed quite honestly when there are insufficient funds to meet them. **Mr. O'Dea** also said that he would forward a certificate to the Prime Minister to prove that I was wrong in my statement. I addressed a question to the Prime Minister regarding this matter, and this is the answer that I received - >Yesterday, the honorable member for Werriwa asked, without notice, whether **Mr, O'Dea,** the secretary of the Shop Assistants Union, had forwarded to me a Banker's certificate in relation to a cheque sent by his union to the Australian Labour party office, Sydney, and, if so, whether I would indicate the nature of such certificate? > >I desire to inform the honorable member that I have not seen the certificate referred to. What happened was that the secretary of the union sent a clerk to the Australian Labour party office to inquire what would be the amount of the affiliation fee for a given number of members, and whether if that fee were paid on that day, his union would be entitled to send delegates to the Labour conference. The answer given was, I think, that the fee would be £65, and, if paid, the delegates could attend the conference. That cheque was sent to the Australian Labour party office fairly late after dinner on a Thursday, and, as it bore **Mr. O'Dea's** signature only, it was queried at the office. The office was told that **Mr. O'Dea** was secretary and treasurer of the union and that the signature was regular. The clerk took the cheque back to the union office, and had the stamp of the union placed on it, but, when the cheque was sent to the bank, it was returned on the ground that it should have borne two signatures. This was a case of a deliberate action to do something that was dishonest. If **Mr. O'Dea** had left the matter where it was, he would have appeared in a better light, and so would the union, if it endorses his action. The honorable member for West Sydney, in an interview published in the Sydney press, said that I had made a misstatement, because he had never worked at his trade in Melbourne. *Hansard* contains no record of my having said that the honorable member had ever worked at his trade in Melbourne. What [ did say was that he had worked as a non-unionist at Werribee and Port Pirie. {: .speaker-JOM} ##### Mr Beasley: -- I was a unionist when I was eligible to be one, so that is a lie. **Mr. SPEAKER (Hon. G. J. Bell).The** honorable member for West Sydney is out of order. His remark is distinctly unparliamentary and moreover, very offensive. {: #debate-22-s2 .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD:
East Sydney .- An explanation by the Government is called for regarding certain contracts being carried out at Darwin. The Government is expending large sums of money there, and, according to reliable information supplied to me by men engaged on the work, it is not getting value for its money. The works to which I refer are the Larrakia Barracks, which is a contract job, and the Royal Australian Air Force aerodrome, which, I. understand, is being erected by private enterprise on the basis of 5 per cent. on the cost of the work. I am informed that the concrete used in the foundations and walls is not up to the specifications, and is of inferior quality. The mixture contains coarse unsuitable metal, and the proportions are 11 of metal to 1 of cement. I am further told that a No. 11 wire nail could easily be driven into the walls. Another matter that merits inquiry is the statement that shipments of timber marked for the Royal Australian Air Force job are sent to the Larrakia Barracks, because there is only one contractor for the two jobs. If this be so, an inquiry seems to be warranted. It is also said that wooden frames of jarrah from Western Australia are left exposed to the weather, and become twisted and warped. The contractor is not worried about that, because he is paid 5 per cent, on cost, and the greater the cost of the work the more he receives. Recently, SO doors in No. 1 barracks were twisted and warped, and E am informed that the cost of repairing each of them will be 30s. Lots of steel fabrication is not bolted, and in cases where it has been bolted only small bolts have been used. Although large numbers of men are engaged on the work being done at 5 per cent, on cost, from July, 1939, to January, 1940, only seven cottages and the shells of seven barracks each measuring 50 feet by 25 feet were completed. That information which is supplied by men who are in the best position to know what is happening shows clearly that the Government is not exercising sufficient care and scrutiny in the carrying out of those works, and in ensuring that it is not robbed by unscrupulous contractors. I have volumes of information about those works if the Minister wants to verify any of my statements. I understand that the honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Blain)** made certain charges about those works. {: .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr Blain: -- Yes ; I did so last session. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr WARD: -- The Minister should take immediate steps to hold an inquiry and to institute a proper supervision and thus see that these practices are discontinued. What I have said already substantiates other charges that contractors for the construction of works and the supply of materials and, equipment are not giving the necessary quality ; and, in view of the large expenditure entailed, I hope that immediate action will be taken. {: #debate-22-s3 .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN:
Northern Territory -- I intended to rise earlier to bring before the Assistant Minister **(Mr. Nock)** who represents the Minister for the Interior and before the Minister for the Army **(Mr. Street),** some of the conditions that exist in Darwin. Unfortunately neither Minister has visited that town which is becoming more important almost hourly. ' The first matter with which I shall deal was referred to by me in a question addressed to the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies)** about three weeks ago, to which he gave a favorable reply. For the last five years I have been advocating either that the Public Service Arbitrator should be sent to Darwin or that there be established at Darwin an industrial board of similar character to the Industrial Board which determines wages and conditions for employees in industry in the Australian Capital Territory and at Jervis Bay. My efforts over that period have met with no success, but the Prime Minister said in answer to my question that he would give my proposals very favorable consideration. All that Darwin has at present is a Board of Reference which must send its recommendations south for determination, whereas a previous Minister for the Interior was legally informed that an ordinance could easily be gazetted to enable an industrial board, with full power to make determinations, to function. If it be good enough for Canberra and Jervis Bay to have an industrial board, it is good enough for Darwin. As the chairman of the Canberra board, on which there are two other members, is engaged on his duties at Canberra only part time, he could be sent north in his spare time and be clothed with power similar to that which he possesses at Canberra. It appears to me that Ministers of the Interior take advice as to what they should do in the Northern Territory from the Commissioner for Commonwealth Railways, **Mr. Gahan,** who is the stumbling block which prevents the Public Service Arbitrator from going to Darwin or an industrial board from being set up there. The Minister for the Army knows of the clash which recently occurred at Darwin between some of the military forces and some of the industrialists, and he must know that it is undesirable to have the town maligned by press reports which become more exaggerated the farther they travel south. A great deal of the dissatisfaction which led to that clash would disappear if the men had a proper means for having their grievances adjusted. That means would be provided, either by the Public Service Arbitrator, or by an industrial board, but preferably by an industrial board, because the Public Service Arbitrator would be able to deal with the working conditions only of members of the public service, such as railway workers and postal officials, whereas the whole industrial field would be covered by a properly-constituted industrial board. In order to impress upon the Government the necessity for an industrial board, I point to the employees in the hotels at Darwin, most of which have degenerated into grog shops. I have seen girls of 17 or 18 years of age working under conditions almost of slavery in those hotels. They should be provided with a means to have their conditions improved. I choose to-night to bring these matters forward, because to-morrow the secretary of the North Australian Workers Union will arrive in Canberra to discuss industrial conditions in the Northern Territory with Commonwealth Ministers, who have agreed to see him. It is a crying shame, however, that a union secretary should have to come all the way from Darwin to Canberra to assist the member for the Northern Territory, who, for five years, has been trying to obtain justice for the workers. I ask the Ministers at the table to use their influence with the Prime Minister in an endeavour to persuade him to do something definite to adjust the situation, as he promised to do. {: .speaker-KX7} ##### Mr Ward: -- There is any amount of room for an improvement of industrial conditions in the Northern Territory. {: .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN: -- Improvement ? I should say so! I am glad that the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** referred to the defence contracts. I have in my hand the proof of a speech that I made last session about that very matter. I went into the question thoroughly, more thoroughly even than the member for East Sydney, because I, having been on the spot, was personally conversant with the details. There is room for a royal commission to inquire into the matters which I then, and the honorable' member for East Sydney tonight, have brought before honorable members. I want to know, however, why the Defence Advisory Panel did not do the job that it was set up to do. What has become of the Defence Advisory Panel? We heard a lot about its appointment when it was made. It was supposed to be vested with supreme powers, but it turns out not only that it is merely an advisory committee, but also that it does not seem to function at all. Explanation of why it is not doing its job is needed. {: .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: -- Does the honorable member endorse what the honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** said about the use of inferior concrete? {: .speaker-JPT} ##### Mr BLAIN: -- Exactly. I told the whole story last session. It is in *Hansard* for the honorable gentleman to read. Last week I stated that a searching inquiry should bc made into what has occurred at the Ingleburn camp, where I understand that conditions are similar to those at Darwin. I believe that the same percentage system applies. I . have been informed that if the public only knew how commissions have been passed from one to another, and how costs of materials have been inflated in order to obtain higher commissions by the percentage method, the appointment of a royal commission would be demanded. If the Minister requires any information on the subject I can take him to certain building surveyors in Sydney who can explain in detail what is occurring. I should like to know why the defence panel appointed some time ago has ceased to function. The answers received in reply to questions are in most cases unsatisfactory, and sometimes evasive. On the 9 th May, I asked - >As rumours are in circulation that the practice of letting military contracts at Ingleburn camp on a percentage basis has been discontinued, will the Minister for the Army inform me when it ceased and why? The answer read - >The letting of military contracts at Ingleburn camp on cost plus percentage basis was a temporary measure to meet an emergency situation which has now passed and no additional work is arranged on that basis. That is not an answer. Later I intend to refer to the conditions prevailing at the Redbank and other military camps, and I am sure that when I disclose what is actually occurring the charges will be so grave that if a royal commission is not appointed a committee of inquiry will have to be set up without delay. I intend to let the people know the facts. {: #debate-22-s4 .speaker-KVN} ##### Mr STREET:
Minister for the Army · Corangamite · UAP -- I do not propose to reply in detail to the points raised by honorable members. The honorable member for West Sydney **(Mr. Beasley),** who directed attention to the proposed industrial conference, mentioned certain points which should be included in the terms of reference. These will be brought under the notice of the Prime Minister **(Mr. Menzies).** The honorable member for East Sydney **(Mr. Ward)** made serious allegations concerning the methods adopted by contractors in Darwin, and his statements were supported in some degree by the honorable member for the Northern Territory **(Mr. Blain). His** remarks will be brought under the notice of the Minister for the Interior **(Senator Foll),** in order that they may he fully investigated, as also will the subject of the industrial conditions at Darwin mentioned by the honorable member for the Northern Territory. Question resolved in the affirmative. {: .page-start } page 968 {:#debate-23} ### PAPERS The following papers were presented : - Commonwealth Public Service Act - Appointment of G. I). Vines, Department of Civil Aviation. Nationality Act - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 69. Supply and Development Acts - Regulations Amended - Statutory Rules 1940, No. 70. House adjourned at 11.49 p.m. {: .page-start } page 968 {:#debate-24} ### ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS *The following answers to questions were circulated: -* {:#subdebate-24-0} #### Invalid and Old-age Pensioners : Allotments from Relatives {: #subdebate-24-0-s0 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: y asked the Treasurer. *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Will allotments of pay made by members of the Australian Imperial Force and naval ratings to pensioner parents be calculated as income under the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, and added to other income or savings in the bank when determining the amount of pension to be paid? 1. When a member of the Australian Imperial Force or the Navy leaves to a pensioner parent a sum of money saved from his army or navy pay, will such sum be taken into account when determining the amount of pension to be paid? {: #subdebate-24-0-s1 .speaker-KUG} ##### Mr Spender:
UAP -- The answers to *the* honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="a" start="l"} 0. No. {: type="1" start="2"} 0. Any sum of money held by a pensioner for his or her own use, whether in hand or in the bank, is property within the meaning of the Invalid and Old-age Pensions Act, and must therefore be taken into account when determining the amount of pension to be paid. Where, however, it is established that allotment or other moneys received from a son arc being held in trust for the son, the amount held in trust will not be taken into account when determining the amount of pension to be paid. {:#subdebate-24-1} #### Shipbuilding {: #subdebate-24-1-s0 .speaker-KHL} ##### Mr Holloway: y asked the Prime Minister, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Has the Government yet decided upon a ship construction policy; if so, will he take the first opportunity to place it before the House ? 1. If it is decided to build ships undo government control, will the Government utilize the docks and shipbuilding facilities existing in the several States rather than confine the operations to one State only? 2. If the Government decides to call for tenders from private companies, will he see that tenders are invited from all States with shipbuilding equipment, &c.? {: #subdebate-24-1-s1 .speaker-N76} ##### Mr Menzies:
UAP -- The Government is still considering proposals relating to shipbuilding in Australia, including the matters referred to by the honorable member. {:#subdebate-24-2} #### Sugar {: #subdebate-24-2-s0 .speaker-KFE} ##### Mr Gregory: y asked the Minister representing the Minister for Trade and Customs, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What is the amount paid to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited for the refining and supplying of sugar wholesale to traders ? 1. How is this amount arrived at, in detail? {: #subdebate-24-2-s1 .speaker-KUG} ##### Mr Spender:
UAP -- The Minister for Trade and Customs has supplied the following information : - >The amount paid to the Colonial Sugar Refining Company Limited for refining, financing, selling and management in respect of Australian sugar sales during 1938-39 was £1,316,550, covering 363,400 tons of raw sugar required for home consumption. The rate pel ton was thus £3 12s.5d. The basis of these payments to the company by the Queensland Government is - > >reimbursement of actual costs of refining, covering labour, materials and depreciation of plant; > >the supply of finance at less than bank rates of interest for the purchase from the mills of raw sugar ; > >a selling charge of 7s. per ton (i.e. 1 per cent. ) ; and > >management costs at approximately 1 6s. per ton, which covers head office expenses, Federal and State income taxes and net profit. > >The actual net profit after payment of taxation is approximately 12s. per ton, or onefifteenth of Id. per lb. Ballarat Post Office. {: #subdebate-24-2-s2 .speaker-KYC} ##### Mr Pollard:
BALLAARAT, VICTORIA d asked the Postmaster- General, *upon notice -* {: type="1" start="1"} 0. What financial provision, if any, has been mode for the remodelling of the Ballarat Post Office! 1. What is the estimated cost? 2. When is it expected that the work will be commenced? 3. Did the honorable member for Wentworth, when Postmaster-General, approve of any plans for the necessary work at Ballarat Post Office? 4. If so, what was the estimated cost of the work recommended by his predecessor? {: #subdebate-24-2-s3 .speaker-KWC} ##### Mr Thorby:
Minister for Health · CALARE, NEW SOUTH WALES · CP -- The answers to the honorable member's questions are as follows : - {: type="1" start="1"} 0. Provision was not made in the current year's Estimates for remodelling the Ballarat Post Office. The question of including the work in the programme for 1940-41 is, however, under consideration. 1. The study of requirements has not yet reached the stage when it is practicable to prepare a firm estimate. 2. It cannot be stated definitely when the work will be commenced, but it will he carried out as soon as funds can be made available for the purpose. 3. At an inspection of the building in January last my predecessor indicated that he considered the accommodation was inadequate and directed that steps be taken with a view to effecting an improvement at the earliest possible date. 4. See answer to No. 2. " Soviets To-day." {: #subdebate-24-2-s4 .speaker-KFS} ##### Sir Henry Gullett:
Minister in charge of Scientific and Industrial Research · HENTY, VICTORIA · UAP -- In my absence from the House on the 8th May the honorable member for Batman **(Mr. Brennan)** asked a question relating to the publication *Soviets To-day.* I now supply the following information : - The whole of the copy submitted for the issue of the 22nd April of *Soviets To-day* related to Russia, and so came within the prohibition issued by the censorship that certain newspapers should not refer to neutral countries, including Russia. The matter was therefore deleted. If this publication will observe censorship conditions in the same spirit as Australian newspapers generally are doing, it will have no difficulty with censorship. **Mr. E.** 0. O'Dea. {: #subdebate-24-2-s5 .speaker-N76} ##### Mr Menzies:
UAP -- Yesterday, the honorable member for Werriwa **(Mr. Lazzarini)** asked, *without notice,* whether **Mr. O'Dea,** the secretary of the Shop Assistants Union, had forwarded to me a banker's certificate in relation to a cheque sent by his union- to the Australian Labour party oflice, Sydney, and, if so, whether I would indicate the nature of such certificate ? I desire to inform the honorable mem ber that I have not Been the certificate referred to. National Insurance. {: #subdebate-24-2-s6 .speaker-N76} ##### Mr Menzies:
UAP s. - Yesterday, the honorable member for Wannon **(Mr. Scholfield)** asked me a question, *without notice,* in relation to the reimbursement of the expenditure of approved societies under the national insurance scheme. As indicated by my colleague, the Minister for Social Services **(Sir Frederick Stewart),** yesterday, in reply to a question on this subject by the honorable member for Perth **(Mr. Nairn),** approved societies have been paid their allowable expenditure up to a maximum of 6s. a member enrolled in each approved society. All but a very few societies, whose expenditure was excessive, have been reimbursed their outlay in full. . Liquor Ordinance Permits. {: #subdebate-24-2-s7 .speaker-K4X} ##### Mr Nock:
CP k. - On the 3rd May, the honorable member for Denison **(Mr. Mahoney)** asked the following question, *without notice: -* >Will the Minister representing the Minister tor the Interior obtain for me a statement showing the number of special liquor permits granted to each hotel licensee in Canberra from June, 1939, to March, 1940? I am now in a position to supply the following information : -

Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 16 May 1940, viewed 22 October 2017, <>.