1st Parliament · 1st Session
The President took the chair at10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
SenatorDR KE laid upon the table: -
Foreign Labour Contract Question in Western Australia- Commission’s Report.
In Committee. - (Consideration of amendments of House of Representatives resumed from 21st August, vide page 15268).
Clause 109 (Application for a postal rote certificate).
– I move -
That the committee agree to the amendment, omitting the words “ (a) who resides more than five miles from the polling-place at which he is entitled to vote ; or.”
It will be recognised that it is hardly neces- sary to retain paragraph (a), seeing that paragraph (6) provides that any person who has reason to believe that he will on polling day be more than five miles from the polling place at which he is entitled to vote, may apply for a postal vote certificate.
– I fail to see the necessity for omitting paragraph (a). Senator Drake has stated that paragraph (b) makes the retention of paragraph (a) unnecessary, but the object of its insertion I take it was to enable any person who was living more than five miles from a polling place to get a permission to vote by post, although he might not at the time have reason to believe that on polling day he would be more than five miles from the polling place at which he was entitled to vote. A man’s movements might be uncertain, and it would facilitate matters very much if the fact to be explained was that he was residing more than five miles away from the polling place, and therefore he was desirous of having an opportunity to vote by post ; it should not be necessary for him to say that he had reason to believe that on polling day he would be more than five miles distant. I think it would be a very great help to the voter to retain paragraph (a). Now that women have been enfranchised, it would be a very great convenience to those women who desired to vote to be able to make this application on the ground that they resided more than five miles from the polling’ place. Why should they have to make the declaration that they have reason to believe that on polling day they will be more than five miles away ? Why should it not be quite sufficient for a woman to say : “ I am living more than that distance from the polling place, and therefore I desire to record my vote by post? “
– I cannot see any necessity for the retention of the paragraph. If a woman lives more than five miles from the polling place, and she has no special reason for believing that she will be nearer to the polling place on that day, she can make a statement that she has reason to believe that she will be five miles away.
– What harm is there in retaining the paragraph?
– What is the use of retaining the provision if it is covered by paragraph (b)?
Motion agreed to.
Further verbal amendment agreed to.
Clause 112 (How vote recorded).
– In this clause the other House has made two amendments. As it left the Senate it read -
Any elector who has received a postal ballotpaper, shall in the presence of a postmaster, officer, police, stipendiary, special magistrate, or head master of a State school, and of no other person, record his vote as follows.
In the other House ithas been amended to read in this way : -
Any elector who has received a postal ballotpaper shall, in the presence of a postmaster, or a police, or stipendiary, or special magistrate, or a head-master of a State school, or such other person employed in the public service of the Commonwealth or of any State as may be appointed for the purposes of this section by the GovernorGeneral, and of no other person, record his vote as follows : -
It will be seen that the other House, by its amendments, has liberalized the clause. I draw special attention to these amendments, because they involve a number of consequential amendments altering the description of the class of persons in other clauses.
– I do not see why the voter should be debarred from posting the postal ballotpaper. I should like to hear some reason for making that amendment.
– It could be handed to a candidate’s agent.
– What is the objection to a voter handing his postal ballotpaper to an agent ? In Western Australia I have handed the ballot-paper to the canvasser to be remitted to the proper officer. We are quite sure that it goes, because he is interested in its transmission.
SenatorMillen. - Supposing that my agent got hold of my honorable friend’s vote ?
SenatorDrake. - The canvasser might post some and not post others.
– I do not lay any stress on it, but it seems to me that it is perfectly reasonable that the voter should be allowed to post the ballot-paper.
SenatorDRAKE. - It is better to agree to the amendment for the reason that otherwise there might be some interference with the secrecy of the ballot. An agent who got possession of a voting-paper might look to see whom the elector had voted for; and, to go a step further, he might forget to post some of the papers. I move -
That the committee agree to the amendments in the clause.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 113 -
The vote may be marked on a postal ballotpaper -
– The latter part of this clause refers to provisions for the use of the contingent vote which have been dropped by the House of Representatives. I do not know whether any honorable Senator would like to express any opinion on the subject, but if the contingent vote is not to be adopted, the latter part of the clause is meaningless. I move -
That the committee agree to the amendment omitting all the words after the word “ ballot-paper,” line 6,
– I think it was pretty well understood in the Senate that if the House of Representatives saw fit - as it was rumoured they would do - to interferein regard to the method adopted as to Senate elections, it would be proper for us to interfere in regard of House of Representatives elections, which we had scrupulously avoided doing. ‘ In this particular instance I cannot shut my eyes to the fact that it appears that the House of Representatives consider that they are the sole governing body of the Commonwealth, and that the Senate is a revising Chamber,” to humbly submit to whatever the other place chooses to send us. I am not going to take up that attitude. Further on in the Bill important amendments have been made in reference to elections for the Senate. It would be well for us to exercise a fatherly interest in the doings of certain wild people elsewhere, and check them a little for the good of the public. We ought to retain this provision for the contingent vote which was embodied in the Bill when it left the Senate.
Motion agreed to.
Consequential amendments in clause 114 agreed to.
New clauses 11 4a and 11 4b -
The postmaster, or police, stipendiary, or special magistrate, or head master of a State school, or other person employed in the public service of the Commonwealth or any State who is appointed by the Governor-General for the purposes of section 112 of this Act, who receives the envelope containing a postal ballot-paper for posting, shall forthwith post it.
The vote marked on a postal ballot-paper shall not, except as provided in section 119a, be looked at by any person other than the voter, until the counting of the votes at the scrutiny ; and the envelope in which the postal ballot-paper is placed shall not, after ithas been closed, be opened until the scrutiny.
– These new provisions require the postal ballot-paper to be immediately posted, and not opened until the scrutiny takes place. The new clauses are provisions with which we may very well agree. I move -
That the committee agree to new clauses 114a and 114b.
Motion agreed to.
Verbal amendments in clause 117 agreed to
Amendments 86 and 87 postponed.
New clause 11 9a -
Where any person who has received a postal ballot-paper satisfies the postmaster or officer that his sight is so impaired that he is . unable to vote without assistance, such postmaster or officer may . . . mark the postal ballotpaper as such elector may designate . . .
New clause verbally amended.
Senator MILLEN (NewSouth Wales).Clause 149 provides that if any voter satisfies the presiding officer that his sight is so impaired “ or that he is so illiterate that he is unable to vote without assistance,” the paper may be marked by the returning officer. I move -
That the clause be amended by inserting after the word “ impaired” line the words “ or that he is so illiterate.”
– An insuperable objection to the amendment is that in voting by post the signature of the voter is necessary for the purposes of comparison and identification. The words “ or that he is so illiterate” are quite appropriate in clause 149, which refers to voting at the polling booth, where no signature is necessary. There would be great danger in allowing a person who could not sign his name to vote by post.
Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.
New clause further verbally amended and agreed to.
Amendments omitting clauses 120 to 124 agreed to.
Any presiding officer may appoint a substitute to perform his duties during his temporary absence ….
– I propose to ask the committee to agree to the amendment of the House of Representatives, adding to the’ clause the words : - ‘ and may, if authorized by the returning officer so to do, appoint one or more assistant presidingofficers to assist him in presiding in any compartment in a polling booth, and any assistant presiding officer may, subject to the direction of the presiding officer, exercise all or any of his powers. “
– Will the assistant presiding officers be held responsible under the Act?
– Certainly ; an assistant presiding officer will himself be held responsible.
– In clause 148 the word “compartment” is used to mean the actual place in which the elector marks his ballot-paper. If the same term be used in the clause under discussion, it will be competent for a presiding officer to appoint an assistant to be present in the actual compartment where the votes are marked.
– It may be necessary to have two compartments in the event of elections for both Houses at the same time.
– I see clearly what is intended, and merely draw attention to the fact that if the same word be used in two distinct senses there may be complications.
– There seems to be a little ambiguity in the use of this word, as pointed out by Senator Millen. In clause 148 “compartment” means the place where the voter marks the ballot-paper, whereas in the present clause it means any portion of a polling booth. I suggest that some words be added to the effect that “ compartment “ in this clause means a separate portion of the polling booth.
– Why not simply provide that the presiding officer may appoint an assistant at any polling booth.
– I am afraid that if an assistant be allowed to range at will through a polling booth, the responsibility we are so anxious to fasten on him may be diminished.
– The chief presiding officer will have control over an assistant even if the latter be presiding at a separate compartment. The object of the clause evidently is that in the case of a double election for both Houses, the chief presiding officer may take charge of one election and the assistant of another.
– It has been suggested that the better plan would be to omit the word “ compartment “ and substitute “subdivision.” I move -
That the amendment be amended by omitting the word “compartment’’ with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word “ subdivision.”
Question - That the word “compartment “ stand part of the clause - resolved in the negative.
Question - That the word “ subdivision “ be inserted - resolved in the negative.
Amendment (by Senator Millen) agreed to.
That the words “ in a,” line 4, be omitted.
New clause, as amended, agreed to.
Verbal amendments in clause 130 agreed to.
Clause 136 (Ballot-papers initialed).
– I move -
That the amendment adding the words, “ The initials of the presiding officer shall be placed on the back of the ballot-paper in such a position as to be easily seen when the ballot-paper is folded so as to conceal the names of the candidates,” be agreed to.
This clause and amendment involve a question on which there has been a good deal of difference of opinion ; but it is generally considered that the initialing of the papers by the presiding officer is a safeguard against electoral offences.
Motion agreed to.
Clause 137 - .
Scrutineers may be appointed b.y candidates . . but so that not more than one scrutineer shall be allowed to each candidate at each polling place . . .
– I move -
That the amendment, omitting “place” and inserting “compartment” be agreed to.
The question raised in the clause is whether more than one scrutineer shall be allowed to each candidate at each polling compartment.
– Where a voter marks the ballot-paper, there should be no one but himself.
– The ambiguity in the use of the word “compartment” arises from the amendment made by the committee in clause 128.
– There is no ambiguity in this clause, the word “compartment” being qualified by the word “polling.”
– I suggest that on recommittal the word” polling “ be placed before the word “ compartment “ in clause 128, which would make consistent the amendments made in clause 137 by the House of Representatives.
– Whether the clause is amended as proposed, or allowed to remain in its present form, it will be very badly worded. We are not in a position to know the meaning of the term “ polling compartment.” I suggest that the clause should be postponed in order that the Minister may have an opportunity of amending it in such a way as to allow of its being readily understood. If we used the phrase, “at each polling place, or subdivision thereof,” the meaning would be clear.
– It would be better to adopt the phrase, “ subdivision of polling booth,” both in this clause and in clause128.
– I am perfectly willing to postpone the clause, and to consider how it can be amended in order to make the meaning more clear.
– Eor many years every one has understood what is meant by the term ‘” polling place,” but I never heard the term “ polling compartment” used. Clause 126 provides that the returning officer may appoint a presiding officer to preside at each polling place at which he will not be continuously present, and it is clear that he might appoint halfadozen presiding officers at as many different subdivisions of a polling booth.
– What is referred to in this clause as a polling compartment is spoken of in clause 126 as a polling place. Within that polling place there may be several subdivisions or polling booths, and there seems no reason why we should not use the term “ polling booth “ in this clause.
Further amendments in clause 137 agreed to.
New clause 139a -
An elector shall only be entitled to vote for the division in which he lives, and for which he is enrolled, provided that an elector who has changed his place of living may continue to vote for the division for which his name is enrolled until his name is transferred to some other roll, if he takes all necessary steps to procure the transfer of his name to the roll for the division in which he lives, forthwith, after he has lived in such division for one month.
– I move -
That the words “ Subject to section 33 “ be inserted at the beginning of the clause.
Section 33 makes an exception in the case of senators and members of the House of Representatives.
Amendment agreed to.
Clause further verbally amended and agreed to.
Amendment omitting clause 140 agreed to.
New clause 140a -
Any elector may vote at the polling place for which he is enrolled, or if he is absent from the polling place for which he is enrolled may vote at any other” polling place for the same division, if he makes and signs before the presiding officer a declaration in the form R 1 in the schedule.
Motion (by Senator Drake) proposed -
That the committee agree to the amendment inserting new clause 140a,
– The House of Representatives seems to have forgotten that there are two Houses in 1;his Parliament. They have provided that i,he electors shall have every opportunity to vote for candidates for seats in the House of Representatives, but they have not afforded similar facilities in the case of elections for the Senate. If it is desirable that electors shall be entitled to record their votes at any place within an electoral division, why should we not extend the facility to any polling pla’ce within the State. I move -
That the words “in the case of an election for the Senate” be inserted after the word “may,” line 1.
This will enable electors, in the case of elections for the Senate, to vote at any polling place within the State, and there will be no danger of personation. In Queensland the Act which was passed to regulate the federal elections provided for regulations affording such facilities as might be expedient to enable electors to vote at polling places in districts other than those in which they were enrolled, and the electors were allowed to vote at any polling place within the State. In Tasmania similar facilities are given, not only at elections for the Federal Parliament, but under the ordinary electoral law. ‘ Under section 86 of the Electoral Act of that State an elector who finds himself absent from the district in which he is enrolled on polling day is entitled, upon making a statutory declaration, to vote at the nearest polling place.
In Western Australia we have a similar provision with regard to absent voters. Under section 84 of the Electoral Act, it is provided that an elector, upon signing a declaration before any resident magistrate in the State, that he is a voter, shall be entitled to record his vote. The magistrate then sends the vote on to the returning officer of the district in which the elector is enrolled. For the federal elections regulations were passed under which the electors were enabled to make declarations and record their votes before, not only a resident magistrate, but before an electoral registrar or returning officer at the time that the election was proceeding. I will describe to honorable senators the manner in which personation will be prevented. Let us suppose that an elector enters the polling booth at Kalgoorlie and desires to vote in connexion with a federal election which is proceeding at Perth. The returning officer will supply him with a specially prepared ballot paper upon which he votes. He then hands the paper to the returning officer, who encloses it in an envelope which he addresses to the returning officer for the district for which the elector has voted. The envelope is then placed in the ballotbox, and when the box is opened it is sent on to the returning officer to whom it is addressed. That officer checks the name upon the roll, and if he finds that the elector has already exercised his franchise, the vote is disallowed, but if not it is recorded.
– What would happen if there were two John Smiths upon the roll?
– An elector must give such a description of himself as will enable the returning officer to identify him. Under this system thousands of electors in Western Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania were enabled to record their votes at the federal elections although they were absent from the districts for which they were enrolled. In not a single case was personation attempted.
– A voter would not be able to remember his number upon the roll.
– Cannot the honorable senator see that if a person wished to vote in my name at Coolgardie, and I had already voted at Perth, the returning officer, when the ballot-paper from Coolgardie reached him, would disallow the vote. He would immediately say - “ This is an attempt at personation, and I cannot record the vote.” I would further point out that the Senate and the House of Representatives have already agreed to a system which contains all the difficul ties indicated by Senator Charleston. We are content to allow an elector to go before a returning officer and obtain a certificate to enable him to vote by post. But hundreds of men will be unaware that they will be absent from the districts for which they are enrolled upon polling day until it is too late for them to avail themselves of the voting by post provisions. The very fact that in three of the States this system has been adopted is conclusive proof that it will work satisfactorily. There is absolute safety in it. Seeing that it has been deemed wise to confer this privilege upon voters in the case of elections for the House of Representatives, why should it not be extended to elections for the Senate ? It is only just that an elector should have the right to vote at any polling place in the State in which he resides. If we refuse to adopt this proposal we shall be depriving the electors of a privilege which they have hitherto enjoyed, and morally we shall be guilty of a breach of the Constitution. We have no right to take away from electors privileges which they possessed prior to federation.
– I think that this Bill offers facilities for voting equal to those which exist in any State. To enable an elector to vote at any polling place in a State would require very cumbersome machinery indeed. In New South Wales there are 1,700 polling places, and in order to keep an efficient check upon the votes it would be necessary to have separate rolls at each polling place - rolls with 500,000 names upon them. Senator Pearce has referred to Queensland, where in connexion with the elections for this Chamber the electors were allowed to vote, for candidates at any polling place in the State. He declares that in sanctioning a provision of this nature we shall be depriving the electors of Queensland of facilities which they formerly enjoyed. He altogether loses sight of the fact that in connexion with the recent federal elections they did not enjoy the right to vote by post. If an elector is allowed that privilege, it does not seem to me that we impose a very great hardship upon him by refusing him the right to vote at any polling place outside the division for which he is enrolled. I trust that the committee will agree to the amendment of the other Chamber.
– To my mind there is something in the proposal of Senator Pearce. Certainly the argument of the Postmaster-General is equally applicable to the House of Representatives. If they choose, the electors in the case of elections for the other Chamber can avail themselves of the voting by post provisions of the Bill. Why should we not give them the same facilities in regard to elections for the Senate ?
– In the case of elections for the House of Representatives there are not the same number of voters for the House of Representatives as there are in the case of elections for the Senate.
– If we once admit the principle that an elector can record his vote at any polling place in a division in the case of elections for the other Chamber, what objection can there be to extending it to elections for the Senate ? Either we should apply the principle to this. Chamber, or else strike out the provision altogether, and fall back upon the clauses relating to voting by post.
Senator MILLEN (New South Wales).- I agree with Senator Playford that this clause is really unnecessary. At the same time, it appears to me that the amendment proposed is a fair compromise between two sets of opinion. Some honorable senators think that an elector should be able to record his vote at any polling place in a State, whilst others adopt the view that he should be permitted to exercise the franchise only at anypolling place in the division for which he is enrolled. The amendment proposed constitutes a fair compromise between those two sets of opinions, because it does not limit him to his own polling place, and it does not leave him at liberty to- vote outside his division. It means that instead of an elector being confined possibly to an area of 50 miles, he will be confined possibly to an area of 250 miles.
– It might operate in the case of a man who was only 10 miles away from his booth.
– If the honorable senator does not think it is a concession, will he vote to strike it out 1 It is a concession to electors for the House of Representatives, and it is equally a concession to electors for the Senate, because, to whatever extent a man’s voting area is enlarged for the House of ‘Representatives, it will be equally enlarged for the Senate. If he desires to be consistent, the honorable senator who says that the clause confers some special privilege upon electors for another place, should propose that an elector for the House of Representatives as well as an- elector for the Senate should be able to vote in any part of a State. That is not proposed. The clause simply provides that an elector shall not be confined to his own polling place,” but that his voting area shall be enlarged to the extent of his division. Because it is a compromise, and not because I believe ‘in it verv much, I am prepared to vote for it.
– After the Senate had decided on a previous occasion that this privilege should not be extended to electors for this Chamber, several honorable senators openly expressed regret for the action they had taken. I think I may say without any breach of confidence that, in discussing the proposal privately, Senator Playford said on that occasion that it would be a convenience to the electors, and that if the other House inserted this provision he should not object to it. I refer to this conversation, because I am sure that Senator Playford, like every other honorable senator, is anxious to do what is right, and to give the electors every facility possible without opening the door to fraud.
– I do not remember the conversation.
– The conversation took place between Senator Playford and several other honorable senators who were seated on these benches. Senator Dobson, who voted against the clause, subsequently stated that he was not quite satisfied that the right course had been pursued, and that the question would certainly bear further discussion when the Bill came back from the House of Representatives. It was understood by many of those who unsuccessfully voted for this provision, that, if it were inserted by the House of Representatives, there would not be so many objections raised to it on the return of the measure. The only objection raised to Senator Pearce’s amendment is that, if carried, it will open the door to fraud. I think that the honorable senator has given the best possible answer to that objection. He has pointed out that the very concession for which he asks was accorded the electors in three of the States at the Last election, and that we have heard of no case of attempted personation, although two of those States - Queensland and Western Australia - are the largest in the Commonwealth.
– Personation was so common under a similar system in New South Wales that we had to resort to electors’ rights.
– It seems to me to be unjust that, simply because of dishonest practices in New South Wales, this concession should be taken away from the electors of three of the States which have hitherto enjoyed it.
– Voting by post will give them a greater privilege.
– I know of many cases in which the concession for which Senator Pearce is fighting has been of great value. If it is not agreed to, hundreds of electors in the smallest State of the Commonwealth will feel that they have a grievance, and that the State electoral laws would be preferable. Liberal as it is, I would prefer to see the Bill rejected rather than that this concession should be taken away from the electors of the State from which I come. To withdraw it would be to take a retrograde step, unless it can be shown on very fair presumptive evidence that it will open the door to dishonest practices. We have heard a great deal about the possibility of fraud, but no evidence has been brought forward to substantiate the fears entertained by some honorable senators in this respect. Our first consideration should be to give every facility to honest electors, and we should not be frightened by the bogy of dishonest voters. I hope that Senator Pearce’s amendment will be carried, for I am satisfied that it will not lead to attempts at personation, nor will it entail additional expense. It ‘ is. absurd for the Postmaster-General to say that if carried it will require complete sets of rolls to be kept in every polling place.
– Why 1
– The best answer to the honorable senator’s query is that elections have been carried out under the system proposed by Senator Pearce, and that it has not been found necessary to provide complete sets of rolls for every booth.
– I think the arguments adduced by Senator Pearce in support of his amendment are . unanswerable. In this -clause the principle is admitted that an elector should have a right to vote at any polling place in a division, and we have to remember that some of the divisions are -as large as the average size of the States. The electorate of Maranoa, for example, practically extends from the Gulf of Carpentaria to the New South Wales border, while the electorate of Coolgardie practically embraces the whole of the northern half of Western Australia. Roughly speaking, Western Australia comprises one-third of the area of the Commonwealth, so that the electorate of Coolgardie approximately embraces one-sixth of the area of the Commonwealth, and represents the average size of a State. Therefore, having laid down the principle that an elector should bo able to vote at any polling place in a division, there is no logical reason for refusing to extend that provision to a State in the case of elections for the Senate.
– The number of electors should surely be some consideration if we are to have a complete set of rolls provided at each of the booths.
– That is where the honorable and learned senator makes a mistake. It will be unnecessary to have complete sets of rolls provided at every booth if the Tasmanian procedure is adopted. The procedure proposed by Senator* Pearce is in principle the same as that of voting by post, the only difference being that the ballot-papers are sent from the polling booths in which they are marked to the returning officers of the divisions for which the electors are enrolled after the election instead of before it. We have admitted the principle that voting by post should be allowed, and there are certain difficulties in connexion -with that principle. A man has to obtain his postal vote certificate, and vote some days before the election, but under the system proposed by Senator Pearce a man who was away from his usual place of residence would be able to enter any polling booth in a State and record his vote on the day of election. That vote Would be sent with due secrecy to the booth for which his name was registered, where it could be counted. There would be less danger of personation than under the system of voting by post, because if a man who had been personated recorded his vote, the vote which had been improperly given would by being received after the election become invalid. We say that it is right that an elector should be able to vote in any polling booth in a division, and therefore we have admitted that the principle of Senator Pearce’s amendment is correct.
– We have not done so, but the House of Representatives has.
– I understand that their amendment will not be carried. If it is not it will place electors for the House of Representatives in a position different from that occupied by electors for the Senate. Electors for the House of Representatives will be able to vote at any polling place in their electorate, while an elector for the Senate will not be able to do so, and will be placed in an unfair position. The system proposed by Senator Pearce is not a new one ; it has obtained in three of the States, and I have not heard a single complaint of personation in any of them. The objection that it would lead to personation would equally apply to voting by post. The facilities for fraud under the latter system are as great if not greater than under the former system. In States in which we have a nomadic people, such as a gold-fields population which is constantly shifting, I am confident that, if Senator Pearce’s amendment is not carried, many people will not have the facilities for voting on the day of election that they should possess. Many of them may be away from their own polling place on election day, and if they have not taken the precaution to obtain a postal ballot-paper, they will not be able to vote. There is no reason why they should be precluded from voting for the Senate on election day at some booth other than that for which they are enrolled.
Senator CHARLESTON (South Australia.) - In dealing with this matter one cannot help recognising that there has been a compromise effected between those who are anxious that an elector should be able to vote anywhere within the State in which he resides, and those who are anxious that an elector who is away from his own district should only have the right to vote by post. I do not think that Senator Pearce’s proposal would give the electors the facilities which he desires to extend to them. An elector who desired to avail himself .cf it would be compelled to know the number opposite his name on the rolls, and it is very improbable that he would have such a knowledge. I do not now remember my number on the roll for Glen Osmond. According to the form which has to be signed by the voter, it will be neccessary for him to remember his number on the roll. Senator Pearce is asking the same privileges for an elector in voting for a senator, as are proposed to be given to him in voting for a member of the House of Representatives, but- 1 remind the honorable senator that at the polling places in a division the roll for that division will be provided, and if, for instance, I am in any portion of the Glen Osmond division, and voting for that division, I can be shown the roll. I will then be able to say - “That is my name, and that is my number,” and I shall be in a position to fill up the necessary form. The concession proposed by Senator Pearce will be valueless to any elector who does not remember his number on the roll. In any case, I am not in favour of the proposed concession. I believe that adequate facilities are given to voters by the provisions for voting by post, and I see no reason why they should be extended in the direction now desired. I point out that under the proposal submitted by Senator Pearce, the ballot-papers posted from the most distant polling places must be received by the returning officer to whom they have been addressed before he can declare the result of the poll. Under that system the results of a general election could not be known until time had been given for the return to each returning officer of the ballotpapers which might have been posted to him from every other electorate in the State.
– The final returns require to be counted in any case.
– Yes, but under the other system the returns from distant polling places are telegraphed to the central polling place. I see no necessity for an extension of the voting powers already proposed in the Bill.
– I regret very much that Senator Charleston has ranged himself on the side of those opposed to the amendment submitted by Senator Pearce ; but I still more regret the reasons which the honorable senator has given for his opposition. He seems to think that the proposal of the House of Representatives is a fair compromise between two opinions. I think it will shortly be necessary for us to call upon the legal representative of the Government to give us a definition of the word “ compromise,” because we are having compromises of one kind and another submitted in connexion with almost ever question that comes up for discussion. I fail to see how the proposal of the House of Representatives in this case can in any way be considered a compromise. The first question which honorable senators ought to ask themselves is this : Do we believe that the absent voter should be given an opportunity of recording his vote ? If honorable senators say “ No “ to that, I can understand their attitude ; but if they say that in common fairness and justice he should be given an opportunity to record his vote, I fail to see how they can find any reason for objecting to the proposal submitted by Senator Pearce. In my opinion, that proposal does not go far enough. For many years ‘ we have been striving to devise a scheme to enable the travelling voter, and the voter who is compulsorily absent from his electorate, to record his vote. It is a matter of common justice that he should be given an opportunity to do so, and if we can devise a scheme to enable him to vote, we should do so. Many of these absent voters are men of the highest intelligence. I can call the attention of Senator Drake to the fact that Judge Noel, one of the ablest of the District Court Judges in Queensland, owing to the fact that no facilities were afforded to him to record his vote when absent from the electorate for which he was enrolled, was for sixteen years disfranchised, and, of course, every member of the legal profession who went on circuit with him was under the same disability.
– But he can vote by post now.
– The voting facilities referred to by Senator Drake do not cover the case of commercial travellers, because it is not possible for them to say in what particular spot they will be on the day of election. We have also to consider the case of the crews on board the steamers, and there is the larger class still of the nomadic population in our western country, in Queensland and New South Wales, particularly, where men, from the very nature of their occupation are going about from station to station, and are not for any great length of time in any one division. The travelling miners must also be considered, though they are not so large a section of the community. I say that we should afford all these people an opportunity to record their votes. t What occurred at the last election in Queensland 1 Senator Drake knows very well that electors were permitted to vote for members of the House of Representatives and of the Senate in any part of the State of Queensland.
– They could not vote by post then.
– They could not ; but 1 am pointing out to the honorable and learned senator that the right to vote by post does not meet the case of a large number of electors. If we had had voting by post at the last federal elections in Queensland, and electors had not had the right to vote in any part of the State, a great many would have been unable to record their votes. “Under the system adopted they were able to vote, much to their own satisfaction, and to the satisfaction of the general public, and with the result that those elected under that system are more representative of the people than could possibly have been the case if the previous disabilities of electors had existed. Taking the definition of a division submitted by Senator Millen, the proposal here is that an elector may vote in any part of a State for a Senator, but if he is outside of his own particular division, he will not be able to vote for a member of the House of Representatives. As a matter of fact, we are here proposing to establish two systems of franchise, that for the election of a senator being wider than that proposed for the election of a member of the House of Representatives. I, as an elector of the division of Charters Towers, will, under this system, be entitled to vote for a candidate for the Senate in Brisbane, but I will not be permitted to vote there for a candidate for the Houses of Representatives for the division of Charters Towers. If I were in Brisbane at the time of a federal election for both Houses of the Federal Parliament, I should under this system have a vote only for the election of a member of one House. We are really proposing a different franchise for each of the Houses of the Federal Parliament. That, in my opinion, is not desirable, and if we can secure the election of members of both Houses upon the same franchise it is our bounden duty to do so. Holding these views, I believe that even the amendment proposed by Senator Pearce should be wider in its scope than it is, and that for both the House of Representatives and the Senate an elector should be permitted to vote in any portion of his State.
– I contend that if we pass this amendment we shall undoubtedly open a wide door to personation. That must be so, because we cannot have the necessary checks to prevent it. If this is a sound proposal, why should we not go even further, and permit a voter who goes to Sydney to vote for Victoria there ? Why not let a voter living in Perth vote for a candidate for the Senate in Victoria ?
– So he can by post.
– That is so, and T believe that the facilities afforded for voting by post, and which I think are safe-guarded, will answer all the cases so strongly put by. those who are urging the acceptance of this amendment. I have been through the mill a great number of times during the last 30 years in elections in this State, and I know that a number of voters have personated. We all know that they are never found out.
– Victoria did not have this scheme.
– Voters personated under the old law, and will they not be able to do so much more easily under this loose system ?
– The few dishonest voters will do so under any system.
– It is certainly not our duty to give facilities to people to be dishonest. It is our duty rather to put checks upon dishonesty. It is not correct to say that the House of Representatives by their amendment propose an advantage for electors in voting for a member of the House of Representatives which they are not given in voting for members of the Senate, because the privilege extended to the electors in Tooth cases is the same so far as a division is concerned. In my opinion the proposal made will be of great convenience. I point out that the voter will very likely be known in the division in which he lives, no matter in what part of that division he records his vote. Half-a-dozen men at a polling place will know him. He may live 20 miles away, but he will be known all over the division, and there will be no great risk in permitting him to vote at any polling place within the division. But that safeguard disappears if we permit a voter to vote at Swan Hill, Mildura, or Cape Otway.
– The honorable senator admits that he has known cases of personation even under the old system in “Victoria.
– I say that I have known voters who have personated. It is supposed to be a dead secret that nobody knows anything about, but I have known men to come out of a polling booth and make a joke about their having personated. Under this proposal there may.be a great deal of personation which may never become known to the authorities. In view of all the facilities provided for voting I do not think it should be adopted.
– I can hardly understand that this is an occasion for so hysterical a shriek in favour of personation as we have had from Senator Dawson. The proposal before the committee is one for voting early and voting often. It will enable a man who wishes to vote dishonestly to do so - to the disadvantage of the honest man who, when he comes up to exercise his f frachise, will be told that he cannot vote because another man has voted in his name. Senator Dawson has said that unless the amendment is adopted commercial travellers, sailors, and nomads in the back-blocks will not be able to vote. Surely he knows that every provision is made in the Bill for voting by post - a concession which previously had not been made to the majority of the electors. Why is a man to be picked out for special consideration in connexion with voting in some given locality? Why should not an elector be allowed to vote anywhere within the Commonwealth ? Why is the exercise of his right to be restricted to one State ? AVe hear about intelligent electors. I suppose that intelligent electors sometimes go to New Zealand, New Caledonia, and even to London. Wiry should not these intelligent electors be allowed to vote wherever they are within the Empire V Why should not a man vote just as well in anT Part of the Commonwealth as in any part of a given State ? It is of no use to take exception to a compromise, because compromise is the basis of all legislation. If there is to be no compromise, there is to be only one party, and it is to have its own way under- all circumstances. I am satisfied to accept the proposal of the other
House, although I think it is rather wide of the mark. I should have preferred to retain the clause as it left the Senate.
– I cannot see the great advantages which Senator Pearce anticipates from the insertion of these words. It will be borne in mind that in the first instance the Senate determined that a person should vote at the polling place for which he was enrolled, and, failing that, if he had a voter’s certificate he might vote elsewhere in the division. The other House has made a distinct improvement in the Bill in that respect. I think all honorable senators will recognise that new clause 140a is better than clause 140 as it left the Senate. But then comes the question whether there is any reason why the facilities for voting should be extended in the ease of Senate elections. In the case of elections for the Senate and the ‘ House of Representatives a man can vote in any portion of the division in which his polling place is registered. So far, the electors for both Houses get the advantage of the extension of the provision which has been proposed by the other House. But when we come to the argument that, because a senator represents the State, therefore a voter at an election for the Senate should be placed in an analogous position to a voter ‘ at an election for the other House, and be entitled to vote anywhere within the State, I think it is very difficult to prove the desirability of making that distinction, even to the mind of one who believes in giving the utmost reasonable facilities for voting. In Queensland, I understand the law contained certain precautionary provisions to prevent personation. If- a man goes to a polling booth for the purpose of voting, it is necessary, as a matter of precaution, that the presiding officer should ascertain that his name is on the roll. For instance, if a person residing in Brisbane wished to vote in Cairns at a Senate election, he will have to satisfy the presiding officer at the latter place that his name is on the roll of electors for Brisbane. It is necessary, therefore, for every presiding officer in the State to be provided with an electoral roll for every division within the State. That multiplies the difficulties in the way of carrying on an election. If a presiding officer is not provided with this information, any man is afforded an opportunity to come forward and record a vote on the alleged statement that his name is on a particular roll.
– Is there any reason why the presiding officer should not have the roll 1
– I do not know the number of polling places in Queensland, but I know that there are 2,200 in New South Wales. Will it not involve a tremendous amount of labour and work to have to send to each polling place in New South Wales a copy of the roll for every division in the State 1
– It is not necessary, because the vote cannot be recorded if the name of the man is not on the roll. I explained how the system was carried out in Tasmania and Western Australia under proper safeguards. There will be regulations made under this Bill.
– The GovernorGeneral will not have power to make any regulations which will have the effect of taking away any rights which are given by the Act. It is not desirable to extend the right of voting as is proposed. When we enable a man to record his vote by post, which is really analogous to the Queensland system, we are giving every facility which is necessary. If the Bill still provided for the issue of voters’ certificates, there would be some difficulty when a man went to a place which was far removed from his residence, but we have got rid of that system. Senator Dawson seems to think that this clause makes a difference in the franchise for the two Houses, but I cannot see that it does.
– If I can vote in Brisbane for a candidate for a seat in the Senate, and I cannot vote there for a candidate for a seat in the House of Representatives, is not that giving me a different f franchise ?
– No. The honorable senator’s franchise is his right to vote, and the exercise of that right, for certain reasons that are considered good, is restricted to the division in which he ordinarily lives, or to the division for which he is enrolled. The provision to _ which he alludes may interfere with his convenience as a voter, but it does not interfere with his franchise, for he is given the opportunity of voting by post when it is necessary.
– It does not meet the case of the travelling public.
– A commercial traveller can always get permission to vote by post upon making a statement that he has reason to believe that on polling day he will be more than 5 miles from the polling place at which he is entitled to vote.
– But where does he get that permission t
– He has to apply in his district.
– He may not be in his district for a month.
– For years past we have carried on elections even without voting by post. People were afraid of giving the power to vote by post because . they thought it would lead to personation. But we have got over that fear, and have made every reasonable provision for the voter who does not find it convenient to be in the district in which he resides on polling day.
– What about the shearer or the rouseabout ?
– He knows that he will be away, and Can make arrangements so as to have his vote transferred when he goes to another district. I recognise that some honorable senators feel strongly upon this matter ; but they have failed to satisfy me that they have provided safeguards to prevent an abuse of the ballot. It does not appear to me that it is desirable to make the amendment proposed.
– On a previous occasion the committee discussed this matter at some length, and it is surprising, and somewhat disappointing, to find the attitude taken up by some honorable senators in regard to what tho members of another place have done in respect to this particular provision. On a previous occasion we discussed the desirableness of allowing an elector for the Senate to vote in any portion of his State, and of allowing an elector for any division of the House of Representatives to vote anywhere in his division. The House of Representatives have introduced a clause which enables an elector for that House to exercise his -right within the limits of the particular division, and there is good reason to believe that in not going further than that - in the direction suggested by Senator Pearce - the House of Representatives may have been influenced by the view that if we did not directly import into the Bill provisions regulating our own elections, they should not intrude their opinions upon us.
There is very good reason to believe that that is why members of the House of Representatives did not import something of this character into the Bill, and have confined themselves to what concerns their own House. A good deal has been said in opposition to the proposal, and it seems to me that that opposition is based upon the oldest, and one of the worst, arguments ever used against anything novel - we have not had it in the past - “that we have had something which has worked very well in our own interests, and no matter how well a new proposal may have worked elsewhere, we fear that it will lead to all possible dangers.” Hardly any new argument has been introduced in opposition to the proposal, nor any that was not fully answered when the matter was previously discussed. Here I may say that, when we discussed the matter previously, the debate came to a conclusion because there was a pretty general understanding on the part of those supporting a proposal of this character as well as Ministers that it was inopportune at that time to introduce into the Bill an amendment of so farreaching a character, seeing that it would affect elections for another place. For that reason the discussion terminated much .earlier than it would otherwise have done, and those who were desirous of getting this provision inserted in the Bill did not go as far as they might have done, understanding that their object was to be effected elsewhere. But, now that we have got back to the discussion of the matter, notwithstanding that there has been a debate upon a similar proposal in another place, and notwithstanding that such a provision has been in operation in three States, and that none of the evils that honorable senators who oppose this provision have predicted have resulted from its establishment, we are still confronted with these old arguments against it. It would appear as if some honorable senators, whilst willing, under ordinary circumstances, to concede to their fellow men in their own walk of life the characteristics of honesty and integrity, are nevertheless prepared to act upon the assumption that those who occupy a different sphere in life, necessitating oftentimes a nomadic existence, are to be taken to be rogues until they are proved to be honest men.
– No one has ever suggested that.
– The whole argument of those who oppose this principle is the fear of personation, because they believe that ‘the nomadic element of our population, for whom to a large extent the provision is designed, should be taken to be rogues until they are proved to be honest.
– So far as any argument of mine is concerned, it was never contemplated in any way that such was the case. I recognise that there are just as many honest men among the class the honorable and learned senator alludes to as in any other section of the community, and I should be very sorry to think otherwise.
– I am very glad to have that statement from Senator Gould, but if he believes that there are amongst that class as many honest men as in any other class, he must believe that in that class and in every other the majority of the people are dishonest. If he does not believe that, he is for the sake of a dishonest minority prepared to penalize an honest majority. If the majority are honest and the minority dishonest, then, because the minority or some of them may possibly show their dishonesty by personation, Senator Gould would prevent the majority, who are honest people, from having the right to exercise the franchise. That is what his proposition comes to. Much has been said as to the provisions of the Bill with regard to voting by post. To meet the class of cases for which this amendment is designed, voting by post is an absolute and utter farce, because it pretends to give what it cannot give. Senator Gould ‘has referred to commercial travellers, and has said that they would know some time beforehand if they would not be able to vote at their own polling place, and could make an application for voters’ certificates so as to enable them to vote as absent voters. But this application must be made in the district in which the voter resides, and the commercial traveller may not be in that district at the proper time. He may, indeed, be out of his own State altogether, or he may be returning to his State, but may not be able to vote at any polling place in his own electorate. In that case, as for the election of senators the whole State is one electorate, why should not the voter be able to go into any polling place and exercise his choice 1 Senator Gould has said that if such a principle were adopted, there would be no means of checking the claim of the elector to vote,, because the returning officer would not have the roll before him. But we have had this system in operation for two or three elections in Tasmania, and the returning officers and voters have had no difficulty about discharging their functions. The returning officers have not had before them the rolls for any other electorate than their own. In proof of what I say, I may read the clause in the Tasmanian regulations under which this system was introduced in connexion with the adoption of the Constitution in 1898. These regulations provided that -
Where a voter desires Co vote at a polling place outside the district for which he is entitled to vote, he shall inform the returning ‘ officer or deputy at the polling place at which he applies to vote under this regulation of the mime of the electoral district in- respect of which he claims to vote, and upon answering in the affirmative the question set > forth in section 39 of the principal Act, such voter shall be supplied with a ballot-paper for the purpose of recording his vote in accordance with regulation 20. The question to which the voter had to reply was somewhat to this effect -
Are you the elector who is on the roll for . the district for which you claim to be on, and have you already voted here or elsewhere to. day ?
On answering that question satisfactorily, the deputy returning officer would simply give the voter the ballot-paper. The regulations say -
Provided that such ballot-paper shall instead of being placed in the ballot-box be inserted by the voter in an envelope provided for the purpose, which envelope shall be sealed up by the voter, who shall write his name across it. The sealed envelope shall then be addressed by the officer presiding at the polling place and shall be sent by the first post to the returning officer of the district for which the voter claimed to vote.
– What is the difference between that and voting by post ?
– I cannot believe that the Postmaster-General asks that question seriously. Then the regulations provide -
If the last-mentioned returning officer i3 satisfied that the voter was entitled to vote, and had not voted in his district, the vote shall bo counted as if it had been recorded in the ordinary way, but not otherwise.
The returning officer shall, without any delay, transmit to the returning officer of the colony a statement of the number of votes recorded in the affirmative and negative represented by the ballotpapers received by him, as hereinbefore provided.
We have A, the chief returning officer, and then we have B, the officer for the elector’s district, and C, another officer somewhere else. The elector who has a vote for the district of which B is the returning officer wishes to exercise his franchise, and applies to C, by whom he is asked whether he has voted elsewhere. On answering in the negative, the voter is given a ballot-paper, and, having marked his vote upon it, he places it in an envelope, and hands it to C. The envelope bears the indorsement of the voter, and C is asked to forward it to B, the returning officer for the district. The name of the voter on the outside of the envelope affords the means of applying a check which has been absent in the cases of the personation referred to by Senator Eraser and others. The envelope is addressed by the local officer, C, to the returning officer of the district, B, and the latter looks at the name of the voter on the outside before he, in the presence of the scrutineers and others, opens the envelope. The envelopes containing such votes are opened only at certain times of the day.
– On the polling day?
– If the envelopes arrive on the polling day, they are then opened, but it may be” two days before they come to hand. Times are appointed, and the envelopes are opened in the presence of the scrutineers, but not until each name indorsed on an envelope is checked with the name on the roll, and it has been ascertained whether the elector has exercised his right in the district. If it be found that the right has not been exercised in the district, the ballot - paper is taken out of the envelope and dropped into a ballot box, and the whole of the papers are counted as in the ordinary course, and forwarded to the chief returning officer. I am not, for the moment, quite certain as. to the number of such votes given in Tasmania at the elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives, but, roughly speaking, I believe 5 per cent, of the electors availed themselves of this particular provision. This plan up to that time had been tried only two or three times in Tasmania, but out of 18,000 or 19,000 voters who went to the poll nearly 1,000 adopted this means of expressing their- opinion. We may guess what the proportion would be in a large State like Victoria, or like New South Wales where, on the occasion to which. I have referred, the better part of 200,000 electors exercised the franchise, or in Queensland, where the population is mare scattered, and, as has been pointed out, more nomadic. I do not say that Senator Pearce’s amendment will absolutely meet requirements, but the .system is one which, in justice to the people, ought to be embodied in the Bill. Notwithstanding all that has been said in derision by those who oppose any proposals of a progressive character, there was not a single case of personation charged in Tasmania ; and honorable senators ought to pause before they reject an amendment of the character now submitted. Senator Pearce, who speaks with knowledge of his own State, has told us that under this system there has been no case of personation hinted at in Western Australia, and the Acting Chairman will bear me out when I say that the same claim may be made on behalf of Tasmania.
– Cases of personation would be known to the officials.
– Of course they would. The voter in writing his name on the envelope is actually providing documentary evidence against himself, seeing that the document has to be directed to the returning officer by the local officer. Besides there are other officials who are cognisant of the facts, and a check is exercised by the returning officer in the presence of the scrutineer. The only argument that shows the slightest semblance of novelty on the part of those who oppose this progressive amendment, is that urged by Senater Fraser, and re-echoed by Senator Neild. That argument may be expressed in the words - “ If we extend the facilities to enable an elector to vote in any part of a State, why not let him vote in any other State, or in any other part of the Empire ?” But all that the amendment asks is that an elector shall be enabled to vote at the nearest polling place in his electorate. If there be an election for the Senate in Victoria, and an elector resident in Melbourne happens to be in Ballarat, Bendigo, or Gippsland, he is still within his own electorate, and should be entitled to record his vote at the nearest polling place, as hitherto electors in Western Australia, Queensland, and Tasmania have been able to do. The provision is hedged round with safeguards, and J claim that there will be a greater tendency to prevent personation than there is when an elector goes to the poll in the ordinary way. It is said that when a mangoes to the poll locally be is well known and may be identified ; but that, I take it, is very poor protection against personation as compared with the protection under the proposal now before us. . All these circumstances were present to the minds of legislators in the States where a similar proposal has been carried into effect, and yet there has been no disposition shown in Tasmania to depart from the present electoral law. Electors in Western Australia,. Tasmania, and Queensland will feel considerably aggrieved if they are deprived of facilities which have been much appreciated in the past, and which have been largely used ‘ without creating a breath of suspicion of misuse. .
– I have listened with very great attention to the debate upon this question which I regard as of the greatest importance, but I have not yet heard one substantial argument adduced against the amendment proposed by Senator Pearce. It seems to me to be eminently fair that in the case of elections for the Senate we should afford similar facilities to those enjoyed in connexion with elections for the House of Representatives. Why any distinction should be made between electors in electoral divisions, comprising only one portion of the State and the whole State, I do not understand. The Postmaster-General has pointed out that the number of voters involved is much smaller in one case, than in the other, but I do not see that that constitutes any objection to the proposed extension of facilities for voting. I desire to deal more particularly with the statements made by honorable senators who opposed the proposal on the ground that it will offer opportunities for impersonation and fraud. Senator Charleston and Senator Fraser were very emphatic on this point, but neither of them adduced a single fact in support of their argument. They contented themselves with making bare statements such as are advanced at all times when reforms are proposed. Is it feared that the female electors of the Commonwealth will be guilty of impersonation ?
– No. We are afraid that they will be impersonated.
– The honorable senator is also probably afraid of their indulging in fraudulent practices. That honorable senator and other representatives of New South Wales told us that when facilities similar to those now proposed were granted in New South Wales extensive frauds were practised, but they have not mentioned any cases in point. On the other hand we have practical experience in several of the States, to show us that the facilities offered to the electors to vote at any polling place in the State, irrespective of the division for which they are enrolled, has proved of the utmost value, and not a single ca’se of impersonation has been brought forward. I challenge honorable senators who oppose the proposal of Senator Pearce to adduce one case of impersonation to support their objection. Owing to the want of some provision suchas that now proposed in the State of Queensland, I was prevented from voting except once, during a period covering several years. I am referring to the time prior to the amendment of the law in that State, under which electors are now permitted to record their vote at any polling place within the State for members of the Senate. It has been argued that the provision in the Bill for voting by post will meet the case of electors who are not able to record their votes at polling places within the division for which they are enrolled. I admit that the convenience afforded by that system may prove of some advantage, but it will not be sufficient. Supposing that the Postmaster-General and myself were engaged in an electoralcampoign in one of the outlying districts of Queensland, far away from all telegraphic communication, and that we were detained longer than we had expected, and could not communicate with the registrars in the district in which we were entitled to vote. Is it to be contended that we should not be allowed to exercise the franchise although we may be near a polling place at the time? The system of voting by post would not meet such a case. When weconsider the enormous extent of some of the electoral divisions of Queensland, the sparsely settled population, and the changes which are constantly occurring owing to the necessity for removing from place to place, it is desirable that we should extend every possible facility to the electors. Supposing, for the sake of argument, that a few cases of impersonation did occur in any one State and that a candidate were defeated in consequence of fraudulent votes being recorded. This would be an extreme case, and I even question whether it could ever occur. The consequences in such an instance would not be so serious as would ensue if thousands of electors were deprived of the opportunity of voting, because of their absence on polling day from thedivision in which they were registered. The effect in the latter case might be to alter the result of a large number of elections, and to lead to the rejection of candidates who would have been returned, if the popular voice had found full expression. I think that honorable senators are exhibiting undue timidity with reference to the dangers of impersonation. We have not experienced any such evil consequences as they predict in Queensland, where facilitiesfor voting at polling places other than those within the division for which electors are enrolled are very highly appreciated. I wish to direct the attention of honorable members to the immense area and the widely-scattered character of the population in some of the electoral divisions in Queensland. The federal electorate of Maranoa includes the State electorate district of Balonne, with an area oF 34,761 square miles, and 1,253 registered electors ; Barcoo, with 22,962 square miles, and 1,370 electors ; and Bulloo, with 70,773 square miles, and 572 electors. The Maranoa State electorate embraces 14,820 square miles, and contains only 1,427 voters. Similarly the Mitchell, which adjoins it, has an area of 30,838 square miles, and contains 1,462 electors. The Murilla district, which covers 18,715 square miles, contains 706 electors ; whilst the Warrego embraces 25,747 square miles, and contains only 1,012 voters. Does the PostmasterGeneral imagine that because there are fewer electors in the Maranoa district than there are in the whole of Queensland - which would vote as one constituency in elections for the Senate - there is less danger of impersonation? The whole thing is a bogey and a sham. If it be reasonable - and I think it is - to give facilities to electors to record their votes at any polling place in the division for which they are enrolled, it is equally reasonable that the electors of the whole State voting as one constituency should enjoy the same privilege. I do not take up the attitude, adopted by some honorable senators, that I will support the proposal of Senator Pearce, and subsequently vote for the rejection of the whole clause. I shall do nothing of the sort. I hold that many electors will he deprived of the right to exercise the franchise by the adoption of the amendment of the other Chamber. Undoubtedly the facilities afforded by the Bill for voting by post constitute a forward step, but they do not fully meet the needs of the case. I contend that we have no moral right to take away from the electors of Western Australia and Tasmania and Queensland any privilege which they formerly enjoyed. What is the reason advanced in .support of the change? Nothing, except the fear that something wonder- f ul will happen. That is the position assumed by Senator Charleston. It re- minds me of the days when certain individuals were accustomed to argue that dire results would follow the extension of the franchise to the people of the old country. Since then, however, the suffrage has been extended time and again, and’ yet the evils predicted have never occurred. Similarly it was urged that if facilities were offered for the education of the masses the whole of the industries of the country would stand still for lack of workmen. These were the cries raised by mentally decrepit politicians of the past, and they are being taken up by the decrepit politicians of to-day. I am really ashamed to find that, in this enlightened age, men who are the fathers of families, and who hold responsible positions, entertain a fear that their fellow nien cannot be trusted. It is not a liberal attitude to assume, « to say the least of it. Senator Neild, who upon most points is democratic to a degree, but who is extremely conservative upon this, thinks that if we concede the proposal of Senator Pearce something desperate will happen. He says that under the operation of this system in New South Wales, a large amount of impersonation took place. I believe, however, that the people of New South Wales are just as honest as are the electors of Queensland. At any rate I am prepared to trust them. In Queensland the electors have been trusted, and I ask Senator Neild to point to one case in which impersonation occurs. I ask him to indicate the circumstances under which deception was practised, and to name the guilty persons. My appeal, however, will be in vain, because I arn satisfied that he cannot cite a single instance. This provision, in its present form, will deprive some thousands of electors of the opportunity of recording their votes in the> case of elections to the Senate-
– Not one elector in 10,000 will be disfranchised under it.
– That proportion would represent only about half-a-dozen electors throughout the entire State of. Queensland. I think that I know Queensland fairly well, and I say without the slightest hesitation that the statement of the honorable senator is inaccurate. Take my own case as an example. Suppose that I were campaigning in my old district of Bourke, which is 1,300 miles from Brisbane,, and that I was sufficiently close to the seacoast to be able to send a wire asking for a voter’s postal certificate to be forwarded, does the honorable senator know how long it would take that certificate to reach me, even if a boat were waiting in the harborwhen my telegram arrived 1 It would occupy at least a fortnight.
– I have almost driven across that country within the time mentioned b)’ the honorable senator.
– I repeat that if a steamer were waiting in the harbor sothat my voter’s postal certificate could beforwarded without delay, it could not possibly reach Georgetown in less than ten. days. That is only one instance of hundreds which might be cited. I appeal tohonorable members to reconsider this matter. In the case of elections for theQueensland Parliament, at least one month must elapse before the final returns of someconstituencies can be made known. I feel very strongly upon this matter, because I know the circumstances, but in response toan appeal by the Postmaster-General I haveagreed to pair with Senator O’Connor.
– He is already paired.
– I again ask honorable senators not to be influenced by motivesof fear, but to vote for the proposal of Senator Pearce, the adoption of which will have the effect of extending to voters. throughout the Commonwealth a privilege that is already enjoyed by the electors of Queensland, Western Australia, and Tasmania.
– I am somewhat disappointed tofind that there is an inclination on the part of the committee’ to deny to the electors of” some of the States the privileges which they already possess. In Western Australia the- system proposed by Senator Pearce has been found to work very satisfactorily. In connexion with the federal elections ‘it was not subjected to one adverse comment either by the press or the public men of that State, and it was highly appreciated by the electors. The requirements of Western Australia rendered its adoption absolutely necessary. The nature of the calling followed by the bulk of its population is such that large numbers of electors may suddenly remove from one locality to another. Where gold-rushes have occurred I have seen large centres spring up within 24 hours. Under the voting-by-post provisions of this Bill, many electors who have no means of knowing that they will be absent from the division for which they are enrolled until a day or two prior to polling day will be absolutely disfranchised. In large States like Western Australia and Queensland it is imperative that the system proposed should be adopted if the electors are to be afforded the privilege of exercising the franchise, irrespective of the particular locality in which they may happen to be upon polling day. Of course, in a small State like Victoria such a system is not so urgently needed. The argument that if we allow an elector to vote at any polling place in the State in which he resides, we should extend the principle so as to permit of his voting at any polling place within the Commonwealth, is an unreasonable one. In the case of elections for the Senate the States represent single electorates. If we are to allow citizens to vote at any polling place within the division for which they are enrolled in connexion with elections for the House of Representatives, why not give them a similar privilege in connexion with elections for this Chamber ? I do not see any force in the argument that an elector at Perth should not have a right to vote there merely because he happens to be enrolled at a polling place on the eastern gold-fields of Western Australia. I do not think any honorable senator in Western Australia has even an indication from the people of that State that they desire any alteration in the law as it existed in this respect at the last election. Therefore, I hope that my colleagues will vote solidly for a system which was much appreciated at the last election, and found to suit the requirements of the State.
– In view of the weight of the arguments which have been brought forward in favour of the amendment moved by Senator Pearce, I am very much surprised that a greater expression of opinion in favour of it has not been given. It appears to me that the case for the amendmenthas been so forcibly demonstrated that only men governed by the most violent and unreasonable prejudice can possibly stick to their present position. WhileI am surprised at the attitude of honorable senators in general who are opposed to Senator Pearce’s amendment, I am much more surprised at the attitude of the representative of the Government in the Senate. I can assure the honorable and learned gentleman that although I have hitherto supported the Government with a great deal of pleasure - because in regard to most of the legislation which they have passed they have appeared to be acting in the best interests of the Commonwealth - they need not depend upon my support any longer unless they are prepared to reconsider their position with regard to this proposal. Of course, my support may not be worth much. One swallow does not make a summer ; but the desertion of one swallow may induce others to desert.
– But the honorable senator would not vote with us ?
– I should vote for any party, even one in which Senator Clemons was included, if it passed good legislation. Senator Fraser is strongly opposed to any alteration of the clause as it stands, and I can easily understand his attitude. He has never been in favour of extending the franchise to the working classes;’ he has looked with the utmost aversion upon any advance in political power so far as they are concerned.
– The working classes do not think so. That is only the honorable senator’s opinion.
– It is the opinion of everyone who knows the honorable senator.
– If I were to oppose the honorable senator in Queensland, I should make him quake in his shoes.
– I should be very glad to meet the honorable senator in Queensland, and, notwithstanding that he has a big dog - the Age - behind him, I am quite prepared to meet him on any public platform in Victoria. I find that the honorable senator is in exactly the same position as Senator Clemons. He is one of the most conservative individuals that I have ever met.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN (Senator Dobson). - I must ask the honorable senator to address himself to the question before the Chair.
– I am referring to these honorable senators, not as individuals, but as representatives of public opinion. I have no desire to pursue the debate further, for I do not think that I can add anything to the exhaustive speeches on this subject to which we have already listened.
Question - That the words proposed to be inserted be so inserted-put. The committee divided.
Majority … … 0
Question so resolved in the negative.
Amendment of amendment negatived.
Senator PEARCE (Western Australia).I should like to express my admiration for the system of pairing which has been adopted in the Senate. It was only last night that I gave notice of the amendment which has just been defeated, and yet pairs have been found for honorable senators who are absent in distant States, and who do not know the principle involved. My amendment has been defeated by a system of pairing which is nothing less than a disgrace.
– I am dealing with the proposed new clause. I complain that my amendment was defeated, not by fair means, but really by the system of pairing adopted in regard to honorable senators who are not present, who have not heard of the amendment, and who do not know how they have been paired.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I imagine that every honorable senator who voted against the amendment moved by Senator Pearce will also vote against the new clause. If he does not do so, he will be inconsistent in the last degree ; he will be giving privileges to voters for the House of Representatives which he refuses to give to voters for the Senate.
– That is not so.
– It is so. This new clause will allow an elector to vote at an election for the House of Representatives at any polling place within the division for which he is enrolled, but it will not allow an elector for the Senate the same privilege.
– An elector will be able to vote in any part of a division.
– We are talking about electorates. For the Senate a State is an electorate, but for the House of Representatives. a State is divided into a number of divisions. The clause proposes that a man shall have a certain privilege for the House of Representatives which is refused to him as an elector for the Senate.
– An elector will be able to vote anywhere in his own electorate.
– He can vote anywhere in his own electorate, ‘so far as the House of Representatives is concerned.
– And so far as the Senate is concerned also.
– He can not vote anywhere in his electorate so far as the Senate is concerned. It is extraordinary that honorable senators do not seem to be able to grasp this fact. I am using the word “ electorate “ only that the matter may be made more clear. Honorable senators speak of it as a “ division,” but it is merely an electorate or an electoral division. This provision is much more conservative than anything we have at the present time in Queensland, and I am astonished that Senator Drake, who has had a long experience in Queensland, and is familiar with the conditions there, should be found supporting anything which will tend to disfranchise a very large number of the electors of that State. Of course there is some excuse for honorable senators who have lived all their lives in Melbourne or in Sydney Their politics are chiefly the politics of the pavement. They know nothing of what is going on in the outside portions and backblocks of Australia, or of the conditions which affect the people there. I do not blame them for that, because their experience has been confined to the large cities, but what I do blame them for is that they will not listen to people who do know something, or accept the word of honorable senators coming from other portions of Australia. They are bound up in their own hardened conservatism, and they stick to the ideas of the past. They throw every obstacle in the way of the citizens of the Commonwealth registering their political wills at the ballot-box. Surely honorable senators know that the average bushman, owing to the nature of his occupation, cannot stay very long in one place. Shearing is not going on in one portion of Queensland all the year round. The shearers have to move about as the Shearing season proceeds. They are here to-day, and somewhere else next week. Are we going to deprive these men of their birthright simply because of the conditions of their occupation ?
– That is what is meant.
– I am sorry to be compelled to come to the conclusion that that is really what is meant, and that no matter how honorable senators may attempt to -gloss over their opposition to the proposal which has been made, it springs from no other source than a desire to block a certain section of working men in this country from registering their votes.
– It seems to me that that is the side on which the honorable senator is talking now, if he is in favour of rejecting this amendment.
– If the honorable senator rejects the whole Bill he will have better legislation in the States.
– Senator Drake would not accept a further amendment which was proposed. The honorable and learned senator accuses me of inconsistency, but I accuse him of inconsistency. . Why should we give a privilege to voters for the House of Representatives, and refuse it to voters for the Senate 1
– The amendment does not do’ that.
– I have said here before, and I now repeat, that I would rather see this Bill in the waste-paper basket than have it passed containing this provision. We did not come here to deprive the citizens of the Commonwealth of their political rights, but to give them fuller rights than they ever possessed before. I, for one, decline to take part in a conspiracy to emasculate the Constitution - a conspiracy which is entirely at variance with the desires of the people when they entered into this federation, and which, I say advisedly, will deprive throughout this continent not 10,000 but 50,000 men of their votes. I think this is a very important question. It is one of the most important questions that has been dealt with during the present session. It affects the political rights of a very large number of the electors of the Commonwealth, and I decline to allow it to go through without saying what I have to say upon it. The leader of the Government in this Chamber accuses us of inconsistency.
– I did not. I said the honorable senator was talking upon the other side, and not upon the side upon which apparently he desires to talk.
– I hope I am talking upon the side which proposes to give the fullest measure of freedom to the electors and the fullest opportunity to each elector to record his vote.
– This amendment gives him an increased opportunity.
– It gives him an increased opportunity, but it does not give him all the opportunity he ought to have. How would this amendment have affected me, for instance, supposing it had been the law of Queensland during the last federal election1? On the polling day I was not in my own electoral division, but in Brisbane, and under this amendment I should have been deprived of my vote. But under the wiser and more liberal provisions of the Queensland law. I was able to vote for my own electorate in just the same way as if I had been there. No matter in what portion of the State a man happened to be on the day of election, he could step up to the polling-booth, as electors did by thousands, and record his vote, and yet there was no case of personation that I heard of, and no case of double voting. Where the franchise is equal, and every man and woman is given a vote, where is
I the inducement to people to personate1?
Honorable senators who oppose what we are asking seem to labour under the idea that we are still living under the old system under which some people had many votes, and a great many people had no votes. But every citizen,- male and female over the age of 21 years, will under our legislation have a vote, and the temptation to personate will, therefore, be very much lessened. I ask honorable- senators whether they are prepared to take up the position, that they will penalize - we will say, 50,000 electors because they are afraid that 500 will make an illegal use of their rights and personate? If we carried that principle into the common affairs of everyday life *what would be the position? The laws are not made for the guilty ; they are made for the innocent. Suppose a certain shop in Bourke-street is robbed to-morrow. The law says, “ Here is a shop ; it has been plundered ; therefore we must shut up every shop in Bourkestreet.” That is exactly the position of the opponents of our proposal. They say that, because one may possibly personate, they will refuse to a thousand the right to vote. Because one shop has been plundered, they will not allow any other shop in the street to remain open, because every shop left open is a temptation to the burglar. The burglar may enter under whatever laws we pass, but we do not shut all shops because a burglar may enter if they are left open. I ask honorable senators to apply the same process of reasoning to the matter under discussion. Were it not for this unreasonable prejudice, this desire to curtail the voting power of a certain section of the people of the Commonwealth, I am certain that what we are asking for would be agreed to without any difficulty. The electoral law of Queensland is probably one of the most illiberal in Australia, ‘ but it is infinitely superior to the law of the Commonwealth in the matter of facilities given to voters. If it can be proved to the satisfaction of the principal returning officer in Queensland that there are ten or a dozen voters for a district in a particular portion of the State, a polling-booth is proclaimed for that place in order that those electors- may have an opportunity of voting. That is very much more liberal than anything proposed here. If a dozen men can be found in Brisbane who have votes for the electorate of Croydon, and they appeal to the principal returning officer, they are not compelled to go all the way to Croydon, which probably would be impossible for them, or, in the’ alternative, to lose their votes. A polling booth for Croydon is opened in Brisbane ; they record their votes there, and everybody is satisfied. Then, again, in the case of single electorates, an elector can vote at any polling booth within the electorate. This Bill ties him down to the polling booth for which he is enrolled. It gives him, of course, an alternative of voting by post.
– It does not tie him down to the polling place for which he is enrolled.
Senator STEWART. The honorable and learned senator forgets that this clause, as amended by the House of Representatives, is not yet passed, and I do not believe it will be passed. He seems to be very anxious to carry this particular provision, but I cannot see why he should not have been more anxious to see Senator Pearce’s amendment passed. It appears to rae that the Government have actually gone out of their way to defeat any attempt to liberalize this measure. They have shown an evident bias in this matter. That is shown by the fact that Senator O’Connor made a personal appeal to Senator Glassey to pair with him upon the question.
– No, Senator Drake did so on Senator O’Connor’s behalf.
– That is as bad every bit, and to my mind it demonstrates the evident bias of the Government, and their determination not to allow this measure to be liberalized. If the Government can show determination in one direction, I hope that honorable senators who have hitherto sup- ported the Government will show determination in another direction. I intend to do so. Senator Symon had paired on every question with Senator O’Connor, and yet Senator Drake, afraid that the amendment might be passed, went out of his way to get Senator Glassey to pair with Senator O’Connor. It looks like a trick, or deliberate conspiracy.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- The honorable senator must not use the word “trick.”
– I think I am quite justified in describing the action of Senator Drake as a trick. Not satisfied with the standing pair on every question between Senators Symon arid O’Connor, he counted heads and said-.–” Unless I can get Senator Glassey to pair with Senator O’Connor, who cannot be here, and Senator Playford to pair with Senator Symon, who cannot be here, the amendment will be carried, an event which the Government do not desire to happen.” He immediately proceeded to carry out his little design, but he did not stop there. Reduced to a state of desperation he asked Senator Barrett to pair with Senator Best who is ill in bed. .
The ACTING CHAIRMAN.- The committee does not take any notice of pairs, and therefore the honorable senator is out of order in referring to them.
– I am merely trying to show the underground engineering to which the Government, and I suppose the Opposition, descended to defeat the amendment. I can assure Senator Drake, as the representative of the Government, that I shall not forget his action on this occasion, and probably they may be as thankful to get my vote in the future as I should have been to get his support to-day. We have a continuation of the unholy alliance between Senator Clemons and Senator Drake, which has been in evidence during the past few days ; and the best thing the former can do is to throw in his lot with the Government, as there is nothing to be got in the “lean” corner of the Chamber. But there is one thing for which I am thankful. This incident has shown me what the real attitude of the Government is with regard to the voting facilities which ought to be afforded to working people on polling day. I can assure the Government that I am not going to forget it. It would be much better for the workers in Queensland if the Bill were placed in the waste-paper basket than to have a contested election under its provisions. I am certain that if we have to contest an election under the Bill as it is framed, we shall not get a fair verdict from the people of that State. All the people in the towns and populous districts will be able to vote without any trouble to themselves, while tens of thousands of electors in the back-blocks will be disfranchised, and, therefore, it will be impossible for us to have a representative Parliament. I regret the. too evident desire of the Government to defeat the amendment of Senator Pearce.
– With the exception 1Of the disquisition on the principle of pairing, nearly all that Senator Stewart has said has been directed to an amendment which has been negatived. I did not accuse the honorable senator of inconsistency, but I said that he was clearly arguing on the wrong side, because the proposal is to accept an amendment of the other House which gives greater facilities to voters. It gives every elector the right to vote at any polling place within his own division ; therefore, it is an extension of the voting facilities given to electors for the House of Representatives or for the Senate. Under the Bill as it was sent to the other House, an elector had the right to vote only at his own polling place, but under the amendment of that House he will have at an election for the Senate or the other House the privilege of voting at any place within his division. That is clearly a liberalizing amendment, and the motion is that it be agreed to. Clearly all that has fallen from Senator Stewart about the disadvantages which may result to electors in consequence of something or other refers to the amendment which has been defeated. So far as the pairs are concerned, nothing has been done which has not been consistent with the practice in the Chamber. When honorable senators who appear to be a little warm in consequence of their recent defeat come to reflect, they will see, from an examination of the pair book, that no pairing has been done which has not been in accord with the established rule. I do not say that I have always agreed with ‘ the way in which it has been carried out, but there has been nothing done this afternoon which has not been done before.
– Were all the pairs authorized to be made?
– The pairs were authorized in exactly the same way as pairs have been authorized before.
– Does the new clause apply to elections’ for the Senate as well as to elections for the other House 1
– Certainly, because it says that an elector may vote at any polling place within his division.
– “ At the polling place for which he is enrolled.”
– An elector may vote at any polling place within his division at an election for either the Senate or the House of Representatives. Without the amendment of the other House, he would be restricted to voting at the polling place for which he was enrolled ; but with the amendment he will have the right of voting at any polling place within his division. Clearly it is an extension of the privileges of electors.
– I am not quite clear that the new clause does apply to voting at an election for the Senate. It says -
Any elector may vote at the polling place for which he is enrolled, or if he is absent from1 the polling place for which he is enrolled, may vote at any other polling place for the same division -
What does that mean ? If we turn to the interpretation clause, we find that the word “ division “ is defined to mean -
An electoral division for the election of a member of the House of Representatives.
– He votes in that division, and at a Senate election he may vote i n that division.
– I pay every deference to the opinion of Senator Drake and other legal members on points of construction, but to a layman’s mind the will does not convey that meaning, for it distinctly says “ for the same division,” which word, according to the interpretation clause, has no reference to a Senate election. Before I cast my vote, I should like to have the point settled by some honorable senator who is able to interpret the clause better than a layman can do.
– I also think that the new clause does not apply to electors voting at a Senate election. . I ask that its further consideration be postponed, for the reason that three honorable senators have been tricked out of their votes.
– I object to the use of that term.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. - The honorable senator ought not to use that word.
– If it is objectionable to the Minister, I withdraw the word, and say that certain honorable senators have been induced to refrain from voting by a misrepresentation. It was not possible for Senator O’Connor or Senator Symon to know what was Senator Pearce’s amendment, be-‘ cause it was not proposed until a few hours ago. How can any one say that either Senator O’Connor or Senator Symon would have voted against Senator Pearce’s proposal 1 It would be better to postpone the further consideration of the clause until Tuesday next, when probably the honorable senators referred to will be present, and the matter can be dealt with on its merits. I move -
That the clause be postponed.
– I shall support Senator Higgs’ proposal for the postponement of the further consideration of the clause, because I am not satisfied that certain honorable senators who have been paired against the amendment would have voted against it had they been present. I should like to add my protest against the action of the Government in making such strenuous efforts to defeat this amendment. Hansa/rd will show that, when this clause was last under consideration, Senator O’Connor made what wascertainly a non-committal speech, but which at the same time indicated that there was some amount of good in the amendment, and that! he might be able to accept it. Honorable senators have only to read Senator O’Connor’s remarks in Hansard tobe convinced that, in the reply he made to Senator Dobson as to whether the Government would reconsider this matter, he said that there was a good deal of wisdom in the Tasmanian practice. Although he did not promise to vote for it, if the Bill came back from the House of Representativescontaining such a provision, he certainly left it open to some of us to believe that he would not be opposed to it. As no communication has passed between the Senate and Senator O’Connor since Senator Pearce moved his amendment, I shall support the postponement of the matter. If, on Tuesday, Senator O’Connor takes the same view as Senator Drake, we shall have the satisfaction of hearing his reasons. Senator Drake- has not given any good reasons for his opposition.
– I have given the best reasons could.
– If senator Drake cannot give better reasons it would have been better had he given none. He says that the provision is unworkable, yet we have had evidence from representatives of three of the States in the union that the proposal, has been in practice and has worked perfectly well. Even on constitutional grounds, I urge that we have no right to take from the electors in any State a right they have at present. I trust the committee will consent to a postponement of what I regard as the most important clause in the Bill.
– I hope honorable senators will not consent to the postponement of this clause at the present time. Those who are anxious to see it amended will, if they consider it carefully, realize that, in their own interest, they should not proceed with such a proposal. We cannot retrace the steps we have already taken, as the committee has determined not to accept Senator Pearce’s amendment. It will be recognised that clause 140a is better than the clause originally inserted in the Bill. But if we negative that clause we shall get back to clause 140 as it stood in the original Bill. Is it not better to accept a clause which is recognised as an improvement; and to reserve the right, which cannot be taken away, to move at a subsequent stage for a recommittal of clause’ 1401 We shall then have an opportunity of testing the feeling of the full Senate. Although I have given a vote against Senator Pearce’s proposal, I am perfectly willing to have a reconsideration of it. I do not promise to vote for a recommittal myself, because I am satisfied with the clause as it stands, nor should I be more likely to vote for a recommittal if the - clause were postponed now. But I am not at all afraid of a vote in a full Senate.
– We want Senator O’Connor to be here to give us his reasons.
– We know perfectly well that Senator O’Connor would vote with bis colleague Senator Drake, as this is a Government measure’. A question has been raised as to how far this provision will apply to elections of members of the Senate. There is some doubt about the meaning of the word “division.” When there are hot two rolls kept, but only one, and a man’s name is on the roll for a division, that entitles him to vote either for a member of the House of Representatives or for a member of the Senate by virtue of being on that one roll. The roll is one upon which the whole State is divided into divisions, and therefore this clause will apply equally to elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives. Senator DRAKE. - In order that there may be no shadow of doubt, I am willing to insert the words - “ at any election for the Senate or for the House of Representatives.” If those words are inserted there can be no doubt as to the clause applying both to the Senate and the House of Representatives.
It seems to have been overlooked that there is power under the Bill to proclaim polling places outside a division for that division. Consequently to a great extent the Bill as it stands, containing this provision, will not restrict an elector to his own division, because he may vote for his own division at a polling place proclaimed for that division outside the limits of the division. I have admitted that in Queensland, for the purposes of the State elections, provision was made to enable an elector to vote in any part of the State. At that time, however, there was no voting by post, and with the latter privilege, there will not be the same necessity to allow an elector to vote in any part of the electorate. If Senator Higgs will consent to withdraw his motion for postponement, I om’ willing to submit the amendment I have indicated.
– I very much regret I cannot see my way to withdraw the motion for postponement.
– I thought Senator Drake would have stated expressly whether he would accept Senator Higgs’ proposal, or have given reasons for its non-acceptance. For Senator Higgs to withdraw his motion would be to practically admit that he agrees to the substitution of some other proposal; and I have not understood the honorable Senator to give any intimation to that effect’. What has been placed on the records of this House is not the real opinion of the Senate. The position is very unsatisfactory, and the wise and discreet course would be to set all doubts at rest by . accepting the motion for a postponement. Senator Gould contended that we could not go back to a former part of the clause; that we have placed ourselves in the position of having to accept the clause as it is or altogether reject it. That, however, is not the position ; the clause is open to amendment, and we can deal with it in one or a dozen ways if we like. We might moke an effort to secure for the absent voter facilities even wider than those proposed by Senator Pearce. It is quite competent for every honorable senator to move that the facilities be extended to embrace those not intended by Senator Pearce. Under the peculiar circumstances, and in view of the dissatisfaction which has been forcibly expressed, there ought to be a postponement until a tune when there is a fuller attendance, and not the same liability to mistake. .
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I ask leave to temporarily withdraw my motion for a postponement.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn .
Amendment (by Senator Drake) proposed -
That after the word “ division,” ine 4, the words “ at any election whether for the Senater or the House of Representatives “ be inserted.
Senator STEWART (Queensland). - I do not think that the amendment will very much improve the clause.
– I do not regard the amendment as necessary, but I move it in order to remove all doubt.
– The amendment certainly makes the clause more definite, but I should like an opportunity of inserting, before the words proposed by the Postmaster-General, the words “ or at any polling place outside the division which may bo declared by the Governor-General in Council a polling place forthe division.”
– That power is already given to the Governor-General in Council by clause 26, sub-clause (b).
Amendment agreed to.
Senator HIGGS (Queensland). - I should like to move that the further consideration of the clause be postponed.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. - That motion cannot be submitted now that the clause has been amended.
– It is the “further” consideration of theclapse that I desire to postpone.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. - The rule is that if a clause has been amended, it cannot be postponed.
– Then I desire to move that the debate on the clause be adjourned.
– The honorable senator cannot make that proposal, and I ask him not to persist in his efforts to get the clause postponed. It wouldbe just as well to allow the matter to be disposed of now.
– Iam induced to submit the motion, because Senator Gould, who suggests that, instead of a postponement, a recommittal shall be sought, declared his intention of voting against a recommittal. We might be in a better position if we obtained a postponement.
The ACTING CHAIRMAN. - The proper course for the honorable senator to take is to move that progress be reported.
Senator GLASSEY (Queensland). - I suggest that the Postmaster-General should report progress. We are within a few minutes of the usual hour for adjournment, and no good can be served by continuing the discussion. When we meet again, wiser counsels may prevail, and the question settled satisfactorily.
Motion (by Senator Higgs) proposed-
That progress be reported.
– I hope the Senate will not vote for the motion ; it is very absurd.
– As it is not likely that we shall be able to make much progress in the time which remains to us today. I move -
That progress be reported.
Motion agreed to.
Motion (by Senator Drake) agreed to -
That the Senate at its rising adjourn until Tuesday next.
Motion (by Senator Drake) proposed -
That the Senate do now adjourn.
– Is it intended to go on with the Electoral Bill to a conclusion before dealing with the Tariff?
– Unless something unusual happens, I propose to on with the Tariff on Tuesday.
– Will the further consideration of the Electoral Bill stand over until the Tariffhas been disposed of ?
– I cannot say anything more than that the present intention is to proceed with the consideration of the Tariff on Tuesday.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.46 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 22 August 1902, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1902/19020822_senate_1_11/>.