8th Parliament · 2nd Session
The President (Senator the Hon. T. Givens) took the chair at 11 a.m. and read prayers.
- (By leave).Yesterday I stated, in the course of debate in Committee, that when the last elections were over in New South Wales, the party to which I belong had a scrutiny made of all the ‘ballot-papers. I thereby conveyed the impression that this had been done after the final counting had been concluded, and after the declaration of the poll. I admit that my words might convey that impression; but that is not what I intended. What I meant to convey was that after the voting had been finished the scrutineers acting on behalf of myself and the other Nationalist candidates, and in course of the ordinary counting and scrutinizing of votes, had made the discovery to which I referred yesterday.
Costing System, Engineer’s Branch
– I ask the Minister representing the Postmaster-General whether he has a reply to the question I asked a few days ago, and repeated later on, referring to the costing system in the Engineer’s Branch of the Post and Telegraph Department?
– I have a reply to the honorable senator’s question, and, as it covers a very lengthy return, I propose to lay it on the table of the Senate.
Amalgamation of the Commonwealth and Static Taxation Departments in Western Australia.
– I ask the Leader of the Senate whether he is in a position to say what has been the experience resulting from the amalgamation in Western Australia of the Commonwealth and State Taxation Departments? Can he state the net gain or loss to the Commonwealth as a result of the amalgamation, ‘ and whether it has been a success from the point of view of the’ general taxpayer ?
-Tho honorable senator asks my personal opinion oh the matter, and I can only say that I am not sufficiently acquainted with the inner proceedings ofthe Department concerned to give an opinion. I do not think that sufficient time has elapsed to warrant the expression of a definite opinion on the matter. If the honorable senator would like some pronouncement from the head of the Taxation Department as to what the experience of the amalgamation indicates, I shall endeavour to secure that for him next week.
The following paper was presented -
Particulars re costing system in force in Electrical Engineer’s Branch, PostmasterGeneral’s Department.
Valuations for Land Tax in New South Wales.
asked the Minister representing the Treasurer, upon notice -
With regard to the assessment of the unimproved value of laud inNew South Wales, will the Minister state whether the Federal Land Tax Department accepts the shire valuations or whether it takes the valuation of the State officials under the Valuation of Land Act?
– The answer is -
The Federal Taxation Department does not take either the shire valuations or the valuation of the State officials of New South Wales.
It was found necessary, owing to the terms ofthe Federal law, to make valuations by means of a staff attached to the Department. The staff was established in 1911 before the State Valuation of Land Act was passed.
In Committee (Consideration resumed from 3rd August, videpage 1077) :
After section 105 of theprincipal Act the following section is inserted: - “ 105a. In printing the ballot-papers to be used in a Senate election -
before the surname’ of each candidate in the first group in the ballotpapers there shall be printed the letter ‘(A)’; ibefore the surname of each candidate in the second group in the ballot-papers there shall be printed the letter ‘(B)’ and so on, as the case requires;”
Upon which Senator Garling had moved by way of amendment -
That paragraph (d) be left out; with a view to insert in lieu thereof the following new paragraph : - ” (d) If a candidate so desires, and if he shall have intimated such desire in the prescribed manner on his nomination paper at the time of nomination, there shall be printed in brackets before the surname of such candidate on the ballot-paper such word or words or abbreviation thereof as shall serve to indicate the party or organization of which he claims to be a supporter: Provided always that -
before any such’ distinguishing prefix is so printed the name of such party or organization shall, not later than one month before the date of nomination, have been duly registered in the prescribed manner with the ‘ Commonwealth Electoral Officer;and
thewritten consent of such party or organization to the use of such prefix shall have been notified in writing by the registered secretary of such party or organization to the Commonwealth Electoral Officer not later than 12 o’clock noon on the day of nomination.
this amendment. It would lead to very great difficulties, and would give opportunities for smart practices on the part of pseudo organizations with the intention to confuse the electors and obscure the ballot-paper. The names of parties are not copyrighted, and it would be quite easy for a person to register a party name which would be very much like the name of one of the existing parties, and so put forward a. group, not with the bond fide intention of contesting the election or securing support for it, but with the object of confusing the electors and preventing them from registering the choice they desire. The amendment must be considered in conjunction with a portion of the proposed new section which we have not yet reached!, and under which the Commonwealth Electoral Officer might be called in as arbitrator: It is highly undesirable that a Government official should be called in to arbitrate between political parties as to their right to the use of a particular name.
– He would be in a position similar to that of the Registrar of Patents.
– There are many party names that are very much alike. My reading in the press has led me to believe that there are a number of parties contemplating the adoption, of names very similar to that of une Official Labour party. I have heard of the “ Majority Labour party.” There is already in existence in Western Australia the “ National Labour party.”
– There is the “ Industrial Labour party.”
– Yes. These names are all very similar, and whilst 1 do not suggest t’hat any of these are pseudo organizations, one cj,n readily see how easy it would be for experts in electoral matters, who might desire to injure a political party to coin a name similar to that adopted by that party, and register it under the amendment. Then, if any dispute as to the use of the name arose, the Commonwealth Electoral Officer would be called in to act as arbitrator, which would be most undesirable. The merit of the proposal of the Bill as regards the method by which priority of position on the ballot-paper is to be determined is that it is arbitrary, and is not left open to confusion by the practice of tricks such as I have indicated. Arbitration bv the
Commonwealth Electoral Officer is provided for as a last resort, but it is difficult to imagine a case under the Bill in which he would have to be referred to. The object of Senator Garling is, no doubt, praiseworthy, but I hope he will recognise that the difficulties, and dangers in the way of adopting his amendment make it inadvisable fox us to accept it.
– ;I realize that there is a great deal in what the Minister (Senator Pearce) has said, but the only object I have in submitting the . amendment is to clarify the issues before the electors. That cannot be done by merely marking party groups “ A,” “ B,;: “ C,” and so on, which will only render the task of voting intelligently more difficult. I do not think that the evil consequences of the registration of names to which the Minister has referred are as great as he supposes. I admit nhat there are difficulties in the way, but it is our duty to overcome difficulties. In my view the amendment would have the effect of removing a difficulty which, I think, will arise under the clause as it stands. No organization will be entitled to be registered whose name is like that of the party which bond fide claims that name. Its claim to be the party of that name has to be established, not at the time of election, but before the nomination. It would be no great difficulty for the Commonwealth Electoral Officer to decide which party is entitled to the name. There would be no more difficulty, as a matter of fact, than now has to be faced by the Registrar of Patents on questions of copyright, patents, or trade marks. We have repeated instances of the similarity of names in business concerns, and difficulties of that character, are easily overcome, as is evidenced by the history of commerce throughout the Commonwealth. Demands are made for - the registration, under similar names, of different commodities, and the difficulties that arise in this connexion are not in any sense intense. I do not see why this Chamber should not take steps to provide safeguards, if those that I suggest are not sufficient, which would meet the situation. I am so concerned about the principle I have laid down that, much as I would like to accept the Minister’s suggestion to withdraw the amendment, I feel that I cannot with any good conscience comply with his wish. I am satisfied that without the carrying of the amendment or something like it we shall fail to make clear to the electors what we set out to do when we brought the Bill forward.
– I intend to support Senator Garling’s amendment, because it overcomes one of the difficulties that I brought under the notice of the Committee yesterday when we were dealing with the question of the grouping of candidates. I pointed outchat, in the form in which the clause then stood, it provided for placing the names of candidates on the ballot-paper in a way that would not be understood by ohe average elector. I also protested against it because it had for its object the exclusion from a group of candidates who might -hold the same views as those who were included in the group, and the candidates thus excluded would be handicapped. Senator Garling’s amendment provides that any candidate who nominates shall have a right to ask that- alongside his name on the ballot-paper shall be printed an indication that he supports a certain party. That appears to me to be a step in the right direction if the grouping of candidates is accepted, because it will clearly indicate to every elector the political faith of each candidate. As we have accepted what I consider to be an evil, we ought to minimize it as far as possible in equity to the candidates who may nominate at future elections. I am anxious to do everything. I can to help to make the ballotpaper as clear and intelligible as possible to the electors. I do not approve of the group system, but as we have accepted it, I believe that the suggestion made by Senator Garling will go a long way to remove the objection that I had to the handicapping of candidates who would be refused admission to a group. Provided the ballot-paper shows clearly for which party a candidate is standing, my objection, under that head, will fall to the ground.
– I desire to oppose the amendment. While I support the grouping system as giving a better chance to certain classes! of people to record their votes, and as> .being in the best interests of Democracy, I think we are now proposing to go a little too far. If we put the name of the party, or the alleged party, after the name of the candidate, we shall be doing something very objectionable. This criticism comes with particular force from tb« Labour party, which has become burdened with an excess of popularity. That popularity is not reflected in this Chamber, but a number of people have been anxious to inform me since I came here that I represent the “ Official “ Labour party. I have heard that not only from supporters of the Government, but from those who sit on the Ministerial bench, and the insinuation is that they are the “National” Labour party.
– “We use the expression as a differentiation between the “ Official “ Labour party and the Australian Labour party.
– Great . anxiety is shown by people who sail under other names to claim that they also belong to the Labour party, and that this remnant of the “ Official “ Labour party - a remnant, by the way, which represents at least one million voters of the Commonwealth - is not the true Labour party. Although we represent a majority of Labour supporters in the Commonwealth, there is a body of malcontents in Sydney who are forming a party under the curious name of the “Majority “ Labour party. As the term “ Bolshevik “ means majority, they are really forming a Bolshevik Labour party. “We might get a ballot-paper with the names of forty different kinds of Labour parties appearing upon it. There has been quite a rush to claim that members of the Opposition are only the “Official” Labour party, and that the others - the National Labourites, the Majority Labourites, the Independent Labourites, and so on - are the true Labourites. There was one man mentioned who wanted to go to the people under three brands. The carrying of the amendment would burden the ballotpaper with too many names of parties and make it obscure. I think it would be objectionable, not only to Labour men, but also to Liberals and Nationalists, to find that there were other adjectival designations applied to the names of their parties, such as Independent Nationalists, Free-and-fair Nationalists,- and Nationalist Liberals. Although the object of grouping the parties is to make the posi- tion clear to the average elector, I think the present proposal might have quite the opposite effect. It would destroy the advantage of the reform of group voting, the object of which is to enable every elector to do his duty to his country in the light of his conscience.
– I shall support the amendment moved by Senator Garling for a somewhat different reason from that which he has advanced. I appreciate his desire to clarify the position, if it is possible to clarify a boiling mud pool. I support the amendment, also in the interests of outspokenness. It is refreshing to get a flash of outspokenness in connexion with this proposed legislation. Senator Garling, in a most admirable and laudable spasm of candour, has asked us to do what we ought to do, namely, to be open and above board and say in plain language what we mean. He says that our political parties should be designated by their true and lawful names. “What is wrong with that? The Minister, however, will not accept the amendment.
Senator MacDonald, on the other hand, by the way, is now afraid. There has been an extra turn of the wheel, and he cries, “Let me down, I am too high.” He looks down at the ghastly appearance of all these political parties, and he shudders at the sight of a thing of his own creation. He can see a time coming when we shall have a ballot-paper with the names of eight or more political parties upon it. Of course, rather than have a ballotpaper for this Chamber, which is the highest Chamber in the land, disfigured by so many political names of all sorts of fantastic shapes, he prefers the expedient which is always the resort of a person who does not want to speak openly and candidly. He has resorted to suibterfuge and expedient. He shelters himself behind the alphabet. He does not know the A, B,C of a proper recognition of what is due to the dignity of the Senate. He hides himself behind the necessity of having “ A “ to represent the Majority Labour party, “B” the Independent Labour party, “C “ the Australian Labour Party, “ D “ the Country party, “ E “ the National party, “ F “ the Single Tax party, and so on. Our alpha bet will not be large enough. We shall have to get a Chinese’ alphabet. . This system has been on the scrap heap for a long time in America, and we are proposing to revive it. I admire what Senator Garling is aiming at. He wants to take the electors into his confidence, and to tell them that what this Chamber intended and desired was that political parties should be known, recognised, and stamped on the ballot-paper by their true names, and not by letters of the alphabet. We see these letters - A, B, C - on greasy bales of wool, and I believe they are used in marine stores and other useful institutions where green hides, tallow casks, and other articles of’ finery abound, and are branded. Candidates for this Chamber are going to be branded in the same way as greasy wool, green hides,and tallow casks. Are candidates to rise no higher than these very necessary but highly-perfumed articles? I am objecting to this makebelieve. I am applauding the eleventhhour act of regret and remorse on the part of Senator Garling in his effort to frame the ballot-paper on lines that will be intelligent to the electors, by showing the names of parties under their proper and recognised designations. The Government wish to put the best face on the matter. They are so ashamed of the thing in its essence that they resort to any dodge to cover up the true position. If Senator MacDonald wandered abroad, and found himself among his confreres in London or Moscow, no doubt he would tell them, first of ail, what his credentials were, and he would pride himself on his status as a member of the Australian Senate. Would he tell them he belonged to “ B “ group or “D “ group? He might be asked if he was a “ B “ senator or a “ D “ senator. But, of course, Senator MacDonald would say, “ No; I belong to the Labour party, and I come from Queensland.” But the reply would be, “ Are you not a ‘ B ‘ senator “ or “ a D ‘ senator?” Have we reached such, depths of childishness? I object to the whole thing, root and branch.
This Chamber is the result of no small effort on the part of the people of Australia. It is a co-equal branch with the other partner in the parliamentary institution. It has been brought into being as the result of the finest exercise of thought, judgment, and patriotism. When I landed here something like thirty-seven years ago, Federation was one of the subjects that was engaging attention. The authors of Federation were then few and far between. They could see the elements gathering and converging to form the nation that was to be. They had to fight down an almost overwhelming array of obstacles; but, as a result of their intrepidity and insistent advocacy, public thought was moulded. Were those big men selected to take part in the Federal Convention because they belonged to a particular brand of party? Werehe fathers of the Federation, the architects of this young national structure, selected because of any political affiliation ?
– Of course they were.
– They were selected from one consideration - their fitness for the discharge of their high duties.
– There were groups in every State.
– I flatly contradict that. Were they selected by reason of their political affiliation?
– Certainly !
– In Victoria, I think, a candidate would have been selected if he belonged to the Age group.
– There were Protection and Free Trade groups.
– Free Traders were placed side by side with Protectionists, showing that the task in hand put to the test the highest statesmanship and the purest patriotism obtainable.
– You are here because of party affiliation, and so am I.
– Seeing that party affiliation was flung to the winds. by the populace on that occasion, is there any reason to depart from the golden formula then established? Absolutely none. We are the custodians still of the national honour, dignity and spirit for what we are worth. We should emulate the example of those great men in whose steps we have the honour to tread. Even in small bodies, such as shire councils and road boards, such a dodge as is proposed in this Bill is not resorted to.
– The honorable . senator’s time has expired.
.- For fifteen minutes I have listened to the most interesting speech I have ever heard from Senator Lynch, and I do envy him for having such a logical mind that he can advocate just as earnestly to-day what he opposed yesterday. He now states thatthe fathers of the Constitution did not stoop to this dodge. I think it will be generally admitted that two of the gentlemen who took a prominent part in the establishment of Federation - the late Sir Edmund Barton and the late Sir George Reid - were in opposing groups. One carried the party brand of Protection and the other belonged to the Free Trade party, and only one of them was successful at the election. The unsuccessful candidate obtained a place in this Parliament because another gentleman was sufficiently patriotic to make way for him in a Protectionist electorate. Those gentlemen came into Parliament as party men, just as we have done. Senator Lynch was actually questioning the honesty of my colleague in supporting the amendment of Senator Garling. I am rather in favour of the system of having the party name on the ballot-paper, but I am against the amendment, because I think the objection to the clause has been met by the Minister (Senator Pearce). What would prevent the Nationalist party, who are in the position of being able to look at the ballot-papers after the election, from nominating candidates under the designation of the “Official Labour party” ? As the Nationalist party has been persistently blind to the fact that the name given to my party is the “ Australian Labour party,” what would prevent them from branding some of their candidates as “ Official Labour “ men in order to split the votes?
– Their conscience would not allow them to do that.
– It was, no doubt, a stroke of genius when the Nationalists adopted the name of “ National Labour party “ in Western Australia. In that State they emphasize “ Labour,” whereas in Victoria it is the word “ Nationalist “ that gets the emphasis. When this party, which comprises Labour men and Nationalists, combined, it did a very clever thing, because it represented a fusion of the most extreme interests in the land. It took in the most extreme members of the Labour party.
There is Senator Pearce, Senator Plain, and Senator Senior, who were uncompromising Labour men; they had scarcely any time for wishy-washy individuals like myself. Take Senator Lynch he used to rage against the other side worse than he is now raging against what he calls “ this Yankee card system.” Here we have this happy combination of extremists living happily together, and keeping place and power. It is a marvellous combination! The only drawback is that when there are two sets of people in a Cabinet, a party, or a Caucus, one pulls against the other, and the pull is so evenly maintained that there cannot be very much progress in the country.
– I remember one of your great Labour speeches when you proposed to permit the soldiers to pawn their medals.
– The honorable senator is calling to mind one of the occasions when a Labour Government were in office, and I dared to take the stand of saying that as a. Labour representative I did not have to dot every “ i “ and cross every ” t” with regard to the legislation the party introduced. I contended that, if a man had been left a military or naval decoration by his grandfather, he had a perfect right to pawn it, if he was in need of a meal. I did not oppose it, but I know it never passed Parliament.
– The honorable member was not expelled from his party on that account.
– During my political career I have at times made statements which have caused anger in the ranks of my party because the policy which I have advocated has not been that of other members of the party, but I have never been called upon to explain my actions. I have been allowed the greatest possible freedom, and I do not think it can be said that the Labour party interferes with any of its members who freely expresses his opinion.
– I must ask honorable senators not to make irrelevant interjections. I cannot admonish a speaker if he is drawn away from the subject before the Chair by interjections. The pawning of medals, for instance, has nothing whatever to do with paragraph d of this clause.
– We have the recognised Australian Labour party and the so-called National Labour party, but there cannot be any misunderstanding concerning the Australian Labour party and other Labour organizations. The Australian Labour party has its name on all documents and publications, and if others decide to adopt the term “ Labour “ to assist them in their political endeavours we cannot help it. If we introduce this system it will be possible for all sections to put up a number of candidates associated with parties under names so resembling one another that considerable confusion will arise. The proposal is so crude that we cannot adopt it. I am prepared to have parties branded or bracketed, but I will not support a proposal to print on the ballotpapers the names of parties as represented by particular groups. The amendment does not meet with my approval, and I shall either vote against it or not vote at all.
– I am opposed to the whole system of grouping, but as we have adopted it we may as well go further, and make it perfectly clear to the electors exactly what we mean. I, therefore, support the amendment.
Question - That paragraph d proposed to be left out be left out - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . 13
Question so resolved in the negative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 11 agreed to.
After section 106 of the principal Act the following sections are inserted : - “ 106a. Ballot-papers in the Form E and the Form F in the Schedule to he used in an election in any division shall be numbered in consecutive order, commencing with the number one, and shall be attached to counterfoils bearing corresponding numbers. 106b. Before a ballot-paper in the Form E or the Form F in the Schedule is delivered to a voter the presiding officer shall note in manuscript on the counterfoil thereof the roll number of the voter, and the presiding officer or poll clerk shall conceal in the prescribed manner the number on the ballotpaper. 106c. At the close of the poll the presiding officer shall, in the presence of the poll clerkand of any scrutineers who are present, place the counterfoils of the used ballot-papers in a separate parcel, seal up the parcel, and indorse thereon a description of the contents thereof, and permit any scrutineers present, if they so desire, to countersign the indorsement, and shall transmit the parcels to the Divisional Returning Officer.”
.- The provision in this clause is an innovation in our parliamentary system, and one which I hope members of all parties will carefully consider. Under this proposal, the ballotpapers will be secretly marked with the roll number of the elector, so that in the event of any dispute arising concerning the legality of a vote the officials will be able to ascertain how any elector voted. The secrecy of the ballot has always been recognised, and in our Courts of law, when inquiries have been made as to how an elector voted, the presiding Judge has directed the witness not to answer.
– In the Ballarat case they were allowed to answer.
– I have a report of the proceedings, and I shall be obliged if the Minister will give the facts in that case. In the meantime I shall look the matter up; but I know that witnesses in the Courts have not been compelled to answer. What has taken place in the conduct of our elections that warrants such an alteration in policy? It is the duty : of the Government to let us know the circumstances which have induced them to advocate the change. I know it will be said that the information will not be disclosed unless circumstances arise which make it necessary; but it will be in the possession of the Returning Officers and scrutineers. According to Senator Garling, the scrutineers for the Nationalist party were able to say how certain votes were recorded.
– Not how any individual elector voted.
– Was that not the honorable senator’s statement? According to’ the honorable senator’s statement, the scrutineers could inform the party as to how certain votes went.
– No; they could not.
– I do not say that they could identify individual votes, but they could say how certain votes went. I do not wish to dwell on what Senator Garling said, because, like Senator Lynch, I admire the honorable senator’s candour. We all know that scrutineers are sworn to secrecy, and I want such oaths to be kept.
– Are scrutineers sworn? I acted as a scrutineer at one time, and I was not sworn.
– The honorable senator had to sign a declaration before the Returning Officer.
– I believe I had.
– We have to consider that we have here a new system proposed, under which the Presiding Officer, before he hands a ballot-paper to an elector, inscribes upon it the number of the elector on the roll. He covers that with an official stamp so that it cannot be seen; and then, at the counting of the ballot-papers, if occasion demands, that can be uncovered, and it will be possible to learn how the voter cast his vote. I doubt whether members of the Committee desire that, and I doubt very much whether the Minister in charge of the Bill desires it. It is the first step to interference with the sacredness and secrecy of the ballot. The Minister should have very good reasons for such a proposal, and I shall be very pleased to hear what they are. I have carefully considered every Electoral Bill that has been introduced in the Senate, and have always been keenly sensitive about any interference with the rights of electors in the polling- booth. Honorable senators will agree that, during the crowded hours, there is a very great deal of difficulty in getting through the business of an election in a polling-booth, and this proposal will add greatly to the work of the officials. A ballot-paper cannot be marked until the elector applies for it. His number on the roll will have to be turned up; it is then to be inscribed on the ballot-paper, and that has to be covered up and sealed before the elector is given the paper to record his vote. I want honorable senators to realize the confusion that this system will introduce into the polling-booths. On its merits, I think that it should not be allowed to go any further. It is most offensive to me that a proposal should be made to keep a record of how a man votes. If the members of the Committee are prepared to do that, it would be useless for me to attempt to “stone-wall” the proposal, and, in the circumstances, I am not disposed to labour the matter too much. I claim that this is a proposal to keep a secret record which hereafter, if that is desired, will show how a particular elector voted. The effect of the proposal may be to intimidate electors. An unscrupulous canvasser may say to an elector going to record his vote, if he believes that that elector intends to vote against the interests of his employer, “ These are not the old days when we had a secret ballot. The present Act provides that a record shall be kept of the way in which you vote, and we will be able to find it out.” I say that intimidation might be used in that way. I would personally prefer open voting to the system now proposed, because I believe the courage of the people to-day is so great that they do not require protection in this matter. Still, I suggest to honorable senators that they should consider the power which this system will place in the hands of unscrupulous mert. Suppose a scrutineer breaks his oath of secrecy, and spreads a report that soandso voted in -.a certain way, and that he saw his ballot-paper. I venture to say that even a whisper of that kind might result in serious injury to the elector. It does not require a very vivid imagination to assume that once a record is kept of the way in which a particular elector exercises his vote, that record may be used for purposes which honorable senators would not desire that it should be used. I have taken a great deal of trouble to make myself acquainted with the method of conducting elections and the counting of votes. Some time ago, I acted as a scru tineer at a State election, my chief purpose being to obtain inside (knowledge of the work of counting at elections. I think the proposal should be condemned, because of the confusion and delay which it will cause. A system was in operation in New South Wales at one time under which every elector had to sign his name before he could vote. That was a simple matter, but it took up so much time, and was the cause of so much delay in the conduct of the poll, that, as soon as the Parliament met, the Act was amended and that provision waa struck out. Under this proposal. Presiding Officers in New South Wales will have to mark over 1,000,000 ballotpapers in the way proposed, and for what purpose? In order that a record may be kept of how some one voted, because some unforeseen contingency may demand that the way in which an elector voted should be brought to light. The Minister has had reasonable time in which to consider a reply to what I have said. I hope that he will realize that the proposal will make polling more difficult and cumbersome, and. that it is open to the very serious objection that hereafter there will be no such thing as a secret ballot. That is so grave an objection to the proposal that the Minister will bc well advised to withdraw it.
– I take no exception to the criticism of the clause on the ground that it is an innovation in Commonwealth electoral machinery. Senator Gardiner does not quite do me justice when he suggests that some explanation of the clause has not been made, because I went into the matter very fully on the second reading of the Bill, and I thought* it unnecessary to go over the same ground again in Committee. When the proposal was first put before me I was against it, and that caused me to go into the matter very closely. I had to be convinced against my preconceived opinion, and on going into the matter I came to the conclusion that it was not only wise, but essential, to include this provision in the Bill. Full safeguards are provided for the protection of the secrecy of the ballot, except in one contingency only, and that is in the case of a disputed election, and an order of the Court for discovery.
This legislation is in existence in the United Kingdom and in Queensland. I am sure that honorable senators have not 1 heard any complaints from Queensland as to its working. It has been in force there for some time, and no complaints hae been made by political organizations in that State suggesting that any evil results have followed from its adoption.
First of all, what is provided for- is a secret ballot, because the number put on the ballot-paper is sealed up, and even the elector himself doe3 not see it. After the ballot-paper is handed to him, no other person can see it. The seal remains, the elector records his vote, folds up his paper, and puts it into the box, where it is mixed up with all the other ballot-papers similarly sealed. It is impossible, therefore, for any one present at the count of the ballot-papers to determine how a particular voter cast his vote, because the numbers are sealed on all the ballotpapers. There is no means of identifying the ballot-paper of a particular voter except by breaking the seal and revealing the number. I remind honor able senators that, in moving the second reading of the Bill, I said -
Iti the case of Hedges v. Burchell (17 OX.K. 327), the petitioner applied to the Court of Disputed Returns for an order to inspect and take extracts from the rolls used by the Returning Officer and the proceedings filed at the election held on the 31st May, 1913, for a member of the House of Representatives for the Fremantle Division, including all rolls used subsequently to that date in connexion with the re-checking of the count of the election. Barton, A.O.J., drew attention to the fact that the COurt was, in that case, asked to order discovery, and he held that, as the order was requested against a third party - the Chief Electoral Officer- the Court had no jurisdiction to grant the order. The learned Judge concluded his judgment with these words (page 334) :-
It may be that such a power is highly necessary, and that the ends of justice are frustrated by its absence. It seems strange that in a proceeding which involves the question of the proper conduct of an election, when information is sought which exists only in the rolls and other documents in the custody of public officers, a petitioner is not entitled to the discovery that is here sought. But the remedy is in the hands of the Legislature, not those of the Court.
I suggest that the “other documents” referred to by the learned Judge included ballot-papers. I went on to say -
The evidence in the case of Kean v. Kerby (27 C.L.R. 449, page 457) showed that several electors were prevented from voting by reason of there being no absentee ballot-papers available for them, or through the errors of officials. The learned Judge allowed these persons to give evidence as to the manner in which they had voted. His reason for doing this was the construction placed on section 194 of the Act. That section at present provides, inter alia, that no election shall be avoided on account of the error of any officer which shall not be proved to have affected the result of an election. In cases, therefore, where electors are prevented from voting by the error of an officer, it is necessary, in order to prove whether or not the error did affect the election, to call evidence on the manner in which the votes would have been cast. The Commonwealth law differs in this respect from the English law. In England, an election may not be declared invalid if it appears to the tribunal that the mistake did not affect the result of the election - “ In other words, if the matter is left so that - the mistake may have affected the result, the election may be declared invalid.”
Let me quote from page 9 of the Reprint from volume 27, part 4, Commonwealth
Law Reports, in the petition Kean versus Kirby. In this case Mr. Justice Isaacs said - i
There were several other instances relied on by the petitioner, but for various reasons I find against allowing them. It appears, then, so far, that seven persons duly qualified to vote_ and properly seeking to vote, were, by official error, prevented from voting.
Here comes a very serious question, namely, what is the effect of this error, and whether it is permissible to receive evidence as to the intention of those electors to vote for the one or the other candidate? This is a question in which I feel I am required to state fully my reasons for the conclusion I have arrived at. There can, of course, be no legal objection on the ground that the matter sought to be proved is intention only. That is done in ordinary practice (see Halsbury’ s Laws of England, vol. xiii, p. 449 ) . But it was objected on the part of the respondent that such evidence should be rejected in a case like the present, as tending to invade the secrecy of the ballot. Of course, as the electors referred to had not actually voted, it could not be put directly as a violation of the secrecy of the ballot. The contention, however, was that, in effect, it would be a departure from the policy of the Legislature as appearing from the Electoral Act. Sitting at Ballarat, and out of reach of almost alf relevant authorities, I perforce adopted the course of taking the sworn testimony of the electors in question, subject to the objection, and not admitting it into the evidence unless and until on full consideration I should consider it admissible.
After quoting the cases he had looked up, he went on to say -
Secrecy is provided to guard that freedom of election. It is common ground, however, that, in some cases, which need not bo particularized, the Court is at liberty to inquire how a person voted. Section 190 provides that “ the Court . . may inquire into the identity of persons, and whether their votes were improperly admitted or rejected, assuming the roll to be correct.” Reading that section with section 194 (already quoted), it cannot be doubted that, in some instances of actual voting, it is proper for the Court to ascertain how a person voted. It is, in my opinion, impossible to contend that a person who was refused a ballotpaper altogether is in a worse position to defend his right of voting than if he had received a ballot-paper and his vote had been wrongly disallowed. And in such a case, how is he to protect his right of franchise, which is the most important of all his public rights as a member of a self-governing community? The ballot, being a means of protecting the franchise, must not be made an instrument to defeat it. When a vote is recorded in writing, no doubt the writing itself is the proper evidence of the way the elector intended to vote.
In summing up he added -
To exclude the evidence on a supposed analogy to maintaining the secrecy of the ballot would be to proceed, not upon a real analogy, but on a contradiction. Its exclusion would exalt the means above the end; it would defeat the franchise instead of protecting it. I therefore decide that the evidence is admissible.
As I sum that up, it means that in certain cases, when an election is disputed, there is no means of determining whether the election was proper or improper except by an examination of the ballot-papers by the Court. That is the only means by which a judgment can be properly arrived at. What we are proposing to do is to give the Court that discretion. If it comes to the position that the Court finds that the only evidence upon which the case can be decided is that provided by an examination of the ballot-papers, then the Court will have the means of examining the ballotpapers, and by the numbers will be able to identify the votes in dispute. It will not invade the secrecy of the ballot except in such a way as to secure that the people’s right, through the ballot, shall not be defeated. After all, the improper conduct of an election does defeat the will of the people; and whilst we, as a Senate, are charged with the duty of securing the secrecy of the ballot, we are also charged with seeing that the people’s will is not defeated by an improper election. What the Government are asking the Committee to do is to arm the Court with the power which these two Justices, in the cases I have quoted, have said is the only means by which they can decide certain cases. In the Ballarat case, a person who was prevented from vot ing, owing to the error of an officer, was asked how he would have voted. His evidence was admitted, and had an important bearing on the judgment. In the Fremantle case, the Chief Justice said he was unable to make the order of discovery, and therefore unable to decide the issue raised by one of the parties. It seems to me that, on the strength of those two cases, there is justification for the Government’s proposal. It is not a party question, and I amsure that Senator Gardiner does not raise his objections in a party spirit. Every party is interested, and the people are interested. The secrecy of the ballot will be secured, and the ballot-papers will only be revealed in the circumstances that I have set out. Having looked at the whole of the argument for and against the proposal, it seems to me that we are safe in following the procedure adopted in Queensland, where there have been no objections and no charges made of the improper use of the power given. I therefore think that the Committee would be safe in adopting the proposal, which will certainly enable the Court to arrive at proper judgments in disputed cases by the exclusion of votes fraudulently given.
– I would not dream of imputing to Senator Pearce an endeavour to mislead the Committee, but if ever a. man reasoned ably on false premises he has done it to-day. I said that, time after time, where a witness in Court had been asked how he had voted, the evidence had been disallowed. Senator Pearce has given an illustration of a case in which witnesses came forward and offered to state how they would have voted. The concluding words of the judgment read by Senator Pearce show that the evidence was tendered. In the other case, an application was madefor the production of the roll used by an officer. Let me reverse the position in the case in which the evidence was tendered and allowed. Suppose that a witness was asked by counsel how he had voted, . and that he stood by his rights as a citizen in maintaining the secrecy of the ballot. Does any honorable senator think that Mr. Justice Isaacs, or any other Judge, would compel him to give the evidence? I challenge Senator Pearce to state one case in which a man has refused to give evidence and has been compelled to give it; but if I had the time
I could certainly find cases in which, counsel have taken exception to the admission of such evidence, and the decision has always been given that the secrecy and sacredness of the ballot must be maintained. If I had voted secretly at an election, and voluntarily offered in Court to say how I had voted, no one would prevent me; but if some one tried to force me to give that information against my will, there is not a set of Judges or a Court in the world which wouldattempt to force me to do so. The clause in the Bill, if passed, will put an endto that secrecy. It says that hereafter the Court canturn up the ballotpapers and find out how any man voted. It can be disclosed how any man voted if the election in question happens to be affected by his vote. That is a first step in a very wrong direction. In all the legislation that I have seen passed during a long period as a member of this Chamber, I have noticed the encroachment of Departments upon the liberties of the people. In order to make it easier for the Departments to do their work, they are gradually clipping the margin of liberties of the people. The proposal now before us represents another advance in that direction by the Electoral Department.
– It is a choice between whether a person shall be wrongly elected or the secrecy of the ballot shall be exposed to the Court, and to the Court only.
– That question ought to be answered, and answered candidly. If that is the question, then let the. Minister, or some one else, tell us what the wrongs are that have induced him to bring forward the proposal.
– The Ballarat case was a case in point.
– This proposal would not affect such a case, because the witnesses who came forward there never had their ballot-papers marked, for they did not vote. Let us suppose that the Ballarat case happened again to-morrow, and that counsel for one side claimed that a certain ten votes had been given by ten people whom he named. The ballot-papers of those ten people would be turned up, and the Court would ascertain how they had voted. If either side claimed that the way in which a man had voted had affected the decision of the election, his ballot-paper would become the property of the Court. Senator Pearce has said that there have been no complaints from. Queensland. I have not heard of any; but has there been any complaint from any one in this State of practices which would warrant us in altering the law? Ifthe Minister considers that Judges constituting the Elections and Qualifications Court should have power to send for documents, then let him say so in a distinct clause. I do not object to their wanting the right to look at ballot-papers, but what I object to is their having the right to know how a man voted. All that Senator Pearce has quoted is dead against himself, because the question at Ballarat was not whether they should compel an unwilling person to say how he voted, but that they should allow a witness, who was quite willing to do so, to state how he would have voted if the ballot-papers had not been wrongly refused to him.
– Which is the greater evil, that persons should be wrongly elected or that the secrecy of the ballot should be affected?
– That the secrecy of the ballot should be interfered with, because that would be a blow to the electoral independence. A candidate wrongly elected can, under the existing law, be removed from his seat, and the wrong-doers can be punished. If we have not the necessary machinery to punish them, then let us create it.
– How are you to discover the wrong-doer?
– Should our electoral officers be turned into detectives ?
– No. The Court is to make the investigations.
– But the electoral officers would have to find out how the people voted.
– That is not correct; an electoral officer cannot undo the seal.
– There would be corruption under any system invented, but I think honorable senators will search their minds in vain for many glaring instances of wrong-doing at the ballot-box. At any rate, there is not sufficient of it to warrant special legislation of a character that would admittedly rob the ballot of its secrecy. Surely there is enough intelligence in Parliament to prescribe means of catching the wrong-doers, instead of putting into the hands of officials power to take away the people’s liberty. If one man in 100,000 would take advantage of the weakness in the law - and that would be about the proportion in New South Wales - why should we harass the remaining 99,999 ?
– How would it harass them!
– The present process of handing a ballot-paper to the elector is quite slow enough, and where there were a large number to receive papers at one time the proposed procedure would be most (harassing. I have nosympathy for the wrong-doers, but it is most important riot to endanger the secrecy of the ballot, because under certain conditions this proposal would enable anybody to find out how people had voted. The Court would have a right to make public how a man had recorded his vote. I am glad that there is another House where the secrecy of the ballot is likely to be preserved.
– Undoubtedly it would be an infringement of that secrecy.
– I remember, when I was the Minister in charge of the Electoral Department, an experience I had when I went with the Prime Minister (Mr. Hughes) to Bendigo. I proceeded to exercise my franchise as an absent voter about 9.30 a.m. An officer at the table gave me my voting paper in an envelope without having placed his signature upon it as a witness. I drew his attention to the fact that he had not signed it, and he replied, “ Who is running this show, you or I?” I told him that I would like to see his chief, but he refused to acquaint his chief with my desire. I then said to him, “ If you do not go and get your chief you will go right ‘out of this hall.” As the man at the head of the Electoral Department, I had some power in the matter. Eventually the chief officer came along, and I ordered the man’s dismissal at once. I saw the Prime Minister, and we telegraphed to Mr. Oldham, asking him to hold the absent votes at Bendigo intact. We discovered four or five officials, who were in a conspiracy, because there were a lot of visitors at Bendigo. None of the absent votes could be counted, because they (had not been signed by a witness. That was a clear case of public servants entering into a conspiracy, because most of the officials concerned came from the Post and Telegraph Department.
On another occasion I saw an elector from Gippsland, who wished to vote in Melbourne. He had an elector’s right for the State of Victoria. It was on the occasion of a disputed, election. He showed me his right, and I told him that he could not vote by virtue of that document, and his name was not on the roll. The man went away, and somebody else got hold of him. The man admitted that he had had five votes for five dead men. An individual who would do that sort of thing deserved gaol ten times. I followed this particular case up. It was a mining district for which the man desired to vote, but half of the residents had left the town within the previous fortnight. A man there said to me : “ I am the chief officer. All these men who have gone away will vote all right. My son is the tally clerk, and he won’t talk.” This was the worst case that ever cams under my notice. Although half the population had left, every man in the locality was shown as having voted. I obtained the returns from that place, and a vote had been cast in the name of every man on the roll who ought not to have voted.
– In the case of a disputed election the Court could order a search of the papers to see who recorded those votes improperly.
– This incident occurred in a district where the successful candidate had a majority of only about seventy votes, and about 170 people who voted were either not on the roll or were on the roll somewhere else. At any rate, there were enough of them to decide the election.
Senator GARLING (New South Wales)
T12.411. - It seems to me that the issue is as to whether the balance of convenience, safety, or advantage is so great as to outweigh the value which attaches to secrecy of the ballot. I fail to see that what we are going to gain by this clause will compensate for the encroachment upon that accepted principle. What Senator Russell has just informed us are not circumstances which would be covered by this clause. We would not be able to. determine who cast those votes, even if it could be shown who received the votes.
– Yes, you would. In the case of the dead men, by opening the ballot-papers it would be found for whom the votes were cast, and the election would be voided if that man obtained a majority.
– If the clause would result in the discovery of impersonators, I would be inclined to support it; but, failing this, the proposal is such a grave interference with the secrecy of the ballot that I cannot favour it.
.. - If there are two candidates, and there is a fine majority, for good reasons it is supposed that sufficient of that fine majority cast their votes improperly for the man who is elected. We are asked to preserve inviolate the secrecy of the ballot. We also know that it is entirely indefensible for any man to reach this Parliament by improper means. We cannot1 discover these improper means unless by revealing the secrecy of the ballot. Evidence must be obtained to secure proof of irregularity, and it is very hard for a defeated candidate to realize that his place has been taken in the Legislature by some one else merely because votes have not been honestly, recorded. While it is desirable to preserve the secrecy of the ballot, it is equally important, and even vital, that this Parliament should be composed of members rightly and lawfully elected. That cannot be discovered unless, in the words of Mr. Justice Isaacs, “the cause is made subservient to the means.” The cause must always be paramount, and in this case it is our duty to see that members of the Legislature are elected in consequence of votes lawfully recorded. The secrecy of the ballot must be made subservient to that end. There is hardly any other argument in support of the proposal except that the voting would be revealed only to the Court. The information is not to .be disclosed to - all and sundry.
– Bub the ballotpapers will be in the hands of officials.
– They are now.
– Yes, and we have to trust the officials who are handling them. They are sealed, and are in the custody of Returning Officers; but there is nothing to prevent them broaching the. seals and seeing how votes are recorded. We do not suggest that Returning Officers are men of the type, who’ would do such a thing, because they are honorablemen, equal to the best in the community, who have been put to the test and not found wanting. I support the clause.
.- I cannot allow the statements made by Senator Russell to influence honorable senators in favour of the clause, because he has not shown that this provision will be the means of bringing wrong-doers to justice or preventing impersonation. In the cases he hae mentioned the revealing of the votes would not make the slightest difference. The Minister (Senator Pearce), in reply to Senator Lynch, said that the ballot-papers would not be in the hands of Returning Officers.
– They would not be left in their hands.
– They would be in their possession sufficiently long to enable them, if they so desired, to break the seals to see how a particular, elector voted, and then to reseal them. It is no use shutting our eyes to the fact that that could be done if a dishonest official desired.
– An individual in a particular locality may wish to obtain the information.
– Yes, and he may be very curious to know how a particular elector voted. The Minister endeavoured to stress the point that the ballot-papers would be available only to the Court, but before to-day I have heard him say that it is unwise to endeavour to legislate for exceptional cases. The occasions on which elections a-re challenged are few and far between, and would not average more than one for each election, and they are challenged only then when the votes of rival candidates are so close that an investigation is necessary. We should not endeavour to disturb a system which has been successfully in operation at State elections for seventy years, and in connexion with Federal elections for over twenty years, without causing injustice to any one. The keenness of party organizations is so great that it is undesirable to provide the means whereby any one oan ascertain how an elector voted. The enmity towards Labour men is very great.
– And -the enmity towards some who are not Labour men is also great.
– Yes, and it is very much to be regretted. The bitterness and intense hatred displayed by one party towards another is so pronounced that no record should be kept of how any man or woman voted. It is now proposed to keep 9, record of the votes, and if this provision is passed it will be the law. The voting papers will be numbered and sealed, and will be available for inspection until they are destroyed. There are thousands who are sufficiently courageous and candid to admit that they do not value the secrecy of the ballot; but we should protect those who hold different opinions. I recognise the ability displayed by the Minister in putting the case for the Government; but he failed to mention a single case where an elector refused to say how he voted when compelled to do so. I have done my best to oppose the clause, and even if it is passed here the decision may be reversed in another place, where the votes are more evenly divided. The Nationalist party has decided that they will provide the means of ascertaining how an elector votes, and on it3 shoulders must rest the responsibility of destroying the secrecy of the ballot. The proposed system will make voting more cumbersome without providing the means for detecting impersonation. I challenge the Minister to show how a voter can be charged with wrongful action under this provision.
– It has nothing to do with that.
– There is, therefore, no necessity for me to proceed, because, notwithstanding the Minister’s strong arguments in favour of the clause, he has admitted that it will not assist in detecting wrong-doers.
– Senator Gardiner adopts very ingenious tactics in an endeavour to secure support. The honorable senator referred to the possibility of a decision in this Chamber being reversed in another place, where the numbers are more evenly divided, in an endeavour to con vince those who are undecided to support him, and thus show their independence. This is not a party question, and honorable senators are free to vote as they desire. He also said that if this provision is carried, the Nationalist party will be responsible for passing legislation destructive of the secrecy of the ballot. The honorable senator has overlooked the fact that a Queens land Labour Government first pioneered this proposition, and the responsibility, therefore, cannot be placed upon the shoulders of this Government.
– Will the Minister give me the date of the Queensland Act?
– If a Queensland Labour Government did not introduce the measure containing a similar provision, they have allowed it to romain on their statute-book while they have been in office. Senator Russell quoted some cases where votes had been recorded in the names of deceased electors, and in the names of others who had left the district. In one case there were sufficient of these votes to determine the election. Senator Gardiner has referred to the proposal as a clumsy method of detecting impersonations. It is not intended to do that, but it will prevent the return of a candidate by electors voting in the names of persons who are deceased, or who. having left the district, have no right to vote in respect of that district. Members holding their seats in such circumstances have no right in Parliament, and are there only by fraud. The law should bo framed in such a way that the Courts may make the necessary investigations in order to prove that a candidate has been lawfully elected, and this is the only means by Which it can be done. When ballot-papers are opened, and it is found that votes, have been recorded in the names of deceased men, the Court would be in a position to ‘disallow them,, and if there were sufficient to return, say, Jones, when Brown had been declared elected, the result could be varied and the election could be upheld. Under the present law that cannot be done.
– The Minister knows that the Returning Officers have a certified list of all deaths.
– Sometimes the list may be incomplete. The judgments of the late Mr. Justice Barton and Mr. Justice Isaacs have shown the weaknesses in the present law, and it is to overcome those difficulties that we are providing the power. We do not intend to destroy the secrecy of the ballot, but only to provide that justice can be done by the Courts if it is proved that an election has been decided by the recording of illegal votes.
– The Minister stated that legislation affecting the secrecy of the ballot was first introduced by a Labour Cvernment in Queensland, and I asked him to give me the date on which such legislation was passed. He could not do so, but corrected his statement by saying that if it had not been passed by a Labour Government, they had allowed it to remain on the statute-book while in office. There is nothing exceptional in that, because, when the affairs of the State are administered in such an admirable way that wrong-doing is not permitted, there would be no harm in allowing the Act to remain. His arguments have not supported this pernicious principle in the slightest degree.
Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.30 p.m.
– The Minister (Senator Pearce) made the statement that the Labour party in Queensland were responsible for pioneering this provision and introducing it into the State Electoral Act. When that statement was questioned, the honorable senator said that the Labour Government were administering it. There is a marked difference between the two things. This provision may not have caused any comment in Queeusland, and that may be due to the fact that practically since its introduction it has been administered by a Labour Government. Even the most questionable provisions may be safe in the hands of a Labour Government, though* they would not be safe in the hands of any other Government.
– Does the honorable senator not think that if the Queensland Government saw any danger in the provision they would get it out of the way before the debacle comes at the next State elections?
– It is customary for the members of all parties to assert that all other parties but their own are mortal. The Labour party in Queensland can see no possibility of the debacle which the honorable senator speaks of.
– The same thing was said in 1918.
– A Labour Government was elected in Queensland in 1915 for the first time in many years, and they have successfully appealed to the country on two occasions since, in spite of all the prophecies of their destruction.
I have yet to be convinced that this is a good provision, no matter who first introduced it, or who has administered it. I am still sufficiently Conservative to refuse to take up any innovation unless very satisfactory reasons are given fo£ it. Senator Pearce has repudiated his own arguments in connexion with the matter. Early in the debate his contention was that this provision was a means to catch wrong-doers. As the debate developed, he argued that its purpose was to undo the wrongs of an election, since it would enable persons who had voted in the names of dead men to be traced. The existing Act contains every provision necessary to prevent voting in the names of persons who are dead. The Registrar of Deaths in every case is compelled immediately to supply to returning officers the names of persons who have passed away.
– That is a provision of the laws of the States also ; but we still find the names of dead persons on the rolls.
– It is unnecessary for me to remind the Minister that the presiding officer in a polling booth has in his possession a privately marked roll, on which are marked the names of persons reported by the Registrar of Deaths to have died. A man may have in bis possession an electoral roll on which there appears the name of “ Thomas Atkins,” whom he knows to be dead. Say that he walks into a polling booth and demands to vote in the name of Thomas Atkins. The electoral officer will ask him if he is that person. If he says that he is, it is the duty of the officer, if he has a privately marked roll showing that Thomas Atkins has passed away, to hand the intending voter over to the police. I know that there is impersonation, and under any system we adopt there will occasionally be electors dishonest enough to attempt to evade the law. .Still the law is sufficient to deal with them, and they are dealt with in most cases. If it is not strong enough, the law should be strengthened; ‘but it will not improve our electoral system to interfere, in the way proposed in this Bill, with its best feature. Undoubtedly the best feature of our ballot system is that a man can record his vote unafraid of the influence that may be brought to bear upon him subsequently. No one can say that he will be unafraid if this proposal is agreed to.
– The elector need have no fear if he is honest.
– I do not know so much about that. If I were employed by Senator Bolton, and he found that on polling day I had voted against what he considered his most important vested interests, what would happen? Some one who actually did know how I voted, or had access to papers by which he could, contrary to law, of course, find out how I voted, might use the power that information gave him and inform Senator Bolton that he was employing a man who had voted against him. Would not my chances of continued employment be greatly diminished in the circumstances?
– That is the position of most employers to-day.
– The honorable senator means to say that they have to employ people who vote against them. I have given an illustration of what a bad employer might do. I have no wild idea that, in a great many cases, employers lay themselves out to force their employees to vote exactly as they desire; but I can quote the case of forty men who voted for me, who were called up the morning after the election by their employer and told to get their bread and butter from the man they had voted for, as he would supply it no longer. Within a month or two that employer was begging the men to go back to his employ again, and they would not go. They were all discharged because their employer knew that they had voted for Labour.
– How did he know that?
-Because they openly announced themselves as Labourites, and strenuously advocated the Labour cause.
– That had nothing to do with the secrecy of the ballot.
-My point is that, by this provision, giving access to thebal lot-papers, the way in which people have voted may become known; and I say that, with the growing power of organizations, it is unwise to introduce such a provision into our electoral sys tem. At present no evil of this kind arises; but such evils will follow from the proposed infringement of the secrecy of the ballot.
Senator Pearce accused me of having cunningly pointed out that honorable members in another place might deal with this provision. I pointed that out quite openly, suggesting that, as parties are more evenly divided in another place, such innovations as this will be likely to be more closely scrutinized there. With regard to the suggestion that this might be used on the platform against the Nationalist party, I remind the Minister that had I been a cunning man I would have said nothing about it. I would have let honorable senators opposite do the thing they could not undo, and would then have used it against them. Quite openly I say now, what ‘better weapon could an opponent of the party opposite use on the platforms of this country than to say that, until this combination of Labour and Nationalists secured office, we had a secret ballot, and that in future, under this provision, we shall have only a secret ballot dependent upon the honesty of the people in whose possession the ballot-papers remain?
– The honorable senator would be too chivalrous to say anything of the kind.
– I have tried to earn the reputation of saying such things quite openly. If this provision is passed I mark it as one of the first steps to carry us back to the time when the power- holding classes made use of their power even at the ballot-box. If the Nationalist Government introduce the Bill, and the members of the Nationalist party support it, they must bear the odium if there is any odium attaching to their action. We are within measurable distance of another election, and it gives me intense satisfaction to say that I shall not participate in it. But if one desired to be cunning and shrewd, he would let the Government hurry this Bill through. He would not ask why they did this pernicious thing, and made this secret and underhand attack on the secrecy of the ballot. Why should there be any pretence that the intention is to capture wrong-doers, when the intention of the Government and the party responsible for this measure is to attack the secrecy of the vote by ballot? We shall no longer have a secret ballot if the Bill becomes law in its present form. I utter my protest against it, but I have no desire to unduly delay the passage of the measure. I welcome the public expression of opinion by the Minister in charge of the Bill that it is not a party measure. I know the value of party support in Parliament. I know the difficulty which a supporter of the Government has in sacrificing his principles in the interests of the Government. That has sometimes to be done. Therefore when the Minister says that this is not a party question, I welcome his declaration, because it makes the path more easy for honorable senators to assist me in preserving the secrecy of the ballot by voting against this clause.
– I agree with Senator Gardiner. It is a retrograde step to insert a clause like this, which is open even to the suspicion of being an. infringement on the principle of the secrecy of the ballot. That principle was first promulgated in South Australia. It is one of the innumerable good things that have originated in that State. It was first proposed by Mr. Boothby, when South Australian Electoral Commissioner, and the system spread not only throughout the Commonwealth, but throughout practically all the civilized countries of the world. It seems to me that if we pass this clause in its present form, it will be an interference with a most treasured palladium of our people, since it will involve an infringement of the most important principle of the ballot system, and that is its secrecy. I do not think that we should allow, any one, whether he be the Judge of a Court, an official, or any one else, to have access to ballotpapers to find out the manner in which electors have voted. To do so, we should* be lending ourselves to enabling outsiders to discover, by ulterior means and methods, where and how certain people have voted.
– What does the honorable senator mean by “ulterior means and methods”?
– It is impossible to forecast what means would be adopted to secure the information; but it must be admitted that if any one may have access to the ballot-papers, it will be easy for information ‘to leak out. We have known information, which we thought was absolutely secret, to leak out even in this Parliament. We shall be very much to blame, in my opinion, if we interfere iu any shape or form with the secrecy of the ballot; and I therefore intend to support Senator Gardiner.
– I have listened to the debate with great interest. I heard the Minister’s second-reading speech, and I am diffident about protesting against this proposal, because, as the Minister (Senator Pearce) has stated, a similar provision is in force in Queensland as well as in Great Britain. I can confirm the honorable senator’s statement with respect to the existence of the provision in the Queensland Act, because I have had practical experience of elections in that State. I do not know by what ‘Government the provision was introduced in Queensland, because there were several coalitions of Conservatives and Liberals in that State. The provision has been in force in Queensland for the last ten years, and, so far as I know, has not given rise to any public comment. Many things may happen in the course of ten years, and at is no confession of ignorance for me to say that I do not know what Government brought the measure in, and that because no large fact has impressed itself on my memory. I say that frankly.
– If there was much criticism of the measure, the honorable senator, as a journalist, would know of it.
– I admit that. A dangerous measure may be robbed of much of its terrors in the hands of the right kind of Government. It may be invidious to say it, and it may press heavily on members of the other side of the Chamber, but we know that the working classes, who established a Labour Government after many years of effort, are not usually accused of holding industrial or economic power. That is the difference between a Labour Government and any other Government, administering an Act of this kind. I can reinforce that conclusion from my own experience. It was driven home to me that the word “ haired,” as used by my honorable friend, Senator Gardiner, does not exaggerate the position which a certain type of employer takes up towards the Labour party. I do not say this of all employers, for there are some who are even Socialists, and who go further than the working man in giving to the poor, helping the needy, and succouring the weak. If the Act was to be administered by a Labour Government, I think the danger from it would be lessened. Twenty years ago, when, as a boy, 1 was working in a printing office in New Zealand, my employer was a man of very considerable wealth, and, although he had no political ambitions himself, he had a political appetite. He liked to feel that he was well behind the gun. I saw him come into the room where I was working with other men, and speak to them about the municipal elections. This happened quite within modern times, and I am not going back to eighty years ago, when unionists were actually deported from free “ Merrie England “ for the alleged crime of inciting fellow workers to form a union. I am only going back twenty years in these free Democracies. The employer came round to the men, and said, “‘You do not want to vote for Carnell. You vote for McVay. He is the man that we want, and not the other fellow.” If that employer could have found out that any of those men had disobeyed his orders, it would have gone very hard with them. I had the satisfaction afterwards of helping to form a union in that office, and that, perhaps, cooled the employer’s ardour a little.
– I do not know of a Labour organization in Australia that would not do the same thing to its employees; or its staff, if it knew that they voted anti-Labour.
– I have been in the position of an employer of labour, although not as a profiteering or private employer. I had control, temporarily, of the economic destinies, of sixty or seventy men. I knew that one or two of the men were politically opposed to me, but I never attempted to abuse any powers that I held. I had no economic or selfish purpose to gain, for the concern was a cooperative one; and that is the difference between Labour administration and other kinds. If I had been fighting all my life for my own hand, I cannot say, of course, but that I might have drifted until I had become that type of man who is a bad employer.
– What about the Government Printer in Brisbane who was “fired”?
– He was not “ fired.” They put him back. He broke certain regulations, and was disciplined, but the “ iron hand “ did not crash him to the ground. I was born in a free atmosphere, and I did not begin properly to understand how much political bitterness really existed until I had received several lessons.
– That was when the honorable senator went to Brisbane?
– No ; in this city of Melbourne; and I could give instances to the honorable senator which have occurred here, if he so desires. It is no use generalizing on the question if I do not give concrete instances, and that is what I am endeavouring to do. I admit that I am here because of the strength of the unions - there is no doubt about that - and the honorable senators who are opposing me to-day are more or less under the control of the powerholding, capitalistic interests of this city and Australia.
– There are not enough capitalists in the country to account for our. presence here. We are here because the unions were politically divided.
– They were not divided on political or economic issues, but upon an issue arising out of the war. When the conditions that operated before 1914 return, the same state of affairs will be restored in the Senate. I mention this to show that there are serious grounds for objecting to the proposed departure from the type of ballot-paper now used. While I am not altogether against the proposal, I, nevertheless, feel that it is a matter requiring very grave consideration. The fact that it has been in operation under a Labour Government in Queensland almost prevents me from saying anything about it.
– The honorable senator cannot vote against it if it has been adopted in Queensland.
– I have already given the reasons why I shall vote against it. We have not the date before us when the Queensland Bill was brought in, but we know that during the whole time it has been in operation we have had a Labour Government administering it. The dog has, perhaps, been well kennelled, but under a different master he might come out and bite.
– Another Government as well as the Labour Government has been administering the Act in Queensland.
-That Government may have been subjected to severe control in Parliament.
– Numbers have been placed on the rolls in Queensland since 1911, and consecutively numbered ballotpapers have been in use since 1915.
– Ah! now we have the date; and the numbering was, therefore, brought in by the DenhamBarnes Government, and not by the present Labour Government. If the system was installed in 1911 there has only been one election at which it has been used under the then Liberal Government, and then it was so satisfactory to the people in power that it was small wonder nothing much was heard of it.’ Owing to the power of the Brisbane press, and the lies told by the Tory or so-called Liberal party, that party was returned by a majority of forty-eight to twentyfour in i912. The secret ballot is undoubtedly endangered by a proposal of this character, whatever Government brings it in, and whatever Government administers it.
– The time allowed to the honorable senator under the Standing Orders has expired.
– If the continuance of this debate was not justified for any other reason, it is justified because we have learned that an anti-Labour Government pioneered the Act in Queensland, and that the first election in which it came into full operation, in 1915, wiped out the Government that introduced it. I hope honorable senators will take that as a warning. They will see how anxious I am for the safety of their party. These two facts are worth noting.
– But the Labour party, when they got into power, did not repeal it.
– No. When a party gets into office, the tendency is for it to imagine that it is safe for all time. I venture to predict that the time is not far distant when the present Nationalist Government will no longer hold office. No Act of Parliament that they can engineer for the purpose of intimidating the electors will save them. The present clause is clearly an attempt at intimidation. There is a long list of penalties in the principal Act for infringement of the electoral law, but apparently there is no severe penalty provided for such a serious offence as an infringement of this proposed law would be.
– Will you look at clause 21?
– The punishment there provided is quite severe enough, but it would be very difficult to sheet the offence home. I shall read
– I think the honorable senator would be premature in doing that. Clause 12 relates to the numbering of ballot-papers, and clause 21 to the maintenance of secrecy of voting.
– In both clauses the numbering of ballot-papers is referred to.
– Then I shall permit the honorable senator to proceed.
– I thank the Minister for interceding on my behalf. The clause reads -
After section one hundred and sixty-two of the Principal Act the following section is inserted : - “ 162a. (1) Every officer and scrutineer in attendance at the scrutiny shall maintain and assist in maintaining the secrecy of the voting and shall not attempt to ascertain at the scrutiny the number on any ballot-paper.
Penalty: Imprisonment for six months.”.
I venture to say that similar provision is made in the present law.
– There is no such penalty in the existing Act.
– Section 170 enumerates a series of offences such as falsely personating any person in order to secure a ballot-paper, fraudulently destroying or defacing any nomination - paper or ballot-paper, fraudulently putting any ballot-paper into the ballotbox or talking one out of any polling-booth, forging or uttering a ballot-paper, supplying ballot-papers without authority-
-I would point out to the honorable senator-
– I hope I shall not need the Minister in charge (Senator Pearce) to intercede for me again.
– Neither the Minister nor anybody else need intercede on the honorable senator’s behalf. The duty of determining when he is in order devolves upon the Presiding Officer.
– I would much prefer you, Mr. Chairman, to rule me out of order, if you feel it necessary to do so, without comment, and without interrupting me; but as I am not allowed to proceed in that way I shall sit down.
– I hope this clause will not be carried. It is well known that somehow or other information about election matters leaks out, and we should reduce that danger as much as possible.
Question-That the clause stand as printed - put. The Committee divided.
Majority . . . .7
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Clause agreed to.
Clause 13 agreed to.
Clause 14 -
Section one hundred and fifteen of the principal Act is repealed and the following section inserted in its stead: - “115. (1) The Presiding Officer-
shall put to every person claiming to vote the following questions : -
Have you already voted either here or elsewhere in this election (or these elections, as the case requires)?
Is your place of living bona fide within the Division of (here state the name of the Division in respect of which the elector claims to vote)?
(If the last preceding question is answered in the negative) - Are you temporarily living elsewhere than within the Division of (here state the name of the Division in respect of which the elector claims to vote) with a fixed intention of returning to your place of living in that Division for the purpose of continuing to live therein?
(If the last preceding question is answered in the negative) - Did you at any time since securing the enrolment for the Division of (here state the name of the Division in respect of which the elector claims to vote) in respect of which you claim to vote and before (here state date of commencement of the period of twenty-one days before the issue of the writ for the election) become entitled to be enrolled in respect of another Division ? and
may, and, at the request of any scrutineer shall, also put all or any of the following questions : -
Are you the person whose name appears as (here state name under which the person claims to vote) on the certified list of voters for this polling place (or the roll for the Division of , as the case requires) ?
Are you of the full age of twenty-one years?
Are you a natural-born or naturalized subject of the King?
Are you qualified to vote?
If any person refuses to answer fully any question put to him by the Presiding Officer under the authority of this section, or by his answer shows that he is not entitled to vote, his claim to vote shall be rejected.
The voter’s answer to any question put to him by the Presiding Officer under the authority of this section shall be conclusive, and the matter shall not, subject to this section, be further inquired into during the polling.
Where a person’s claim to vote has been rejected in pursuance of this section and that person alleges that his claim to vote is wrongfully rejected and states the ground of his allegation, the Presiding Officer shall, notwithstanding anything contained in this section, permit him to vote if he makes a declaration in the prescribed form before the Presiding Officer as to the grounds of his allegation.
.- The term “ bona fide” is found here again. In a previous clause we substituted for it the term “ actually.”
– The law officers have been looking into this matter, and they suggest altering the position of the substituted word. They say that in this case the question should be, “ Is your real place of living . . .”
– Will the Minister move the amendments. I am not particularly anxious to do so.
– I move-
That before the word “place” in sub-para graph (ii) of paragraph (a) the word “real” be inserted and that the words “ bond fide “ be left out.
Amendments agreed to.
– Honorable senators have doubtless realized that I have been keenly alert in endeavouring to prevent any interference with electors recording their votes, because anything of that nature is almost an impertinence. Election day is one of the few occasions on which an elector is master. Hitherto State and Federal Legislatures have given serious attention to the desirableness of seeing that no inconvenience is experienced by electors in exercising their right to vote. Speaking from memory, the number of questions submitted to electors by a Presiding Officer under the existing law is four, but under the provisions of this Bill the number is to be doubled. Section 115 of the existing Act reads -
The Presiding Officer shall put to every person claiming to vote the following questions : -
Have you already voted either hero or elsewhere at this election? (or these elections?, as the case requires), and may; and, at the request of any scrutineer, shall, also put all or any of the following questions : -
Are you the person whose name appears as (here state name under which the person claims to vote) on the certified list of voters for this polling place?(or the roll for the division of ? as the case requires).
Are you of the full age of twentyone years?
Are you a natural-born or naturalized subject of the King? (d). Are you qualified to vote?.
I do not think much exception can be taken to those questions, and I am notcontending that much objection could be taken to the nature of the additional questions proposed. But the present list is ample for the purpose, and any further information desired must be required for reasons known only to the Department. The questions in the present Act have served the purpose at every Commonwealth election since 1901 to 1919; and one naturally asks why additional questions are to be put to electors. Is it simply because the Department is anxious to interfere with the rights of electors? The questions already to be asked are sufficient to enable the officers to obtain all the information required. They merely have to ascertain if an elector is entitled to vote. Let us direct careful attention to the eight questions now proposed to be submitted, and also to the drafting of the Bill. Any one who compares the Acts of Parliament passed during the first ten years of Federation with those passed during the last ten years cannot be satisfied with the draftsmanship of the latter. The earlier Acts are models of concise and fair draftsmanship, but those of later years are the reverse. It may be said that we have not such able men in the Department as we had some time ago, but with that opinion I do not agree, because the responsibility rests, not upon the officers, but upon Parliament, which passes those Bills. Sub-clause 2 reads -
If any person refuses to answer fully any question put to him by the Presiding Officer under the authority of this section, or his answer shows that he is not entitled to vote, his claim to vote shall be rejected.
That definitely gives the Presiding Officer the power to prevent a vote being recorded if the questions are not answered to his entire satisfaction. Then follows the following sub-clause 3 : -
The voters’ answer to any question put to him by the Presiding Officer under the authority of this section shall be conclusive, and the matter shall not, subject to this section, be further inquired into during the polling.
What object has the Department in saying that if an elector cannot fully answer the questions put to him at the time he shall not be allowed to vote? According to this sub-clause, the door is closed to him. It may happen in quite a number of cases that an elector may be in doubt concerning certain questions submitted to him on the spur of the moment, and, in order to be sure, he may leave the booth and seek information from some reliable source. “When he returns he will be informed by the Presiding Officer, under sub-clause 3, that he cannot vote that day. Sub-clause 4 reads -
Where a person’s claim to vote has been rejected in pursuance of this section, and that person alleges that his claim to vote is wrongfully rejected, and states the grounds of his allegation, the Presiding Officer shall, notwithstanding anything contained in this section, permit him to vote if he makes a declaration in the prescribed form before the Presiding Officer as to the grounds of his allegation.
– The sub-clause reads - “shall, notwithstanding anything contained in this section . . . “ That will allow him to vote.
– If an elector left the booth and returned, could he vote?
– Then will the Minister explain what is meant by subclause 3, which I have just read?
– If, in the opinion of the Presiding Officer, the answer was considered unsatisfactory, the elector would not be entitled to vote in the ordinary way. The Presiding Officer’s decision on that point is final; but the elector will have the alternative of voting in another way.
– I agree with the Minister that he should have the alternative of voting by declaration if he was not sufficiently well informed to enable him to answer the questions. There are some electors, however, who may be backward, and who, on being told that they could not vote under sub-clause 3, would not return to the booth. We should, as far as possible, deprive the Presiding Officer ofthe power to reject votes. I do not care what safeguards are provided so long as the elector is given the right to vote. Votes so recorded could be placed aside and scrutinized later, but the right to vote should not be taken away from any person. Sub-section 2 of section 115 of the principal Act reads -
If any person refuses to answer fully any question put to him by the Presiding Officer under the authority of this section, or by his answer shows that he is not entitled to vote, his claim to vote shall be rejected.
It appears to be a double-barrelled proposition, because he can be refused a vote if he fails to answer, and the Presiding Officer is to be the judge. I am suggesting an amendment that would almost compel the Presiding Officer to give an elector the right to vote, and ask the Minister to consider if the words “ unless ‘he is prepared to sign the prescribed declaration, which shall be read to him by the Presiding Officer “ were inserted after the word “ rejected” in sub-clause 4, it would not meet the case? Votes so recorded could be set aside, and, if illegal, would not be counted. Perhaps the Minister will give the matter his consideration.
– I do not take any exception to Senator Gardiner directing attention to these provisions, which are very important;but we do not wish to increase the difficulties of either the Presiding Officers or the electors. A casual reading of this provision would perhaps create the impression that it is somewhat cumbersome, and that the questions to be submitted are too numerous; but when one reads it closely it will be seen that there are not necessarily four questions to be answered.
– There may be only one.
– That is so. Honorable senators will see that there are four questions which may be put by the Presiding Officer, the first of which reads -
That is in the existing Act, and subparagraph ii of section 115 as proposed to be amended reads -
Is your real place of living within the divi sion of (here state the name of the division in respect of which the elector claims to vote)?
That is necessitated because of the alterations in the present Act which are made by clause 2 of this Bill.
– We must not forget that with the change of divisions upon the redistribution of the States, some electors may have difficulty in saying which division they live in.
– Let us deal with one point at a time. I have quoted two questions which the Presiding Officer must put to an elector. He is required under the present Act to put one of those questions, and he may put a number of others! So that this Bill merely adds one to the questions that must be put under the existing law. Then, under subparagraph iii, if the last preceding question is answered inthe negative, the Presiding Officer has to ask a further question. Honorable senators will see the reason for that. A man comes up to vote for the Division of Melbourne, and the Presiding Officer asks him if his real place of living is in the Division of Melbourne. If he replies, “ No,” it then becomes necessary for the Presiding Officer to put the further question provided for in subparagraph iii -
Are you temporarily living elsewhere than within the Division of Melbourne with a fixed intention of returning to your place of living in the division for the purpose of continuing to live therein?
That is really pursuing the same question in order that the Presiding Officer may not wrongfully deny the right of the elector to vote for the division. Then, if this latter question is answered in the. negative, the Presiding Officer must ask the elector -
Did you at any time since securing the enrolment for the Division of Melbourne in respect of which you claim to vote and before (here state date of commencement of the period of 21 days before the issue of the writ for the election) become entitled to be enrolled in respect of another division ?
Then the Presiding Officer may, at the request of the scrutineers, put other questions. Honorable senators will see that if the second question is answered in the affirmative, there is no need for the next two questions, and they cannot be put. If the second question is answered in the negative, it is necessary, in the interests of the elector himself, that the third and fourth questions should be put..
Senator Gardiner quite logically may object to the second question, because he opposed clause 2 of the Bill; but as we have passed clause 2, we must give the Presiding Officer the machinery necessary to test the compliance of the elector with the provisions of that clause. So much as to the number of questions provided for.
SenatorGardiner has raised a point in connexion with the latter portion of the clause, and I think that there is some substance in his criticism, although I am assured that, legally interpreted, the clause is all right. Sub-clause 2 of proposed section 115 provides -
If any person refuses to answer fully any question put to him by the Presiding Officer under the authority of this section, or if his answer shows that he is not entitled to vote, his claim to vote shall be rejected.
What is meant by that is that the claim to vote in the ordinary way is to be rejected. The section is to be read as a whole, and it goes on to provide, in subsection 3, that -
The voter’s answer to any question put to him by the Presiding Officer under the authority of this section shall be conclusive, and the matter shall not, subject to this section, be further inquired into during the polling.
That is to say that the elector’s answers to the questions put to him are to be conclusive, and there is to be no further argument that day about the matter. That is clearly advisable. We cannot have an intending voter saying, “ I shall go out and bring John Jones, who will tell you who I am, and will say that I live in such a place.” If the elector has not been able to satisfy the Presiding Officer that he has complied with the provisions of clause 2 of the Bill, he will not be permitted to vote in the ordinary way. That having been disposed of, he may still insist on his right to vote; and then siib-section 4 of section 115 provides that if he does so insist he may still record his vote, but in a particular way. I agree with Senator Gardiner that this clause might be made more clear for the sake of the elector, and that might be done by including some direction in sub-section 2. What occurred to me was that we might add to the subsection some such words as “ except as provided in sub-section 4.” I do not like drafting an amendment on my feet, and I have asked the draftsman to find some form of words to make it clear that there are two alternatives open to the elector to secure his vote. I hope that the questions provided for will be allowed to stand; but in order that the other matter may be further considered, I move -
That the clause be postponed.
.- I wish to direct attention to the use of the words, “Are you temporarily living elsewhere than within the division ?” I should like to have some interpretation of that. Owing to the closing of the mines in Ballarat, Eaglehawk, and Bendigo, men who were engaged in those mines, and whose homes and families were established in those places, went to
Broken Hill, and have been working there as miners for the last seven, eight, and ten years. They may never be able to leave Broken Hill.
– Then their place of living is in Broken Bill.
– Under the existing law, they have always voted for Ballarat, Bendigo, or Eaglehawk respectively.
– They will not be able to do so under this Bill.
– I think that is not a change for the better.
– I draw the honorable senator’s attention to the fact that he cannot now enter upon a general debate on the clause. The question before the Committee is that the clause be postponed.
– I saw in the newspapers that some 800 shearers went from Victoria to Queensland one day last week. They will probably remain in Queensland for seven or eight months during the shearing season; and I should like to know whether they will be regarded as being “temporarily absent” from the electoral divisions in which they usually reside. In the same way, seamen who ordinarily live in Sydney have gone- to New Zealand.
– They will not be deprived of their: votes for the divisions in which they usually reside if they are only temporarily absent from those divisions and have the fixed intention to return thereto.
Senator GARDINER (New South Wales [3.40]. - I am obliged to the Minister for the way in which he has referred to the debate on this clause ; but I should like to say that, in my opinion, an amendment of sub-clause 2 which would have a bearing upon sub-clause 4 would not be sufficient, because at the present time any elector who may be aware of the provisions of sub-clause 4 will be able to get his vote. I should like to- make the suggestion, for the consideration of the draftsman, that when the claim of an elector to vote in the ordinary way is rejected by a Presiding Officer under subclause 2, he shall at the same time be offered the right to vote under a condition, for instance, that he shall sign a declaration.
– That is provided for in sub-clause 4.
– That is so, but only if the elector continues to assert his right.
– I shall take a note of the honorable senator’s suggestion.
– A Presiding Officer, will take upon himself a serious responsibility in refusing an elector the right to vote in the ordinary way. Where he does so I think he should be under an obligation to inform the elector that he may have the right to vote under a oondition that he shall sign a declaration in a certain form.
– I ask leave to withdraw my motion for the postponement of the clause, in order that we may report progress.
Motion, by leave, withdrawn.
Electoral Bill: Scrutiny of BallotPapers.
Motion (by Senator E. D. Millen) proposed - (That the Senate do now adjourn.
– During the discussion last evening on the Electoral Bill, a certain statement was made by Senator Garling, to which Senator Gardiner also referred. In view of those statements, I caused the following telegram to he sent to Mr. Irwin-, Commonwealth Electoral Officer in Sydney, who was the Electoral Officer in charge of the last Senate election, and of the proceedings in that State generally : -
Statement made in Senate that after Senate ballot-papers election 1919 hod been scrutinized a further scrutiny was mode at the request of a political party to ascertain whether it appeared that Gardiner’s name had been mistaken by electors for that of Garling, and that only the scrutineers of the party making the application were present thereat. Was there any such scrutiny or any scrutiny . of Senate votes after the official scrutiny for any purpose whatever? Wire reply. (Signed) Oldham.
To that telegram I have received the following reply: -
Replying your telegram of yesterday, no further scrutiny of the Senate ballot-papers election 1919 was made for any purpose whatever after the official scrutiny, nor was request therefor received from any political party. This reply is furnished after special inquiry all metropolitan returning officers. (Signed) Irwin.
The reason for the last paragraph, I am informed, is that the count for each division was conducted by the Returning Officer for each division, and it was necessary to refer to them. It seems to me that those telegrams dear up any doubt that might have been created by Senator Garling’s statements.
.- When Senator Garling made his statement yesterday, he said that another count had been made after the elections, and he admitted this morning that the Hansard report said, “ after the scrutiny”. I stood up in my place and confirmed the allegation, because I had received information personally that such a thing had occurred. When the information that I had received personally was confirmed publicly in this Chamber, I unhesitatingly stated what I knew.’ Having been a candidate in an election conducted by Mr. Irwin, the Electoral Officer in Sydney, I desire to go out of my way to say that I’ have the utmost confidence in him, and believe that nothing irregular would be permitted by him. I am pleased to have the denial contained in his telegram, because it falsifies any statement that a further scrutiny showed a different result in the elections. That could notbe so, because such a scrutiny did not take place.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Senate adjourned at 3.51 p.m.
Cite as: Australia, Senate, Debates, 4 August 1922, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/senate/1922/19220804_senate_8_99/>.