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Wednesday, 3 May 1961

Mr FREETH (Forrest) (Minister for the Interior) . - The main argument that has been advanced by the honorable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr. Allan Fraser) in support of the amendment is that we have speedier transport these days.

Mr Allan Fraser (EDEN-MONARO, NEW SOUTH WALES) - And shorter working hours!

Mr FREETH - That is true, but is it really relevant? Under the act, any one who lives over 5 miles from a polling booth can avail himself of postal voting. It seems to me to be hardly relevant that transport is- speedier now than it was in the days of the horse and buggy, because any one could have travelled to a polling booth by 6 p.m. in those days. The plain truth is that this amendment suits party organizations and candidates - and probably a few other people also - who have an insatiable curiosity about the result of polls. But one day in every three years belongs to the individual in the street, the voter. Is there any reason why we should not meet his convenience by giving him as long a spread of hours as possible in which to vote? It is quite true that any one can vote by 6 p.m. if he wants to. Why deprive the man in the street of his right to vote up to 8 p.m. in order to suit the convenience of party organizations? I do not think that at this stage we should shorten the hours of polling. If anything we should extend them to suit the convenience of the public. Polling day is the day in each three years when the voter, and not any one else mixed up in politics, should be considered.

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