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Friday, 8 December 1905

Mr LEE (Cowper) - The experience which honorable members gained during the last elections should be of great assistance to them in dealing with this Bill. The present Act is by no means perfect, and its administration on the occasion to which I refer was of a very peculiar character. The bungling which occurred would have been disgraceful had a schoolboy been intrusted with the management of affairs.

Mr Page - If the honorable member knew the difficulties with which the Department had to contend, he would not say that.

Mr LEE - I know that hundreds of names were left off the rolls.

Mr Groom - It is not fair to blame the central office for all those cases. Many of the mistakes were inevitable.

Mr LEE - I know that the names of twenty-one persons residing in a certain village were left off one roll, and that,, in other cases, there was great confusion. I trust that the future administration of our electoral law will be better. No doubt the Minister desires that it shall be perfect, and, in framing this amending Bill, he had the advantage of knowing the proposals of the honorable member for North Sydney, whose draft Bill must have been of great service to him.

Mr Page - In my opinion, the central administration did wonders at the last elections.

Mr LEE - Great allowances must be made for the fact that the Department was administering a new Act; but I trust that the mistakes which were made will not occur again. In the draft Bill of the honorable member for North Sydney, provision was made for the adoption of voting machines where that was thought desirable and practicable. We know that in other countries such machines have been successfully used, with the result that greater accuracy has been, secured, at less cost, and with no violation of secrecy. I am not prepared to recommend any particular machine-

Mr Page - If anything went wrong with a machine, how could a re-count be obtained ?

Mr LEE - Voting machines have been used in cities, like Buffalo,, in the United States of America, with great success, and T do not think that we need fear any trouble should we adopt them here. Experts are giving a good deal of consideration just now to the perfecting of machines which will save a great deal of the expense and trouble necessitated' by the present system. Experiences, like that of the honorable member for Riverina would be things of the past if an effective voting machine could be universally adopted, and I think that we should provide in the Bill for the installation of voting machines wherever it was seen that they could be used with advantage. In Committee, I intend to move in that direction. The Bill is one to which a great deal of consideration should be given - almost more consideration than honorable members will be disposed to bestow upon it under present circumstances.

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