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Monday, 11 December 1905

Mr WILKINSON (Moreton) - In common with most Queenslanders, I am able to cite particular examples illustrating the operation of the clause we are now considering. I hope that the amount provided for in the Bill will be retained. I have a very 'distinct recollection of an attempt which was made not to stuff rolls, but to sweep rolls clean of the names of electors who were undesirable from the point of view of a certain political party. This occurred in an electorate very near to the centre of the Moreton electorate. A sweeping list of the names of persons objected to was sent in with the result that the election was lost to the man against whom the party taking this action were opposed, although if the names of all who were entitled to vote had been allowed to remain on the roll, the election would probably have gone the other way. It may be said that there is not now the same objection that there was previously to objections to names appearing on the roll, inasmuch as those whose names are objected to will not be compelled, under the new provision, to appear at a Revision Court to substantiate their claims. But I point out that in some of the outside districts there are many men and women who are averse to writing official letters, 'and in many cases, even though they should write them, they would have to travel a good many miles to post them. I see no reason why people who are justly entitled to have their names retained on ran electoral roll should be put to the trouble, not only of writing a letter, but of riding from seven to fifteen miles to post it,, in order to substantiate a claim which has been objected to. With the honorable member for Boothby, I would favour some provision under which the 5s. provided for in the Bill should go, not to the Crown, but to reimburse the elector who has been put to expense to defend the claim. We have recently passed a Census and Statistics Bill, and as we shall have our officers scattered throughout the Commonwealth, surely with all the machinery at our disposal we ought to be able to depend upon them to maintain a. reasonably pure roll, without any intervention by political organizations. With the abolition of plural voting, there may, perhaps, not be the same reason that there was in the pa.sf for watchfulness on the part of political, parties; but any one who lodges, an objection against the name of an elector should be so sure that his objection is sound as to be prepared to lodge a sum of at least 5s. Where an objection is found to be frivolous, I think that some penalty should be imposed which should go to reimburse the elector whose name has been objected to. I am sorry that the Minister has agreed to accept the amendment.

Mr Groom - I asked the honorable member to consider whether a suggestion I made would not meet the case.

Mr WILKINSON - I think that the 5s. is little enough, and I think that there might also be imposed upon those who have been proved to have lodged frivolous objections some penalty to reimburse the elector whose name has been objected to for the inconvenience and expense to which he may be subjected in substantiating his claim.

Mr. CHANTER(Riverina).- In view of the discussion which has taken place, I think it would be unwise for me to press my amendment to a division, and I therefore ask leave to withdraw it.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Mr. BATCHELOR(Boothby).- I would ask the Minister whether, in order that the objection I raised just now might be met, he does not think that it is necessary to re-enact some portions of sections 83 and 84 of the principal Act, which by this clause it is proposed to repeal. Where frivolous objections are made, the expense to which the elector objected to is put in consequence should be reimbursed. I do not care to make a specific proposal until I have heard whether the Minister is prepared to consider the matter.

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