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Monday, 11 December 1905

Mr BATCHELOR (Boothby) - I wish to draw the attention of the Minister to the necessity of making a distinction between an authorized witness to 'an application for a postal vote certificate and an authorized witness who is able to go round to witness and to collect the postal voting papers.

Mr Groom - We are treating them in the same way.

Mr BATCHELOR - I should not mind a justice of the peace being an authorized witness to an application for a postal vote certificate.

Mr Groom - If we put one class in we shall have votes made informal by reason of the difference.

Mr BATCHELOR - My own feeling is that we ought not to allow any of these persons to collect postal ballot-papers. The trouble has arisen from allowing peripatetic postmasters, or masters of State schools, or justices of the peace, to go round to witness and collect these papers. What they may do with them afterwards depends upon their honesty of character. I consider that a serious inroad is being made upon our voting system. I ask honorable members to limit the use of this system to the polling place and the post-office. Between the issue of the writ and election daythere is an opportunity to a person to get to a post-office and record his vote. Surely that meets the case of every one except the few persons who, on account of serious sickness or infirmity cannot go, and who as a rule, are not able to exercise the suffrage. We have to trust entirely to the honour of the authorized persons who witness and collect the postal voting papers. A reference has been made to the capacity, honest)-, and integrity of justices of the peace. I am willing to admit that occasionally some scoundrels are appointed to the commission of the peace; but it is just the same with legally qualified medical practitioners.

Mr Groom - I have agreed to. omit that class.

Mr BATCHELOR - That will limit the number of these persons to some extent.

Amendment agreed to.

Amendment (by Mr. Groom) agreed to -

That the words " all legally qualified practitioners," lines 9 and 10, be left out

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