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Monday, 11 December 1905

Mr WEBSTER (Gwydir) - I should like the Minister to explain how he expects paragraph g to operate. In my opinion it is a very objectionable provision. Men who might be in the pay of the State or the Commonwealth, and yet active political partisans, might be engaged for the purpose of witnessing the signatures to postal ballot-papers. Frequently, in spite of what has been said here to the contrary, collectors would be able to see the way in which the elector had voted, but the paper would be handed to him to be posted. That, 1 think, would be a source of great danger.

Mr Hutchison - Why should not the elector post it himself?

Mr WEBSTER - Exactly.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member is going to propose something which would be very much more dangerous.

Mr Spence - How could a sick person post the ballot-paper at a post-office ten miles away?

Mr WEBSTER - This provision is not specially intended for sick persons.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - If the voter retained his ballot-paper he could open it again, and exhibit it to anybody.

Mr WEBSTER - I am speaking of the agent of a candidate who may have not only one paper, but 100. It seems to me that this is a very dangerous provision.

Amendment (by Mr. Batchelor) proposed -

That the words "authorized witness," in paragraph g, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word " Postmaster."

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