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Tuesday, 12 December 1905

Mr MALONEY (Melbourne) - I support the amendment. The experience of the honorable member for Riverina in this matter is somewhat similar to my own. If the returning officer who presided at my election could by any act have secured my defeat, he would have done so. During the recount lie was running about the room not knowing what he was saying, while another man was following him, beseeching him to be firm.

Mr Watson - Was he firm?

Mr MALONEY - He was 'firm in wrong-doing, and I am glad that the Government of the day deprived him of his power to do ill, and put in his place a man who will carry out His work well. I have two instances which, I think, support the amendment. These are affidavits of gentlemen who acted as scrutineers -

Whilst acting as scrutineer (voluntary) at the table N to R, at Hotham polling place, after the ballot-papers for the House of Representatives were counted and tied up, and the numbers declared and signed for - after some considerable time, when counting the Senate ballot-papers - it was discovered that a ballot-paper for the House of Representatives was mixed with the Senate ballot-papers, and such ballot-paper was a vote for Dr. Maloney. This vote was not included in the number handed in as total from such table.

During the progress of the tallying of the votes after the ballot boxes had been opened by the Returning Officer's deputy, I found about twenty ballot-papers (red ones) on the Moor under the table where I was then standing near. I picked them up, and handed them to the Poll Clerk, and he accepted same, and they were counted wilh the others. They had apparently fallen off the table on to the floor. That as soon as I gave them to him, he put them on the form, and sat on them, and when the counting took place, he included them in the tally. I had previous to this pointed out to Constable Fallon that the said papers were on the floor, and he saw me hand them to the Poll Clerk'.

I could quote many similar statements. In addition to these irregularities, two, if not three, ballot-boxes were missing for a period of twelve hours, and one of the returns from a polling booth was altered so as to give my opponent an advantage, instead of allowing me a small surplus. That was a case in which a recount would have been justified. I agree with the honorable member for Corio that the amendment should be made mandatory, though I have no objection to requiring a small deposit to prevent frivolous requests. At the same time. I do net think any candidate would ask for a recount unless he thought he had a fair chance of benefiting by it.

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