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Thursday, 21 June 1906

Mr HUTCHISON (Hindmarsh) . - A good deal of talk has already been indulged in upon this motion. So far as South Australia is concerned, I do not think that it makes any difference to the voters when the elections are held. The honorable member for Dalley has asked a question in reference to the percentage of votes polled in that State at the last general election. I admit that, so far as the elections for the Senate were concerned, the percentage' of votes recorded was bad, for the simple reason that most: of the South Australian representatives were ieturned unopposed, as I believe they will be in future. But I would' point out that at the elections for the State Parliament, despite the fact that some of the constituencies are very compact, we have never secured a better average than 50 per cent., and I find that in several constituencies at: the last elections in Victoria more than 50 per cent, of the electors recorded their votes. In the divisions of Corangamite and Wannon, the percentage was very high indeed. Whatever date may be fixed for the holding of the elec tions will not make very much difference to South Australia. At the same time, if bv altering that date we can induce more electors to record their votes, I am thoroughly in sympathy with the alteration. The honorable member for Kennedy has suggested that if any change be made, the elections should be held in May. What does that mean? It means that if in Queensland, March is too wet to permit of the elections taking place then, May is certainly too wet in South Australia. In the latter State, many voters have to travel long distances to exercise the franchise. In the electorate of Grey, for example, many voters have to travel twenty or thirty miles to the polling, booth. If the elections were held in wet weather, these persons would be disfranchised. However, there seems to be a consensus of opinion that iti is inadvisable to hold the elections in December, and I am quite prepared to fall in with the wish of the majority that) they shall take place in November. I am quite prepared to give the people every opportunity to record their votes. Indeed, I should like to see every elector exercising the franchise. This desirable result can be brought about. I am sorry that the right honorable member for Adelaide is not now able to take the active part in our legislation that he did in State politics, or I am sure he would have moved in this direction. The way to bring about the desired result is to impose a small penalty on those who will not take the trouble to record their votes. I hope that the time is close at hand when we shall take some step of that character. I have no fear of ever being asked to represent a minority, but I should not like to do so, and I am confident that no other honorable member would. If the matter were taken in hand by the Government, we could soon insure that no honorable member would be returned bv a minority vote.

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