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Wednesday, 3 May 1961

Mr FREETH (Forrest) (Minister for the Interior) (2:45 AM) . - If the honorable member for Lilley (Mr. Wight) had been in the chamber a few minutes ago he would have heard me explain that I cannot give an assurance that under the existing act mobile polling booths can be introduced. The system which operates in Queensland was introduced largely as a result of the rather complicated State procedure in applying for a postal vote. It is not nearly as simple as the existing procedure for securing a postal vote at a Commonwealth election. The mobile booth system in Queensland is very costly and very slow. At the Brisbane General Hospital, including the women's hospital, 27 officials were engaged in collecting 332 ordinary and 937 absentee votes. At various other hospitals large numbers of officials were engaged. At the Eventide Homes for the Aged at Sandgate twenty officials were engaged. They collected 489 ordinary votes and 565 absentee votes. At the Princess Alexandra South Brisbane Hospital, 24 officials were engaged. They collected 348 ordinary votes and 841 absent votes.

Mr Reynolds - For how long are they engaged - for the whole of the day?

Mr FREETH - I understand that they are engaged for several days prior to polling day. They roam the hospitals. This facility is extended at all the public hospitals and institutions in Queensland, but it is extended at private hospitals and institutions only if permission is obtained.

There is no real evidence to -suggest that our postal voting facilities, which are far simpler than they are in Queensland, are so inadequate as to justify, at this stage, appointing a considerably larger number of officials to collect a relatively small number of votes. However, I will undertake to examine this proposal sympathetically and to see exactly what expense would be involved and what kind of procedure would have to be introduced, if such a system were to be adopted under our legislation. At the present time, it seems that the additional number of officials that would have to be appointed for a relatively small benefit would not make it desirable to accept the proposed amendment.

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