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Wednesday, 25 October 1911


Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) (Honorary Minister) - On Thursday afternoon we had a long and a bitter speech from the Leader of the Opposition. In this Chamber we have had many lengthy speeches, but it is long since I heard a speech which occupied so much time, and meant so little, as that which we heard from his lips. It occupied about 180 minutes, and I should say that, during the major portion of that time the honorable senator was engaged mainly in shadowsparring.


Senator Millen - In dealing with interjections from yourself and others.


Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator began by attacking two or three minor provisions of the Bill because, in his opinion, they were superfluously worded. He then said that, because there were one or two unimportant printer's errors in the Bill, it was worthy of condemnation, and had been hastily drawn. Then he worked himself almost into a white heat on the assumption that the Bill contained something which he afterwards found it did not contain.


Senator Millen - No. You wanted to put in the Bill something which if did not contain.


Senator FINDLEY - Later, without attempting to testify whether the principle of voting by post was sound or unsound, the honorable senator made, coldbloodedly, the statement that, because it was bad for the Labour party and good for the party which he represents, he fought like a Tasmanian devil in the interests of his party for its protection.


Senator Millen - That is not true, and vou know it.


The PRESIDENT - Order !


Senator FINDLEY - I venture to say that my statement is absolutely correct.


The PRESIDENT - I think that Senator Millen knows that it is not in accordance with the Standing Orders to in terject that a statement made is not true, and that the senator making the statement knows that it is not true.


Senator Millen - I have no desire to violate the Standing Orders, sir, as I hope you will recognise from my general deportment here. But I should like to know under what standing order I can give a flat denial to a statement which is an absolute travesty on what I did say.


The PRESIDENT - The honorable senator knows that interjections are altogether disorderly. Any honorable senator may interject that a statement made by another senator is incorrect:; but to say that the statement is not true, and that the speaker knows that it is not true js altogether out of order.


Senator Millen - I withdraw anything I have said which is a violation of the Standing Orders, and will take another opportunity of bringing home to the Senate what I desire to communicate.


Senator FINDLEY - I leave it to the fair sense of honorable senators who were present when Senator Millen delivered his lengthy speech as to whether my statement that he deliberately charged this party, and this Government, with desiring the abolition of postal voting on the ground that it was inimical to this party - is not correct.


Senator Millen - Hear, hear ! That is what I said.


Senator FINDLEY - If the honorable senator is within his rights in charging this party with desiring the abolition of postal voting because it is harmful, in his opinion, to themselves, I am quite within my rights in charging the Opposition party with being desirous of retaining the postal vote because it will be helpful to them.


Senator Millen - Yes ; but -your first statement was that I said that that was the reason why I. was fighting for the retention of postal voting.


Senator FINDLEY - I still repeat what I said.


Senator Millen - Then the honorable senator repeats what is not correct.


Senator FINDLEY - We ought to discuss principles apart from party. I venture to say that every member of the Senate who has had any experience of the operation of postal voting has long since arrived at the conclusion that no matter how many safeguards surround the system they will be evaded, and the system will not give satisfaction to a majority of the members of the Seriate, or of another place.


Senator Millen - To what party do the majority of the members of the Senate belong?


Senator FINDLEY - We are desirous of bringing about purity in our electoral system, and that postal voting has not had a tendency in that direction has been manifested on more than one occasion.


Senator St Ledger - For instance?


Senator FINDLEY - We need not go further than the city of Melbourne for an instance. The result of one election for Melbourne was in favour of a certain gentleman who died some time ago in the Old Country, but when the seat was again contested it was won by the previously unsuccessful candidate, mainly because of the undue influence exercised under the postal voting system at the first election.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator should give us some proof of that undue influence.


Senator FINDLEY - At the first election a considerable number of votes were recorded by post, and at the second election there was a very considerable diminution in the number of votes so recorded.


Senator Millen - How does that prove undue influence?


Senator FINDLEY - It was proved beyond the shadow of a doubt that numbers who ought to have gone to the poll were influenced to vote by post.


Senator Millen - That does not show influence as to the way they voted.


Senator FINDLEY - I do not know what honorable senators opposite require, In the first case, a certain gentleman was returned by a fairly substantial majority, while at the second election for the same seat the number of postal votes recorded was considerably reduced, and the unsuccessful candidate at the first election was successful.


Senator Millen - Is" that why the Government are against postal voting?


Senator FINDLEY - No.


Senator Millen - It looks like it.


Senator FINDLEY - I am against postal voting, because 1 believe that no matter how the system is safeguarded it will be found to be unsatisfactory.


Senator Millen - To the honorable senator.


Senator FINDLEY - To everybody who desires purity in election contests. Senator Millen quoted the number of votes re-, corded by post ^ throughout the Common wealth at the last general election. He quoted the figures correctly as 29,249, but he might have gone a little further, and have shown to what extent postal voting was adopted in the different States. It does not follow that the whole of these people Will be disfranchised by the abolition of postal voting.


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - Not one-half of them will be.


Senator FINDLEY - I do not believe that one-half that number will be inconvenienced by the abolition of the system.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator admits that the other half will be.


Senator FINDLEY - Senator Millenin his plea for the retention of the postal voting system said that its abolition would inconvenience the aged, the sick, and infirm. The honorable senator pleaded particularly for the women folk also. He pleaded for aged and infirm men, and sick women falls,


Senator Vardon - Hear, hear.


Senator FINDLEY - An honorable . senator cheers the statement. Let me say that the time was, and it is not so very long ago, when certain persons belonging to the party with which Senators Millen and Vardon are associated to-day would not give every man a vote.


Senator Rae - Or any woman.


Senator FINDLEY - And would not, in any circumstances, give a woman a vote, because they said she was unworthy of a vote, and if she were given it would not be able to exercise it intelligently.


Senator Vardon - Rubbish.


Senator FINDLEY - It was rubbish'. That is what we said of it - that it was absolute rubbish.


Senator Millen - And now that they have been given a vote, the Government do not wish them' to exercise it.


Senator FINDLEY - The time was when it was said that every man should not have a vote.


Senator Millen - By whom?


Senator FINDLEY - By persons belonging to the honorable senator's party.


Senator Millen - I remind the honorable senator that he is dealing with my speech now.


Senator FINDLEY - I am. and I am dealing with the honorable senator as the leader of a party that at one time denied that every man should have a vote.


Senator Millen - No.


Senator FINDLEY - It has been said by members of his party that some men were entitled to more consideration than others in connexion with our electoral system.


Senator Millen - Who said that?


Senator Long - Many of the party still hold that view.


Senator FINDLEY - Some still cherish a life-long regret that one-man-one-vote ever became the established electoral law of the country.


Senator Millen - There has never been a party in the Federal Parliament opposed to universal suffrage.


Senator FINDLEY - Let me remind the honorable senator that in the first Federal Parliament the only State that was represented on adult suffrage was the State of South Australia. I well remember a meeting held in the supper-room of the Melbourne Town Hall after the establishment of Federation when an amendment was proposed, that the franchise for the Commonwealth should be an adult franchise - one adult one vote. And such was the bitter opposition shown to that proposition that a division was called for, and those in favour of it won only by a small majority.


Senator Sayers - That was only in Victoria.


Senator FINDLEY - It was proposed for the whole of the Commonwealth. It was highly amusing to me to hear honorable senators opposite pleading for aged and infirm men and sick women. To hear Senator McColl pleading for sick women ! The honorable senator, when he had the opportunity to do so, would not give either a sick or a strong woman a vote for the State Parliament of Victoria. Yet he had the brazen-faced audacity the other night to get up in his place here and say that the Labour party do not desire to have a full or complete roll.


Senator Millen - The Minister may use the word "brazen," but apparently Senator McColl may not.


The PRESIDENT - Order ! I should like to point out to Senator Millen that on the occasion to which he refers an honorable senator rose to a point of order, and asked me whether I thought the word "brazen" was in order. I said that it might te out of order if objected to as being offensive.


Senator Millen - I did not intend any reflection upon you, sir. I wished to draw Senator Findley's attention, as one of those who objected to the use of the word by

Senator McColl,to the fact that he now uses it himself.


Senator FINDLEY - I did not object to the word.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator did. I do not object to it. I think its use is entirely parliamentary.


Senator FINDLEY - I shall say that the honorable member had the cool audacity the other night to say that we wished to deny to sick' women the right to vote, although when he had the opportunity to do so he refused in the Victorian Parliament to confer the right to vote on women. Now the honorable senator has the boiler-plated impudence to get up in his place in this chamber and say that the Labour party do not desire a full or complete roll because it would mean disaster to them. Let us examine that statement. For the election of the first Federal Parliament we had not a full or complete roll, and Labour secured eight members in the Senate and sixteen members in the House of Representatives, or a total of twenty-four. At the next Federal elections, with fuller and more complete rolls, Labour secured fifteen seats in the Senate and twenty-four in the House of Representatives, or a total of thirtynine. From the next election, with a still larger and more complete roll, due to an increased population and better facilities to enable people to get their names on the roll, the Labour party came back with fifteen in the Senate and twenty-six in the House of Representatives, or a total of forty-one. And at the last Federal election, with the biggest roll in the history of the Commonwealth, and the highest percentage of electors voting, according to Senator McColl s reasoning, the result should have been disaster to the Labour party. But what happened ? We came back twenty-three strong in the Senate and forty-two strong in another place, or a total of sixty-five. And we are here to-day.


Senator Millen - Honorable members are there in spite of the referenda.


Senator FINDLEY - We are here, and if there was anything in the reasoning of Senator McColl we should be in a hopeless minority, because of the completeness of the roll, and the big percentage of votes recorded at the last Federal elections. Every member of the Senate, I hope, is desirous of bringing about the most complete and satisfactory roll for the Commonwealth. I believe every one will admit that to-day there are innumerable names on the rolls which ought not to be there, and that no matter what pains or care are taken by the Electoral Department and its officers it is absolutely impossible to bring about an entirely satisfactory roll. In the departmental memorandum it is shown that although the Electoral Department may know that an elector whose name is on the roll for a particular division has removed to another division, as soon as the name is removed from the roll of the division which he has left it is automatically removed also so far as an election for the Senate is concerned. That is an injustice to the elector. It may happen that the names of persons who have long since left the division will remain on the roll for it, and although such persons, are entitled to vote somewhere their votes may considerably influence an election in a district where theydonot reside. I say that the persons who live in a division, and only those persons, should vote at an election for that division. The way to bring about a better roll is to adopt compulsory enrolment. Senator Millen says that we shall need to Kaye one-half of the population chasing the other half to bring compulsory enrolment about. We have considerably over 2,000,000 electors on the Commonwealth electoral rolls. Does Senator Millen imagine for a moment that we shall require one-half that number to bring about compulsory enrolment? Let us examine the queries presented to us By the Opposition in regard to the difficulties of compulsory enrolment. In the first place, let me say that policemen , are going from door to door to-day armed with copies of rolls, with cards which have to be filledin, and with copies pf regulations, which are supplied to every householder. Thousands of copies of these regulations have been printed and circulated. I believe that everybody in the Commonwealth is to-day aware of the fact that compulsory enrolment is to be, or, as a matter of fact, has been initiated, and that if they do not comply with the terms of the regulations they will be liable to be punished.


Senator Millen - No.


Senator Sayers - Are they in force yet?


Senator FINDLEY - No, not yet. The present rolls will be compiled in a double way. The police will assist as well as the cards.


Senator Millen - The word "double" is a very unfortunate word for the honorable senator to use.


Senator FINDLEY - I mean that the practice now adopted will insure a much more satisfactory roll than would otherwise be the case. The police, who take the rolls with them, may or may not put names on the rolls or remove them, but in addition they supply every one with cards.


Senator Millen - Is the honorable senator dealing with the system proposed to be created under this Bill, or the system now in operation?


Senator FINDLEY - The system we are initiating now is the card system.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator means the system proposed by the Bill.


Senator FINDLEY - The card system will provide for compulsory enrolment. And, after the roll now being compiled is completed, those who do not send in their names on the cards supplied to them will be liable to be punished.


Senator Millen - How are they to send them in?


Senator FINDLEY - One would imagine that there were a thousand and one difficulties in the way of the average person becoming enrolled as an elector.


Senator Millen - We want the system explained.


Senator FINDLEY - Senator Millenknows that there is an income tax operating in this State. A small paragraph, sometimes in an out of the way part of a newspaper, appears calling the attention of business men to the fact that on a certain day income-tax returns must be furnished at a certain place, and that forms for the purpose can be obtained at the Income Tax Office, or at a post office. We do not require an army of men to hunt up all those who are required to send in income-tax returns.


Senator Millen - Where do the policemen come in of whom the honorable senator was talking just now ?


Senator FINDLEY - We do not send out forms to every one liable to pay land tax. We put a paragraph in the newspapers telling people that such forms may be obtained at certain places-.


Senator Millen - Is that what the Government propose to do in connexion with the card system?


Senator FINDLEY - We propose to leave cards at every place which people usually frequent. But, before we do so, we do what has not been done in connexion with income-tax or land-tax returns. We circulate a regulation notifying every one in Australia over the of twenty-one years that, after a certain date, they must enrol themselves as electors, and that, if they remove from one electoral division to another, they must notify the Electoral Department of the change, or otherwise they will be liable to a penalty. When I was referring to our proposal to abolish postal voting I mentioned that 29,249 postal votes were recorded at the last Federal election. It is interesting to note how these votes were recorded. New South Wales being a larger State, having a larger population, and the people being more scattered than in Victoria; a larger number of votes by post might have been expected to be recorded there. Senator Millen himself urged that extra facilities should be afforded to people to vote in States with scattered populations. Now what are the facts. In New South Wales at the last election the number of votes recorded by post was 6,219.


Senator Millen - What was the percentage of electors who el iri not vote at all ?


Senator FINDLEY - 1 am not concerned about that.


Senator Millen - But it is material.


Senator FINDLEY - The electors had every opportunity of recording their votes either at the ballot-box or by post.


Senator Millen - No.


Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator was concerned about the number of electors who voted by post. I intend to show the number who recorded their votes by post in the different States. Victoria is a smaller State than New South Wales, and its population is much more compact. Consequently, the difficulties in regard to voting in this State are not nearly so great as they are in New South Wales. Yet the number who recorded their votes by post in Victoria was 14,049 - more than twice the number who voted by post in New South Wales.


Senator Henderson - Most of those resided in the cities.


Senator FINDLEY - A considerable number of those votes were recorded in the city of Melbourne.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Col. Cameron. - Are there not more females in Victoria than in New South Wales in proportion to population?


Senator E J RUSSELL (VICTORIA) - In proportion to the total votes polled the number of votes recorded by post in Victoria was still greater at the last referenda.


Senator FINDLEY - The total of votes by post in Victoria was made up of 6,341 votes by males, and 7,708 by females. In Queensland 4,020 votes were recorded by post, in South Australia 1,751, in Western Australia 1,977, and in Tasmania 1,233.


Senator Sayers - Can the honorable senator give the number of males and females who voted by post in each State?


Senator FINDLEY - Yes. I have already given those details for the State of Victoria. In New South Wales 2,894 males, and 3,325 females voted by post; in Queensland there were 1,638 males and 2,382 females; in South Australia 960 males and 791 females; in Western Australia, 1,127 males and 850 females; and in Tasmania 530 males and 703 females. It will be seen that in Western Australia the number of males who voted by post exceeded the females. It must not be supposed that .because we intend to abolish postal voting under this Bill, those who voted by post at the last election will be entirely disfranchised. I do not think that anything like that number will fail to record their votes at the ballot-box. The probabilities are that a considerable number of those who recorded their votes by post at the last election will take other means to vote when they find that the old system is no longer operative.


Senator Vardon - The Government would shut off the balance.


Senator FINDLEY - No matter what system is adopted somebody will suffer. Senator Millen remarked that the Minister of Defence, in introducing this Bill, had said that we intended to introduce a substitute for voting by post in the form of absent voting, and he complained that we intended to provide for that method of voting by regulation. He was very indignant that such a provision should be left to regulation. Perhaps Senator Millen is not unmindful of the fact that absent voting at the present time is left to regulation.


Senator Millen - No. There is a great deal in the Act itself dealing with absent voting.


Senator FINDLEY - I repeat that absent voting is left to regulation. What we desire to do under this Bill is what is already done in regard to absent voting under the existing Act.


Senator Millen - What about Form Q? That is provided for in the Act itself.


Senator FINDLEY - We intend to abolish postal voting, but I am now dealing with absent voting.


Senator Millen - Form Q deals with absent voting.


Senator FINDLEY - Senator Millenknows very well that a certain procedure has to be followed with regard to all regulations made under Federal Acts. What will be done with these regulations when they are framed?


Senator Millen - We do not know what the regulations will provide


Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator will know. He is not such a parliamentary novice as to be unaware that regulations have to be laid upon the table of the Senate for a certain time, and that if in the meanwhile no objection is taken to them they have the force of law.


Senator Millen -Will the Government put in their Bill a provision providing for a corresponding form to Form Q?


Senator FINDLEY - We intend to provide for absent voting by regulation, and I will tell the honorable senator, in case he has forgotten, what is meant by a regulation. The Acts Interpretation Act 1904 provides that -

Where an Act confers power to make regulations all regulations made accordingly shall unless the contrary intention appears -

(a)   be notified in the Gazette;

(b)   take effect from the date of the notification or from a later date specified in the regulations;

(c)   be laid before both Houses of the Parliament within30 days of the making thereof or if the Parliament is not then sitting within 30 days after the next meeting of the Parliament ; but if either House of the Parliament passes a resolution of which notice has been given at any time within 15 sittingdays after such regulations have been laid before such House disallowing any such regulation such regulation shall cease to have effect.

In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred regulations made under a Federal Act are laid before Parliament, and they cannot have the force of law if objection is taken to them.

Senatot Millen. - That was not my point at all. My point was that the Government are leaving to regulation what was previously dealt with by the Act itself.


Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator need not attempt to quibble in that way, because he knows that we are abolishing postal voting.


Senator Millen - I am not now referring to postal voting, but to absent voting.


Senator FINDLEY - Absent voting is dealt with in this Bill in the same way as it is dealt with under the existing law.


Senator MULLAN (QUEENSLAND) - Is there in the schedule to this Bill anything corresponding to Form " Q "' under the existing law?


Senator FINDLEY - No, not in the present Bill.


Senator Millen - But Form " Q," under the law as it stands to-day, deals with absent voting. It is now proposed to deal with the system by regulation.


Senator FINDLEY - Harking back again-


Senator Millen - The honorable senator passes over that point. Let him deal with it. He has contradicted me. Let him demonstrate that I am wrong.


Senator FINDLEY - I have said several times that absent voting is left to regulation.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator said just now that this Bill dealt with absent voting in the same way as does the existing law.


Senator FINDLEY - Let me deal with another point raised by Senator Millen - in regard to compulsory enrolment. Whilst the honorable senator did not object to compulsory enrolment, he did not utter a word in favour of it.


Senator Millen - I see no utility in it at all.

Senatot FINDLEY. - What the honorable senator did say was this -

If we desire a healthy roll it is far better that we should say to electors, "The obligation is yours to become enrolled ; we do not bother about it at all."

In other words, if we want a healthy roll, we should, according to the honorable senator, say to all electors, men and women, that the obligation to secure enrolment is theirs, and that Parliament will not bother about them. Therefore, the fewer facilities we give people to secure enrolment the better. I am, however, of opinion that by placing facilities in the way of electors to become enrolled, we shall secure a healthy roll, and that by simply leaving the matter in the hands of electors, we shall obtain nothing better than an unhealthy system, and one deserving to be condemned. I venture to say that if we were to abolish the card system, and were to dispense with the services of the policemen, contenting ourselves with saying to the electors, " On a certain day you have to enroll, and if you do not you will not be able to vote," we should have smaller polls than we have today.


Senator Millen - The Government say that in regard to the land tax, and it is also said in regard to the income tax.


Senator FINDLEY - But it is compulsory for people to fill up schedules in regard to income tax and land tax.


Senator Millen - The Government do not send policemen round to help electors in regard to taxation.


Senator FINDLEY - I am afraid that the honorable senator is tying himself up in a knot. He makes an analogy between income, land tax, and the enrolling of electors. But behind the income tax and the land tax there stands the stalwart form of the policeman, and there is a substantial penalty awaiting citizens if they do not fill in the required returns.


Senator Millen - The policeman does not go round and do the work for the taxpayer.


Senator FINDLEY - I am satisfied that the system of compulsory enrolment now proposed will give us a better roll. a much less costly roll, and a roll that will afford more satisfaction to every candidate who stands for election, either for the Senate or the House of Representatives. The honorable senator argued that compulsory enrolment ought to be followed by a system of compulsory voting. But it would be impossible to make compulsory voting effective. I defy any honorable senator to devise an effective scheme.


Senator Millen - I quite agree with the honorable senator, and, therefore, compulsory enrolment is worthless.


Senator FINDLEY - It is possible to compel people to enroll, and by so doing you can insure a fuller roll. By means of a completer roll you will get a larger percentage of votes recorded at elections. But at the same time it would be impossible to compel men and women to record effective votes. We all believe in voting by ballot. The secrecy of the ballot must be maintained. You cannot tell whether a vote recorded by any particular person is effective or non-effective unless you nullify the ballot system. 1 feel sure that there is no desire on the part of any honorable senator to do that.


Senator de Largie - To have compulsory voting you must have compulsory enrolment. You could not have the one without the other.


Senator Millen - But the Government are proposing the one without the other.


Senator FINDLEY - I believe strongly in compulsory enrolment, but nothing up to the present has convinced me of the possibility of compulsory voting; because, while you might be able to compel any number of men and women to go to the polling booth, you could not, because of the secrecy of the ballot, compel them to record effective votes. Why should you introduce a system that would exempt from punishment those who would go into a polling booth and wilfully render their votes informal, whilst punishing those who stayed away from the poll altogether?


Senator Millen - Why punish a man if he does not enroll when he need not exercise the vote after he has enrolled?


Senator FINDLEY - I am satisfied that the proposed system of compulsory enrolment will lead to a higher percentage of votes being recorded at each general or by-election. It must have been the experience of thousands of persons who have interested themselves in elections that those who have made the greatest noise about the defects of the electoral system were those who had not taken the trouble to enroll themselves In many cases this was due to sheer carelessness. But if people .know that they will render themselves liable to be punished if they do not enroll, and do not notify the Department of a transfer, thousands of names will be added to the rolls which are not upon them to-day. In attacking this Bill, Senator Millen said inferentially that it is a class Bill.


Senator Millen - A party Bill.


Senator FINDLEY - That means the same thing.


Senator Millen - So that honorable senators opposite admit that they are a class party.


Senator FINDLEY - We are a class party. I have always contended that we are a class party. We should not be worth our salt if we were not a class party. But in reality the only class in this country which is not a class in the true sense is the working class - which is the nation. The honorable senator said -

If this Bill passes into law it means that the only man who will be able to launch an appeal before the Court of Disputed Returns will be he who is in a position to pay, not only his own costs, but possibly the costs of both his successful opponent and of the Department.

The honorable senator objected to the elimination of the ^100 limit as to costs.


Senator Millen - No; I objected to the introduction of the Government as a party.


Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator objected to the limitation as to costs, also urging that only a rich man would be able to contest a case before the Court of Disputed Returns.


Senator Millen - It is not very material ; but, if the Minister will allow me to correct him, my statement was that the elimination of the £100 became more serious, in view of. the fact that the Government were claiming the right, through the Electoral Office, to become a party to a disputed election. The ^100 itself was not material.


Senator FINDLEY - Anyhow, my honorable friend will admit that he dealt with that aspect. But I would point out that the elimination of the £100 will have the opposite effect to that which he anticipated. During the last few years a number of cases have been contested in the Court of Disputed Returns, and in half-a-dozen cases which I can cite Parliament has been appealed to for monetary assistance to the respondents. The most recent case - Crouch v. Ozanne - the Judge said was frivolous. Mr. Ozanne was put to a considerable expenditure of effort and money, and all the costs which he could get from Mr. Crouch were £100, although his costs amounted to considerably more than that sum. I think that, in the Riverina case, the costs of Mr. Chanter amounted to considerably more than £100. In about half-a-dozen cases Parliament has been appealed to for monetary aid to those candidates against whose return petitions had been unsuccessfully lodged. The elimination of this maximum of .£100 will cause a candidate to hesitate before he goes in for a speculative chance, and some of these appeals have been merely speculations. An unsuccessful candidate will hesitate before he appeals to the Court against the return of the man who has been declared elected when he knows that if the costs should be high, and he should be found to blame, he will have to bear his share of responsibility. In respect to the appearance of the Electoral Branch, I believe that, in the Crouch v. Ozanne case, charges were made by Mr. Crouch in respect to the administration of some of the departmental officers on election day. But those officers and the Department itself had a complete answer to the charges, but they were not allowed to appear. To give the Department an opportunity to appear when its officers are involved and its administration is attacked, and to empower the Judge to award costs against those who, in his opinion, are at fault, is, I think, a step in the. right direction.


Senator Millen - The Bill goes beyond that.


Senator FINDLEY - There are one or two other matters I wish to deal with.


Senator Millen - Before the Minister passes away from that point, will he say whether he will be agreeable to an amendment limiting the right of the Department to appear when its administration is subjected to review?


Senator FINDLEY - I like the Bill as it is.


Senator Millen - The Bill goes much beyond what the Minister has just stated.


Senator FINDLEY - I think that I have stated the case fairly well. The Department will have an opportunity to appear in respect to cases which come before the Court, and it will be able to protect itself and also the Government.


Senator Millen - And fight the case of one of the candidates ?


Senator FINDLEY - No.


Senator Millen - It will.


Senator FINDLEY - What object would the Department have in fighting the case of a candidate?


Senator Millen - I am not here to deal with objects but to point out opportunities.


Senator FINDLEY - The Department will only appear in the Court when its administration is attacked.


Senator Millen - Put that in the Bill and I shall be satisfied.


Senator FINDLEY - There are lots of things with which the honorable senator would be satisfied if we amended the Bill in accordance with his wishes.


Senator Millen - Well, that justifies my statement to the Senate.


Senator FINDLEY - In respect to recounts, the honorable senator found fault with clauses 25 and 26, but I think his criticism was hardly fair. In order that the provisions may be understood I shall read them -

25.   Section one hundred and sixty-one a of the Principal Act is amended by adding thereto the following sub-section : - " (3.) If the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State refuses, on the request of a candidate, to direct a recount of any 'ballot-papers, the candidate may, in writing, appeal to the Chief Electoral Officer to direct a recount of those ballot-papers, and the Chief Electoral Officer may, as he thinks fit, either direct a recount of the ballot-papers or refuse the appeal."

26.   After section one hundred and sixty-one a of the Principal Act the following section is inserted : - " 161B. - (i.) At any recount the officer conducting the recount may, and at the request of any scrutineer shall, reserve any ballot-paper for the decision of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State. " (2.) The Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State shall decide whether any ballot-paper reserved for his decision in pursuance of this section is to be allowed and admitted or disallowed, and rejected. " (3.) In the event of the validity of the election being disputed the Court of Disputed Returns may consider any ballot-papers which were reserved for the decision of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State, but shall not order any further recount of the whole or any part of the ballot-papers in connexion with the election unless it is satisfied that some mistake or error in connexion with the counting has been made which renders a recount necessary."

Senator Millentook strong exception to the last few lines of proposed sub-section. 3.


Senator Millen - No; to the whole limitation.


Senator FINDLEY - Suppose that these words were eliminated, would the Court not desire the fullest possible evidence that a mistake or an error had been made before it would consent to grant a recount of the votes ?


Senator Millen - Take out the whole limitation on the power of the Court.


Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator not only desired the elimination of these words, but quoted from a report which was made not long ago in respect to the Riverina case, and he wanted, if he possibly could, to embody in the Bill the recommendation contained in the report. What did that recommendation mean?


Senator Millen - I did not read any recommendation.


Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator, if I remember rightly, referred to this recommendation.


Senator Millen - Look at the Hansard report and see the portion of the report which I did read. I did not read any recommendation from the Commission. I do not know what they recommended.


Senator FINDLEY -I do not want to do the honorable senator an injustice. If my memory serves me rightly, and I hope that the honorable senator will correct me if I am wrong, in the report it was recommended that a candidate should have an opportunity of demanding a recount, and, as far as I remember, he desired that such a provision should be made in this Bill.


Senator Millen - Yes.


Senator FINDLEY - If this concession is granted to one party it ought to be granted to another. Let us examine the proposal. At Senate elections in New

South Wales and Victoria there are more than two parties. On the last occasion in New South Wales there were three parties, and it may be that at the next election there will be four parties. At the last election Senator McDougall topped the score on behalf of his party with 250,000 votes. I believe that the highest score for the. Fusion party was slightly over 200,000 votes, and the Socialist party, if I remember rightly, scored about 13,000 votes. Does Senator Millen seriously contend that a candidate belonging to a party, no matter how small a number of votes a member of that party may poll, should have the right to demand a recount of the votes ?


Senator Millen - You are making an absurdity of the argument.


Senator FINDLEY - If the concession is to apply to a candidate who scores 250,000 votes, why leave out a man who represents a party, which, though small in number to-day, is growing in strength every year? The same thing might well be said of the Labour party. A few short years ago the votes it polled were small in number as compared with those which it polls to-day. If this proposal is to apply at all, it cannot have a one-sided application. It should have a general application. Therefore, it should not be entertained for one moment that any candidate standing on behalf of a party should have the right to demand a recount.


Senator Sayers - So he should, if he is prepared to put up a. penalty. Make a penalty and let him put it up.


Senator FINDLEY - Candidates have every facility now to get what they want. What takes place in regard to counting? First a count is made by the Assistant Returning Officer. Then a recount is made by the Divisional Returning Officer.


Senator Millen - No, a recount may be refused by both these officers - that is the point.


Senator FINDLEY - A count cannot be refused by the Assistant Returning Officer.


Senator Millen - I am speaking of a recount.


Senator FINDLEY - An appeal may be made for a recount.


Senator Millen - And may be refused.


Senator FINDLEY -" May."


Senator Millen - That is the case I am dealing with. A recount was refused in the Riverina case.


Senator FINDLEY - It may be refused. I hold that unless the strongest possible reasons can be shown that an error or a mistake has been made, a recount of the votes polled in a division or in the State should not be granted.


Senator Millen - I agree with the honorable senator, but I say that when a prima facie case has been made out, a man should have the right to a recount.


Senator FINDLEY - Under those circumstances the Court would hardly refuse a recount.


Senator Millen - But this provision will bar the Court ; it says that the Court must have absolute proof that an error or a mistake has been made, and not that a prima facie case must be made out.


Senator FINDLEY - If the Divisional Returning Officer refuses to recount the votes there is an appeal to the Chief Electoral Officer.


Senator Millen - Who may refuse a recount.


Senator FINDLEY - I cannot think it is possible that a high official would, unless he were absolutely certain that they were correct, refuse a recount.


Senator Millen - Why did they refuse in the Riverina case?


Senator FINDLEY - Then the candidate can appeal to the Court.


Senator Millen - No.


Senator FINDLEY - If it can be shown to the Court that an error, or a mistake in counting has been made, it can grant a recount.


Senator Millen - But how can a man prove that an error has been made unless he has had a recount?


Senator FINDLEY - That brings us back to the original contention of the honorable senator who, apparently, cannot get the idea out of his mind that every candidate should have the right to a recount.


Senator Millen - No.


Senator FINDLEY - I do not go so far as that. If we were to grant that concession to every candidate, we should have never-ending work, and, of course, no finality. I feel satisfied, in my own mind, that the Court will take into consideration


Senator Millen - My objection is that the provision does not allow the Court to deal with the matter. .


Senator FINDLEY - The Court will take into consideration the application for a recount, and also the possibility of error.


Senator Millen - - But the Bill will not allow the Court to deal with that. It pro vides that an error must be proved to the satisfaction of the Court.


Senator FINDLEY - Surely, if we eliminated these words from the Bill, the Court would not grant a recount unless it was thoroughly satisfied that there had been an error.


Senator Millen - How is the Court to know that?


Senator FINDLEY - What does it bring us back to ? That honorable senators opposite do not want these words retained, but desire that every unsuccessful candidate should have the opportunity to demand a recount.


Senator Millen - No. I want to secure to a person the right to show the Court that it is reasonable that there should be a. recount.


Senator FINDLEY - I am satisfied that the provision in the Bill will grant enlarged facilities to candidates to get what they have not been able to obtain under the principal Act. . I do not see that any member of the Senate need have the slightest fear on that score. I now desire to say a few words in .respect to the provision relating to advertisements in newspapers' The other day, when Senator Millen was, as I have said, shadow-sparring for an hour, or thereabouts - and I meant that in all seriousness - he singled out for special criticism a newspaper which has won a name for its fairness and the mental pabulum it provides from week to week. It is owned and controlled by working men, and cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be called a hireling press. It is co-operatively and collectively owned. I venture to say that, with the exception of those lines which men in their spare moments contribute, every line it prints is paid for, and paid for as well as every other newspaper pays for its contributions. That it is a party newspaper is undeniable. It would not be worth calling a newspaper if it were not. It came into existence over twenty years ago. It was started in Queensland, and by a few men who blazed the track and knew what persecution and martyrdom meant. Senator Sayers may laugh, but this is a sad and serious story. These men blazed the track, pioneered the bush, and were black-listed from one end of Australia to the other. One of the first editors of the Queensland Worker - which, in my opinion, has been rightly called the workers' bible in that State - was a man who made great sacrifices. His opinions could not be bought and sold like some opinions can be bought and sold in the journalistic world nowadays.

The PRESID ENT.- Will the honorable senator indicate how he intends to connect his remarks about the starting of a newspaper and journalism generally with the provisions of this Bill?


Senator FINDLEY - On Thursday last, sir, an attack was made on this newspaper, and 1 am endeavouring, in my humble way, to reply to that attack. I am trying to point out, if you will permit me to proceed, that to all newspapers, whether they are party organs or what Senator Millen called hireling press organs, the Bill applies ; it makes no invidious distinction in regard to one newspaper or another.


Senator Millen - No; but it makes a big difference between a subsidy and a specific payment for a special article.


Senator FINDLEY - The Queensland Worker was edited at the commencement by William Lane, who, I understand, gave up a position worth£600 a year, to take a position at a salary of £200 a year, in order to advocate the Labour cause. Other men contributed money and brains to the newspaper. Later, the Sydney Worker was established; and almost simultaneously with the birth of those two weekly Labour journals, there came into existence a Labour party. The two newspapers I referred to are essentially party organs advocating the Labour party's platform. There are in Australia to-day other party newspapers. There is a newspaper in Adelaide which had a humble beginning, and which is known as the Herald. It has grown, until to-day it is a daily paper having, I understand, a larger circulation than any other daily paper in South Australia. There is to-day in Tasmania a Labour daily called ThePost. There is in Broken Hill to-day another Labour daily. These newspapers have been brought into existence by great sacrifices on the part of men who, in some cases, have put their all into the ventures, and by many who have gone into the business of canvassing day and night. There will, I sincerely hope, be in existence before another twelve months have passed a daily morning newspaper published in Sydney and controlled by the working classes.


Senator Millen - That is the newspaper which the party opposite are building up by forced levies.


Senator Rae - There are no forced levies.


Senator FINDLEY - Forced or voluntary ; when a man joins a party he knows why he does so, and what he will be called upon to do.


Senator Ready - And that the majority will rule.


Senator FINDLEY - He knows that in every organization, whether political or industrial, majority rule obtains. With regard to the compulsory levy of which Senator Millen speaks, I may inform him that, at one time, those who believed in the establishment of the proposed newspaper were in a minority, but by persistent effort they have become a majority. Those who were in the minority a short while ago are now as enthusiastic about the establishment of this daily morning newspaper as they were previously in their opposition to the proposal. This newspaper will spring into existence, and, from time to time, other morning newspapers published in the interests of the Labour party will also be established. The clause of this Bill, against which such strong criticism was levelled by Senator Millen, will apply to them equally as to every other party organ in Australia.


Senator Millen - Not unless they are made to show their subsidies.


Senator FINDLEY - The Labour party, above all other political parties, have nothing to hide, and they do not desire to hide anything.


Senator Millen - They hide more than any other party. Let the honorable senator insert the word " subsidies " in the clause.


Senator FINDLEY - On Thursday afternoon last, Senator Millen quoted voluminously from the annual report of the Australian Workers Union.


Senator Sayers - How did the honorable senator get it, I wonder?


Senator FINDLEY - Anybody can get it.


Senator Millen - Then why did they refuse it to me at the Worker office in Sydney ?


Senator FINDLEY - Anybody can get it at any time he desires. The Australian Workers Union publish an annual report from time to time. We want our political opponents to publish their reports in the same way. It is because we cannot get them to publish what it costs them to conduct elections and referenda that we desire this provision of the Bill to have a general application. It was said, whether with or without justification! that untold wealth was spent at the referenda on 26th April last.


Senator Sayers - I can prove that, in Queensland, more was spent by the honorable senator's side than by the other. At Chillagoe, they had two organizers at work at £,6 per week.


Senator FINDLEY - We have no objection to the expenditure of money, but we have a strong objection to the violation of the Act of Parliament which limits the amount of money which may be expended in connexion with elections or referenda. That a seemingly unlimited fund was available for some people at the last referenda was evidenced, not by inch advertisements, but by double and treble column advertisements, by special illuminations at the street corners, and by thousands of extra large posters on hoardings throughout Australia. We do not object to that, but we want to know who pays for it, and whether there has been any violation of our electoral law in connexion with it.


Senator Millen - The Government do not object to the expenditure?


Senator FINDLEY - It all depends.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator said just now that they did not.


Senator FINDLEY - We do not object to it provided that it is within the limit set by the law.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator is becoming a law -upholder now, is he?


Senator FINDLEY - I always have been. Our honorable friend opposite waxed wrath in regard to the proposal for the abolition of paid canvassers.


Senator Millen - Yes,, whilst the other side keep organizers going.


Senator Rae - 4Honorable senators opposite can have as many as they like.


Senator Millen - What is the use of pretending? The honorable senator knows that every organizer of a trade union becomes a political canvasser.


Senator FINDLEY - Day and night the organizers of the Liberal party are vigilant. They are ever on the march. They boast about the number of meetings they have addressed, and the number of converts they make from time to time. They are not satisfied with visiting distant places to address meetings from platforms, but they have armies of men and women going from door to door - -


Senator Rae - Lying.


Senator Chataway - Just like the Labour party.


Senator Millen - Except that they havenot so many.


Senator FINDLEY - I should be sorry to belong to any party responsible for half the tarradiddles attributed to the Liberal party. Some of the statements made do. no credit to men and women who call themselves fair-minded. There ought not to beany member of the Senate, or any person outside, no matter to what party he belongs, who is not in favour of the abolition of paid canvassers. Canvassing is a. violation of the vote by ballot. If we believe in the secrecy of the ballot, why should we permit men or women to go from, house to house asking electors for whom they intend to vote ? ,


Senator Millen - Does the honorable senator not do that from the platform? Doeshe not ask the electors to vote for him?


Senator FINDLEY - I can truthfully say that I have never, to my knowledge, asked a man or a woman to vote for me personally. I have asked people to vote for the party to which I belong; and solong as I have breath in my body I shall continue to do so. There is nothing in this Bill to prevent honorable senators opposite employing men or women to get people to vote for their party.


Senator Chataway - Nothing to prevent them employing them ?


Senator FINDLEY - I defy any one to point to any provision in the Bill to pre? vent the Liberal party, the Fusion party, the party with so many aliases that one almost forgets what its real name is-


Senator Chataway - The honorable senator's party will have its aliases directly. Its members are already ratting on each other.


Senator FINDLEY - We have but one name for our party, and it has been the same ever since it came into existence.


Senator Chataway - What about the Socialists and the Independent Socialists?


Senator FINDLEY - They can call themselves what they like. Let me inform honorable senators that provision is made in the New 'Zealand Act for the abolition of canvassers, and no one ever heard of any hue and cry from one end of the Dominion to the other because their employment is not permitted.


Senator Millen - The honorable senator admits that canvassing may go on so long as it is not paid for.


Senator FINDLEY - in our party there are thousands of men and women who work, not with any expectation of fee or reward, but for the good of the party as a whole.


Senator Millen - They are gratuitous political canvassers because they are paid as organizers.


Senator FINDLEY - On the other side there are very few canvassers, men or women, who will do anything unless they are paid for it.


Senator Millen - Hence this Bill ?


Senator FINDLEY - No. At the last referenda, and at the last general election, there wns a big fund available, and some folk in this city, and in every city in Australia, participated in it. Let me quote the following from the 5th schedule nf the New Zealand Act in respect to canvassing, and with that quotation I shall draw my remarks to a close -

Part I. : Persons legally employed for payment -

(1)   One scrutineer for each polling-booth in each polling place, and no more, who may or may not be an elector.

(2)   A number of clerks and messengers (who shall not be voters) for conducting business in the committee-rooms, not exceeding one clerk and one messenger for each polling-place in an electoral district.

(3)   One secretary.

Part II. : Legal expenses-

(1)   The personal expenses of the candidate.

(2)   The expenses of printing, and the expenses of advertising in Dewspapers.

(3)   The expenses of stationery, postage, and telegrams.

(4)   The expenses of holding public meetings.

(5)   The expenses of a number of committeerooms, not exceeding one committeeroom to each polling-place in an electoral district.

(6)   Expenses inrespect of miscellaneous matters, not exceeding Twenty-five pounds, so, nevertheless, that such expenditure bc not incurred under this head in respect of any matter constituting an offence under this Act or in respect oi any matter or thing payment for whichis expressly prohibited by this Act.

Under section 219 of the Act it is declared to be an illegal practice to employ any person as a canvasser for paymentor promise of payment. Let me say, in closing, that I believe that this Bill will make for the purity of elections. I believe that it will insure a bigger and a more complete and a much more satisfactory roll than we have had since the commencement of the Commonwealth. I believe. that some who have taken strong exception to its provisions will find, after it has been in operation for a time, that they have been mistaken, and that some views that they have expressed in regard to the injury it is calculated to do themor their party will be found to begroundless. I commend the measure to the Seriate feeling satisfied that when it reaches Committee it will be found to require very little amendment.


Senator Mccoll - I wish to say a word by way of personal explanation. I understand that in my absence the Honorary Minister stated that in the State Parliament I was against women's suffrage. A reference to the record of my votes in the Victorian Hansard will show that that statement is not correct.


Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel CAMERON(Tasmania) [5.19]. - The first question that occurs to me in connexion with this matter is, What necessity is there for the Bill at all, or for any of the alterations of the existing law which it proposes ? It seems to have been intro- . duced for two main purposes. The one is to introduce a system of compulsory enrolment and the other, which seems to me to be quite unnecessary, is to abolish the postal voting system, without any attempt being made to meet the injustice that will arise in consequence. I do not wish to impute motives, and I dislike the imputation of motives by honorable senators on either side. But I should like to say that if fault can. be found with the operation of the postal voting system, surely the administrators of the existing Act are strong enough to see that those who violate its provisions incur the penalties provided for such violation. It seems to me that it is merely a question of the proper administration of the law, and that it is quite unnecessary to pass an amendment which will inflict injustice upon certain people. No one can deny that the abolition of the postal voting system will inflict injustice upon two classes of people who have hitherto been' given, and who ought to receive, some consideration. I do not ask for sympathy, but for consideration and justice, for these electors. There ought to be no adoption of the methods of the Chinaman, who burns a house down in ordeT to destroy an unfortunate rat. That is what is proposed by this drastic Bill - to repeal an honest endeavour in the existing Act to give all classes of voters at all events an opportunity to register their wishes at an election.It is not a question of whether the Labour party did not receive as many postal votes as their opponents. If that be true, the position may be reversed at the next election. I think the reasonable attitude to observe is to consider whether we shall be right in doing a serious injustice to a certain class of people, when all that is necessary to remedy any evil arising from the existing law is that it shall be administered in such a way as to make an example of any one who has been shown to have violated its provisions. I understand from what has been said that cases of the abuse of the postal voting system are known, and I ask, if that be so, why the Government do not make an example of the persons concerned? If I were in a position to administer a law of the kind, I should certainly, before proposing so drastic an alteration of it, endeavour to put it into, operation and deal out justice to those who have violated it.


Senator Rae - A case of the kind is mentioned in this morning's Age.


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON - Then let the law be put into operation, and thus prevent similar evildoing in the future. It would be the proper course to follow. Even if only a few persons, to put the matter in the most favorable light for this Bill, take advantage of the postal voting provisions of the existing Act, why should we deprive them of their natural right to be placed in a position to record their votes. That is a very serious point. I trust that the regulations will be so framed that justice will be done to all classes of persons.


Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - This is not a party question.


Senator Lt Colonel CAMERON - I hope it is not. Therefore I trust that the honorable senator will support the view that I am expressing. With regard to canvassers, I do not pay very much attention to what is proposed, though very much is made of it on both sides. I am satisfied that canvassing will go on in some shape or form as long as politics endures. All that I wish to insist upon is that canvassing, if it takes place at all, shall be conducted in a clean, straightforward, honest way by both parties. 1 f one party canvasses in a particular manner, I see no reason why the other should be penalized. I warn honorable senators on the Ministerial benches, who now oc cupy, their places so pleasantly, so confidently, and so modestly, that they will not be there always, and that before many years have passed, they may have to give place to advocates of quite a different system of politics.

Debate (on motion by Senator Chataway) adjourned.







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