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Wednesday, 1 November 1911

Senator VARDON (South Australia) . - The extraordinary statement which Senator Ready has read furnished no reason whatever why postal voting should be abolished. It simply showed that a justice of the peace went round a certain district in Tasmania and witnessed applications for postal votes.

Senator Ready - That is not all. He canvassed for a political party while witnessing signatures.

Senator VARDON - I never listened to a more cold-blooded statement than that made by the Minister with regard to the voting of women in maternity cases. I suppose he was speaking from a statement which had been prepared for him. The figures were worked down to the lowest possible minimum. But even so they showed that a great number of women will be unable to vote if postal voting be discontinued. I have no objection to polling places being established at destitute asylums and homes for incurables ; but while honorable members opposite are prepared to take the ballot-box to the bedside of a person whose usefulness as a member of the community is ended, they are prepared to say that the delicate woman who is about to become, or has become, a mother, shall not vote. That is a plain statement of what is intended.

Senator Findley - We say to everybody, " You cannot vote by post."

Senator VARDON - If we put the number of these women at the lowest figure quoted by the Minister to-day, I ask what right has he to take their votes away? How can any man with any sense of justice say to these women, " Because you are not in a fit state to go to the poll, you shall not have a vote at all." What about those who are prevented by any form of serious illness from voting in the ordinary way? Why should they be robbed of their votes? Why should the infirm, who are unable to go to the poll, be robbed of their votes ?

Senator McGregor - That is a very dif"ferent argument from those which the honorable senator used to make use of in opposing adult suffrage for the South Australian Legislative Council.

Senator VARDON - Do not let us get on to side tracks.

Senator McGregor - That is where the honorable senator has been so often that he does not like it.

Senator VARDON - At the right time and place I will argue that matter with the Vice-President, or anybody else. This is not the time to do it; and I imagine that, if I attempted to do so now, the Chairman would call me to order. At the right time I will argue that with anybody. Senator W. Russell. - I will take the honorable senator up.

Senator VARDON - Oh; I will argue with somebody who is intelligent and respectable. I will make that qualification.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - I ask if that is in order? I object to such a statement - that I am not respectable or intelligent.

Senator Millen - - On the point of order, might I say that I understood Senator Vardon's statement to be that he would argue with anybody who was intelligent or respectable. If Senator W. Russell claims to be intelligent and respectable, Senator Vardon has expressed his willingness to argue even with that honorable senator.

Senator Findley - No matter what our feelings may be in regard to any question under discussion, I hope such remarks will not be allowed to be made without the Chairman calling upon the honorable senator who makes them to withdraw. Unless my hearing has deceived me, Senator Vardon said that he would argue with one who is intelligent and respectable.

Senator Millen - Any one.

Senator Findley - The inference was that Senator W. Russell was neither intelligent nor respectable.

Senator Rae - On the point of order, I think my hearing is as keen as that of Senator Millen. When Senator W. Russell interjected that he would argue with Senator Vardon, the latter said, " No, I will argue it with any one who is intelligent or respectable."

Senator Vardon - I did not use the word "No."

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