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Wednesday, 1 November 1911

Senator WALKER (New South Wales) . - I ask the Government to consider whether it would not be well to adopt the electors' right system, which I believe would provide a way out of this difficulty. In New South Wales, electors' rights were only issued to men. The signature of an elector was obtained on the butt of an elector's right before the right was issued. Suppose that we adopted the system, but with the elector's signature on the right, it is quite evident that wherever a man might go he would have to produce an elector's right. The officer could ask the man to sign his name, and if the signature did not agree with that on the elector's right, the elector could not vote. With such a system in use, we should be able to retain the postal voting system, and so get over the difficulty with which we are faced. As regards the case of persons who are ill and cannot attend personally, surely an arrangement could be made by which a person could send his electoral right to the returning officer and get from him a postal ballot-paper. We must all admit, I think, that it is very undesirable that innocent persons should be punished because others have been guilty of wrong-doing. There is no doubt that this clause, if passed, will deprive thousands of innocent persons of a right, because certain other persons have behaved dishonorably. I do not think that that is in accord with British ideas of justice. We should see that we do no harm to well-behaved, honorable people because others act dishonorably. I am surprised that this point has apparently not been considered by the Government. Even if only 100 innocent persons were concerned, they should not be punished because others have done wrong. I beg the Government to reconsider the matter, and to postpone the clause.

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