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Wednesday, 8 November 1911

Senator ST LEDGER (Queensland) . - I join with Senator Walker in asking the Government, now that they have made some concession, to give it effect by accepting the amendment which has been moved from this side, or by submitting some other alteration of these subclauses, should they consider that what we propose is open to fraud. Under the postal voting provisions of the existing Act, persons wishing to take advantage of the postal vote are required to make applications for postal ballot-papers, and these applications have to be attested. Parliament went to a great deal of trouble to extend the facilities provided for the attestation of such applications, and provided that the following persons should be considered authorized witnesses within the meaning of the Act -

All Commonwealth Electoral Officers for States; all Commonwealth Returning Officers; all Commonwealth Electoral Registrars; all postmasters or postmistresses or persons in charge of post-offices; all police or stipendiary or special magistrates or of the Commonwealth or of the States ; all justices of the peace ; all head teachers in the employment of a State Education Department ; all officers of the Department of Trade and Customs; all members of the police force of the Commonwealth or of a State ; all mining wardens and mining wardens' clerks in the Public Service of a State; all legally qualified medical practitioners; all officers in charge of quarantine stations; all officers in charge of lighthouses; all pilots in the service of the Commonwealth or of a State or of any local governing body ; all telegraph line repairers permanently employed in the Public Service of the Commonwealth who are in charge of working parties; all railway stationmasters and night officers in charge who are permanently employed in the Railway Department in any of the States; all superintendents of mercantile marine and their deputies while permanently employed in the Public Service of the Commonwealth or of a State - and various other persons. A man's right to justice is as important to him as his right to the exercise of the franchise, and when it is considered wise to afford such facilities for the attestation of postal ballot-papers, why cannot the Government afford similar facilities to those who may believe that they have an answer to charges brought against them by the Electoral Office? I do not say this by way of threat, because I recognise the concession which has been made, but if the Government are unable to further consider our proposal we may have to ask them to re-commit the Bill later on.

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