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Wednesday, 8 November 1911

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - If I had that absolute faith in the card system which Senator Vardon has, I might' share his view with regard to this proposal. It seems to me that it is made as a warning to the Committee that the electoral officers are not certain that the card system will work. It is made to enable them to correct a lapse when it occurs. Senator Vardon has pointed out that if the card system is worked properly, there is no need to make this amendment. But evidently it has occurred to the departmental mind that a man who is enrolled may move from one electorate to another. Of course, his business should be to apply for a transfer, but he may not do that. On the contrary he may make another original application, and the officers, seeing that they will have to handle about 2,000,000 cards, are brought face to face with the almost certainty of mistakes occurring and duplicate registrations taking place. Evidently they anticipate the possibility that a man in one electorate may fail to apply for a transfer, but may apply for a fresh enrolment, and get it. Then as time goes on the duplication will be discovered. This addition to section 62 is desired to enable the Department to deal with a lapse or break down of the card system.

Senator Sayers - How are they going to discover a duplication?

Senator MILLEN - By continually searching the registers.

Senator Vardon - There may be a dozen men bearing the one name.

Senator MILLEN - I am not saying a word against the necessity of giving notice to a man whose name on a roll is objected to. It seems to me that with 2,000,000 names and cards to handle, when applications for new registrations are numerous, there is bound to be a percentage of mistakes.

Senator Sayers - Especially when a person moves from one State to another.

Senator MILLEN - That will add very much to the difficulty. I would like the Minister to explain the reason for making this addition to section 62. If it is proposed to allow the provision to stand then, in accordance with the suggestion made by Senator McColl, notice should be given to any elector whose name it is proposed to strike off the roll before action is taken. Take, for instance, a case of similarity of names. It may be that one man is threatened with the removal of his name from the roll, but he is really not the person who is involved. Notice should be given to him to enable him to set the true facts before the Court or the Electoral Officer. Seeing that it is presumably the intention of the Bill to make the enrolment as perfect as possible, we ought at least to be equally careful to see that no looseness shall crop up in regard to the exercise of this power. I should like to hear from the Minister what objection there can be to a notice being sent out to a person whose name is objected to. Surely the power which it is proposed to vest in departmental officials should be intrusted to the Court, as was done in a previous revision.

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