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Thursday, 16 November 1911

Senator ST LEDGER - Then I shall deal with another phase of the question. The Government have abolished the postal voting provisions, but they have made provision for absent voters, and I join with Ministerial supporters, as well as with honorab'le senators on this side, in requesting them to reconsider their refusal to treat the petition of persons who hold religious objections to this clause with some degree of consideration and respect. If they say that they are unable to do so, they are reckless because of their majority, or they are politically incompetent. If they can provide, as they have done, for absent voters recording their votes anywhere in the Commonwealth or out of it, they can make some provision to enable persons who object to vote on a Saturday to record their votes on some other day. Why is the absent voter, if he be a Christian, to be given a privilege denied to the Jewish section of the community? There is no answer to that question, but the smiling contempt of honorable senators on the other side. It would be as objectionable to persons of the Jewish persuasion to record their votes on a Saturday, as it is for Christian people to perform their ordinary work on a Sunday. I hope that, before the Bill passes, weshall have some indication of an intention to modify this proposal, which represents the second or third instance of a tyrannous disregard of the conscientious convictions of certain sections of the community on the part of the Government.

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