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Thursday, 16 November 1911

Senator VARDON (South Australia) . - I wish to say a final word, in order to make my own position perfectly clear. I think that in South Australia all our elections are held on the Saturday; but I believe there is no provision in the State electoral law that they shall be held on that day. That course has been adopted as a matter of convenience, and, I think, meets with general approval. We had an election last Saturday in South Australia, and a very satisfactory one. I can assure honorable senators opposite that the tyrannical proposals of this Bill were an important factor in the result of that election. They were made a great feature of during the contest, and the electors expressed very strongly their dissent from certain of these proposals. I have no personal objection to Saturday being made the polling day; but I think that when 27,000 people petition this Parliament-

Senator McGregor - Oh, do not talk nonsense.

The CHAIRMAN - Order !

Senator VARDON - Is that a pertinent or an impertinent interjection? I should like to know from you, sir, whether you think that is a proper interjection?

The CHAIRMAN - I do not think it is distinctly out of order, except on the ground that all interjections are disorderly.

Senator VARDON - I am sure that youdo not think that it is dignified on the part of the Vice-President of the Executive

Council to make an interjection of that sort. If it be contended that of the 27,000 persons who have petitioned this Parliament in this matter, 7,000 violate the Jewish Sabbath by going to races on a Saturday, I would ask whether the remaining 20,000 are not to receive any consideration whatever. It is said that we are meeting them half-way in extending the hours of polling for an hour, but only those who live very close to a polling place can take advantage of that extension. I do not ask the Government to give up their intention to fix Saturday as the polling day, but I do ask them to yield to the request of Senators Gardiner and Lynch, as well as of honorable senators on this side, and make some provision in this Bill for the people who object to record their votes on the Saturday. If the Minister in charge of the Bill would say that he is prepared fo insert a clause which will enable these people to record their votes, I should be satisfied, but I say, distinctly, that if the Government are so unwilling to consider these people as to say, " We shall make no provision for them at all ; we do not care a button what their conscientious objections may be. We shall not consider them in any way," I shall vote against this clause as a protest against conduct of that kind. We have a right to treat with consideration the request of 20,000 people when we can do so without departing from the Government proposals.

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