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Friday, 17 November 1911

Senator O'KEEFE (Tasmania) - - The objections I have to this proposal would be met if the Minister could see his way to accept an amendment, adding after paragraphs a and b of the clause, words to the following effect -

Provided that no regulation issued by the Department shall invalidate a nomination so long as the conditions named in paragraphs a and b are complied with.

Senator Pearce - That is provided for by the existing Act.

Senator O'KEEFE - Section 99 of the Act provides that -

Nominations may bein the form I or J in the Schedule applicable to the case, and shall -

(a)   Name the candidate, his place of residence and occupation ; and

(b)   Be signed by not less than six persons entitled to vote at the election for which the candidate is nominated.

The proposal in this Bill is to repeal that section, and substitute for it another in exactly the same terms with the exception that the forms I and J are to be struck out, and the nomination-form is to be as prescribed by regulation.

Senator Pearce - The honorable senator will find that his objection is met by section 102 of the existing 'Act, which it isnot proposed to repeal.

Senator O'KEEFE - I am doubtful about that. This Bill gives power to the Department to prescribe regulations under the Act. If Senator Pearce's contention be sound, there should be no objection to putting the matter beyond doubt in this clause,

Senator Pearce - Let the honorable senator read section 102.

Senator O'KEEFE - I do not wish to cover the whole ground again, but, briefly, my objections to the clause are that a candidate who may not be within reach of any place at which he could obtain the latest regulation altering the form of the nomination-paper might discover, when it was too late, that it would invalidate his nomination, in spite of what may be contended in section 102.

Senator Pearce - Section 102 says that if he complies with the conditions of the Act his nomination will not be invalid.

Senator O'KEEFE - My answer to that is, that in my experience, Returning Officers are extremely careful that nominations shall be in proper form, and it would be possible for a Returning Officer to refuse to accept a nomination on the ground that it was not in accordance with the latest prescribed form.

Senator Findley - The candidate would have a copy of the regulation on which the nomination form would be printed.

Senator O'KEEFE - The honorable senator is only repeating an argument he has used many times this morning, and he overlooks the fact that a candidate may not be able to get a copy of the regulations.

Senator Long - He will be able to get it at any post-office in any State months before the date of nomination.

Senator O'KEEFE - I beg the honorablesenator's pardon. The existing Act sets out, in a schedule, the exact form of nomination. What is there wrong with that? Under existing conditions a candidate can follow the exact form of the nominationpaper, and can be assured that his nomination will be valid.

Senator Long - Where would he get theprinted nomination form?

Senator O'KEEFE - It is in the Act. A printed form is not necessary. I am satisfied that Senator Long ' desires to avoid the possibility of any candidate having his nomination objected to upon a mere formality.I fear that it will not always be possible for a candidate to obtain the latest regulation affecting the form of the nomination-paper. Under the existing Act, the form is set out in a schedule, and the candidate is at liberty, if he pleases, to copy that form on a sheet of foolscap, or a piece of brown paper, and his nomination will be valid.

Senator Long - Will he have any more difficulty in getting a copy of the regulations than henow has in getting a copy of the Act?

Senator O'KEEFE - A candidate will be sure to secure a copy of the Act when he begins his campaign; and long before the nomination day, but it is possible that, under this clause, a regulation altering the form of the nomination-paper may be issued shortly before an election, and it may not be possible for a candidate to obtain a copy of that form in time. I should be quite satisfied if candidates were given a few months within which to obtain the form of nomination-paper which will be accepted at an election, and if Senator Rae will temporarily withdraw his amendment I shall be prepared to move the addition to the clause of the following words -

Provided that no amendment shall be made in the form of nomination within three months before, the date of the holding of a general election.

Sitting suspended from 1 to 2.36 p.m.

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