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Thursday, 3 October 1912


Senator McCOLL (Victoria) . -I do not know whether Senator Millen is concerned about the 25s. per head of population for his State, or the purity of the electoral roll ; but he has, in any case, done excellent service by the facts he has brought out to-day. I have not been surprised by the discrepancies disclosed, nor will I be surprised if they are shown to be still greater in the future. 1 do not believe that the card system will afford a complete check, and I think that the provisions with respect to absent voting will be so manipulated as to make the figures unreliable. When I was in the country districts a few months ago, it came under my knowledge that in two small townships there had been returned to the post-office, in one case 150, and in the other 200, cards, for which no owners could be found. These cards were sent out by the Electoral Department in response to applications for enrolment ; yet no owners could be found for them. Shortly afterwards I submitted a question to the Government, desiring to know how many of these cards, approximately, had been returned to the various post-offices in Victoria. The answer I obtained was that no fewer than 30,000 had been returned to the post-offices, and that owners could not be found for them. That seemed to me to be a very extraordinary condition of affairs. It shows that there must have been either gross carelessness in preparing the rolls, or an amount of duplication which must have been the result of design. On further inquiry I was informed that it was the intention of the Department to make a further effort to find owners for the cards, and, if they were not successful, steps would be taken to hold a Revision Court, or to take such proceedings as might be necessary for striking the names on these cards off the rolls. The statements which have been made to-day by Senator Millen emphasize the necessity for great care on the part of the Electoral Department if we are to have pure rolls. The Minister of Defence said that it was somewhat unfair to challenge the rolls in New South Wales, as the card system has been in operation there for only a very short time. That is not the case in Victoria, where it has been in operation since September last. That is twelve months ago, and should give time for a proper checking of the rolls. Still, I have been informed that 30,000. cards have been issued for whom owners cannot be found.


Senator Pearce - The honorable senator misunderstood my statement as to the card system. What 1 said was. that it should provide us with a complete roll. I did not apologize for it.


Senator McCOLL - My remarks are prompted by a desire to impress upon the Department the necessity which exists for instituting a very searching inquiry into this matter.







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