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Friday, 12 June 1914

Senator BLAKEY (Victoria) .- I wish to bring under the notice of Senator McColl a complaint that I have received from Mr. James Patterson, of Penshurst, in the Wannon division. He has received from the Divisional Returning Officer for Wannon an objection to enrolment, on the ground that he does not live in the division, and has not so lived for at least one month. I think I know Mr. Patterson, and I know Penshurst, which is near the town I have lived in all my life. He has lived in Penshurst continuously for thirty years, and for twenty-one years in the one street.

Senator Guthrie - What are his politics ?

Senator BLAKEY - I do not know, but the fact that he shortly intends to go away to New South Wales shearing may possibly have led to objection being made to his name in the hope that he might not receive the notice. In the interests of both parties, I urge the Minister to find out who is responsible for these indiscriminate objections. This is the second case of the kind that I have cited. There should be some system by which people who lodge flimsy objections of this kind should pay some penalty. I do not blame the Electoral Registrar of Penshurst or the Divisional Returning Officer for Wannon. Under the lax system that has been allowed to grow up they are only doing their duty in accepting objections brought under their notice by people who do not pay the 5s. deposit, simply saying, " I want to object to so-and-so, because I have reason to believe that he is not living in the division." Many people when they get a printed document of this kind put it aside to be attended to later on, and the twenty days allowed to answer the objection lapse before they know where they are, and their names are taken off the roll. We want a clean roll, and not an inflated roll, but I hope that no member of this Chamber desires to see people disfranchised who arehonestly entitled to vote. I ask the Minister to take drastic steps to prevent the lodging of these frivolous objections. The other day I asked the Minister whether he had stated in an interview in the daily press that the number of electors on the rolls in Victoria at the forthcoming elections would be considerably less than the number on the rolls on 31st May, 1913. The Minister said he did not remember making that statement, and I found on looking the interview up that I was in error in attributing it to him. I spoke from memory when I asked the question. I find that what he said was, " The rolls would not be by any means the same as at the last election." I make that correction, because I do not desire to do the honorable senator an injustice.

SenatorRAE (New South Wales) [3.15]. - I believe that Senator Blakey's appeal, while perfectly justifiable, is bound to be useless. My honest and deliberate opinion is that the Government are at present endeavouring, by every agency within their power, to so manipulate the coming elections as to secure an unfair advantage at the ballot-box when the appeal to the people is made. I believe that all the forces of " boodle " and iniquity are behind them in this attempt to rob the people of their rightful power at the ballot-box. I, for one, will make absolutely no appeal to them, because I am of opinion that they have entered into one of the foulest conspiracies that has ever sullied the fair name of this Commonwealth.

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