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Friday, 12 June 1914

Senator McCOLL (Viotoria) (VicePresident of the Executive Council) .- I thank Senator Blakey for his kind retraction of remarks which he attributed to me the other day, and which I do not remember having uttered. I shall have the case which he has brought forward inquired into. With regard to the remarks of SenatorRae, which are merely slanderous in character-

Senator Rae - But true!

Senator Millen - They would not be slanderous, if true; and as they are slanderous, they are not true.

Senator McCOLL - I point out that the matter of revising the rolls is entirely in the hands of the Chief Electoral Officer and his subordinates. Ho member of the Government has interfered in any way with it. As I say, it is entirely within the province of the electoral officials. The Act which Senator Rae and other honorable senators on the other side assisted to pass is responsible for the present system. The Government are not responsible for it, and have had no opportunity to remedy it.

Senator Guthrie - Does the honorable senator not administer it?

Senator McCOLL - I administer the provisions of the Act which are left to my administration.

Senator Guthrie - The whole of the administration of the Act is in the honorable senator's hands.

Senator McCOLL - Senator Guthrie is saying what is absolutely incorrect. He knows that it is incorrect, and he makes the statement only in order to create a bad impression of the Government throughout the country. If he does not know that his statement is incorrect, then he speaks upon a subject of which he is ignorant. The Act places the administration of certain of its sections in the hands of the Minister, and the administration of other sections entirely in the hands of the Chief Electoral Officer. The revision of the rolls that is going on now is being carried out in the ordinary way.; and for any mistakes that may be made, no member of the present Government is in any way responsible. I have never interfered in the matter in any way. The Government are as desirous of having clean rolls as is any member of the Senate. They desire that every man and woman entitled to a vote should have his or her name on an electoral roll, and that names that ought not to be upon the rolls should be struck off. Where such mistakes as have been referred to are occurring - and they have occurred in the case of a number of friends of my own - I believe they are the result of carelessness. I shall request the Chief Electoral Officer - I cannot order him to do so, and cannot compel him - to direct his subordinates to see that, in carrying out the instructions he gives them, they shall take care that no injustice is done to any one; and that where an elector leaves his home to seek employment his name shall not be struck off the roll. I shall get the Chief Electoral Officer to intimate to his subordinates in the most pointed manner that these mistakes should not occur. I do not wish them to occur. I challenge any one to mention any case in which, since I have been in charge of the Electoral Branch of the Homo Affairs Department, I have written or done anything from a party point of view. I am charged to-day with being a party to a conspiracy to wrong a section of the electors of the Commonwealth. The statement made is far from the truth, and is not creditable to those who make it.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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