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Wednesday, 17 June 1914


Senator OAKES - I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council a question relating to a statement made by Senator Russell in this chamber, about a week or ten days ago. That honorable senator stated that the Electoral Registrars at St. Arnaud and Euroa had received objections from Liberal organizers, and refused to receive them from Labour men. Has the VicePresident of the Executive Council made any inquiry into the truth or otherwise of that statement?


Senator McCOLL - In reply to the honorable senator, I have to state that the Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth has furnished me with the following answer -

No instructions were given to refuse objections from Labour men at St. Arnaud or Euroa.

The Electoral Registrar, St. Arnaud, absolutely denies that there was any refusal on his part to accept a list of names which should not be retained upon the roll, from any organizer, either Lnbour or Liberal.

The Electoral Registrar, Euroa, states that hehas never been furnished with a list of objections from any organizer whatever.


Senator Russell - I will supply the Vice-President of the Executive Council with the proof later on.


Senator McCOLL - In regard to electoral matters, I am in possession of a statement from the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth, which, with the permission of the Senate, I would like to read.

Leave granted.


Senator McCOLL - The Chief Electoral Officer has supplied me with the following information - not at my request, but because he deemed it necessary that it should be placed in the hands of honorable senators -

Submitted for the Minister's information.

It is the duty of the Divisional Returning Officer and each Registrar under the provisions of section 69 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act to lodge or make an objection, in writing, setting forth the grounds of such objection in respect of any name which he has reason to believe ought not to be retained on the roll.

The Divisional Returning Officers and Registrars throughout the Commonwealth are fully and plainly instructed in regard to their duties, and specially directed that, where information reaches them otherwise than from official sources, they are to make independent official inquiries through the police or postal officials hefore taking any action whatever in regard to the lodging of objections on the ground of non-residence or otherwise, and generally to exercise the greatest care in the discharge of their duties.

When an officer, acting in pursuance of the requirements of section69 of the Aet, lodges an objection with the Divisional Returning Officer it is the duty of the Divisional Returning Officer (unless he is satisfied that thu ground of objection stated is not a good one) to forthwith give notice of the objection to the person objected to by posting it to the last known place of abode of such person, or, if that is not known, then to the place of living appearing on the roll. The notification of objection sets fortli the ground on -which the objection is founded, and invites a reply from the person objected to within twenty days of the posting of the notice. If the person objected to fails to reply within twenty days, or furnishes a reply which indicates to the Divisional Returning Officer that the ground of objection is a good one, the Divisional Returning Officer may determine the objection against him; but if he replies and satisfies the Divisional Returning Officer that the objection is not a good one, or it comes to the knowledge of the Divisional Returning Officer from any other source that the objection is not a good one, it is the duty of the officer to dismiss the objection and forthwith advise the elector.

Objections on the ground of non-residence become necessary when electors cease to have their places of living in the divisions for which they are enrolled, and fail to take action in due course to claim transfer of enrolment, as required by law, or leave the Commonwealth. The Electoral Registrars and Divisional Returning Officers have no incentive to improperly lodge objections. They are fully safeguarded against, party political influence. Every effort is made to safeguard electors against improper objections, and it is unthinkable that any Electoral Registrar or Divisional Returning Officer would inquire into the political views of an elector, or knowingly lodge an objection which he did not believe to bc good under the law. Acting on the best official information available, officers will occasionally make mistakes when dealing with large bodies of electors continually moving from place to place, or correspondence will be wrongly delivered. This occurs under every electoral system; but whore mistakes ave discovered as the result of replies to notifications issued to electors, or information received from any responsible persons, it may bo taken that the Divisional Returning Officers are always ready and anxious to protect the electors concerned from the consequences of such mistakes. The central administration is always prepared to investigate and dual with any cases of alleged carelessness or neglect on the part of officers; but much time would be saved and inconvenience to electors avoided by their replying (whore reply is necessary) to notifications issued by the officers acting in the discharge of their duties.

I may say that the procedure at present being followed is in accordance with the provisions of the Act which was passed at the instance of the late Government. We are not responsible for it. If honorable senators opposite do not appreciate it, that is not our fault. I can only say that the work now going on is being carried on in accordance with the Electoral Act, and is under the control of the Chief Electoral Officer of each State.


Senator Millen - Honorable senators opposite want dirty rolls.


Senator RUSSELL - I desire to ask the Vice-President of the Executive Council when and where Parliament, at the instance of the late Government, struck out of the Electoral Act the provision requiring a deposit of 5s. to be lodged with each objection ?







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