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Thursday, 13 October 1927


Senator REID (Queensland) .- I am inclined to support the amendment moved by Senator Thomas, as I believe that, if it were adopted, it would assist in making the grouping system more effective. Senator Thomas wishes to further simplify the duty of the electors. As mentioned by him, Nationalist supporters in Victoria were once asked to mark their ballot-papers from the bottom, because the Nationalist party desired that Mr. Swinburne should receive the No. 1 votes. Electoral officers and scrutineers experienced in the counting of votes have said that many informal votes are recorded when electors have to mark the ballot-paper from the bottom.


Senator Carroll - Why is that necessary?


Senator REID - Because the names are arranged alphabetically, and, in the case mentioned, the Victorian Nationalist organization wished the electors to give their No. 1 votes to Mr. Swinburne, whose name was last on the list.


Senator Elliott - That is a mistake.


Senator REID -I do not know anything about that. The three candidates agreed to the arrangement. Mr. Swinburne's name was at the bottom of the. ballot-paper, the names being printed in alphabetical order. If his name had been placed at the top of the list the result would have been different. The ability of the late Senator E. D. Millen has never been exceeded by that of any member of the Senate; yet, because of the position of his name on the ballot-paper at one election which he contested, he received less votes than did a comparatively unknown candidate. The list was arranged alphabetically. His record as a statesman should have placed him at the head of the group-. The arrangement suggested by Senator Thomas would be of great assistance to the electors. It would not be compulsory, but would operate only where the party organization was agreeable to it.


Senator Sampson - It would be the end of a candidate if he did not agree to it.


Senator REID - That would not be different from the conditions operating now. No candidate can with impunity oppose the organization behind him.


Mr GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - What would happen if the two parties comprising one group did not agree?


Senator REID - The position would be the same as it is now.


Mr GREENE (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then we should be no better off.


Senator REID - It would be a matter for arrangement between the candidates. As things are at present, the names must necessarily be placed in alphabetical order.


Senator Thompson - Does not the system by which the names are placed in alphabetical order obviate a lot of heartburning ?


Senator REID - No system will prevent heart-burning. There was heartburning in New South Wales when it was found that the late Senator E. D. Millen did not head his group.


Senator Thompson - The late Senator E. D. Millen was a man of outstanding ability; but it might happen that the three candidates were men of equal calibre.


Senator REID - The alphabetical system does not prevent heart-burning. To agree to the amendment of Senator Thomas would simplify matters for the electors, and result in less informal votes being cast.







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