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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2622

Mr RUDDOCK(6.18) —I want to speak briefly on this matter as I share the concerns expressed by my colleagues. In my electorate there are a number of locations where it is very difficult for electors to vote when they are faced with a situation where there is a booth immediately across the subdivision boundary. When they seek to lodge their vote there, they are sent away. I know the difficulty. It worries me enormously when people are put in such a situation . I have had to weigh up in my mind-I have done it on a number of occasions- whether one ought to put, in a sense, temptation in the way of those in a marginal situation because that is the only case in which it might, of necessity , be done. Some people may not even be involved in a political party but because they are very keen supporters of a candidate or a political party, might decide to exercise a number of votes. It would trouble me enormously if the situation that we have at the moment, which the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform and the officers assure us is one which is without blemish are one which so rarely happens that it ought not to be a matter that is taken into account, were suddenly to change a to a situation in which this was a relevant factor. I will use my electorate as an example. In the electorate of Dundas there would be some 32 polling places where a person who wanted to vote on a number of occasions, not necessarily in his own name, it may be for somebody else--

Mr Cadman —Eighty in Mitchell.

Mr RUDDOCK —My colleague tells me that there are 80 polling places in Mitchell. People would be able to go to each of them and lodge a vote. It may not be possible to do it in 80.

Dr Klugman —It is possible now.

Mr RUDDOCK —The honourable member says that it is possible now. Let me make the point that in the electorate of Dundas there are only two subdivisions, Ryde and Ryde South, and there are five polling places in the one subdivision. I do not regard that as desirable; I do not think it is good; I think it maximises the possibility of a person voting more than once. At least in Ryde, if someone tried to do that he would run the risk that one of the polling officers might know him. However, when he went to an adjoining area that risk would be diminished.

Mr Milton —It is not worth the fine.

Mr RUDDOCK —It is not worth a fine. A person would know that. The prospect of his being detected is the greatest deterrent. A fine is most unlikely to be a deterrent to a person who has some genuine desire to help his party even though he may not be associated with it. I am not inputing any motives to my colleagues on the other side. I am saying that somebody who has the best will in the world for his own political party may be desirous of doing that. It has nothing to do with the fine; it is the prospect of his being detected. Within a subdivision the prospect of his being detected by moving between one, two, three, four or the maximum of five polling places is much greater than it would be of his being detected in a whole electorate where he could move between anything up to, as my colleague tells me, 80 polling places and where the prospect of his being known at any of those other polling places would be correspondingly reduced.