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Monday, 11 December 1905

Mr BATCHELOR (Boothby) - I trust that the Minister will look carefully into the matter before he accepts the amendment. This is not a question of bona fides, but of frivolous objections.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The deposit has to be made, whether the objection be bonâ fide or otherwise.

Mr BATCHELOR - I admit that, but I do not think we should encourage the lodging of objections.

Mr McWilliams -We should not encourage roll-stuffing, either.

Mr BATCHELOR - No ; nor should we offer facilities for the striking of names off the roll, which is, in reality, another form of roll-stuffing. According to my experience frivolous objections are frequently lodged by political bodies. This has happened most frequently in cases where there is a property qualification. I had intended to ask the Minister to consent to an amendment to the effect that in the event of the objection being held to be frivolous, the deposit should be paid to the person whose name was the subject of objection. I know of many cases in which electors, have been put to great personal inconvenience and expense in attending the Revision Courts, or at the office of the returning officer, in order to meet objections. Men have had to give up a day's work in order to attend at the office of the returning officer, which may be fifty or a hundred miles away ; and yet in the case of frivolous objection no expenses are paid. Under the South Aus.tralia.ri Act. the returning officer or presiding officer of the Revision Court has the right to impose a penalty in. the case of a frivolous objection, and the money is paid over to the person against whom the objection was lodged. I remember one case, in which objections were raised to columns of names by the agents of a political organization, spiel y with the object of preventing bond fide electors from exercising the franchise. The presiding officer imposed a penalty in the first two cases, with the result that the rest of the objections were at once withdrawn. But, had there been no penalty, hundreds of names might have been struck off the roll.- I observe that under the Bill persons, objected to nee-l not necessarily attend personally, but, in many cases, electors find it more convenient to do so; and they ought to be reimbursed their expenses in the case of frivolous objection. I hope the Government will not agree to reduce the sum in the way proposed. I do not mind the reduction so far as, a deposit is concerned, but, in my opinion, in the case of a frivolous objection, the penalty ought to be more than 5s.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - That is a different matter. The amendment, in effect, abolishes the deposit.

Mr BATCHELOR - That is practically so ; but I hold that the penalty ought to lie higher than 5s.

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