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Friday, 15 December 1905

Mr CARPENTER (Fremantle) - I support the amendment, because my experience is that the obligation to obtain a witness is an unnecessary obstacle in the way of securing the enrolment of electors. The Minister has not given any sufficient reason for objecting to the amendment. The case cited by him is exceptional, and affords no justification for penalizing electors throughout the Commonwealth. To provide that a claim must be witnessed by an elector means that the claimant must satisfy himself that the witness is an elector, and should it be found subsequently that the witness is not an elector, considerable trouble may be caused. The signature of the claimant ought to be sufficient.

Mr. CHANTER(Riverina). - I trust that the Minister will stand by the Bill. According to the evidence given before the Select Committee which inquired into these matters, deliberate attempts weremade to foist people on to the roll by the bundle, and, under the circumstances, the registrar

Mr Carpenter - Will witnessing the signatures prevent that sort of thing?

Mr CHANTER - In one case a man, professionally engaged by candidates to collect names, placed himself in the position of endeavouring to induce boys to perjure themselves by swearing that they were over twenty -one years of age. No witness, however, would append his signature unless he believed the application to be bond fide. In any part of the Commonwealth, no matter how remote, a man has to get his application to the post somehow. If he posts it himself, the postmaster may act as witness, and if the letter has to be sent to the post-office, then the person who carries it may witness the signature. The object of the clause is the enrolment of names which have been omitted by the police, and I can see no inconvenience whatever in obtaining the signature of a witness, considering that every person over twenty-one years of age is qualified to be an elector.

Mr Carpenter - But the witness may not happen to be on the roll.

Mr CHANTER - The clause simply provides for the signature of an elector, and, in the face of the evidence given before the Select Committee as to rollstuffing, a clause of this kind is most desirable.

Mr. BATCHELOR(Boothby).- The Minister seems to forget that the difficulty we have to combat is indifference on the part of those who are qualified to be electors. Amongst people who are anxious to engage in roll -stuffing, the necessity for a signature will be no deterrent ; but the slightest trouble is sufficient to cause very many electors to neglect to make application until an election is very near at hand.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause 26b - " 105B. In the case of the death of any candi date before the hour of nomination, the deposit lodged by him shall be returned to his personal representatives.

Amendment (by Mr. Bamford) agreed to-

That the words "hour of nomination" be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words " date of election."

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

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