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Tuesday, 28 August 1906

Mr LIDDELL (Hunter) .- I must confess that I am opposed' to this Bill, and I. cannot understand why it has teen sprung upon us at the eleventh hour of the session. No mention was made of it in the Governor-General's speech at the opening of Parliament, but with the general election close at hand, it has .been suddenly launched upon the House. In this measure, I recognise the malign influence of the press. With the advent of Federation, it was hoped that the power of the press would to a certain extent be curtailed. It has been curtailed, but there is still strong evidence that this Parliament is dominated to a large extent by the Melbourne press. I firmly believe that the measure under consideration has been brought forward as the result of the influence exercised by the Age -newspaper. I am also of opinion that the average elector will experience some difficulty in comprehending the contingent-voting system which is proposed by the Government. I confess that I had great difficulty in following the explanation of that system, which has been given by the Minister. I further maintain that it would be almost impossible for the electoral officers to give effect to the provisions of the Bill on such extremely short notice. At the last general election, I polled 6,300 votes, my protectionist opponent, 6,100 votes; and the labour candidate, 900 votes. There were also 113 informal votes registered. Consequently, I was not returned by a majority of the electors, but yet I flatter myself that I represent the opinions of the people throughout that electorate.

Sir William Lyne - I am satisfied that the honorable member does not.

Mr LIDDELL - I am certain that I do, and, although my constituency has been horribly mutilated, I still hope - as does the honorable member for Maranoa - that I shall continue to represent ray constituents. I arn not in favour of compulsory voting, and I do not believe that under that system we should be any better off than we are to-day. After all, no arrangement that we can make will absolutely insure the return of parliamentary representatives by the votes of a majority. I was not aware until the honorable member for Maranoa spoke that it was possible to "dish" the Labour Party in Queensland, but now that I know that it is possible I feel more assured than ever that the Bill has been brought forward by the Ministry for the purpose of bolstering up their own cause. I intend to vote against it.

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