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Wednesday, 3 May 1961

Mr WENTWORTH (MACKELLAR, NEW SOUTH WALES) - This is a good practice and, as my honorable friend says, some municipal councils are already doing it. I believe it should be made a universal practice and I think that the Department of Immigration, which is in charge of naturalization ceremonies, should see that it is generally applied. We want to have our rolls as complete as possible. In the case of Australian-born citizens who become entitled to get on the roll at the age of 21 years there is no such convenient procedure available to us, because there is no ceremony, which takes place at the age of 21, where the address and other details necessary for enrolment are recorded. So in regard to these young Australians who, after all, must be expected to know more about Australia, the country of their birth, than the migrant does, unfortunately we cannot apply the same system.

I feel that honorable members on both sides of the House will agree that we should do everything we can to make the rolls as complete as possible, both by including in them all natural-born Australians who attain the age of 21 years and by including in them all British migrants who become entitled to enrolment without naturalization and all other migrants who become duly entitled to enrolment at the time of their naturalization. I believe that the administrative practice of including an enrolment card with the certificate of naturalization and ensuring that it is filled in should be followed by the Department of Immigration.

Mr Bird - You mean, filled in on the night of naturalization?

Mr WENTWORTH - Exactly. I think it is right, lt is already done in some places and I feel that it should be done generally and that the Department of Immigration might throw its weight behind the practice and see that it is done generally. This is something which affects enrolment and affects the act but it does not require any amendment to the act.

The second matter to which I wish to refer is in the same case, lt affects enrolments and the form in which the roll is kept, but does not require an amendment of the act. We know that our electorates are divided into subdivisions and a roll is published for each subdivision. The electoral officer keeps in his office a locality index, which is sorted into streets, so that people appearing as living in one street in the subdivision are all in the same pattern and that locality index is kept in parallel with the alphabetical index which is published as the roll. The suggestion I make is a very simple one. It is that we should publish the rolls in their locality index form rather than in the alphabetical form and that the alphabetical roll should be kept in the electoral office for consultation in the same way as the locality index is now kept. This, of course, would not involve any extra work.

If my suggestion were followed what would happen would be this: The position in a subdivision would remain, as it were, unchanged and the subdivision would occupy, as it does now, a separate roll. In that subdivision, however, the streets - or where there are no named streets, the localities - would be arranged alphabetically and then, inside each one of those, the names of the people who reside in a particular street or locality would be arranged alphabetically. The objective of this procedure is a very simple one, which I hope will commend itself to honorable members on both sides of the House. It is to have the rolls as complete as possible and as correct as possible. At the present moment it is difficult to check the rolls for a subdivision for either incorrect omissions or incorrect inclusions, because one cannot identify a locality and go through it. One has to re-sort the whole thing.

If the rolls were published in locality form - that is in the form in which they are already held in the electoral office - it would be very easy to check them, lt would be very easy for people who live in a street to remind neighbours who were not on the roll, to get their names on it, or to see that the names of people who had left the district were taken off the roll. In other words, this system would be very helpful to the checking officers of the Electoral Branch in the carrying out of their duties. It would make it easier to check the rolls and would make the rolls to a greater extent self-cleansing. I believe it is of the highest importance that the rolls should be as accurate as possible and I believe that this very small reform, which is an administrative matter only and does not involve any amendment of the act, would add quite considerably to the efficiency of our electoral system. I should like the Minister to give some consideration to this question and to see what can be done in regard to it, in the interests of getting better and more complete rolls, more accurate in every respect. I know that members on this side of the House at any rate - and I hope I spoke on this question for members on the other side of the House also - would wish the rolls to be like that, leaving nobody out who should be on the roll and including nobody who should not be there.

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