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Monday, 11 December 1905

Mr PAGE (Maranoa) - I hope that the Committee will not alter the amount from 5s. I will give a concrete case to show what has happened in Queensland. The

Central Pastoralists' Association on one occasion paid a man of straw to object to every name on the roll that was supposed to represent an elector opposed to its members in politics. The fee which, had to be lodged with the Revision Court at that time was 5s. But it happened that we knew rather more about the electoral law than did this big squatting association. There is a section in the Queensland Act to the effect that any objector must have his own name on the roll before he can lodge an objection. I happened to be the agent on this occasion.

Mr Groom - Under clause 8 of this Bill we require that objections shall be lodged by an elector.

Mr PAGE - It is a very wise provision. Had it not been for that section in the Queensland Act, under which we raised a point for the consideration of the Revision Court, large numbers of electors would have been disfranchised. I will give another case, which occurred at Isisford, in the Central District. About eighty electors out of j 20 were knocked off the rolls. Some of them were actually in Court at the time, but were not allowed to state their case. As soon as a name was called on, a policeman went to the door and called out "John Brown," and, although the man was in Court, and got up in answer to his name, he was not allowed to substantiate his claim.

Mr Groom - Is that Justice's justice?

Mr PAGE - I think the Minister was actually engaged in that case when it came before the Supreme Court. An application was made to Mr. Justice Chubb, and he ordered the whole of the electors who had been thus disfranchised to be reinstated. A more scandalous proceeding I never heard of in all my life. When it was found that we intended to fight these cases in the Court, our opponents let us alone. If such things have happened before, they can happen again, if a wealthy .organization chooses to put up money for the purpose of lodging objections. In the last case to which I have referred an election was to take place in about three months' time, and our party would have been beaten simply from the effect of striking legitimate names off the roll if we had not taken prompt action. I trust that honorable members will pause before giving, under the Commonwealth electoral law, an opening for abuses.

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