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Monday, 11 December 1905

Mr LONSDALE (New England) - This discussion is rather amusing to me. I have had something to do with elections, but I have never known of such difficulties as have been mentioned here to-day If the fee of five shillings is retained, it simply means that, if a poor man desires to challenge the right of a rich man to have his name retained on the roll, he may be unable to do it. I have never seen' any wrong done by means of objections to the rights of voters to be retained on the roll, nor do I believe that objections are made for improper purposes. The argument that, if the fee is reduced, rich men will take steps to remove hundreds of names from the rolls is to my mind so much bunkum. There may have been a few cases of the kind, but thev are very few indeed. I have never come across any. If the .fee is retained at five shillings, it will operate rather against the poor than against the rich. Personally, I do not care whether the fee is reduced or remains as at present.

Mr Groom - How would the honorable member deal with frivolous objections ?

Mr LONSDALE - I am quite willing to allow a penalty to be inflicted in such cases. If we were to make the fee one shilling, and provide that, in the case of frivolous objections, a fine of five shillings should be inflicted, it should be sufficient.

Mr Groom - The difficulty is to meet the case of an objector being a man of straw. There are no means of recovering the penalty from him unless we have a deposit also.

Mr LONSDALE - I have seen no wrong done under this provision. The only- trouble is that we cannot get the rolls purified by its operation.

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