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Monday, 11 December 1905

Mr FISHER (Wide Bay) - I am sorry to hear so many of my friends attacking the postal vote provisions of the Electoral Act. I regard those provisions as the necessary corollary to a universal franchise. I have a very lively recollection of the time when you, sir, and I spent a great deal of our time in endeavouring to educate the people of Queensland up to an appreciation of the justice of universal suffrage, and of the wisdom of offering special facilities to those engaged in nomadic pursuits to record their votes. Nothing has since occurred to cause me to alter my opinions in that connexion. Because certain persons may have misused the privileges conferred by an Act of Parliament, we ought not to deprive even one eligible voter of the opportunity to exercise the franchise. One would imagine, from the statements of some honorable members, that these postal votes are open to the public. As a matters of fact, they are, and ought to be, as secret as if' they were placed in the ballot-box.

Mr Batchelor - Does not the honorable member know that in voting by post electors vote openly, and in a room filled with people ?

Mr FISHER - The honorable member is merely referring to instances in which the law has been violated. Does he say that we cannot reach such offenders?

Mr Batchelor - I am certain that we cannot.

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