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Thursday, 2 November 1911

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I again ask the Minister to consider the point I raised as to the possible confusion in the minds of the electors, who are to-day filling in a card and making a claim, as to the obligation which is sought to be thrown upon them by this clause. It seems to me that the difficulty 'is bound to arise. I ask the Minister to seriously consider whether it is worth while to launch this Bill with the almost certainty of confusion arising in the minds of the electors? The Minister will see what I mean if he reads the clause with the words " as directed by a proclamation " omitted. The clause now states -

Provided that where tin elector has been enrolled in pursuance of any claim signed by him as directed by :i proclamation and is correctly enrolled he shall not be required to sign and send in any further claim -

I say that the proclamation mentioned must mean a proclamation after the passing of this measure, but the Minister, in his statement just now, showed that he intends it to apply to claims filled in before the passing of this measure. Under the clause it is mandatory on an elector to make his claim after the proclamation is issued, but the electors are filling in their claims to-day. I say that they will have to fill in other claims. The Minister says he does not desire that, but I say that, if we pass the clause as it stands, the electors will have to fill in other claims. If the Minister agrees to the omission of the words " as directed bv a proclamation," the necessity of electors having to make two applications will be obviated. If those words were left out, the enrolment which is taking place to-day would be made good. It is obvious that, under the clause, electors will be put to a lot of unnecessary trouble. The omission of the words " as directed by a proclamation " would validate the enrolment which is now taking place.

Senator FINDLEY(Victoria- Honorary Minister) [4.27I - I am inclined to think that Senator Millen does not grasp the effect of the provision in the Act. In my second-reading speech I said we had power under the principal Act to compel people to enroll. He did not doubt that for a moment.

Senator Millen - I denied that there is power.

Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator said that if there had been a provision in the Act on which such a construction could be placed, it would not have been passed by Parliament, but the principal Act does give power to the Government to compel people to enroll.

Senator St Ledger - Where do you find that?

Senator FINDLEY - Section 32 of the principal Act provides -

New rolls for any polling places subdivisions divisions or States shall be prepared whenever directed by proclamation and in the manner specified m the proclamation or prescribed by the regulations.

In compliance with that provision, a proclamation has been issued.

Senator Millen - If it is tested, it will go to pieces.

Senator FINDLEY - The proclamation is clear, and can be easily understood by every man and woman who receives a copy, of it. Paragraph 3 of the proclamation provides that it shall be the duty of each person in a State who is entitled to enrolment as an elector to fill in and sign a form of claim for enrolment in accordance with the directions contained in the form. The proclamation goes on to provide that the elector shall hand the form so filled in and signed, or cause it to be handed, to a collector, or forward it to the Electoral Registrar for the subdivision in which he claims to be enrolled.

Senator Millen - Then section 32a is unnecessary.

Senator FINDLEY - We have power to compel the people to enroll, and we have issued ' a proclamation telling the people that they must enroll. They have been supplied with cards, and when they have filled in those cards and forwarded them to the Electoral Office no policeman or Department will chase them with an intimation that further cards must be sent in. At some time it may be necessary to issue a proclamation saying to the people throughout the Commonwealth that on a certain day, or at certain periods, cards must be filled in, but those who have been supplied with cards, and who have returned them, will not be required to fill in new cards. I believe I am correct in saying that almost every person entitled to vote has been supplied with a card, in this State, at any rate. If people who are entitled to vote in the other States have not been supplied with cards, they will be supplied with them, because it is the desire of the Government that everybody shall have the fullest and freest opportunity to enroll. When the people get the cards and send them in, there will be no obligation on them to send in other cards unless they move from one district to another.

Senator Sayers - Will the Government prosecute people who have been supplied with cards and have not sent them in?

Senator FINDLEY - The Government will do what is necessary to enforce the law.

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