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Thursday, 2 November 1911

Senator VARDON (South Australia) - - I should like to know how this proposed new section is going to be enforced. Sub-section 2 provides -

The regulations shall prescribe anything necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying a system of compulsory enrolment into effect and may prescribe penalities not exceeding Two pounds for any contravention of any regulation made in pursuance of this power.

A person entitled to enrolment might be liable to penalties for breaches of three or four of these regulations, and I wish to know if there is any simple and easy means of enforcing this proposed new section if we pass it. It is of no use to insert a clause in a Bill if it is going to be a dead letter, and I think that is what is likely to take place in this case. The Minister of Defence, in introducing the Bill, told us that about 20 per cent, of our population live a nomadic life, and are continually on the move from one district to another. It is going to be a big* contract to see that all those persons conform to every regulation which may be laid down in connexion with compulsory enrolment. Unless there _ is some way of easily and speedily detecting those who fail to comply with the regulation under this provision, it will not be worth the paper on which it is printed. The Government might have indicated what they intend to do by regulation to insure that this provision shall be a living force in the measure. So far as I can see at present, I do not think that the proposed new section will be of any use in the betterment of our electoral rolls.

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) {6.7]. - I should like to direct the attention of the Minister to the case of residents of Australia who, I think, will be compelled under the proposed new section to be enrolled, but whom it would clearly be undesirable to enroll in any circumstances. 1 speak of people who merely visit Australia, such as wool-buyers, for instance, but who stay here long enough to qualify for enrolment, and would, therefore, under this orovision, be compelled to enroll. In no sense can they be regarded as citizens of Australia. When they became entitled to be enrolled, they might be on the eve of returning to the country from whence they came.

Senator McGregor - Most of them would require to be naturalized.

Senator MILLEN - Does the- honorable senator mean to say that most of the people who visit Australia as members of theatrical companies, or as wool-buyers, would require to be naturalized. If so, he can know very little about the subject.

Senator Findley - I have met a number of foreign wool-buyers, but one would think, to hear the honorable senator, that there is an army of wool-buyers in Australia.

Senator MILLEN - The honorable senator's interjection is disheartening to one who is trying at this stage to perfect the Bib. I have fought some of the provisions of the measure, and will fight others; but I am dealing now with a matter which should not be open fo a suspicion of party feeling. Numbers of persons visit Australia as members of theatrical companies, as tourists, wool-buyers, and men in various walks of commercial life. They may stay here in the one electoral district for six or seven months, and so become entitled to be enrolled. This Bill makes provision that if a person is entitled to be enrolled he shall be enrolled. I am suggesting, to the Minister merely that he should take some power by regulation to deal with such cases. It may be said that sojourn in Australia is not residence, but if the Minister will look at the Act he will find that the qualification is in respect of a person not under twentyone years of age, male or female, married or unmarried, who has lived in Australia for the prescribed period. There is no question of domicile, but merely of residence, in Australia for the prescribed period. If a person is entitled to vote the compulsory provisions of this Bill will apply to him. The Minister should take, for himself or the Department, the power by regulation to say that no one who is merely a visitor shall be compelled to enroll, since he would in no sense be a citizen of Australia. It is not desirable to load up our rolls with the names of visitors of that kind. I suggest that the Minister should take power to frame a regulation to meet cases of that kind.

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