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Wednesday, 10 June 1914

Senator McDOUGALL (New South Wales) .- I do not think that solitary confinement should be meted out to lads for non-compliance with the requirements of the law as to drill. If it has been done, it is a wrong perpetrated by the officers who have sentenced him to this punishment. There is a lot to be said for the argument of Senator Pearce that there should be a special tribunal to deal with these cases. A number of questions have been asked about the interference with the electoral rolls which has resulted in bond fide electors being deprived of the privilege of exercising the franchise. The Government have stated their intention of having a clean roll. I am sure that we are all in favour of a clean roll, but, unfortunately, the Government's idea and mine as to what constitutes such a roll are very different. Their idea of a clean roll is to leave out as many Labour voters as possible; mine is to give everybody an opportunity of recording a vote at the forthcoming election. It would be very wrong for me to say this if I were not prepared to prove it. I am prepared to prove that in one electorate in New South Wales a candidate at the last election had been a paid canvasser of the Liberal party for, I believe, two years, and is again the selected candidate. He has been in the electorate every day, and his sole duty has been to clean as many names of Labour voters off the roll as possible. He has succeeded to such an extent that it is possible for him to wipe out the deficiency of votes by which he was defeated at the last election. That is grossly unfairand unjust to the people of New South Wales. This is a farming electorate, which the Liberal party think should not be held by Labour, but it has been held by Labour for many years. In it there are a number of men whose duty it is to travel long distances in order to support their wives and families. During their absence, notices have been sent to them to show cause why they should not be struck off the roll. The latter has been unopened by their wives, or perhaps lefti in the boardinghouse, and they have returned from their employment to find themselves too late to appeal against being struck off the roll. I do not think any man with an idea of political honesty or fair dealing would lend himself to that sort of practice, but it has been done with the full knowledge and approval of the Liberal party of New South Wales. Any Government that will hurry on an election, and stand by an organization whose hands are soiled by those practices, deserves the severest censure of the people. The Minister, in giving replies to certain questions, I have no doubt gave them to the best of his ability. He said the police in New South Wales had no instruction but to put people on the rolls who were entitled to vote, and to put off those who were not entitled to vote. I know, as a fact, that the police who called at my house told me that they had instructions only to verify the rolls. They have gone to places that I could name in the city of Sydney, and to one in particular in the electorate of Wentworth, where an unfortunate widow, who is compelled to go out to work to keep her children, has been struck off the roll, although she has been living in the house for a great number of years. She received a notice, and understood it, and had her name placed on the roll as she should be, and yet she had been struck off. These tricks are detrimental to any country, and unworthy of any party.

Senator Rae - They are scoundrelly.

Senator McDOUGALL - They are worse than scandalous. There is no doubt that the party behind the Government today have plenty of money to pay these organizers and canvassers to go round and do work of this description, which, in any other place, would be called dirty work. I do not say it is, but I say that the man who would accept payment from any association to do work of this description can never have clean hands. I am sorry to have to draw the attention of the Senate to this scandalous state of affairs, but I have enough faith in the honesty of the Government to believe that, even at this late hour, they will do something to retrieve their lost laurels so far as honest intentions in the administration of the Electoral Act are concerned.

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