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Wednesday, 10 June 1914

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) . - While the main discussion on this motion has centred round a boy who, according to Senator Rae, has been harshly and outrageously treated at Queenscliff by the military authorities, and whilst the case is important and interesting to all of us, a matter of more serious moment, I think, is to ascertain, if possible, what tho intentions of the Government are in respect to tho printing and publishing of the rolls on which the next elections are to be conducted, and their attitude in regard to the statement in a newspaper to-day that they intend to amend a regulation to prohibit persons from voting as absent voters in the way they did at the last general election. After that event, the Vice-President of the Executive Council made, at Fitzroy, outrageous statements which he afterwards withdrew.

Senator McColl - You are wrong, I never withdrew them.

Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator says that he did not withdraw the statement that " they had resurrected the dead," meaning thereby that the Labour party had resurrected all and sundry to bring about their success by corrupt and dishonest means.

Senator McColl - I never said that.

Senator FINDLEY - If the honorable senator did not say that lie meant it, and he meant nothing else.

Senator McColl - Ali!

Senator FINDLEY - There is nothing in that interjection. A dog could say " ah " on dark nights and moonlight nights. The honorable senator made this statement at Fitzroy : " With clean rolls, fair play, and fine weather, we arc sure to be victorious on the next occasion." By the term " clean rolls," he meant, if he meant anything, that the last rolls were not clean, but corrupt, and that is the impression he has tried to create in the minds of the citizens of Australia ever since that occasion. He sticks to the statement to-day that the last rolls were corrupt.

Senator Millen - That they were inflated.

Senator FINDLEY - That is a toning down of the term used at Fitzroy. All along the honorable senator spoke of "clean rolls." What does a man mean by "clean" in that sense? He means that the existing rolls are unclean and corrupt.

Senator McColl - I would not call you clean when you bring up these slanders over and over again.

Senator FINDLEY - They will be brought up on every platform I occupy throughout Victoria, because they are slanders on the people of Australia.

Senator Long - Diabolical slanders.

Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator withdrew them.

Senator McColl - No.

Senator FINDLEY - And then he had the boiler-plated audacity three or four days ago to get up here and try to get out of the difficulty in which he found himself. He said, " To prove the statement that I made at Fitzroy, I have three cases of dead men being voted on at the last election." When he was asked to give the names and addresses of the three allegedly dead men he refused then, as he does now, but he fastens the statement on to the Labour party that, although he alleges, and is prepared to prove that the names of three dead men were voted on, these votes were given to and used by the Labour party in order to bring about a victory. Of all the men in the Cabinet I should say that he was the last Minister who should have been picked by the Government to take charge of the Electoral Department. I am satisfied that he is such a violent partisan, and hates and detests Labour to such an extent that he would not stop at anything in order to bring victory to his side.

Senator Ready - It would not matter if he stopped at the truth.

Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator would not stop at anything. I am absolutely suspicious of him since he has been intrusted with the conduct of the Electoral Department. It is common knowledge that thousands of names have been removed from the roll. It is common knowledge, too, that party organizations have been invited to send in objections to names being on the rolls.

Senator Millen - Who removed the names?

Senator FINDLEY - First the Government have been privy to a contravention of the Act by permitting objections to be lodged against names being on the roll without the deposit of 5s. being lodged.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould - Those names had no business to be on the roll, then.

Senator FINDLEY - The Act is clear, definite, and specific that 5s. must be lodged with every objection to the appearance of a name on the roll. The Government have contravened the Act. They have invited party organizations to lodge objections, not against anti-Labour electors, but against Labour electors. In Melbourne there is a Constitutional Union that has been in existence for a considerable time, and has made special appeals to its financial friends--

Senator Russell - In and out of Australia.

Senator FINDLEY - Yes, they have appealed to their financial friends in and out of Australia, and have been enabled to build up such a fund that they have, from time to time, employed armies of men and women to do nothing else but go to the doors of houses, ascertain who lives there, and how long they have been living there. They do not inquire where people have gone when they find that they have changed their residence, but at once lodge an objection to the appearance of their names on the roll.

Senator Millen - That is under the Act which honorable senators opposite passed, and of which they are so proud.

Senator FINDLEY - The Act makes it mandatory upon any person lodging an objection to a name on an electoral roll to deposit 5s. with his objection.

Senator Millen - The Act makes it mandatory that if a person leaves his place of residence for a month, his name must go off the roll.

Senator FINDLEY - The Act provides that a man who removes from one part of an electorate to another must, after a month has expired, make application for a transfer; but the organizations to which I have referred do not wait for that. There are many men who follow migratory occupations, and are away from their homes for three or four weeks, and sometimes for months. It was never intended that the Act should apply to them, and that they should be called upon to make application" for transfers in every electorate to which they go for employment. What I am concerned about is that the coming elections will not be contested on the old rolls. There are new rolls in course of preparation. Many of them are in the hands of the Government Printers of the different States. I want an assurance from the Government that, when the new rolls are printed, they will be open for inspection for at least three or four weeks, in order that the thousands of people whose names have been removed from the old rolls will have an opportunity of seeing whether they are to be disfranchised or not.

Senator de Largie - The Opposition have command of the Senate, and can see that that is done. ,

Senator FINDLEY - People who inspect the old rolls, and find their names on them, have no guarantee that they will not be disfranchised on the day of election. If it is found that they are disfranchised on the day of election, those responsible for it will go down politically; but it will be too late to deal with them at the coming contest. The Government should be as anxious as are the Opposition that every citizen of Australia over the age of twenty-one years, and outside the walls of a gaol or lunatic asylum, shall have an opportunity to record a vote at the coming elections. That should be the desire of every fair-minded man on either side in this chamber.

Senator McColl - I said that to-day myself.

Senator FINDLEY - But what is the honorable senator doing? He is indirectly assisting party organizations that are not concerned about having every citizen 'enfranchised, but are concerned about having every citizen who is not of their political faith, and is not disposed to vote their way, disfranchised. In order that people whose names have been wrongfully and, I say, illegally, removed from the rolls-

Senator Rae - There are thousands of them.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator will make the number millions before lie is done.

Senator FINDLEY - We know that over 3,000 names have been removed from the rolls for one portion of the Ballarat division alone.

Senator Millen - Does the honorable senator say that they have been illegally removed ?

Senator FINDLEY - I do not know anything about Ballarat, but I know that money galore has been spent in Ballarat for some time past, and was spent there at the last Federal election.

Senator Millen - The honorable senator ought to know, because it was his party that spent it.

Senator FINDLEY - Our party have never had any money to spend for dishonest purposes, and, as compared with the Liberal party, they are comparatively poor.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir AlbertGould. - Is it dishonest to canvass for votes?

Senator FINDLEY - It is dishonest, according to the Electoral Act, for can didates to spend more than a certain amount upon their candidature, and it is as certain as that night follows day that more than the amount fixed by the Act was spent in Ballarat at tlie last election. It is impossible to get an army of men and women to work for the so-called Liberals unless they are paid, and well paid, and it is equally impossible to have a hundred and one motor-cars running here, there, and everywhere without making some recompense to the people who supply those cars. I am not concerned with that for the moment, but with the state of the rolls. I wish to get from the Government a definite statement that the citizens of Australia will be given the fullest opportunity to record their votes. I want to get from them a promise that when the rolls are printed every citizen shall have an opportunity to see whether his name is on the newly-printed rolls, and if it is not, shall be given an opportunity to become enfranchised. When the attention of the Leader of the Government was called to a proposal to amend a certain regulation to prohibit absent voting he said that the Government had the matter under consideration, and he would later inform honorable members in another place of the intentions of the Government in respect to that regulation. I am not so much concerned as to how honorable members in another place will be informed, but I wish Senator Millen, as Leader of the Government in this Chamber, to make a definite statement that the Government will submit the amended regulation to Parliament.

Senator de Largie - Whilst Parliament is sitting; we want no trickery afterwards.

Senator FINDLEY - Yes', whilst Parliament is sitting, so that we may have an opportunity if we consider it necessary to disallow the amended regulation. Having mentioned these few points, I hope that the Minister of Defence will do me the courtesy of replying to them.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [5.55].- I am sure that honorable senators' agree with Senator Findley that every person who is entitled to a vote should have an opportunity of ascertaining whether his name is on the roll or not. I am satisfied that every member of the Government is desirous that that should be so. Whatever our political opinions may be, we all recognise that, under our electoral system, the majority of the people have the right to say what the policy of the country shall be.

Senator Needham - That is denied by the double dissolution. The majority on one side have to go out to please the minority on the other side.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - The double dissolution will give the people an opportunity to say whether the Cook party should be returned with a majority or with a minority.

Senator McDougall - If the people are on the rolls.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - It is the duty of every member of either House to be prepared to go before the electors whenever the emergency arises. We know perfectly well that Parliament is absolutely unworkable. I quite agree with the statement that every elector should be afforded an opportunity of recording his vote, and every adult should have a chance of seeing that his or her name is upon the roll. But as the law renders it incumbent upon every man and woman in the community to become enrolled, it is obviously his or her duty to look after his or her interests in that respect. If an objection be lodged to any person's name appearing on the roll, a notice is forwarded to him.

Senator Rae - Very often he does not get it.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir ALBERT GOULD - A bitter attack has been made upon the Vice-President of the Executive Council by Senator Findley. Over and over again he has made a similar attack-

Senator Rae - His statement is true, and the honorable senator knows it. It is the honorable senator's villainous organizers that do the mischief, and the honorable senator winks at them while they take his money.

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