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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3166

Senator ROBERT RAY(6.48) —Senator Peter Baume is quite correct in saying that there was a unanimous view. But that unanimous view I believe was that how to vote cards should not be displayed inside each cubicle into which an individual goes to vote.

Senator Peter Baume —Posters-I am quoting from the report.

Senator ROBERT RAY —Well, posters or how to vote cards; I think that the terms are interchangable in this context. Here, in any event, we are really talking only about Senate and list voting. We are not talking about House of Representatives voting. The original concept of having how to vote cards in polling booths would have been to contain both the House of Representatives and the Senate cards. The very points that Senator Sir John Carrick has made are valid. I believe that it is impossible to fit such a poster fairly inside a booth, given the complexity of the federal system. I know that Senator Maguire can probably tell us that it works adequately in South Australia. I do not mean to infer that that is a backwater or a small place, Senator; but the details on the tickets are just not the same as are found at a Senate election.

The definition of polling booth to be put into the Act is:

. . . a building, structure, vehicle or enclosure, or a part of a building, structure, vehicle or enclosure, provided at a polling place, in pursuance of paragraph 98 (1) (b) . . .

I interpret that to mean that the booth is basically the building; the polling place is the surrounds plus the building. It does not mean the cubicle. Why put this clause in? I just think it was felt that if there were registered how to vote cards somewhere in the booth for those who were anxious to see what the registered how to vote cards were, there should be a poster saying that the Australian Labor Party has registered its card and this is the direction in which its preferences go. The Liberal Party and the Australian Democrats would also have issued their split cards, and this is the direction in which their preferences go. I think that is the reason it is there.

Senator Baume raised the point of who gets pole position, in effect. I would not have thought that was particularly relevant or advantageous in this situation, where there is only one poster on a wall somewhere in the booth. Obviously that poster would not be put right outside a cubicle; it would be put on a wall away from those cubicles, and those who are interested enough to chase it up will look at it there. I do not think it would matter much in those circumstances whether it was on the left hand side or the right hand side. It would be fairly similar, I imagine, to those old posters which used to be in electoral offices prior to a legal challenge and which used to give the names of all candidates and their party affiliations. I think it is a public service poster rather than a political poster meant to influence people.