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Thursday, 1 December 1983
Page: 3167


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK(6.54) —I just make the point that if we accept Senator Ray's view that these posters are put there for the information of the electors, one has to assume that alongside them is a little ledge and a place for the elector to put down his ballot paper and copy the poster. Does anyone really believe that it is intended, under the secret ballot procedures, to have that happen? For people simply to stare at a mass of figures on a wall and not be able to copy them down is the essence of the ridiculous. I ask the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) and the Australian Electoral Office whether they really envisage that, alongside that display, there will be provision for an elector to make a copy. If there is, how many posters will there be because only one elector at a time can go up to the poster in the booth and make the copy? Apart from that, of course, it ceases to be a secret ballot because it is done in the open and not in the compartment. I am not in any way hexed as to whether it is a compartment or a polling booth; that does not matter . I am glad it has been clarified.


Senator Gareth Evans —It was pretty important to your argument a few minutes ago .


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —No, it was not, because I said, if the Attorney had listened, that in fact I did not care what the meaning of a booth was. I made that abundantly clear. I did not care whether it was a compartment or a booth. Perhaps he will acknowledge that. What I am now asking the Attorney is this: Is he now saying to us that in a polling booth there will be one set of posters on the wall and some provision for an elector to copy those figures? Is it intended that the elector copy it on to his ballot paper there or does he have to copy it down on a bit of paper, then take it to the compartment and vote?


Senator Robert Ray —If he wants to vote the list he has only to tick it, not copy it down.


Senator Sir JOHN CARRICK —One of the great things that Senator Ray, with his democratic principle, recognised was the need to give everyone the right to fill in all of the 60 or 70 squares, and indeed that is why these posters are so complex. What is this poster really intended to be? Is it to be one from which electors can copy the figures on to their ballot papers? If it is we have an open vote going on; we do not have compartments at all. Is it simply for them somehow to look at the poster, memorise it and go away? Are they to copy the information on to a piece of paper and take it away? What are they to do? That is what needs to be answered before we get anywhere.