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Tuesday, 22 July 1902

Mr CROUCH (Corio) - The honorable member -for South Australia, Mr. Batchelor, seems to think that candidates would secure an advantage by taking policemen round -with them, but I would point out that before an elector can vote by post, he must have taken the original step of applying for a certificate, which would be done quite without pressure on the part of the candidate or any ona else. I am sorry that the honorable member for Bland has met some storekeeper or postmaster who has not acted fairly, and that the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O'Malley, knows some postmaster or postmistress who has travelled round the country with a candidate. "Hard cases make bad laws," and we ought not to frame our legislation on the supposition that every - official, is likely to act improperly simply because of the experiences of two honorable members. ; But if we allow votes to be recorded only before postmasters and State school teachers, there are districts in which it will be impossible to find persons to act. For instance, a large number of men are being sent from Melbourne to ' work upon the railways now being constructed to Mildura and other places, where there are neither State-schools nor post-offices. We have no. right to disfranchise those men. But if the suggestion' of the honorable and learned member for Northern Melbourne is adopted they will bc able to vote in the presence of the police. The larger we make' the class of officials before whom the elector can declare his vote, the better it' will be for the effective operation of this provision.

Mr. BATCHELOR.(South Australia).Unless the committee agrees- to some restriction, the whole operation of the clause may depend upon' the friendly relations of an official with a particular candidate. We ought not to allow anything of that kind to happen. "We are not making it the duty of officials to go round and witness signatures, and to attest to the voting having been done correctly ; we are simply leaving it open to them to do so for any candidate they choose. "We shall be playing into the hands of any official who may be biased, and shall be initiating a condition of affairs which will almost inevitably lead to corruption. We should provide either that the officer shall act in all cases in which he may be called upon, ' or that he shall not leave his residence or place of business except in cases of sickness or infirmity. If it is left optional with the officer to attend to calls made upon him to go to places beyond his- -office or business premises, he may refuse in certain cases and comply in others, and bc forced into the position of a partisan.

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