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Wednesday, 23 July 1902

Mr O'MALLEY (Tasmania) - In mining camps the men go on shift at eight o'clock, and if the booths are opened before that time they will have an opportunity of recording their votes before they commence work. I have suffered from the want of some such provision as this. I therefore move -

That the word "eight," line9, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word " seven."

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I hope the committee will not agree to the amendment. In the summer time seven o'clock might not be too early, but in winter it would scarcely be light at that hour, and, moreover, it would be difficult to have everything in readiness for conducting the poll. The various States have had a long experience with regard to the best hours to fix for polling purposes, and we should be guided by their practice. I find that in New South Wales the polling hours are from eight o'clock to six o'clock ; in Victoria from eight o'clock to seven o'clock - in the metropolitan districts ; in Queensland from eight o'clock to four o'clock -these hours may be extended by proclamation ; in South Australia from eight o'clock to seven o'clock ; in Western Australia from nine o'clock to seven o'clock ; and in Tasmania from eight o'clock to six o'clock. We are extending the hours in three of the States, but providing three additional hours in Queensland - except where a proclamation is issued extending the time - and an additional hour in Tasmania and New South Wales. Therefore I hope the committee will not agree to the amendment.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment (by Mr. McDonald) proposed -

That the word "seven," line 12, be omitted with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word "eight."

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - For the reasons which I have just given as to the practice hitherto followed in the various States I cannot agree to the amendment.

Mr. BATCHELOR(South Australia).In South Australia the practice has been to open the polling places from eight o'clock in the morning to seven o'clock in the evening, but all elections have been held on Saturday. But what I wish to put before the committee is that in South Australia it hasnot been found that the time allowed for voting is too long, although the elections there have always been held upon Saturday, when the bulk of the business men and workmen are disengaged. Under this Bill, however, the elections may be held upon any day, and as a great many people leave their homes at seven a.m. and cannot return from work in time to enable them to change their attire and record their votes by seven p.m., I do not think that eight p.m. is too late an hour for polling.

Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - What about the hours worked by the returning officers and poll clerks?

Mr BATCHELOR - The returning officer has to keep the booth open from eight a.m. till the hour fixed for closing the poll. He then has a hurried meal and begins to count the ballot-papers. At midnight he ceases counting. We have adopted extraordinary provisions to enable those who may be incapacitated to vote, but I hold that the closingof the polling booths at seven p.m. will disfranchise more electors than would be prevented from voting on account of serious illness and infirmity. Some men do not cease work until six or seven p.m. Take the case of hawkers.

Mr Mauger - They can vote at any time.

Mr BATCHELOR - The honorable member is assuming that they are engaged in. hawking in the vicinity of the polling booth, when, as a matter of fact, they may be several miles away. I trust the Minister will agree to extend the hours of polling till eight p.m.

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