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Wednesday, 23 July 1902

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The law compels that. It provides that the candidate shall be nominated by so many electors. It is within the power of any voter to nominate one or more candidates, as the case may be. If he finds that there is only one candidate in the field whose views harmonize with his own, he has the right to nominate five others, and if their political opinions accord with those held by a majority of the electors, the six candidates will be returned.

Mr.Batchelor. - How can an elector tell what candidates will contest a certain constituency ?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I will undertake to say that the honorable member knows perfectly well beforehand what candidates intend contesting his particular electorate.

Mr Batchelor - Because I make it my business to find out.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - So do the various political organizations. I know very well that the Free-trade Association does. It is perfectly within the power of any body of men to ascertain what candidates intend going to the poll. The Senate desires that the electors in the various States shall have a fair opportunity of voting for the the six best candidates nominated.

Mr Ronald - Why not for one candidate?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Because the Constitution provides that there shall be six candidates returned. I think that every elector should exercise his judgment and support the six candidates who will best represent the views of the people of the Commonwealth.

Mr Fowler - Suppose that six good men are not available?

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable member credits the States with very little intelligence if he thinks that it is impossible to secure the services of six thoroughly qualified candidates. If any important question is likely to engage the attention of this Parliament, and if there be a sufficient number of electors in favour of one candidate to insure his return, the same body of voters can nominate and return five other candidates holding similar political opinions. What possible harm can accrue to the Commonwealth if the electors are required to choose the six most suitable candidates from their point of view? If they find that there are not six candidates in accord with their views, there is nothing to prevent them from nominating six who are. I cannot understand the argument of the honorable member for Tasmania, Mr. O'Malley, who declares that under this clause a large number of the electors in each State may be disfranchised. It is evident that those electors must be in a minority, and the principle of democratic Government is that the majority shall rule. I intend to support the clause.

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