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Wednesday, 23 July 1902

Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - So many arguments have been used on both sides that it is necessary for me to explain the vote which I intend to give on this important question, I have experienced both modes of voting in contesting elections in South Australia. At the first election for the Federal Convention in South Australia the voting was on the block system. The result was that a large and powerful section of the community*- the labour party - was virtually unrepresented. Personally I had no reason for complaint, as I was one of the ten who were chosen. But upon the occasion of the elections for the House of Representatives and the Senate, when the people of South Australia had the right to vote for the whole number of candidates required, or any smaller number they thought fit, the result was that the Senate was represented in each House by freetraders, revenue-tariffistS) labour representatives, and protectionists. Therefore, I feel that we should trust the good sense of the people in this matter. I have no sympathy with the proposals to provide for contingent voting. So long as the ballot is conducted as it is now, the electors should have the freest opportunity to combine, if they think fit, to obtain increased representation. I shall vote against the clause as it stands, and for the election of both senators and members of the House of Representatives in the manner in -which they were elected by the people of South Australia on the last occasion.

Mr. FOWLER(Perth). - I have listened very carefully to the whole debate, and I have not heard any one say that the system of block voting is amy thing more than an expedient. No one has attempted to refute the argument that to compel an elector to vote for candidates whom he does not wish to be elected is immoral. The labour party will be able to play the block vote game as well as any other party can do so. I have not been asking for a concession in the interests of that party. I have been protesting against the provisions of the clause as immoral and inequitable. But if they are carried into law, it will be found that the labour party, instead of, as in the past in South Australia, putting forward only one or two candidates in a timid, hesitating way, will put forward the full number of candidates required, and in view of the position which we have taken up upon this question, both here and in the Senate, we shall have every justification in asking the electors to support them. If the clause is carried as it stands, both sides will have reason to rue the day when they put aside principle for the sake of a mere temporary expedient.

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