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Thursday, 24 July 1902

Mr O'MALLEY (Tasmania) - Th The provisions which we are trying to insert here look very well . on paper, but, even if we safeguarded them with stone walls, and domed them over with a roof of steel, we should not be able to prevent corruption. In South Australia there is a strict law against practices of the kind which we are trying to prevent, and yet the licensed victuallers spent close on £2,000 in one electorate in trying to defeat me, and were not prosecuted. The man who understands how to run the show will always be returned. I look upon agents as a means of wasting money. You give them £50 or £100, and they go to a staggerjuicery and make persons drunk, and think they have done a good turn for you. What is the use of making laws which are to be broken ?

Mr. REID(East Sydney). - I have looked into the point, referred to by the Minister, as to the liability of persons other than the candidate, and I am afraid there is no provision here that would make the actions of such persons offences against the law. The limitation is upon the candidate alone. It is stated that no electoral expense shall be incurred " by the candidate " in excess of £100. Clause 175 only defines "electoral expenses," and does not extend the operation of this clause to another class of individuals. The offence is really set out in this clause, and other persons acting independently of the candidate can spend as much money as they like. If we desire to make it an offence for a person other than the candidate to spend more than £100, we shall have to go further than is now provided. The amendment proposed by the honorable member for South Sydney would meet the case to some extent, because it would prevent, say, Jones, from spending more than £100 on behalf of a candidate, Smith. But supposing that Jones spent £95, and Brown spent £6, the two amounts could not be added together in order to make Jones an offender.

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - Unless Brown acted as Jones' agent.

Mr REID - -Yes but he would have to be an agent authorized to incur that expenditure ; a general authority as agent would not suffice. If we were to make a candidate responsible for the acts of his agent, some person might spend over £100 on his account, and then say that he acted as the agent of the candidate, and thus upset an election.

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - But that is not made a cause for upsetting an election.

Mr REID - But if a candidate indulged in illegal practices his election would be upset.

Sir William Lyne - Power is given to the Court of Disputed Returns to deal with cases of that kind.

Mr REID - Unless we insert some additional words, such as have been suggested, the candidate only can be proceeded against for spending money in excess of £100 in connexion with an election.

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