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Thursday, 24 July 1902

Mr WINTER COOKE (Wannon) - If I understand the amendment aright it is unnecessary, seeing that clause 190 provides -

The acts" of authorized agents of a candidate shall, in matters connected with . elections, be deemed to be the acts of the candidate, &c.

The clause under discussion must be read iii conjunction with the provision to which I have referred, so that if expenses in excess of the limit prescribed are incurred by the authorized agent of a candidate, the latter will be liable.

Amendment negatived.

Mr. V.L. SOLOMON (South Australia). - When speaking a' few minutes ago I intimated my intention to endeavour to alter paragraph (6) by inserting the word "two " in lieu of " one." Under the South Australian Electoral Act, upon which this portion of the Bill has been modelled, the limit to the electoral expenses which may be incurred by a candidate in a district containing 20,000 voters, is about £300. Within the past three or four weeks I find that in connexion with the House of Assembly elections in the State which I represent, the successful candidates for metropolitan constituencies, according to their sworn statements, spent the following amounts : - Mr- Dixon and Mr. Cohen, who contested North Adelaide, East Adelaide, and West Adelaide - a district within a 4-miles radius of the city, £383 each; Mr. Jenkins, the present Premier, who also contested an electorate within a radius of 3 or 4 miles of the city, £292; Mr. Darling, leader of the Opposition, £17S ; Mr. Seward, £184 ; Sir Jenkin Coles, the Speaker of the House of Assembly, £148 ; and Mr. David James, who was returned for Kapunda, £192.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They would have been returned had they spent much less.

Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It is all very well for honorable members who represent pocket constituencies to talk in that manner, but those who represent large districts must recognise the absolute impossibility of limiting their expenditure to £100. Adverting to the recent elections in South Australia, it is well known that the National Defence League spent hundreds of pounds in pushing the candidature of men whose expenses have been returned at £300 odd.

Sir John Quick - How is it that the labour party fight elections so cheaply 1

Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It is because the labour organizations contain thousands of men - the very best of canvassers and organizers - who work from mere patriotism.

Mr L E GROOM (DARLING DOWNS, QUEENSLAND) - Ought we not to encourage rather than discourage that sort of thing? . ' .

Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - Of course we ought ; but, on the other hand, those who do not belong to labour organizations have a more difficult problem to face. I submit 41 p that the sum of £200 is not an excessive limit to prescribe in connexion with a district containing 20,000 or 22,000 electors. I therefore move -

That the word "one," line 7, be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the word " two."

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I am sorry that I cannot agree with the honorable member. The recommendation made to me before this Act was framed was that we should limit the expenses of candidates for the House of Representatives to one-half the amount allowed to candidates for the Senate. I thought that I was going far enough in proposing a limit of £100 and £200 respectively. The object which the Government have in view is to restrict the expenses of elections as far as possible. I know that the newspapers make very heavy charges whenever they have an opportunity of so doing, and in the absence of such a provision as that under consideration, it is quite possible that they may levy still higher rates. But, perhaps,' their charges will be somewhat limited if they know that candidates are debarred from incurring more than a certain expenditure. I remember that upon one occasion 1 was charged £100 for an advertisement of less than a column.

Mr Mahon - But the right honorable gentleman would not have had to pay it had the matter been taken into court.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The matter was taken into court by the candidate who was running with me, and he was defeated. The exact- amount involved was £102. In Victoria, New South Wales, and Queensland there is no limit to the electoral expenses which a candidate may incur, but in South Australia the limit is £50 in connexion with a district containing 2,000 electors, but an additional £5 is allowed for every 200 voters on the roll.

Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - That would mean a limit of more than £500 for a constituency for the return of a member to this House.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - In Western Australia no limit is fixed, but there is a limit in Tasmania. To apply to the Commonwealth, however, the limit adopted in Tasmania would mean that each candidate would be at liberty to expend about £3,000.. I am told that some candidates do spend that amount. My own impression, however, is that if for the Senate and House of Representatives a maximum of £250 and £100' respectively is allowed it will bo as much as candidates can bear, and as much as should be spent. I recognise that there may be some force in the contention that provision should be made for offences committed by two sets of persons. Perhaps the matter is not as clear as it should be, and at a later stage, therefore, I shall either propose an amendment or a new clause, to remove all doubt upon the subject.

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