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Tuesday, 29 July 1902

Mr V L SOLOMON (SOUTH AUSTRALIA, SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - It has been represented to me by one honorable member from South Australia that this clause may lead to some difficulty in connexion with the Postal Bill. Under this Bill it is provided that electoral documents connected with federal elections shall pass through the various post-offices free. It has been pointed out to me that it is extremely probable that there will be some confusion owing to the fact that, if possible, the States will for purposes of economy hold their elections at the same time as the federal elections are being held, and there will be considerable difficulty in distinguishing between postal matter connected with State elections and postal matter connected with federal elections. I ask the Minister whether it would not be possible to introduce words which would accord to the States the same privilege in connexion with their elections as is to be enjoyed by the Commonwealth in respect to the federal elections ? It will be impossible in many cases to distinguish between papers relating to State elections and those connected with federal elections, and there is no reason why the States should not be allowed to forward their electoral matter through the post free of cost. It must be remembered that although we have taken over the Postal department, the various States have to meet the expenditure incurred, and receive only such net revenue as may be earned. Therefore, the Federal Government has no more right to make use of the Post-office than have the various States. I do not think that we have any right to deal in this Bill with questions affecting the revenue and income of the States. Therefore we should defer dealing with this question until we have the Postal Rates Bill under consideration.

Mr. JOSEPHCOOK (Parramatta)."We have decided that certain returns shall be sent to our officers, and have provided for voting by post. Therefore we must make extensive use of the Post-office to give effect to the clauses already agreed to, and clearly the place for this machinery clause is in this measure. I do not see that there is any element of unfairness to the States in the present proposal. They will furnish the money for carrying out their electoral Acts from some State fund, in the same way that we shall provide for the working of our Electoral Act out of some federal fund. The Minister for Home Affairs will be charged by the PostmasterGeneral for all matter sent through the post by the electoral department, and no injustice will be done to the States, so far as that is concerned.

Mr Thomson - If an elector sends a State postal vote through the post he will have to pay, whereas his letter will be franked in the case of a federal election.

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