Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Tuesday, 29 July 1902

Mr WATSON (Bland) - I should prefer to see the hour fixed at seven p.m. in the evening.

Mr Deakin - That hour is not excluded by the clause.

Mr WATSON - But the probability is that members of the court will decide to sit at ten o'clock in the forenoon as the most convenient hour for themselves, and this will operate harshly on numbers of men who find it difficult or impossible to leave their work for a day in order to attend. In the evening everybody is able to attend.

Mr Deakin - In Victoria the courts sit as directed, and they are directed as public convenience requires. In the summer the people often prefer to attend before breakfast, rather than at night, and the court is fixed accordingly.

Mr WATSON - There is no provision in the clause for any instruction, the fixing of the hours being left to the court.

Mr Deakin - In Victoria the Minister finds out when it is desirable that the court shall sit, and he issues instructions accordingly.

Mr WATSON - If that were embodied in the clause, it would probably get over my objection ;but great inconvenience will arise in country districts, and, perhaps, in towns, if the clause be left as at present.

Sir Edward Braddon - Seven o'clock in the evening is a most inconvenient hour for electors in country districts.

Mr WATSON - Not at all ; it is a most convenient hour for all sections of the community, except, perhaps, suburban residents, and they can generally make time to suit themselves. People who have to work in the day-time would be glad to attend the revision court in the evening. In Victoria I believe the courts have frequently sat at night. In New South Wales, where the courts have sat at ten in the morning, it has been found not only inconvenient, but absolutely impossible, for working men to attend, because they could not get leave from their employers, and the result was that their cases had to be intrusted to some one else who did not know all the circumstances.

Sir EDWARDBRADDON (Tasmania). - It certainly would be most inconvenient to a great number of electors in the country districts if they could not get their business at revision courts finished before seven o'clock at night. Many country electors have to travel miles to attend the court, and like to get home before seven. They like to get their business done early in the day.

Mr. WATSON(Bland). - What the right honorable member for Tasmania, Sir Edward Braddon, says, may be the case with regard to many farmers, but on the other hand there are numbers of workmen who cannot get away in the day-time. I suggest that courtsshould be held between seven and twelve in the evening, or, as suggested by the Attorney-General, there should be a provision whereby the Minister could direct courts to be held in the evening in order to suit the convenience of the people of a particular district.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The AttorneyGeneral has suggested a means of meeting the difficulty. I move -

That, after the word "revision," the following words be inserted - "shall sit at such times and places as may be directed by the Minister, and."

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Postponed clause 42 -

The returning officer for the division shall give at least 30 days' public notice, by advertisement in some newspaper circulating in the division, of the times and places fixed for the sitting of the court of revision, and of the lists for specified polling places to be revised at the respective sittings of the court.

Mr. WATSON(Bland).- This clause provides that the returning officer for the division shall give at least 30 days' notice by advertisement "in some newspaper circulating in the division." I do not think that that notice would be of any value, because in some cases the divisions are so large that no one newspaper circulates generally throughout them. In my own electorate, for instance - and the same remark applies to the neighbouring electorate represented by the Minister for Home Affairs - there is no one newspaper which circulates throughout the whole division. It is only a proper thing that in a large division like that there should be a number of notices. They need not contain the whole roll. That would be needlessly extravagant. The advertisements are needed only to draw attention to the fact that rolls are open for inspection at certain places, and they need not exceed an inch in length. Theycould be inserted for 2s. aninch. There are about fifteen newspapers circulating in my electorate, and the whole cost of inserting such advertisements in them would only be about 30s.

Mr Deakin - They charge the Government more than 2s. an inch.

Mr WATSON - Not the country newspapers. In New South Wales our Government Printer, who controls the. newspaper advertising, exercises strict control in this direction, and if the Commonwealth Government had such an officer, the cost would not be excessive. I move -

That, after the word " newspaper," the words "or newspapers " be inserted.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Postponed clause 44 agreed to.

Postponed clause 45 -

Notice of everyobjection stating the grounds shall be served upon or sent by post by the returning officer to the person affected.

Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) proposed -

That, after the word " post," the words, " as a registered letter " be inserted.

Mr. WATSON(Bland).- Although we are dealing with clause 45, I wish to ask the Minister to consider the time allowed under clause 44. In some of the large electorates of Queensland and Western Australia, I understand that it will be very difficult to get the notices out if the objections are to be lodged ten days before the date fixed for the sitting of the revision court. Would it not be wise to extend that time ?

Sir William Lyne - I will recommit the clause.

Mr. CROUCH(Corio).- It will be remembered that I asked that three days' notice should be given of every objection. A man is entitled to have some little time in which to attend the court. It must be remembered that this matter will not be in the hands of the Minister, but in the hands of some officer who may be altogether beyond control. I should like to know whether the Minister can provide for this notice in connexion with the amendment he proposes 1

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Postponed clause 67 (Time for altering rolls).

Mr. WATSON(Bland).- The Minister promised, in connexion with this clause, to Consider the advisability of making some provision by which a man could have his name placed on the roll after the issue of the writ for the division, so long as his application was in before the issue of the writ.

Suggest corrections