Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Wednesday, 30 July 1902

Mr MACDONALD-PATERSON (Brisbane) - I quite concur, with the Minister in the object- he seeks to attain, and also agree with him that fourteen days is too short a period to provide for. The members of the State Parliaments may use their railway passes and their influence, for months before the writ is issued, in furthering their candidature for a seat in either House of the Commonwealth Parliament, and, under all the circumstances, I think that a member of a State Parliament should, in order to- render himself eligible as a candidate for a seat in this House, resign his seat at least 60 or 90 days before the issue of the writ.

Mr. GLYNN(South Australia). - I always opposed the disqualification imposed by the States upon the right of members of the Federal Parliament to offer themselves as candidates for election to the States Parliaments. I am somewhat afraid, however, that the States have compelled us to impose a disqualification upon the members of their Parliaments, because, for the sake of uniformity, it is necessary to adopt some such provision as that now suggested. My own opinion is that every elector should be allowed to offer himself as a candidate for a seat in this Parliament. This might not be so advantageous for us, but, as a matter of principle, the freedom of the electors should not be interfered with. I believe that members should be permitted to sit in a State Legislature as well as in this Parliament. In the United States dual representation is permitted in all but fourteen of the States. In Canada the right existed at one time, but that was abolished simply for personal reasons. The denial of the right to sit in both a State and the Federal House has been condemned by an eminent authority like Bourinot,. and in a recent pamphlet issued by him he points out that there is a great dearth of capable men in Parliament owing to this disability. He specially condemned the attempt which was made to embody in the Federal Constitution of 1891 a provision debarring members fj-om sitting in both the Federal and State Legislatures, and particularly cautioned Australians against adopting the principle which we are now considering. I need not read w.hat this great constitutional authority says, but simply mention that he discusses the matter very fully and exhaustively. I believe that the right to sit in both. the State and Federal Legislatures exists in Switzerland, and that it is found of very great advantage. Many matters of legislation may be delegated from the States to the Federal Parliament, and it must be of immense advantage for a representative in the Federal Parliament to be able to speak with the authority of local knowledge upon a subject which his local Parliament has delegated to the higher authority. I believe that a provision for dual representation would diminish rather than increase the causes of friction between the States and the Commonwealth. We have no choice in the matter now that the majority of the States have debarred our members from offering themselves as candidates for seats in the States Parliaments, and it is necessary to secure uniformity by passing this provision.

Sir William Lyne - The Victorian and Western Australian Acts contain provisions similar to those in the New South Wales and South Australian Acts.

Mr Tudor - The Victorian Act prevents a member of the Federal Parliament from sitting in the State Parliament, but not from offering himself for election.

Mr GLYNN - No doubt the policy of all the States Parliaments is to act similarly, and although I should be inclined to vote against any disqualification such as that now proposed, I do not consider we have any. choice but to pass the clause if it be limited to taking a seat, but not to nomination.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The honorable member for Yarra stated that the Victorian Act did not debar a member of this Parliament from offering himself for election as a member of the State Parliament. The provision in the Victorian Act reads as follows :-

No member of either House of Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia shall at the same time be qualified for nomination or election as a member of either House of Parliament of Victoria.

Mr. BATCHELOR(South Australia.)I still think that it would be better to allow perfect freedom on both sides, and that there should be no disqualification ; but I find that I was in error when I spoke recently with regard to the law in South Australia. I was under the impression that the provision in the South Australian Act was directed against members of the State Parliament also sitting as representatives in the Federal Parliament. It seems to me that the States have taken up a ' somewhat anomalous position, and, under the circumstances, most of the remarks which I made in my former speech do not apply.

Mr. BROWN(Canobolas).- I am still strongly of opinion that it would be unwise to, in any way, limit the choice' of the electors. The question as to who should be nominated should be left entirely in the hands of the people, and it is not for this Chamber to decide. The fact that the States have ' been so little-minded as to debar honorable members of this Chamber from being nominated for seats in the States Parliament does not affect the. position, and I am not prepared to enter upon any retaliatory measures. The advantage enjoyed by members of the States Parliaments in connexion with free travelling upon the railways is shared by members of the Federal Parliament, and places them at an advantage over outside candidates. Personally I should be prepared to go to the extent of placing all candidates upon the same footing in that regard. I do not care to follow in the wake of the narrow-minded legislation of the States, but I desire to subscribe to the more liberal principle of giving the electors the widest choice.

Mr. TUDOR(Yarra).- I believe that the choice of the electors in selecting their candidates should be absolutely unrestricted, and if we wish this Parliament to be thoroughly representative of the people of Australia we should not place any disabilities upon members of the States Legislatures. So far as Victoria is concerned, it is probable that the reform movement will have the effect of depriving a large number of members of their seats in the State Parliament, and doubtless such a large number of exmembers of the State Parliament will offer themselves as candidates for this Parliament, that the clause now proposed will have little or no effect. It is all very well to urge that a member of a State Parliament who intends to contest a ' federal electorate will use -his railway pass for the purpose of canvassing that electorate ; but if he proposes to become a candidate he will not defer his canvass till the last month. He will- be busily occupied in traversing the constituency for months before the election takes place, whilst members from the distant States are engaged with their legislative duties here.- This clause will not prevent a State member from enjoying the advantage referred to, and I trust that it will be rejected.

Mr. PAGE(Maranoa.) - When I previously addressed the committee, I omitted to mention that it is quite possible for an individual to occupy a seat in the Queensland Parliament simultaneously with one in the Federal Parliament. We had an illustration of that when the honorable member for Brisbane was a member of the Queensland Parliament, and, at the same time, occupied a seat in this House.

Mr Macdonald-Paterson - We were all in the same boat.

Mr PAGE -Exactly. The same remark is applicable to Senators Higgs, Dawson, Stewart, Glassey and Drake, as well as to the honorable member for Kennedy and the honorable member for Wide Bay. The honorable member for Yarra has talked a lot of bunkum in reference to the electors selecting the best men. Privately,' I have often heard him say that the Federal Parliament is the parliament of Australia ; yet he now claims that the members of the' States Parliaments are the best men in the Commonwealth. The honorable member for Canobolas has raised a point in reference to the use of parliamentary railway passes. He must know that in a large electorate, which is traversed by a railway, a candidate who possesses a pass enjoys a great advantage over his competitors. We had an instance of that when the honorable and learned member for Darling Downs was seeking election. He was opposed by a State member who was able to travel over the railways in that district free of charge, whilst he himself had to pay his way. It appears to me that the State members occupy a much better position than do the Federal members. The moment that this Parliament is dissolved the salaries of. members cease, whereas the State members will continue to draw their £300 a year. In Queensland some people would be willing to spend £10,000 or £12,000 to capture the seat which I now occupy. They would be prepared to spend a similar amount to unseat the honorable member for Herbert. Indeed, I heard it said that the Premier of Queensland would oppose him if he had to resign his seat a week afterwards. I hope the clause' will be carried.

Mr. SAWERS(New England).- A good deal may be said in justification of this proposal, because there is no doubt that a State member will possess great advantages over the Federal member in the matter of canvassing for the next elections. The Federal representative may be engaged in Melbourne almost up till the dissolution of Parliament, and may then have to travel over a most extensive electorate in order to address his constituents, while the State member, by means of his rail way pass, may have been canvassing the district for months. At the same time I fear that if the amendment be carried our action will be misunderstood by the outside public. They will conclude that we desire to make this Parliament a close corporation, and to unduly handicap the ordinary citizen. I am prepared to support the new clause, but only on the understanding that coincidently with a dissolution of this Parliament we cease to be representatives in reality, and face the electors in the some way as do other candidates. Hitherto it has been customary after the States Parliaments have been dissolved for their late members to travel over the railways free of charge, in order that they might canvass their constituencies. ' I have a vivid recollection that when I contested the New England district it was repeatedly thrown in my teeth that, because I possessed a Parliamentary railway pass, I enjoyed an unfair advantage over all the other candieates. If it is understood that neither State members nor Federal members are to use their railway passes for electioneering purposes, between the date of the dissolution of this Parliament and the election of the next, I am prepared to support the new clause.

Mr. CONROY(Werriwa).- I think that a great deal too much has been made of the fact that State, members, by reason of the possession of a railway pass, will enjoy an advantage over Federal members in connexion with the next election. If that were the only objection to be urged against the clause, it would be trivial indeed seeing that any candidate can purchase a pass to carry him over the railways traversing any electorate, for about £7 or £10 per month. I almost wish that no railway passes had been issued to members' of this House, because, as the result of the enjoyment of that privilege, I am expected to travel from one State to another - a distance of 1,200 miles - each week, when there is legislative work to be done here. The possession of a railway pass has been a most serious disadvantage to me. I am so thoroughly tired of travelling that I regret that I have it. One of the arguments which have been used in favour of inserting this clause is that members of the Commonwealth Parliament are debarred from sitting in the States Parliaments. But because the States have adopted what seems to me to be rather a narrow view, why should we follow their example ? If the salaries payable to a State member and a Federal member were rolled into one and then doubled, it would not be too much for the work which any individual would be required to do, if he occupied a seatin both Parliaments. The only matter worth considering is whether the State members will not enjoy an advantage over usat the next elections. I do not know that I approve of election contests any more than does any other honorable member. I should certainly like to see an election over the Tariff Bill, but in other circumstances I should not be quite so ready to enter into one. Why should we try to deprive a member of a State. Parliamentof the right to come before the electors when the electors themselves may desire to return him to this Legislature? As a member of this Parliament it would be highly objectionable to me to have opposition from such a quarter, but if the final result were the return of my opponent I should not complain. The rejection of the bulk of honorable members would be the best thing that could happen to them, as they would then be compelled to attend to their own business. Their inability to do so, owing to their duties as members of this Legislature, must cause them considerable loss. This being a Federal Parliament possessing.much broader and larger views than those of the States Parliaments, we should refuse to put any barrier in the way of a man who desires to present himself for election. On these grounds I shall oppose the proposal to impose this barrier.

Mr. MAHON(Coolgardie). - I move-

That the word " fourteen" be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words " twenty eight. "

If my amendment be carried, any member of a State Parliament who desires to contest an election for either House of the Federal Legislature, will be inquired to resign his seat 28 days before the issue of the writ. I think that is a very reasonable limit to fix, and considering the very stringent provisions which have been made by the State Legislatures to prevent members of the Federal Parliament from competing with them, the proposal is only a fair one. The time fixed in the new clause as it stands is very short, and if the extension which I propose is made it will save many complications.

Sir EDWARDBRADDON (Tasmania). - The amendment would make bad worse. I object to the clause as it stands, but if it were amended as proposed it might absolutely prevent a member of a State Parliament from standing at a by-election, because he might not have an opportunity to resign his seat 28 days before it took place.

Mr Kingston - The provision in the States electoral laws justifies reprisal.

Sir EDWARD BRADDON - I cannot think that any mistaken action on the part of the States Legislatures would justify us in making it absolutely impossible for a citizenwho happens to be member of a State Parliament to stand at a bye-election for this Legislature. If the clause is to be carried, I hope that it will not be passed with this amendment, which is far too stringent.

Amendment negatived.

New clause agreed to.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - At an earlier stage a point was raised, I think, by the right honorable the leader of the Opposition, as well as by the honorablemember for South Australia, Mr. Glynn, as to what would happen in a case where the bare number of candidates to be returned was nominated and one died before the day of election. It was asked what would be the course followed when a sufficient number of electors was not nominated for an election? I wasrequested to introduce an amendment to overcome such cases. I do not think that they arelikely to occur very frequently, but they are possible, and therefore I move -

That the following new clause be inserted : - " 108a. If, after the nominations have been declared, and before polling day, any candidate dies andthe candidates remaining are no greater in number than the candidates required to be elected, they shall forthwith be declared tobe elected and the writ returned."

New clause agreed to.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - A difficulty bearing partly, butnot wholly, on the matter with which we have just dealt was also raised, and there seemed to be some doubt as to the proper course to be followed whenever an election wholly or partially fails. To meet that difficulty, I move -

That the following new clause be inserted : - " 108b. Whenever on election wholly or partially fails a new writ shall forthwith be issued fora supplementary election. An election shall be deemed to have wholly failed if no candidate is nominated or returned as elected. An election shall be deemed to have partially failed whenever one or more candidates is returned as elected, but not the full number required to be elected."

New clause agreed to.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - When we were dealing with the clauses relating to voting by post, some doubt appeared to exist in the minds of certain honorable members as to what should be done with postal ballotpapers when marked. To clear away all doubts, I move -

That the following new clause be inserted : - " 114a. The postmaster, or police, stipendiary or special magistrate, or head master of a State school, or other person employed in the public service of the Commonwealth, or any State, who is appointed by the Governor-General for the purposes of section 112 of this Act, who receives the envelope containing a postal ballot-paper for posting, shall forthwith post it."

New clause agreed to.

Amendment (by Sir William Lyne) agreed to-

That the following new clause be inserted : - " 1 14b. The vote marked on a postal ballot-paper shall not be looked at by any person other than the voter, until the counting of the votes at the scrutiny, and. the envelope in which the postal ballot-paper is placed shall not, after it has been closed, be opened until the scrutiny."

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I move-

That the following new clause be inserted : - "1 39a. An elector shall only be entitled to vote for the division in which he lives, and for which he is enrolled, provided that an elector who has changed his place of living may continue to vote for the division for which his name is enrolled until his name is transferred to some other roll, if he takes all necessary steps to procure the transfer of his name to the roll of the division in which he lives, forthwith, after he has lived in such division for one month."

The honorable member for Bland who suggested this clause pointed out that an elector moving from one division to another might, through no fault of his own, be deprived of his vote. Under this new clause, if he takes all the necessary steps to have his name transferred to the roll pi the new division in which he lives, he will have an opportunity of voting for the division in which he lived previous to his application for a transfer, if he has been residing for a month, as required by the Bill, in the new division.

Mr. CROUCH(Corio). - I point out that, as I understand the new clause, it is anabsolute contravention of the new clause proposed by the honorable member for Bland, because it provides that the voter shall vote only in the division in which he lives. I would point out that if this is agreed to, it will probably destroy any chance which the honorable member for

Bland will have of subsequently succeeding with the new clause of which he has given notice.

Mr. WATSON(Bland). - Honorable members are at a disadvantage in not having the text of these new clauses before them, but I dare say that the Minister will be prepared to recommit them if, after they are printed, we find that there is any necessity to further consider them.

Sir William Lyne - Certainly there will be no objection to that.

Mr WATSON - As I heard the clause read, I do not think it quite carries out my idea, which was, to put it simply, that a man who had been out of a district for not more than a month could claim to vote for his old district, and, not necessarily in it, but in whatever district he might happen to be.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - The clause, as I have read it, means that if the voter has left one division and has lived in another for not less than a month, and has made an application for the transfer of his name to the roll of the new division, and anything occurs to prevent the transfer of his name to that roll, he shall in the meantime have the right to vote for the division on the roll of which his name appears, until such time as his name appears on the roll of the new division in which he has been residing for not less than a month.

Mr WATSON - I find that the proposed new clause does carry out what I was aiming at, but I think the language is a little confused, and might be made more simple. . The voter, I take it, would have to affirm that he has not been out of the electorate in which he claims to vote for a longer period than is sufficient to qualify him for enrolment in the new electorate, that is for four weeks. He would have to say that he was not living outside of the old electorate for more than four weeks.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - He might have beenliving outside the old electorate for two or three months, and might have applied for the transfer of his name to the roll of the new electorate. It all hinges upon whether he has applied in a proper way to have his name transferred to the new roll after four weeks have elapsedfrom the time he left the old electorate.

Mr Watson - I think it might be more simply stated.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I have left that to the draftsman ; I did not think the clause read very smoothly, but I have not attempted to alter it in any way.

Mr. GLYNN(South Australia).- As the Minister proposes to consider these clauses more carefully before they are finally passed, I hope he will consider whether he has not really defined " living " by fixing the limit at one month. We have dropped the word "residence" in this Bill, and have substituted a far worse word.

Sir William Lyne - We have a provision in another place providing for the transfer of a name from one roll to another after an interval of onemonth. This provision is to enable a person to vote after he has been a month away from his own electorate.

Mr GLYNN - We must see these clauses in print before we can decide what the effect will be. So far as the reference here to one month may affect the definition of " living," it may be somewhat dangerous. I should like to ask the Minister whether he ought not to adopt the term " residence " instead of " living."

Sir William Lyne - There has been great objection to the use of the word "residence."

Mr GLYNN - What was the objection? If the honorable gentleman were asked to give a definition of the word " residence," and I am sure he found upon consulting the Attorney-General that it was rather a difficultthing to do. Rather than do nothing, the honorable gentleman did something wrong by striking out the word "residence" and putting in the word " living."

Sir William Lyne - The honorable and learned member must remember that we have also used the term "living" in the Franchise Act. That was where the question was first raised.

Mr GLYNN - I suppose it was our fault to allow it to go, but I am sorry that the alteration has been made, because the English Acts all use the word " reside." I looked the matter uponce in Rogers' book on elections to see which was the better word to use. There is a long series of English decisions defining fairly well the meaning of the word " reside," but there are none defining the meaning of the word " living," because thatword is not used in the English Acts.

Mr Crouch - There is a decision in the Victorian courts that a man resides where he carries on business.

Mr GLYNN - I know there are many decisions given, but, summed up, the decision generally is that wherea man sleeps is where he resides. Where a man lives may be anywhere. He may live where he sleeps, in the street, or in his place of business. " Living" is not synonymous with "resides," but is sometimes used in contradistinction to the word " resides." I suppose it is too late now to go back in the matter.

Sir William Lyne - We should have to go back upon the other Act also.

New clause agreed to.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I move-

That the following new clause be inserted : - "140a. Any elector may vote at the polling place for which he is enrolled, or if he is absent from the polling place for which he is enrolled, may vote at any other polling place within the division in which his. polling place is situated if he makes and signs before the presiding officer a declaration in the form 'R1 ' in the schedule."

This clauseis proposed at the suggestion of the right honorable the leader of the Opposition, who pointed out that there was nothing in the form to enable us to find out whether a voter had voted at some other place.

Mr. CROUCH(Corio).- As I understood the Minister to read the proposed now clause, it provides that -

Any elector may vote at the polling place for which he is enrolled.

Reference to clause 30 will show that the roll is not for a particular polling place, but for a division.

Sir WILLIAM LYNE - I shall read the clause again. Honorable members will remember that we have struck out a number of clauses providing for voters' certificates, but under this clause the voter is allowed to vote at any polling place in the division for which he is enrolled if he will sign this declaration. He is not hampered by being required beforehand to make an application for and secure a voters' certificate.

Mr. TUDOR(Yarra).- The voter's certificate under the Victorian Act was entirely different from what the honorable gentleman proposes. The clauses in this Bill relating to voters' certificates were copied from the Victorian Act, under which any person qualified to be an elector could obtain a voter's certificate at any time within seven days of an election. In Victoria there has always been a great rush by persons who have neglected to have their names placed on the roll to take out voters' certificates before an election. The provisions for these certificates have been struck out of this Bill, and I do not think the proposed new clause gives anything like the same facilities. I do not know whether the clause proposed by the honorable member for Bland will enable persons who have been living in electorates for only one month to transfer their votes from one electorate to another, providing they do so before the writ is issued. Perhaps the Minister might agree to strike out the word " division " in the new clause with a view to inserting the word " State."

Sir William Lyne - No ; that would upset the whole thing.

Mr TUDOR - I would point out to the honorable gentleman that it would probably take as long for a voter to get from one part of the electorate represented by the honorable member for Maranoa to the central polling place of that electorate, as it would take for a voter to get from any part of the State of Victoria to any part of my electorate of Yarra. I do not, therefore, see that there would be any difficulty at all in what I have suggested. I hope that when we come to deal with the clause proposed by the honorable memberfor Bland, or with that suggested by the honorable and learned member for Corio, something will be done to replace the provisions dealing with voters' certificates. I realize that if that is not done there will be a great many voters disfranchised.

Mr. CROUCH(Corio).- The difficulty I have raised still remains. A voter, for instance, is registered in Collingwood, and he is in the division for Yarra. He is not a voter of Collingwood, and there is but one divisional roll.

Sir William Lyne - This only applies within one division or electorate.

Mr CROUCH - That may be so, but I am pointing out that the elector is enrolled for a division, and not for a polling place. The only effect of the new clause is that if a man is on the roll for a polling place he can vote in the division.

Sir William Lyne - But this is a check to prevent him from voting more than once.

Mr CROUCH - But there is not any roll for a polling place.

Sir William Lyne - Yes.

Mr CROUCH - I should like the Minister to point out where that is provided for. I take it that there is to be one divisional roll. In clause 30 it is provided that there shall be a separate roll for each division, and that each roll shall be divided according to the polling places. But there is to be one general roll.

Sir William Lyne - The elector would be enrolled for the division, then there would be subdivisions for the polling places, and he would be enrolled in one of them. This is merely a check.

Suggest corrections