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 BROWN (Canobolas) - With the honorable member for Kennedy, I am desirous of giving all credit to the Minister in charge of the Bill for having stepped out of the rut of the old States legislation in this matter, and for having given to this Parliament an Elections Bill which is far away ahead of any similar measure in force in any of the States. At the same time, if I see any defects in it, or any possibility of making further improvements in it, I take it that it is my duty to have those defects remedied or further improvements made - with the Minister's consent if I can, and without it if I cannot. There may be something in the contention of the Minister that this amend- ment will practically nullify a number of the machinery clauses he has introduced in other parts of the Bill ; but if I dare venture prophecy, assuming that this amendment is not carried, and these machinery clauses stand, after the first election held under the Bill the honorable gentleman will find that it will be necessary to amend it to meet the requirements of itinerant voters, in the direction proposed by the honorable member for Bland. In addition to what has been stated by the honor- able member for Kennedy, I may say that in New South Wales there are large numbers of men who are shearers as well as carriers, and who very often at a time when an election is taking place are travelling to the various shearing sheds. It may happen that a similar circumstance may arise during federal elections, a,nd under the safeguards provided by the Minister in this Bill the result will be that these men will be disfranchised, because it will be impossible for them to tell for any number of da}'s ahead where they will be on the polling day. That will depend upon circumstances. It will be impossible for them to comply with what is required by these machinery clauses. They cannot write to inform the authorities, and if they could they would not indicate where it would be possible for them to get a reply to their communications. They are here to-day and away to-morrow, travelling hundreds of miles to visit the different shearing sheds in order to find employment. That is the condition of affairs which the honorable member for Bland is endeavouring to meet, and the proposal he makes will more nearly meet it than any other proposal I have yet seen. The Minister fears that some difficulty will arise from the fact that the presiding officers will not be able to identify the voters, and that it is possible that some evilly-disposed persons may make use of this facility to influence an election. I do not think there is any great fear of that. First of all, the man claiming to vote under this proposal has to make a declaration, and, if in that declaration he claims a right to which he is not entitled under the law, he renders himself liable to stringent pains and penalties. That is so far as the individual himself is concerned. So far as the influence of his vote upon the election is concerned, it will be nil, because the vote has to be sent to the returningofficer for the district for which it is recorded, and if it is found that the person making the declaration is not entitled to a vote for that district it will not be allowed. I do not see that there is any necessity for having the electoral rolls of all the electorates of the Commonwealth at each polling booth. That would be altogether too cumbersome, and there are clauses dealing with other votes which can be brought into operation in connexion with votes under this amendment. If it is found that the "person recording a vote under this clause is not entitled to record a vote the returning officer will disallow the vote.

Mr Mauger - How is he to know that?

Mr BROWN - B - By comparing it with his roll.

Mr Mauger - Supposing the real man is John Jones, and he has not' already voted?

Mr BROWN - If the man who claims to be John Jones is not John Jones, when the vote comes through to the returning officer of the district for which he has voted, and it is found that John Jones has voted within the electorate, he will disallow the vote.

Mr Mauger - Supposing John Jones has not voted ?

Mr BROWN - If these facilities are given, there will be fewer persons entitled to vote who will not exercise the right to do so. The reason why large numbers of persons at present do not exercise their right to vote is because of the difficulties placed in their way. If the returning officer finds that the real John Jones has voted within the electorate, he will disallow the other vote.

Sir William Lyne - Supposing John Jones has cleared out to Port Darwin ?

Mr BROWN - If the returning officer is aware that John Jones is in Port Darwin he will disallow the vote. If honorable members object to this proposal because they cannot legislate against a fictitious John Jones, they should, on the same .ground, object to other provisions in the Bill, in which he is not as effectively legislated against as he will be under the clause proposed by the honorable member for "Bland-

I know of hundreds of men travelling in the country who would exercise their right to vote if facilities were given them to do so. They will take more trouble to exercise a vote than the city men, in whose behalf polling booths have been applied for at the ferries, so that they may be able to vote going to or from their work. Unless some such clause as that proposed by the honorable member for Bland is inserted in the Bill, men who have to travel hundreds of miles inland in search of work will be disfranchised. The great outcry in New South "Wales in the past has been in connexion with the . disfranchisement of such men. Though the proposals of the Minister* go a long way, he will find that after the next election he will be asked to amend his democratic measure in the direction indicated by the honorable member for Bland.

Suggest corrections