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Wednesday, 24 September 1902

Mr MAHON (Coolgardie) - The Minister states that this amendment was carefully considered by the Cabinet, and, if so, the Cabinet is somewhat deficient in knowledge of grammar as well as in the capacity of expressing its meaning in common-sense English. t

Sir William Lyne - The honorable member is mistaken. I said that the subject of the clause was considered by the Cabinet, but not the wording of it.

Mr MAHON - The clause is certainly drafted in a very slipshod fashion. The new clause, 140a, as it originally stood, provided that " any elector may vote at the polling place for which he is enrolled," whereas the Senate proposes to omit all the words after " elector," and to provide that -

Any elector when voting at a polling place at elections for the Senate or for the House of Representatives shall . . . only be entitled to vote at the polling place for which he is enrolled.

I should like to know the meaning of those words. How ca,n an elector be considered to be " voting at a polling place" if he is not " entitled to vote" at that place? This is a most ridiculous jumble, and most unfair to those who will be called on to interpret the law. The clause should be altered to read -

No elector shall vote at any polling place except that for which he is enrolled, subject to the provisions of sub-section (2).

I ask the Minister to consider this suggestion. I make every allowance for the difficulty of framing a uniform law, equally' applicable to the conditions of large elec- torates such as those of Queensland and Western Australia, and of the smaller electorates in crowded cities. The Minister must, however, remember that unless some provision of this kind is made we shall absolutely disfranchise a great many electors in the larger constituencies. The Minister may urge that under the provision in subclause (2) he will be able to make regulations for establishing polling places and for allowing people to vote. If the present Minister were to retain office for an unlimited period, I should be quite satisfied with such a provision, but I think it would be better if he could see his way clear to provide some means for affording the electors in the more remote and scattered constituencies the fullest facilities for voting. If the Bill is passed without some such provision it is quite certain that a considerable number of voters in the electorate of Coolgardie will be disfranchised.

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