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Wednesday, 21 October 1903

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The right honorableand learned gentleman must admit that it was not right to communicate information to the press regarding the conclusions of the Commission until the report was finally adopted and presented to Parliament, and until those who were ina minority were in a position to submit theirstatement of the case. In view of all the circumstances, I think that honorable members will share my regret that the report of the Commission, together with the evidence taken by them, has not yet been submitted for consideration by the House. I notice that the Prime Minister, in reply to a question asked by the Mayor of Lithgow recently, stated that it would be impossible to deal with the matter at this late period of the session, but that he intended to make it a prominent plank in his platform at the next election. I think that honorable members have a right to ask that the" report of the Commission and the evidence which has been taken at considerable trouble and expense should be submitted to them. According to the statement appearing in the Age, a great deal of discussion took place upon the report of the Commission, and it was agreed to on the casting vote of the chairman. There was also a minority report. I do not know whether this information is reliable ; but I think that we are entitled to some authentic information upon the subject.

Mr Kingston - I think it is highly objectionable that the report of the Commission should have been communicated to the press before it was presented to Parliament.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I was quite sure that my right honorable and learned friend would not approve of what had taken place. I do not wish « to say anything unkind at this stage of the session. The time is approaching when we shall have to draw our swords and engage in a severe political battle. It is possible that we may have to say some very hard things - not of a personal character, I hope - in regard to the manner in which public business has been conducted in Parliament ; but I do not think it would be becoming of any honorable member at this stage to say anything that would give rise to unpleasantness. In connexion with the selection of the Capital site, I notice that a number of telegrams have been sent backwards and forwards. ' I understand that the Minister for Trade and Customs sent a large number of flags to Tumut for use in connexion with the festivities indulged in at that place, and that subsequently the Minister for Defence requested that the flags, for which no further use was to be found at Tumut after the rejection of that site by the Senate, might be forwarded to Bombala. I would ask my honorable friends not to destroy those flags, but to carefully preserve them in order that they may be used in connexion with the celebrations which will take place when the final choice of this Parliament falls upon Lyndhurst. I desire to make a few remarks with regard to another very important matter which has been referred to by the honorable and learned member for Canobolas. I believe that the arrangements in connexion with the preparation of the rolls, and the conduct of the elections, leave a great deal to be desired, and that they have been left so late that nothing short of a miracle will safeguard the electors against serious inconvenience. I hope that my honorable friend the Prime Minister will authorize the necessary information to be given, so that arrangements may be made to effect an alteration, and so that there may not be any bitterness or dissatisfaction owing to proper provision not being made for electors to record their votes. I have seen reports in the newspapers that, owing to there being no proper supervision, large numbers of electors have been left off the rolls. I hope that the head of the Government will take active and energetic steps to see that whatever mistakes have arisen in the past will be rectified before the general election.

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