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Friday, 11 March 1904

Mr SPEAKER - The honorable member in asking a question is not permitted to express an opinion.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - In view of the fact that this decision supports-

Mr SPEAKER -For an honorable member to say that a decision supports, or does not support, a contention, is to discuss the matter, and debate is not permissible when asking a question.

Mr SYDNEY SMITH (MACQUARIE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then, I shall content myself with asking the Prime Minister if he will give effect to the request of the leader of the Opposition, and of other honorable members, that a searching inquiry shall be made into this and other abuses due to the general maladministration of the Electoral Office. I think I shall be able to show-

Mr SPEAKER - Order.

Mr DEAKIN - I shall take the first opportunity to obtain an absolutely authoritative copy of the remarks of the Chief Justice, and I shall read them in conjunction with the Minister who is charged with the administration of the Electoral Act. I understand that the instruction referred to was amended some time ago. If, after I have informed myself of the facts, an inquiry is asked for by any honorable member, I shall require him to state what it is he wishes to be inquired into, and its relation to the facts of this case.

Mr WATSON - Will the Government consider the propriety of making an allowance to the two. gentlemen who have been unseated by the decision of the High Court in regard to the Melbourne election, to cover their expenses, since the election has been declared void, through no fault of theirs? A precedent has been set by the action of some of the Parliaments of the States in similar cases; in reimbursing candidates the expenses they had incurred. In New South Wales such consideration has been shown in several instances.

Mr DEAKIN - I shall be happy to look into the precedents referred to. As under the Electoral Act no candidate for the House of Representatives is allowed to spend more thanĀ£200 in contesting an election, the reimbursement proposed would not be a very serious matter.

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