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Wednesday, 16 March 1904

Mr DEAKIN (BALLAARAT, VICTORIA) (Minister for External Affairs) - I have obtained a copy of those instructions ; but perhaps I may betaken as answering the honorable and' learned member's question if I read the reply which has been furnished to me in answer to a letter appearing in one of today's newspapers, and signed by the unsuccessful candidate, Mr. Max. Hirsch. It is this: -

Mr. Hirschasserts that the reply to the honorable member for Illawarra yesterday contains a " positive misstatement of fact " as to the advice given by the Attorney-General's Department. There was no misstatement.

That advice was given in writing on21st December last, is recorded in both Departments, and a copy is attached. It exactly agrees with the statement made yesterday.

Mr. Garran'smemorandum, there referred to, is as follows:-

Memo for the Secretary,

Department of Home Affairs.

The polling booth at Ni-Ni not having been opened on polling day, the proper course is for the returning officer or presiding officer to adjourn the polling to another day, and give notice of the adjournment, as provided by section 153. of the Act.

A difficulty arises as to whether, at the adjourned poll, " Q " declarations should be accepted from, and ballot-papers given to, electors enrolled for other polling places in the division.

This is a matter in which the presiding officer must use his discretion. For the guidance of that officer, if he desires advice, I may say that in my opinion the adjourned. 'poll being only for that polling booth, only those persons whose names are enrolled for that polling place are entitled to,

I vote.

As, however, the matter is not wholly free from doubt, it might perhaps be desirable to allow " Q " declarants to vote, if the ballot papers can be kept separate-e.g., by taking their votes at a separate booth, with a separate ballot-box. The officer conducting - the scrutiny would then decide in his discretion whether to count the votes . or not; and in the event of a petition the Court of Disputed Returns would have the materials for - declaring the result of the election. (Signed) R. R. Garran,

Secretary, Attorney-General's Dept.


Mr.Hirsch's statement that portion of the judgment of the High Court was " suppressed " in my reply is equally Unfounded. To correct" the misleading effect of an isolated passage quoted from the judgment of the Argus, I quoted the immediate context of that passage; Nothing was suppressed, and no such inference was drawn as is suggested by Mr. Hirsch.

The additional passage from the Chief Justice's judgment quoted by Mr. Hirsch also involved what he would term " a suppression of fact," since he omits the following very revelant passage : - " It has been pointed out that if the view of the petitioner was accepted, the result would be that, when by accident one polling-place in an electorate was not open on election day, there would be, in effect, two entirely separate polls for the whole electorate, because when the adjournment came each party knew exactly how many votes had been cast for him, and each would collect together all the electors who had not voted before, and bring them to the adjourned poll, thus making practically a fresh election. In view of the provision that all elections should be held on the same day, it was plain that the Legislature thought thatwas a very undesirable thingto happen."

Mr FULLER - Can the Prime Minister say whether that opinion was forwarded to the returning officer prior to the date of polling?

Mr DEAKIN - I shall be happy to ask the Minister for Home Affairs to inform the honorable and learned member. The opinion I have read was sent to the secretary to the Department for Home Affairs, and forwarded by him to the Chief Electoral Officer. What further steps were taken I am not at present in a position to say.

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