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Thursday, 19 May 1904

Mr KENNEDY (Moira) - I understand that the Minister for Home Affairs accepts the motion submitted by the honorable member for South Sydney with the reservation that it. is not the intention of the Government to appoint a roving Commissioner to make the inquiries proposed. With that I am quite prepared to agree. The two motions on the notice-paper dealing with the subjectof elections refer to clear and distinct issues. The motion now before the House proposes the appointment of a Commissioner to inquire into the conduct of elections outside of Australia. The subsequent motion on the paper deals with the conduct of elections in Australia, and par ticularly of the last general election. With regard to the conduct of elections outside of Australia, we have established here an elaborate Electoral Department, with a permanent head and inspectors. Parliament has not been parsimonious in its establishment, and the question naturally arises whether, when we require the information suggested in this motion, it is necessary that we should incur extra expense by the appointment of Select Committees or Royal Commissions to secure it. If the Electoral Department is to serve any purpose whatever it may surely be expected to be able to inform the Minister in charge of what is being done, not only in the Commonwealth, but elsewhere, in connexion with electoral matters ? What is proposed in the motion is merely the transference of responsibility for the supply of this information from the Minister or his Department to a Select Committee or Royal Commission. I have been pleased to hear the Minister in charge of the Department accept the full responsibility, and assert his confidence that the Department with the resources at its disposal can secure the information asked for, bring it up-to-date, and keep it uptodate. If the Department is not competent to perform that function we are entitled to know what it is doing, and why it should continue in existence. I have been pleased to hear the Minister explain that the responsibility will be rightly placed, and that he will insist upon the Department getting such information as will enable him to keep us abreast of the world in electoral matters.

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