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Thursday, 19 May 1904

Mr MALONEY (Melbourne) - I am glad to follow the honorable member for Kooyong, who has been unfortunately placed as being onlysecond to myself as the largest holder of voting certificates in Victoria during the last election. I am prepared to support the motion, which I had risen to second, because I believe that it is absolutely necessary that we should have some simple way of arriving at the number of votes cast at an election. It will be thought hardly credible, and I have no doubt honorable members will be astonished to learn, that the returns from the Melbourne district for the 16th December are not complete yet, and never will be complete, because I understand that the Department, finding that the returns cannot be secured, have altered their method of issuing the statistics. Representing a district which is the centre of Victoria, and in which it has not been found possible to return figures which can be posted, I am the more willing to support this motion. If the Electoral Department were to send a circular letter to every European Government, and only some seven would be necessary, I have no doubt they would, in reply, secure full information as to the methods adopted in European countries in the conduct of elections.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - They should include the States of America.

Mr MALONEY - In some of the States of America the result of an election can be told within half-an-hour of the close of the poll. I am aware that in Greece a splendid system has been adopted. There voters vote with a white ball, and even the arm of the voter is hidden. They can count the votes in hundreds, and in the city of Athens the result of an election can be declared within twenty-five minutes of the close of the poll. It is clear, therefore, that there must be some methods in existence which are a great improvement on the absurd methods adopted here. I have witnessed no less than seven different elections in England, and I must say that they have there a more cumbrous system than is our own. I cannot resume my seat without offering my word of thanks to Mr. Lewis, who is in charge of the Commonwealth Electoral Department. I have specially to thank him that in the last election held for the Melbourne seat there was not the humbugging nonsense which occurred at the first. I have been glad to hear the right honorable member for East Sydney say that if he should find that he has been wrong in what he has said concerning the Chief Electoral Officer he will be willing to withdraw the statements he has made. I can, of course, speak only from my own experience, but I think no man could be found more willing to assist a candidate than I found Mr. Lewis. I should like to add further that, in my opinion, the obsolete and effete system of conducting State elections in Victoria is not half as good as that which has been inaugurated under the Federal regime.

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