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Thursday, 19 May 1904

Mr CULPIN (Brisbane) - I think that some points have .not yet been touched upon in this debate. The right honorable member for Swan has said that electors who fail to take the trouble to see that their names are on the roll deserve to have them left off.

Sir John Forrest - I did not say that, I said that they should bear half the blame.

Mr CULPIN - I accept the right honorable gentleman's correction. It seems to me that the difficulty arises from the construction of the roll itself. Instead of one alphabetical list, there are a number, and in some cases one has to look through about 200 alphabetical lists before he can be sure that a particular name is not on the roll. In the face of that fact there is great excuse for any person failing to see whether his name is oh the roll or not. I know that I have personally wasted a tremendous amount of time in looking through alphabetical lists to ascertain whether some name appeared on the roll; but strange to say' the person was on the roll for another electorate. He was living on the border line of two electorates, and was placed on the roll for the electorate in which he was supposed to reside, although he had applied to be placed on the roll for the electorate in which he actually resided. When the election took place, as his name appeared on two rolls, he' took his choice as to the electorate in which he should vote.

Mr Page - He was a wise man.

Mr CULPIN - He . asked himself the question, "Which of these candidates am I most anxious to see returned ?" and voted for him.

Mr Page - He voted for the honorable member, I hope?

Mr CULPIN - No ; he voted for one of the members of the Ministry. It is clear that an alteration should be made in the method of compiling the rolls. They should all be compiled on one alphabetical basis. Much trouble would be saved by that plan. It is said that we ought to get the States to act in conjunction with the Federal authorities in the compilation of rolls. But we know very well that some of the States are terribly behind the times in not having a fairly liberal franchise. Until there is a reform in that direction it is of no use talking about compiling the States rolls and the Federal. rolls on a uniform basis. That reform cannot be accomplished until the laws of the States with regard to the franchise are brought into harmony with the Federal law. There is one other matter which I should like to mention in regard to this subject, and that is the complaint I have heard made as to the want of payment by the authorities in connexion with the recent elections. It appears to me that some of the trouble has arisen owing to the fact that returning officers having been appointed to make arrangements for the elections,- they, instead of organizing the various electoral districts and polling booths themselves, deputed the work to deputy returning officers, ' who, ' consequently,' did a large amount of work which should have been done by the chief returning' officers- They have been used to doing that work in the

State electorates, and were called upon to do practically the same work during the recent Federal elections. That has had something to do with the excess charges made, which are in dispute in some cases. But consideration should be shown to these men in arranging for their payment.

Mr. BROWN(Canobolas). - I do not propose to traverse the arguments used by the different speakers on this question. They have been mostly favorable to the proposal. With regard to the amendment of the honorable member for Wilmot, I may say that I understood that my motion embodied his proposal. I think it is desirable to make the point clear, and, therefore, I shall have no objection to his amendment.

Mr Watson - He has agreed to withdraw it, and has accepted the understanding.

Mr BROWN - I understand that the honorable member agrees to withdraw his amendment, on the understanding that my motion covers it. With respect to the amendment suggested by the honorable member for Parramatta, making some changes in thepersonnel of the Committee. I wish to say that I have no objection to the honorable members whom he puts forward. My nominations were made with a view of securing as fair a representation as possible of the States. I did not concern myself so much with the representation of parties as seems to be the wish of the House. I desire that justice should be done to the question, but I am in this position. I have asked the honorable member for Bass and the honorable member for Grey to be members of the Committee, and I consider that they are well qualified to serve upon it. But the honorable member for Parramatta proposes to omit them.

Mr Watson - Why not have those honorable members also?

Mr BROWN - I shall vote for my own proposal, as the two honorable members whom I have mentioned have kindly consented to be placed upon the Committee, and I trust that the House will elect them.

Mr G B EDWARDS (SOUTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Do not the Standing Orders provide for the number of a Select Committee?

Mr SPEAKER - The Standing Orders provide a certain number, unless the House orders otherwise. If the House adds additional names, it will be ordering otherwise. The honorable member for Wilmot is not present, so that I cannot ask him to withdraw his motion. I will, therefore, put it.

Amendment negatived.

Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) negatived -

That the name of Mr. Poynton be omitted.

Amendment (by Mr. Joseph Cook) agreed to-

That the namesof Mr. Maloney and Mr. Dugald Thomson be omitted, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the names of Mr. Cameron, Mr. Kelly, Sir William Lyne, and Mr. McLean.

Question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.

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