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Thursday, 27 October 1904

Mr BAMFORD (Herbert) -I desire to refer briefly to the matter of the compilation of the rolls, which was introduced by the honorable member for Kennedy. In answer to a question I put this afternoon to the Minister of Home Affairs, a statement was made by the honorable gentleman, which seems to me to supply a reason for the absence of the names of so many persons from the rolls. I do not say that as many names have been left off as the Prime Minister has suggested. I think that he was inclined to exaggerate the number, but it cannot be denied that the names of a great many persons have been left off, because of the instructions issued to. the collectors by the Electoral Office. According to the Minister's answer, the collectors have been instructed that care must be exercised that no persons temporarily resident in any locality are placed upon the rolls. I should like to know where authority is found for such an instruction. The Electoral Act certainly supplies none. Section 31 of the Act provides that -

All persons qualified to vote at any election for the Senate or House of Representatives, or who would be qualified so to vote if Their names were upon a roll, shall be qualified and entitled to have their names placed upon the electoral roll for the division in which they live, but no person shall be qualified or entitled to have his name placed upon more than one roll,. or upon any roll other than the roll for the division in which he lives.

The question arises as to the definition of the word " lives." It is not a question of "permanently lives'" or "lives permanently." Does it not mean the place where the man happens to be at the moment he makes an application to be placed upon the rolls? There are a number of nien, such as miners and harvesters, who go from place to place throughout the Commonwealth, and I hold that those engaged in collecting the rolls have no right to put any questions to them whatever in regard to this matter. If a man expresses a desire to have his name placed on the rolls he has a right to expect that desire to be complied with, no matter where he may be residing for the time being, and I hold that it is not within the province of the Electoral Office to issue such an instruction as that to which I have referred.

Mr Brown - Under it the nomadic portion of the community would be disfranchised.

Mr BAMFORD - Decidedly. The instruction is a scandalous one.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - It was not issued at my direction.

Mr BAMFORD - I do not know by whom it was issued, but I hope that the Minister will lose no time in having the matter rectified. No collector has a right to refuse to place a man's name on the lists, but the Revision Court may, if it thinks fit, strike off the name of any person to whom objection is taken ; and under the Act objection may be taken by any person.

It is idle to say that because a man happens to have been residing for only a few weeks in a mining camp when a collector calls that he should be disfranchised, and this instruction, which is unfair to those who unhappily have to move from place to place in search of work, should be at once withdrawn. I am constantly receiving complaints from men living in a part of my own electorate, in which the population is largely nomadic, that the police are refusing to place their names on the rolls, on the ground that they are only temporarily resident in the locality. I hope that the Minister will immediately take steps to have the matter rectified, and to see that those who are entitled to vote are duly enrolled.

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