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Thursday, 27 October 1904

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) . - The instructions to help the police in their canvass under the Commonwealth Electoral and Franchise Acts were issued on the 1st July last, but I have not previously had my attention called to them. I observe now that there may be some misunderstanding under paragraph 13, which reads -

The same care should be exercised to prevent the enrolment of names of persons only temporarily resident.

There should, however, be no difficulty if that paragraph is read with the foregoing instructions, because it is there clearly pointed out that every person above the age of 21 years, not disqualified for certain reasons, specifically stated, must be enrolled.

Mr Watson - " Temporarily resident " refers to persons who are merely passing through a division.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - The words " temporarily resident " must have been misread, if the interpretation has been given to them which, according to the honorable member for Herbert, they have received in some instances in his electorate. Attention will be given to the remarks of the honorable member for Yarra, although the subject has already been under consideration, and I have issued the instruction that in some of the large suburban electorates old divisions shall be regarded.

Mr Tudor - Does that instruction apply to a Melbourne electorate?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - It applies to the Bourke division, which includes Coburg and Brunswick ; but similar action will be taken where necessary in other cases. Not only must the polling places be convenient, but there must not be too many electors allotted to one polling place.

Mr Tudor - Was that instructiongiven to the police?

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - The instruction given to the police was -

In order to ascertain whether electors are correctly grouped or allocated to the polling places for which they are at present enrolled, and in order to correctly allocate proposed new electors to their most convenient polling places, the collector must be guided by the personal convenience and desire of the individual electors. In other words, the polling place to which each elector should be allocated is that which is most conveniently accessible to him or her.

In some cases, a polling booth three miles away from the elector's residence might be more convenient, because of the existing means of communication, than a polling place much nearer.

Mr Tudor - In my electorate no one is more than half a mile away from a polling place.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - The honorable member has the advantage of representing a closely settled electorate. In those electorates where there is a large population within a small area, it will be necessary, not only to provide convenient polling places, but to provide a sufficient number of them.

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