Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 27 October 1904


Mr WATSON (Bland) - I desire to say a few words with regard to the electoral rolls. In the first instance, the period which has been mentioned as necessary to allow of the rolls being brought up to date, seems to me to be an unwarrantably long one. I think that the Electoral Department ought to find it possible to complete the rolls in a much shorter period. The statement of the Prime Minister as to the number of. persons whose names are wrongly on the rolls of New South Wales and Victoria, amounting to 400,000, would convey to the ordinary man a very wrong impression. So far ' as I have been, able to ascertain, a number of people have left their previous residences since the rolls were collected, and corrections require to be made, but in the great majority of instances these persons have not removed beyond the electtorate for which they are enrolled, and are still eligible to vote.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - A great many persons have removed beyond the boundaries of the electorates for which they are enrolled.


Mr WATSON - That mav be so, but a still larger proportion have not done so. If the Electoral Department wished to convey a proper impression, they would furnish the number of persons who have removed beyond the electorates for which they are enrolled, and who would require to obtain transfers to other rolls. The proportion of those who have moved so far is not very large.


Mr Tudor - The police say that not 20 per cent, of the electors who have changed their residences have moved beyond the electorates for which they are enrolled.


Mr WATSON - I can quite believe that. A far larger proportion of the electors whose addresses will have to be corrected still remain within the districts for which thev were enrolled originally, and in. which they would be eligible to vote.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - I know of one electorate in Sydney in which 9,000 persons have moved in and 9,000 others have moved out.

Mr.W AT SON. - That may be an exceptional case. In the countrv electorates many men move about within the boundaries of an electorate, and, therefore, are not disfranchised by a change of address. I admit that occasionally thev move beyond the electorate, but I should think that 30,000 or 40,000 would probably cover those electors who would be disfranchised if an election were to take place to-morrow, and they had no opportunitv to become enrolled. The impression sought to be created by the Prime Minister was that it would be impossible to hold an election now, because of the condition of the rolls. I. contend that that is absolute nonsense. It would be of advantage if the rolls could be brought up to date, but at any period at which an election might be held, the rolls would contain the names of a large number of persons whose addresses were wrongly given, or who had moved away from their original places of residence. The rolls are incorrect in a certain degree, in regard to the descriptions of the electors, butin most cases Brown or Jones would be still eligible to vote. With regard to those electors who had moved out of a district, the roll, at the worst, would be surplusage.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - The great difficulty with the present rolls arises from their original inaccuracy.


Mr WATSON - There may be some room for complaint in that regard, but at the worst the inaccuracies on the rolls are merely surplusage. If the writs for an election were issued within a month of the present time, an opportunity would be given to every person to enrol prior to the election taking place. The Prime Minister has sought to create the impression, or has allowed it to be created, that it would be impossible to hold an election now, owing to the condition of the rolls.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - Not impossible.


Mr WATSON - He has' sought to convey the impression that it would not be fair to hold an election at the present time, owing to the condition of the rolls. That is not a correct view to take. It is stated that four and a half months would be occupied in completing the rolls after a canvass had been made.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - No, three and a half months from date would be required to perform a certain portion of the work, and four and a half months for completing it.


Mr WATSON - Every one knows that in Australia a large proportion of our population is nomadic, and thateven thosewho are not technically nomadic are still given to moving about to a greater extent than are the people of other countries. Therefore, it is clear that if the completion of the rolls occupied four and a half months, they must, even at the end of that period, contain a number of misdescriptions.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - A good deal of regrouping has taken place.


Mr WATSON - I do not regard that as of very great importance. When I was in office, an inquiry was made of the Electoral Office officials, and they stated that if given six weeks' notice before the issue of the writs, they were of opinion that an election could be held in such a manner as to allow of all persons sufficiently interested having their names placed on the roll.


Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Home Affairs) - The information referred to was supplied by the officials.


Mr WATSON - I do not think that the time mentioned by the Minister of Home

Affairs should be occupied in making the necessary corrections. The impression that has been created is that it would be impossible to hold an election on account of the number of errors in the rolls, but T. maintain that no substantial injustice would be done if an election were held within the next two or three months. I do not say that the rolls could not be improved upon, but they are not in such a state as to preclude an election being held under present conditions.







Suggest corrections