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 KING O'MALLEY (Darwin) - I support the position taken up by the honorable member for Kennedy, and the leader of the Opposition, who has raised this question. Had the Government obtained theservicesof competent officers there would have' been no necessity for a second election in the case of either of these candidates. Had the Returning Officer, in the case of the Riverina election, been endowed with the intelligence of a mediocrity, he would have allowed Mr. Chanter a recount. If he had done so, that gentleman would have been declared elected, and Mr. Blackwood would have saved his money. Instead of doing so, as the result, not of prejudice nor of bigotry, but of gross incompetence, he declared Mr. Blackwood elected by three or four votes, and then refused a re-count. His action is in striking contrast with that of the Returning Officer in the" Darwin electorate, who allowed Mr. BrickhilL my opponent, a re-count immediately he applied for it. The re-count resulted in a gain of nine or tenvotes for me. Yet I lost eighty-four votes consequent upon the incompetency of the Returning Officer at Penguin. He permitted forty-two persons to vote whose names were not upon the roll, and it is well known they voted against me, They actually boasted that if "this Yankee," as they termed me, was defeated, I would return to America.

Mr Robinson - Why did not the honorable member go there?

Mr KING O'MALLEY - I am as well able to live here as is the honorable and learned member, and I pay as much taxation as he does. I will go there when it suits me. The Scripture says, " Go out and preach the gospel to the heathen." Americans are sending their missionaries everywhere, and I am a missionary among the heathen here. I am in favour of paying Mr. Blackwood his expenses, and shall vote accordingly. I shall vote to pay the expenses of every man who is compelled to contest a second election owing to the action of incompetent officers. The electoral officers employed at the last election were honest, and many clever ; but those who were honest were not clever, and those who were clever were not honest. The prejudice of some of these officers in Tasmania actually induced them to direct electors how they should vote.

Sir John Forrest - Was not the honorable member returned ?

Mr KING O'MALLEY - I was returned to this House because I was able to defeat the hosts of ignorance. The ieturning officers for Melbourne and Riverina caused all this trouble, and the two gentlemen in question are entitled to be reimbursed their expenses. The same remark will also apply to the present representatives of the electorates of Melbourne ana Riverina. I am glad that the late Prime Minister had the courage to put this item on the Estimates, and I am sorry that he did not have the pluck to deal similarly with the other gentlemen I have named.

Mr Watson - I did not have an opportunity to deal with other cases.

Mr KING O'MALLEY -The honorable member for Wimmera, whose election was challenged on the ground of a mistake made by Government officials, also had to engage a lawyer to fight his battle, and he, together with the honorable member for Denison, whose election was likewise challenged, should be reimbursed.

Mr Wilks - And so ought the honorable member for Wilmot, according to the honorable member's view.

Mr KING O'MALLEY - No; that honorable member brought will-o'-the-wisp charges against the honorable member for Denison, and, as he was unable to support his case, is not entitled to any consideration in respect of his law costs. While on this subject, I should like to say that I think the time has come for the re-appointment of an Elections and Qualifications .Committee to deal with all election appeals. It is far better that we should have such a tribunal than that an honorable member whose election is disputed should be called upon to go to the High Court. I visited that Court while an electoral case was being dealt with, and saw bewigged and gowned barristers and junior solicitors busily engaged in arguing whether two votes had been cast for a certain individual, or only one - whether an elector had put a cross opposite the name of a certain candidate, or merely a mark. The great High Court of Australia was engaged day after day on questions of this kind.

Mr Mcwilliams - The system of allowing petitions against the return of members to be dealt with by the Elections and Qualifications Committee" has not proved successful wherever it has been fried.

Mr KING O'MALLEY - I should prefer to submit a case in which I was concerned to such a body rather than to be put to the expense of High Court proceedings. Honorable members talk of the splendid electoral system of Australia, but give me the Tammany Hall system of New York, under which the men are changed every three years. I should rather have that than a system of incompetency. I should like the Treasurer to give us a. hint as to what the Government intend to do to assist honorable members who were nearly ruined in obtaining justice.

Mr Wilks - We should have every " spec." lawyer in the country working up a case if a successful candidate whose return was contested were reimbursed to the extent of his law costs.

Mr KING O'MALLEY - I think not. We must get at the essence of justice. If we do not do something of this kind, what opportunity will a poor man have to secure justice ? Money is power, and power is freedom, and I should certainly like the Treasurer to intimate the intentions of the Government with" regard to this matter.

Suggest corrections