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Wednesday, 2 November 1904

Sir JOHN QUICK (Bendigo) - I wish to know if arrangements will be made for the proper and adequate supervision of poll ing places at the next elections? On the last occasion unseemly disturbances took place in some of the polling places, and a number of irregularities occurred. I be lieve that if the whole matter were made the subject of a judicial inquiry, very many offences against the Act would be disclosed. It is necessary that police officers should be told off to exercise supervision.

Mr Tudor - They were, in the metropolitan area.

Sir JOHN QUICK - In many country places they were not ; so that in some places the polling booths were rushed, and in some! places, I have been told, were filled by what was really a disorganized mob. It was a common occurrence to see others besides the voter enter the retiring compartment in which he was supposed to exercise the franchise alone and unaided. The Act makes provision for assistance being given to illiterate voters, but precaution should be taken to see that all other electors vote secretly, and without interference or assistance of any kind. Arrangements should be made to prevent the repetition of the abuses which occurred at the last elections, and that can be done only by the presence of authorized officers, preferably in uniform, to see that the law is duly carried out. I hardly care to mention here many of the cases which occurred at the last elections, and which came under my own observation, or within my own knowledge. Some excuse -may be made by the Department on the ground that there had been a revolution of the franchise; but no such excuse should be made after the next elections. The electoral office is charged with the duty of properly enforcing the law, and it should make such arrangements as will lead to that being done. Persons who have recorded their votes should be required to retire from the booth, and not be allowed to loiter about watching other voters, and examining the ballot-papers. It is notorious that that was frequently done in Victoria. I wish also to ask the Minister to give some consideration to the remuneration of electoral officers. It has been complained of by many that those who compile the electoral rolls are inadequately paid, and I know of an instance in which a man was offered 2s. 6d. or 3s. for compiling a roll. I have been told that the remuneration is based on the number of names collected ; but there should be a fair minimum' rate, because in scattered districts the collection of a roll necessitates a good deal of work, and considerable supervision. I think that the office of a collector should be a continuing one, carrying with it a certain yearly salary, so that the possessor of it may be always ready to assist in maintaining the completeness and purity of the roll for' which he is responsible. It may be urged that to increase the allowances now paid, if even by only1s. or 2s. per man, would largely swell the Commonwealth expenditure. But if the work is to be properly done, it should be adequately paid for. Bad work should not be excused on the plea of so-called economy, which is really parsimony in its most contemptible form. I also ask the Minister for some information in regard to the arrangements for the revision of the rolls. Are they to be revised from time to time? If so, at what intervals, and how often are the revised rolls to be printed and made available to the public? Once in three years, or once in four or five years? We should have some security that the rolls will be adequate and complete whenever a general election takes place. It may necessitate a revision, or partial revision, every year.

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