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Friday, 4 October 1918
Page: 0

Mr GLYNN (Angas) (Minister for Home and Territories) . - I move -

That this Bill be now read a second time.

As the Bill for convenience of reference and consequent clearness is a consolidation it would be appropriate, as well as helpful, if the connecting and unaltered clauses, except for the purposes of construction, were ignored and discussion confined to the policy and text of the amendments. Under it all Electoral Acts that deal with general elections, and are part of the machinery of every election, are repealed, but are re-enacted with amendments. The first of these is the Franchise Act of 1902, which first brought about uniform suffrage in Australia, inasmuch as the Constitution declared that until the Commonwealth Parliament should otherwise provide the laws of the State in this regard were to apply to Commonwealth elections. The Franchise Act provides the basis of qualification for voting, namely, six months' residence in Australia, the fact that the intending voter is a British subject by naturalization or birth, and that his name is on the roll; while the disqualifications under it are an attainder for treason or conviction for an offence punishable by imprisonment for twelve months or upwards. It also provides for the exclusion of the aboriginal races of Australasia, Africa, and of the islands of the Pacific. Those provisions are now incorporated in this consolidating Bill. Section 41 of the Constitution provides that a person who had or acquired the right to vote for the popular State house at the time the Federal Constitution was passed, should not by any law passed by the Federal Parliament be deprived of the right to vote. The intention of this provision was, I might explain - as the only member of the Convention now remaining in this Parliament - to prevent the passing of any Federal law cutting down the adult suffrage at that time prevailing in any of the States.

Mr Tudor - That has already been done. This Government, on the occasion of the last referendum, took away by regulation the votes of people who, at the time of the passing of the Federal Constitution Bill, were entitled to vote.

Mr GLYNN - I am not going to be drawn aside by the invitation to discuss such statements.

Mr Page - It is just as well to get in the truth when we can.

Mr GLYNN - The truth is always welcome, but one's ears are not accustomed to it.

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