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Wednesday, 30 May 1928

Mr MARR (Parkes) (Honorary Minister) . - I repeat that this proviso does not curtail the privileges now enjoyed by electors. On the contrary, it extends them. The honorable member' for Hunter (Mr. Charlton) and the honorable member for Maribyrnong (Mr. Penton) said that under this provision men from other districts employed temporarily at the Hume Reservoir could not vote as electors of the division in which that work was being carried on unless they had been resident there for three months. That is not so. If they applied for enrolment for that division they could be so enrolled after one. month's residence. If a man desired to remain on the roll for the division in which his family still resided, he would not apply for enrolment in another division. His name would remain on the roll for the same division as that in which his wife and family were living, and under this clause it could not be removed from the roll until he had been absent for three months. Should an elector in the Darling electorate he temporarily transferred to the Yarra electorate, he could, after one month's residence therein, apply for enrolment as an elector of the Yarra division. The divisional returning officer for that division would thereupon inform the divisional returning officer, for the Darling division that the elector's name had been added to the roll for the Yarra division. The name would then automatically be removed from the Darling roll.

Mr Scullin - That is the existing law.

Mr MARR - It will remain unaltered. After the expiry of one month from the date of receiving advice of the transfer of the elector, the returning officer for the Darling electorate would call upon the elector to show cause why his name should not be removed from the roll for that division. Instead of placing hindrances in the way of the workers, as the honorable member for Hunter suggested, additional privileges will be granted to them. If a Queensland elector removes temporarily to Western Australia, but does not desire to be enrolled there, and accordingly makes no application for enrolment, his name cannot be added to the roll there.

Mr Charlton - But what is the position should he enroll for the new division when his real place of living is not in that division?

Mr MARR - He has the option of voting for the district in which is situated his real place of living. His name cannot be removed from the roll for that division and placed on the roll for another division within three months unless he so applies. At every election, every person whose name is not shown on the roll for the division in respect pf which he claims to vote is asked a number of questions by the presiding officer. One of those, questions is -

Is your real place of living within the Division of ... . ?

If the elector answers that question in the negative, the following question is then put to him -

Are you temporarily living elsewhere than within the Division of ... . ? with a fixed intention of returning to your place of living in that division for the purpose of continuing to live therein.

Should he again answer in the negative, he is asked a third question -

Didyou at any time since securing the enrolment for the Division of .... in respect of which you claim to vote and before . . . become entitled to be enrolled in respect of another Division?

It is thought that these questions are somewhat confusing, and it is now proposed that the following shall be substituted for them: -

1.   Is your real place of living in the Division of ... .?

If the elector's answer is in the negative, he will be asked -

Was your real place of living, at any time within the last three months, within the Division of ... .

If the elector answers those questions in the negative, and is denied the right to vote, . he is protected by section 91a.

Mr Charlton - If an elector's home is in Sydney, and he is enrolled for one of the metropolitan divisions, is it not a fact that he will be struck off the roll if he is away from that division for three months and that if he claims to vote in respect of the division in which he is temporarily employed and cannot showthat his "real place of living" for the three months preceding polling daywas in that division, he will be disfranchised altogether ?

Mr MARR - I think the honorable member misunderstands the bill. If a man enrolled in Sydney went away shearing for six or seven months, he would regard Sydney as his permanent place of abode, and consequently would not apply for enrolment in some other division.

Mr Charlton - But if he does apply for enrolment elsewhere what will happen?

Mr MARR - If he does,he expresses a desire to be enrolled elsewhere, and if he satisfies the divisional returning officer that he is entitled to enrolment in a new division the divisional returning officer for the division for which he was enrolled previously is advised, and his name is automatically removed from the roll for that division. In such a case the questions to which I have alluded are not put to the elector. They are put only to an elector whose name has been removed from the roll for the division which is his permanent place of abode and in respect of which he claims to vote. If he returns within three months, and at an election claims the right to vote, he is asked by the returning officer if his permanent place of abode for the preceding three months was in the division. If he answers in the affirmative, he receives a ballot-paper and may exercise the franchise. This bill does not in any way affect the general body of electors. Their rights are protected under the residence qualification in the main act.

Mr PARKER MOLONEY (HUME, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Then this clause relates only to the electors whose names may have been removed from the roll?

Mr MARR - That is so. If an elector leaves his division temporarily, and does not desire enrolment elsewhere, no action to remove his name from the roll is taken by the divisional returning officer for his division for three months. If upon his return he finds that his name has been removed from the roll, he may claim the right to vote if he can satisfy the returning officer that for the preceding three months his real place of living was within the division.

Mr Lazzarini - If a man goes from one division to another, and after residence there for one month, makes application for enrolment, is he entitled to be enrolled and to vote as an ordinary elector for that division without being called upon to answer the questions quoted by the Minister?

Mr MARR - Yes.

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