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Wednesday, 30 May 1928

Mr J FRANCIS (MORETON, QUEENSLAND) . - As a representative of a very large constituency, extensive areas of which are but sparsely populated, I have no hesitation in supporting the amendment of the honorable member for Macquarie (Mr. Manning). I believe that every effort should be made to . provide for facilities for every qualified elector to vote, particularly those in the remote parts of Australia who suffer in consequence of infrequent mail services. As mentioned by the honorable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr. Green), they have to apply to the divisional returning officers for an application form for' a postal vote, and if there is any difficulty in obtaining the signature of the necessary authorizing witness, and they are unfortunate enough to miss the mail, a very long period elapses before the application is received. When the postal ballot-paper is ultimately forwarded to the elector he has to again see an authorized witness and then record his vote, and, as the honorable member for Macquarie has urged, it should then be permissible to address it to the nearest presiding officer, otherwise it will reach the divisional returning officer too late to be of any use. Electors in the out-back portions of the Commonwealth should be given every opportunity to record their votes, and I shall do all I can to assist them. An absent, voter records his vote at the polling-booth, and it is then sent to the divisional returning officer, and there does not appear to be any valid reason why a postal vote should not be handed in on election day in the same way. I do not know why some electors are given every facility to vote as absent voters whilst similar facilities are not provided for those who wish to record a postal vote.

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