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Thursday, 14 June 1928

Sir NEVILLE HOWSE (CalareMinister for Home and Territories) . - Some honorable members who have spoken on this matter appear to have forgotten two things, firstly, that postal voting is much easier now than it used to be, and secondly, that absent voting was tried for some time, and given up in 1919. They also seem to have forgotten that an inquiry was held into this matter by a committee of this Parliament, and that recommendations were adopted after evidence had been heard. Let me remind honorable members what that committee said in respect of absent voting -

Much evidence was tendered to the committee as to the desirability of electors being permitted to vote when in a State other than the one for which the3' arc enrolled. At present absent voting is restricted to the State for which the elector is enrolled. Interstate absent voting was formerly provided for, but it was found that its operation caused grave delays in the announcement of the results of the elections; and, upon the introduction of postal voting, it was decided that practically all cases of this kind would be met by the postal voting system, and therefore absent voting beyond the boundaries of the State was discontinued.

If it were re-introduced, the same difficulties would arise, and the already long period of suspense during which the votes are being counted would be considerably added to. In any cases of close elections, periods even as long as a month would elapse before the de cision of the electors could be made known. It would be impossible to enter upon the final counting of the Senate votes until the whole of the absent voting ballot-papers had been received by the Divisional Returning Officer to whom they were addressed. This would mean that, in connexion with the Senate election, no real progress in the count could be made within a month of polling day.

The committee cannot, therefore, recommend the re-adoption of the system of interstate absent voting.

Mr Ley - Whose report is that ?

Sir NEVILLE HOWSE - It is the' unanimous report of the Joint Committee of both Houses which ' inquired into electoral matters in 1926 and 1927. It is obvious that the honorable member for Warringah (Mr. Parkhill) has overlooked another factor which is very important. If there are hundreds of men out of their own State, surely they should take sufficient interest in the elections to apply for a postal vote before leaving it. They have all the facilities for voting at their command under the existing law. I have no hesitation in saying that the Government intends to stand by the decision of the Senate.

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