Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Friday, 20 October 1905

Senator GUTHRIE (South Australia) - I ask Senator Millen to withdraw his amendment in the meantime, to enable me to move a prior amendment. Substituted clause 34 reads -

Supplemental rolls setting out additions since the last print shall also be printed at such times as the Minister directs.

I am sure we all desire that the supplemental rolls shall be made as perfect as possible, and provision should be made here for alterations as well as additions. If an elector changes from one part of a district to another, the alteration should appear on the supplemental roll. I propose to move the insertion of the word "alterations " after the word "additions."

Senator Millen - Is not that unnecessary, seeing that the alterations will appear On the main roll ?

Senator GUTHRIE - I do not think so. Suppose a man goes from one division to another ?

Senator Millen - That will be shown on the main roll.

Senator GUTHRIE - It should be shown on the supplemental roll. The substituted clause as it stands provides for the addition of the names of newly-registered electors to a roll, but it does not provide for alterations in a roll. Take the case of a woman who changes her name by marriage. That alteration will not appear on the roll.

Senator Millen - It will appear on the main roll.

Senator GUTHRIE - No. The original name of the voter will appear on the main roll. There is no provision for that class of alteration here. If, for instance, an elector removes from East Sydney to West Sydney, the transfer will not appear on the supplemental roll. The word "additions"' will not cover that.

Senator Millen - His name would appear amongst the additions to the supplemental roll of the division to which he has removed..

Senator KEATING(Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - I hope Senator Guthrie will not move the amendment he has suggested. It would have more serious consequences than the honorable senator may suppose. Provision for all the alterations which have been mentioned is made in clause 23, proposed substituted clause 62, which provides that -

In addition to other powers of alteration conferred by this Act, rolls may be altered by the Electoral Registrar as follows : -

(a)   by correcting any obvious mistake or omission ;

(i)   by changing on the written application of an elector the original name of the elector to an altered name.

Senator Guthriewill see that that would meet the case of a woman who had married since her registration as an elector. Proposed substituted clause 34 as it stands will cover a very .large percentage of the corrections which it will be necessary to make in the rolls. I understand that it would be impracticable to bring out the supplemental rolls if it were necessary to include in them all these alterations.

Senator Millen - That is to reproduce all the alterations in the -main roll?

Senator Stewart - It would be confusing also.

Senator KEATING - It would be impracticable in the limited time that might be available prior to an election. I may inform the Committee that these alterations during the year cover 33 per cent, of the names on the rolls. If any attempt were made to print them in the supplemental rolls, the system we have adopted would break down. In the circumstances, I ask Senator Guthrie not to press such an amendment as he has suggested. He must see that adequate provision is made in the Bill to meet the class of cases to which he has referred.

Senator MILLEN(New South Wales). Of course I shall be prepared to withdraw my amendment if Senator Guthrie wishes to proceed with the one he has indicated. The honorable senator has fallen into some little confusion in assuming that the supplemental rolls should necessarily contain all the alterations which appear in the main rolls. We have adopted a system by which the revision of the rolls is continuous. Where any alterations, such as have been suggested, are made on the main roll, there is no need to reproduce them on the supplemental roll. The name of the honorable senator will appear on the main roll for the division in which he resides. If he changes his place of abode, the necessary alteration is made in the main roll. What advantage will it be to himself! to other electors, or to the community at large, to have his change of address set out in another Toll? The supplemental roll is purely intended for additions. New voters are continually being registered after the main roll has been printed, and their names appear as additions1 to the supplemental roll. This must go on as a continuous process. I believe that it would Le unwise for the honorable senator to move the amendment he has indicated.

Senator GUTHRIE(South Australia). - We have made provision for a complete roll, as nearly as possible up to the date of an election. But an election may be sprung upon us at any time, and the supplemental roll for a division should indicate the electors who will vote in that subdivision, and not merely the additions since the last printing of the main roll. The alterations in most districts would be very few.

Senator Millen - The Minister says that they amount to 33 per cent, of the total numbers on the roll.

Senator GUTHRIE - I do not think that they can amount to anything like that.

Senator Keating - I have stated the actual experience of the Department.

Senator GUTHRIE - The main roll is only published every three years.

Senator Millen - No; whenever the Minister directs.

Senator GUTHRIE - The honorable senator does not suppose that the Minister will direct the main roll to be printed every year.

Senator Millen - It will be printed as frequently as the supplemental roll.

Senator GUTHRIE - I do not think so. My idea is that the main! roll should be made up to a date as near as possible to a general election. Then the supplemental roll should contain the names of voters who have 1been> registered after the main roll has been published, and a record of any alterations that have taken place since the publication of the main roll. I think that the Minister will be likely to direct the annual publication of supplemental rolls containing the names of voters registered since the publication of the main roll, and all alterations required by changes of residence, transfers from one division to another, or from one subdivision to another. That, I think, would Le only a small matter.

Senator Keating - It would cost the Commonwealth £5,000 a year. That is the estimate of the Department.

Senator GUTHRIE - I do not think it would. I can scarcely believe that 33 per cent. of the population of Australia change their residence inside of three years.

Senator Keating - The 33 per cent. covers all alterations. The honorable senator would refer to a change of residence from No. 50 to No, 52 as an alteration.

Senator GUTHRIE - If 33 per cent. of the electors on the Commonwealth rolls require alteration in the year, I think that is not the experience of the States electoral departments. If a man removes from one electorate to another, his name should appear on the roll of the electorate to which he removes.

Senator Keating - So it will.

Senator Millen - It will appear as an addition to the roll for that electorate.

Senator GUTHRIE - If a voter removes from one electorate to another, there will be no record of an addition to the roll for the Senate.

Senator Pearce - The Senate roll is divided into divisions.

Senator GUTHRIE - No, the main roll for the whole State is the Senate roll. A man residing at Port Darwin will have his name put on the roll to vote at Port Darwin. If he changes his residence to Macdonnell Bay, there will be no addition to the roll, but there should be an alteration, and his name should appear on the Macdonnell Bay roll.

Senator Stewart - It will appear as an addition to the Macdonnell Bay roll.

Senator GUTHRIE - There will be no alteration of the Senate roll.

Senator Pearce - Look at sub-clause 4 of proposed substituted clause 28.

Senator GUTHRIE - It says-

All the division rolls for a State shall together form the roll for the State.

A removal from Port Darwin to Macdonnell Bay would not be shown.

Senator Pearce - It would be shown on the roll for a division.

Senator GUTHRIE - No, because it says that all the division rolls, together, and not separately, shall form the roll for the State. Suppose that there was no election for the House of Representatives, all the rolls for the State together would form the Senate roll, and the alterations, which the Minister says come to 33 per cent., would not be recorded.

The electors ought to be in a position to know the voting strength in a subdivision. If 33 per cent. has been added to its voting power by alterations, and not by additions, that fact ought to be known. We are all aware that considerable changes of population take place, especially in country districts. Suppose that a gold-rush has taken place in a district, why should not the names of the new arrivals be placed on the roll for the subdivision? Otherwise, when 'an election is held, a candidate will not know whether he is likely to get the support of a thousand or ten thousand electors in the district. It is absolutely necessary that the words " or alterations " should be inserted after the word additions.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Senator DELARGIE (Western Australia). - The more this provision is discussed, the more inadequate does it seem to me to meet the cases for which we are trying to provide. If we look through this part of the Bill we shall find that no time is fixed for compiling or printing either the main roll or the supplemental rolls. There is absolutely no direction as to when the main roll shall be brought out. The more I look at the provision the more convinced I am of the necessity to fix a date. I think that the Minister would do well to postpone the consideration of this part.

SenatorMillen. - Is the honorable senator speaking of the preparation or of the printing of the rolls?

Senator DE LARGIE - I am speaking more particularly of the printing of the rolls, though the same remark applies to the preparation of them. Otherwise, we shall not know which roll will be the more important. Ifthe supplemental roll is likely to be more important than the main roll, as I think it may be, then it will be all the more necessary to show the alterations to which Senator Guthrie has referred. We should provide for the printing of the main roll each year in June or July. If, however, two or three years are allowed to elapse before the main roll is printed, the supplemental roll will be more important than at first I was inclined to think it would be.

Amendment, by Senator Guthrie, proposed -

That the words " or alterations " be inserted after the word " additions."

Senator KEATING(Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - I rise "to point out the effect of the amendment to those honorable senators who were not present when I spoke previously. Instead of a supplemental roll containing the names and descriptions of persons who have been recorded as eligible to vote for the electorate after the preparation of. the roll, the alteration of any particular, even in the number of a house, would necessitate the elector's name being printed on a supplemental roll. When I said that the Department had considered this question, I might have added that it had received a good deal of consideration, and that it was not an estimate, but an actual calculation, based on its experience up to June last, which led me to say that it would involve an alteration of the rolls to the extent of 33 per cent. per annum, and that the cost for printing supplemental rolls of that character for the Commonwealth would be £5,000. It is already provided in the Bill that the alterations to which Senator Guthrie refers shall be indicated on the main roll. He desires that the alterations shall also be shown on a supplemental roll ; but so far from the people of the electorate being able to estimate the probable additional voting strength, they would be grossly misled, because they would have to go through the whole of the supplemental rolls, and ascertain if the names of any persons thereon also appeared on the main roll, with their alterations. The honorable senator has referred to the case of Jane Brown becoming Jane Smith. That fact would be indicated on the main roll.

Senator Guthrie - But the main roll would have been printed two years previously.

Senator KEATING - The honorable senator would have the new name put on a supplemental roll, and it would remain on the old roll, so that any one who was inquiring into the state of the rolls would think that Jane Brown on the one roll and Jane Smith on the other were two distinct persons. Under present circumstances, her maiden name would be on the main roll, and the alteration of her surname would also appear there in manuscript until it became necessary to reprint the roll, when it would appear in its altered form. When Senator Guthrie says that the main roll would be two years old, and that such alterations may not be shown thereon, he states what is quite contrary to the fact. If this question had not been considered before, I might have been influenced to some extent by his remarks.

Senator de Largie - How often is the main roll going to be printed?

Senator KEATING - It may be printed two or three times a year. It will depend almost entirely upon the condition of the rolls, so far as alterations in them are concerned. It can be ascertained from the manuscript alterations in the roll when it is desirable that it should be reprinted. But if we do not make these alterations in the main roll, and we require the supplemental rolls to contain every particular, even to a change of residence "from 50 to 101 Smith-street, there will be no opportunity to ascertain the most desirable time for reprinting the main roll. As Senator de Largie said, the supplemental rolls would become more important than the main roll. In view of the fact that the proposed substituted clause 62 provides for all these alterations to be recorded on the main roll, I ask honorable senators to pass this provision with regard to supplemental rolls, as it stands, together with the amendment which has been indicated by Senator Millen.

Suggest corrections