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Wednesday, 25 October 1905

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) - Of course, no one desires to approve of any proposal which would lend itself to fraud, but we have to recollect that the provision for voting by post was inserted in order to offer facilities for voting to electors who, for a variety of reasons, might not be able to cast their vote personally at their proper polling places. What is a reasonable distance to fix for this purpose? The Act fixes the distance at five miles; the Bill increases the limit to ten miles, and Senator de Largie favours fifteen males. I submit that ten miles is a very fair mean indeed, when we consider the circumstances of this country. The Select Committee on Electoral Administration pointed! out that the distance of five miles was so short as to practically invite excuses which were not sound in themselves. There is no doubt that very considerable advantage was taken of the facilities for voting by post. But if the distance were made more than ten miles, it appears to me that it would largely destroy the value of those facilities. Suppose the distance were increased to fifteen miles, a man would have to travel in all thirty miles in order to record his vote. Unless he was in a position to travel that distance, he would practically be debarred from voting. I prefer a distance of five miles to a distance of fifteen miles ; but, speakingwith a knowledge of the country districts, I consider that ten miles, as the Government propose, is a very fair and reasonable mean.

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