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Wednesday, 25 October 1905

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON (SouthAustralia) - I entirely agree with the amendment, which meets the view I expressed on the second reading. The extension to ten miles is certainly a great improvement ; but I am utterly opposed to distance, and certainly a short distance, entitling to the privilege of voting by post.

Senator Staniforth Smith - The honorable and learned senator would not make distance a bar?

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - No; but I would not encourage indolence, or the attaching of a very low value to the privilege of voting. If we reduced the distance to a mile, we should find everybody voting by post; it is only a matter of degree. There are some parts of Australia where it is undoubtedly desirable to have an arrangement of the kind ; but five miles is too short, and, while 'ten miles is an improvement, I prefer fifteen, or, what would be better, twenty miles.

Senator Keating - Ten miles is a long distance in mountainous districts like those in West Tasmania.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - I should have liked some evidence as to the extent to which distance ought to be a reason for affording facilities to vote by post. If a man is not ready to travel fifteen miles to record his vote in the interest of his country, and for the benefit of the constituency in which he lives, he certainly, under-values the right conferred upon him.

Senator Story - Some people will not travel fifteen yards.

Senator Sir JOSIAH SYMON - Quite so; and to make the distance too short would be placing a premium on laziness, and making the franchise too cheap. We ought to set our faces against granting such facilities, unless in cases where they are absolutely essential. I admit that in* Central Australia and in the bush, where there are, perhaps, only two or three voters, it might be well to do without a polling place there, and to enable those voters to vote by post in some more settled district.

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