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Wednesday, 25 October 1905

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) (Honorary. Minister) . - For the reasons I have al- ready given, I ask the Committee to reject the amendment. I cannot expect those who have disapproved of the principle of voting by post not to support the amendment. But it is our object, whilst makingadequate provision for proper safeguards against its abuse to provide, as far as possible, reasonable facilities for the registration of voting by post wherever that method has to be resorted to. It must be patent to every honorable senator that in many instances it would be only a legally qualified medical practitioner who would be in a position to witness an application for a postal ballotpaper. He may be called away to attend to a person who is living five or six miles, or even at a greater distance from a township. It may be that in consequence of the illness he is called in to attend to, the person will be unable to be present at the poll. If this class is disqualified as witnesses, a justice of the peace or the head teacher of a State school would then have to be taken out to witness the signature.

Senator Croft - Can they not send a message from the sick bed to a justice of the peace?

Senator KEATING - When the doctor arrives the patient may say, " I wish to be able to vote by post," and if the doctor cannot witness the signature to the application it will be necessary to send for a justice of the peace, or the head teacher of a State school, or some authorized State, or Federal officer.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 30 to 32 agreed to.

Clause 33 - 118a. The following directions for regulating voting by means of postal papers shall be substantially observed.

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