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Tuesday, 31 October 1905

The CHAIRMAN - I take it that if Senator de Largie's amendment were carried, it would mean the repeal of the whole of section 139 of the principal Act, seeing that the other sub-sections have already been repealed. I suggest, therefore, that he should in the first instance move -

That after the word " is," line 2, the word " repealed " be inserted.

Senator KEATING(Tasmania- Honorary Minister). - I indicated the difficulties in the way of this amendment when Senator Millen was speaking generally on the clause. The position that Senator de Largie takes up is that the greatest possible facilities should be provided for voting for the Senate, but the honorable senator will understand that it is not so easy to provide that an elector shall be able to vote at any polling place for the Senate, as it is to make a similar provision in the case of the House of Representatives. Under section 139 of the Act, regulations provide facilities to enable electors to vote, in an election for the House of Representatives, at other polling places within an electoral division, and if the amendment to which I have consented be adopted, an elector, within his own electoral division, will be entitled to exactly the same facilities in the case of either Chamber. We are now called upon to deal with the case of an elector who is outside his own electorate. Within the division there is a complete roll at practically every polling place, but at the minor polling places, there are not usually to be found the rolls of other electorates, and thus we are confronted with a difficulty. According to the present regulations, an elector, in the case of an election for the Senate, may vote at any polling place in the State which is presided over by the divisional returning officer or an assistant returning officer, and in addition he has the opportunity of postal voting. There must be some restraint when a voter is outside his electorate, because there is not that check which can be placed upon him when in his own division. To put it briefly, a man under the present Act may exercise his vote for the Senate in one of four ways: First, he may vote personally ; secondly, he may vote at any polling place within his electoral division under form Q, for either House; thirdly, he may vote at any polling place within the. State presided over by a divisional returning officer, or an assistant returning officer, on signing an absent voters' ballot-paper, or finally, he may exercise his ordinary right of voting by port. I think that these are all the facilities that could be asked for,when we have regard to the practical aspect of the question, and to the fact that considerations of convenience, of economy, and of efficiency must operate largely in determining the extent to which the privilege shall be granted. I think Senator de Largie would be well advised if he accepted Senator Millen's amendment, which will permit extensive power to make regulations to meet cases which do not come within sub-clauses a and b, or in which an elector is outside his own division.

Senator DELARGIE (Western Australia). - So far as I can see, the form in which the Chairman suggests that my amendment shall be put, would not quite meet the case, and, under the circumstances, with a view to further consideration, I shall allow the matter to stand over for the present.

Amendment (by Senator Millen) agreed to-

That the words " for the House of Representatives," line5, be left out.

Amendment (by Senator de Largie) proposed -

That the words " for the same division," lines 11 and 12, be left out, with a view to insert in lieu thereof the words " within the State."

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