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Tuesday, 31 October 1905

Senator CROFT (Western Australia) - After hearing the speeches made by Senator Millen and the Minister I reversed my vote, but I think that some effort should be made to cope with the difficulties which have just been pointed out by Senator Turley, and which I know have arisen in Western Australia. When, for instance, there is an announcement of a fresh find of gold at such places as Meekathara or Black Range, men crowd in thousands from all parts to that place, and that may happen just prior to an election. The men may desire to vote there for some other part of the State, but in the absence of a returning officer or deputy that is not possible. Is there any provision in the Bill under which a deputy returning officer could be appointed when necessary in any goldbearing part of the Commonwealth?

Senator KEATING(Tasmania - Honorary Minister). - The matters referred to by Senator Croft are for attention in administration. The honorable senator will see that the Select Committee on electoral matters, in paragraph 7 of their report, made a recommendation, on which it is intended to act. That paragraph is as follows : -

The evidence discloses the necessity for the appointment of additional Assistant Returning Officers, especially in country districts. This would expedite the making up of returns, in larger electorates save the carriage of ballot boxes, and considerably increase the facilities for voting by persons absent on the day of polling from the divisions for which they are enrolled.

Then section 8 of the main Act provides -

Assistant Returning Officers may be appointed to exercise within or for any portion of a division, subject to the control of the Divisional Returning Officer, all the powers of the Divisional Returning Officer, except the powers of that officer under part X. of this Act, but no Assistant Returning Officer shall be appointed in or for any portion of a division in which less than100 electors' are enrolled.

It will, therefore, be quite possible to meet the cases referred to by Senator Croft by the appointment of assistant returning officers, or by regulations prescribing other polling places.

Senator Givens - What would be done in a case where there are sixty electorates in a division, and forty electors from other divisions wish to vote there?

Senator KEATING - That is a matter which could be arranged by regulation.

Senator MILLEN(New South Wales). - It is quite true that in regard to the appointment of assistant returning officers there is a limitation as to the number of electors, but there is no limitation under the power given to the Administration to prescribe polling places.

Senator Givens - The Act provides that there must be a certain number of electors before an assistant returning officer can be appointed.

Senator MILLEN - But there is' no condition as to the numberof electors in the case of a prescribed polling place. I move-

That proposed substituted sub-clause 2 be left out.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, asamended, agreed to.

Clause 43 (Voting at adjourned polling).

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