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Thursday, 16 November 1911

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - This is not a question of what may be the opinion of expert draftsmen, but of what the Committee desire to express. If an electoral officer has proof that any person has ceased to be qualified as an elector for enrolment on a roll, should that officer have the power to strike off his name? I think that he should. But under this clause, the officer must not only have absolute proof that the person has ceased to be qualified for enrolment on one roll, but that he has secured enrolment on another roll. Take the case of an elector who, for a breach of the law, has been sent into retirement for a considerable period. Let us assume that his name appears upon the electoral roll for the division of Melbourne,notwithstanding that he is located in some place far up the country. In that instance, the Electoral Officer would have absolute proof that the person in question had ceased to be qualified for enrolment on the roll for the division of Melbourne. But he is not on any other roll.

Senator Henderson - He ought to be on the roll for the electorate in which he is residing.

Senator MILLEN - That is not the point. He cannot get on the roll there, and he has ceased to be qualified to be on the roll on which his name appears. Suppose that an elector has ceased to be qualified to vote in Port Melbourne, but that his name remains on the roll for that electorate, whereas he is located at Ballarat. He cannot get on the Ballarat roll, and the Electoral Officer will not strike him off the Port Melbourne roll, though the officer may know that the elector has left that district. He would have power to remove the name if the word " and " were inserted instead of "or." This clause was not designed to meet such a case as I have mentioned. It has been inserted because those responsible for the new card system recognise that in all probability it will frequently break down, because persons instead of applying for transfer will in the future, as they have done in the past, apply for original registration. In that case the new application will be attended to, and the applicant will become enrolled for. the district in which he resides. By-and-by the Electoral Office will discover on comparing cards that the name of the elector is on two rolls.

Senator Vardon - The officers ought to have discovered that before.

Senator MILLEN - I think so, but I am not responsible for the card system. The clause is designed to give power to aid and abet those law-breakers who apply for original enrolment instead of for transfer by enabling their names to be removed from rolls on which they ought no longer to appear. I do not find particular fault with the purpose of the clause, but I say that some other power is necessary to deal with the case of a man who has ceased to be entitled to enrolment on a particular roll. The name of such a man ought to be removed somehow. Surely the Government are not going to allow names to remain on several rolls as they have done in the past, although it has been within the knowledge of the electoral officers that they ought to be removed from one roll to another.

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