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Thursday, 16 November 1911

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I trust that the Minister will give very favorable consideration to the very happy suggestion of Senator Rae. When I first raised this point, I asked the Minister if the provision was designed to enable the Department to correct mistakes where electors have obtained a fresh enrolment rather than a transfer. He did not give me a specific answer, but he has just done so to Senator Rae. If the provision is merely designed to meet cases where the provisions as to transfer have been ignored or broken, there is no reason why we should not set out plainly that the great power which is sought to be conferred on the Electoral Officer is limited to such cases. The suggestion of Senator Rae would, if adopted, do that, and there would be no objection to the provision being passed in that form. At the same time, I wish to point out to the Minister that if he is as warm a believer in the principle of compulsory enrolment as he would have us believe, this provision will do more than anything else to discredit the system, and cause it to break down. It is to be made an offence for a man to seek original registration rather than a transfer from roll to roll. If a man does do that, the Department ought not to condone his offence, or to become a party to it, but to immediately return the second application for original registration with the statement that he must apply for a transfer.

Senator Rae - I used to put in an application for original registration every time I lost my elector's right.

Senator MILLEN - I have not the slightest doubt that the honorable senator would do that in spite of a law to the contrary. Hundreds 01 thousands of persons have taken that course with the result that our rolls are inflated. It is alleged that oneof the advantages pf the proposed system is that we shall clarify the rolls as we goalong, and that there will be no duplicate registration. But here is a provision which will assist to defeat that object. Undoubtedly we all desire to get the rolls cleared.

Senator Rae - The individual elector would be no worse off.

Senator MILLEN - Having obtained his second registration, he would not be any worse off. We ought to insist that every elector who has changed his place of residence shall get a transfer, and not a fresh registration. Every second application for original registration should be returned,, and the applicant told that in the circumstances he is only entitled to apply for a transfer. I suggest strongly to the Minister that, if he wants to give a fair trial to compulsory registration, he should not, by adopting this provision, hold out an invitation to persons to break the regulationsand the law. Let it be clearly understood throughout the Commonwealth that no man can get on another roll until he has cancelled his first registration.

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