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Thursday, 16 November 1911

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) (Honorary Minister) . - I believe that in almost ninety-nine cases out of every hundred a woman adopts her husband's name as speedily as possible. The names of newlymarried women will from time to time be in the possession of the Electoral Office, but in order that there shall be no possibility of doubt in respect to women who have changed their names by marriage, the insertion of this harmless provision is desired by the Government. It will be a help to the Department. It cannot do the slightest harm, and. the probability is that it will materially assist those who are intrusted with the compilation of the rolls, in having proper names on the rolls, and no unnecessary names.

Senator Rae - Can you compel this information to be supplied ?

Senator FINDLEY - We can by way of regulation.

Senator ST.LEDGER (Queensland) ("4.12]. - The explanation which the Minister has given to the Committee is remarkably clear and requires no explanation. At every point he is anticipating the break-down of the compulsory principle. He has offered no answer to the criticism from this side. A woman has her name before she is married. When she attains her majority she must be on a roll. Whether she is married or not she is on a roll : whether she is married or not she ought to be on a roll. That is the natural way in which the system must work out, but the Minister wants the Department to catch hold of a woman under a new name, but she is the same individual all the time. I do not object to the provision itself. It is an illustration of how the compulsory principle will break down. I am rejoiced to hear these continued explanations from the Minister.

Senator Millen - On a point of order, sir, I desire to know whether the amendment is in order? I do not propose to press the argument on this proposal at any great length, but 1 would remind you that various decisions have been given, which, stated broadly, were to this effect : that an amendment to an amending Bill must be relevant to the amending Bill, and not to the principal Act. In other words, that we are not at liberty to" roam over the principal Act, and propose practically a new law.

Senator Findley - We cannot add a provision to the Act, but we can amend provisions in the Act.

Senator Millen - To what clause of this Bill is the amendment of the Minister pertinent ?

Senator Findley - I hope, sir, that no unnecessary time will be occupied in the discussion of the point of order. Should you rule that the amendment is not pertinent to the Bill, Senator Millen is aware that the Government will have no difficulty in making this provision by way of regulation. I am of opinion that the amendment is pertinent to the Bill. We have been accepting amendments of this description.

Senator Millen - Because we have done wrong before, that is no reason why I should be a party to a wrong now.

Senator Findley - Amendments have been proposed, discussed, and carried.

Senator Millen - -Amendments on what ?

Senator Findley - On the amending Bill. I think that the amendment has a direct bearing on clause 10 of the Bill.

Senator Rae - The object of that part of the Bill which we have been discussing recently is to make compulsory enrolment secure, and to provide, as far as possible, that no person shall escape the roll, that having once been enrolled the enrolment must continue by every means possible under the measure. One of the methods sought to accomplish the object is a list of the names of newly married women, to prevent any leakage through the change of names causing omissions from rolls, or some mistake being made, and a. name struck off which should have been retained. As the object of the Bill is to secure more complete and fuller enrolment than is deemed possible under the present law, the amendment seems to be quite pertinent, since it would tighten up and strengthen the measure. I hold that it is manifestly within the objects of the Bill, and, therefore, should be within its scope.

Senator St Ledger - If my understanding of the Electoral Act is correct, it does not matter whether a woman is married or unmarried, what her name was before marriage or afterwards. The Act provides that she can vote. Suppose that she has not sent to the Registrar her married name, or that the fact of her marriage has not been communicated by the RegistrarGeneral, is she to be prevented from voting? This provision is wrapt up in stupid bureaucracy. I should like to see a Minister 'pr an official who would dare to punish a woman in these circumstances.

Senator Gardiner - Has this denunciation against stupid bureaucracy any bearing On the point of order, sir?

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