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Thursday, 16 November 1911

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I move -

That the following new clause be inserted : - "11a. After section 88a of the Principal Act the following section is inserted : - ' 88b. Any elector having a conscientious objection to voting on Saturday shall be entitled to vote, subject to the regulations, on some other day.' "

My object in submitting the amendment is to place in the hands of the Government the power to provide by regulations that those who are not able to vote on a Saturday because of their religious belief shall be able to vote in much the same way as seamen. A very wide, and in some sense, a very loose, provision has been made by which seamen leaving Australia can vote, even before nomination day. The only restriction is that they shall vote according to regulations. If it is competent for the Government to design regulations which will enable persons leaving Australia to vote before the nomination of candidates takes place, it ought to be possible to devise a regulation to enable Hebrews and other persons who are unable to vote on a Saturday to vote on the previous Friday, or, if the Government like, on the day after. While I recognise at once that there are many forms in which that vote could be cast, I suggest that the Government might follow out the proposal which is out lined in proposed new section 139 for seamen -

(1)   An elector who has reason to believe that he will not on polling day be within any Commonwealth Electoral Division may, subject to the regulations, be permitted to vote at any time after the issue of the writ and before polling day, if he attends before any prescribed Commonwealth Electoral Registrar and makes a declaration in accordance with the prescribed form......

I submit that the citizens to whom I have referred should have the opportunityto cast their votes in the same way as seamen will be allowed to do. It could be done under official control, and not as in the case of postal voting. The ballot-paper could be handed out by the official, completed by the voter, and returned to the official there and then. It does not appear to me to be open to the possibility of fraud, while, on the other hand, it will get over the great difficulty which has been created by the determination of the Government to make Saturday a compulsory polling day. I sincerely hope that they will see their way to adopt the amendment.

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