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Thursday, 15 August 1912

The PRESIDENT - I do not think the honorable senator is in order in discussing the Werriwa election under cover of this Bill.

Senator McCOLL - When this Bill was under discussion previously, nearly the whole of Senator Gardiner's speech was occupied by traversing the Werriwa election, and I thought that I might be allowed to make some reference to it. I was attacked for having written a letter to Mr. Conroy, one of the candidates.

The PRESIDENT - I cannot remember that Senator Gardiner attacked the Honorable senator, but certainly if Senator McColl wishes to reply to anything which was said about himself in an earlier part of the debate, he is at liberty to do so.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel SirAlbert Gould. - Senator Gardiner's speech was largely devoted to the Werriwa election. He interjected when I was alluding to the postal vote, and afterwards spoke on the matter, and alluded to Senator McColl's letter.

The PRESIDENT - If anything was said that Senator McColl regards as an attack upon himself, ' he can reply to. it.

Senator McCOLL - The time occupied between the creation of the vacancy and the issue of the writ was sixty-one days. On no previous occasion exceptone was the interval anything like so long. The longest interval on record was in connexion with the Wakefield election, sixty-four days, but it has to be remembered that the Christmas and New Year holidays intervened in that case, and therefore it was impossible to issue the writ earlier. In other instances, the intervals were twenty-nine and thirty days. It is my opinion that the Werriwa election was gained by the party opposite in consequence of a number of votes being transferred to that constituency in the time which elapsed between the creation of the vacancy and the issue of the writ. That time was undoubtedly occupied by getting electors put upon the roll.

Senator Millen - Many votes were recorded which would not have been available if the writ had been issued within the proper time?

Senator McCOLL - I think it is not right that there should be such great delay in the issue of a writ. It ought not to be within the discretion of an individual - the Speaker or any other person - to fix any time he pleases. Senator Gardiner, in the course of his speech, referred to a letter which I wrote to Mr. Conroy, one of the candidates for the Werriwa seat. I am not ashamed of that letter. I told Mr. Conroy that he could make whatever use he liked of it. He saw fit to publish it, and I had not the slightest objection. Senator Gardiner twitted me with having supported a Free Trader against a Protectionist. I did not know when I wrote the letter that the Labour candidate was a Protectionist. In fact, I did not know until a week or two since. But Senator Gardiner is a strong Free Trader, who looks upon Protection as anathema. He supported a Protectionist, and yet he twits me with having written a letter to a Free Trader. His attitude is scarcely fair under the circumstances.

Senator Gardiner - I have nailed my flag to the mast of New Protection.

Senator McCOLL - I will not delay proceedings upon the Bill any further. It is merely a machinery measure, identical in most paragraphs with the amended electoral law of the Commonwealth.

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