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Thursday, 15 August 1912

Senator PEARCE (Western Australia) (Minister of Defence) . - This clause iis identical with a section in the amended ^Electoral Act. It has to be remembered that the next referendum will be carried out -at the same time as the general election, --and it is to be presumed that the parties on either side will be identical. The value of the clause in regard to a referendum is arguable, but seeing that we have it as applied to elections, we require it here for the -sake of uniformity.

Senator Lt Colonel Sir Albert Gould -There is a good reason for the clause in regard to elections, because the expenditure of candidates is restricted. .

Senator PEARCE - That was not the only reason. The other reason was that party newspapers, under the guise of news, published matter to assist a candidate in his election, at his expense, and that expenditure did not appear in the ordinary returns sent in by candidates. Under the amended Electoral Act, that expenditure must, in future, be declared, and it seems to me to be logical to apply the same rule in the conduct of referenda. There is nothing new, therefore, in this proposal". The question whether such a provision should :be included in the Electoral Act is arguable, and there is a difference of opinion upon it ; but as such a provision is con,tained in the Electoral Act, it is, I think, logical that it should be applied to referenda.

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD(New South Wales) [9.26].- I fail to recognise the logic of the Government's proposal. Where we say that a candidate for election shall not spend more than a given sum in contesting a seat, it is. necessary that we should be in a position to verify his statement of his expenses by records obtained from other sources. If it be true that newspapers publish paragraphs which are paid for as advertisements, there should be some method of ascertaining the amount which a candidate expends in that way. But there is no limit to the amount which may be expended in connexion with a referendum. Political parties or organizations may spend as much as they please in connexion with the referendum without invalidating the result. But if a candidate for election spends more than he is permitted to spend under the Act, that will invalidate his return. That is a direct reason for such a provision in the electoral law which does not apply to the taking of a referendum.

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