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Friday, 8 December 1905

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Perhaps I ought to apologize to the House for having been to sleep for two or three hours. Under the present process of legislation by exhaustion, it is becoming a crime to devote any time to sleep. I hope that the statement of the honorable member for Bland that certain honorable members are not in a fit mental condition to attend to business is not true.

Mr Watson - The honorable member for Corangamite said that.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The hon orable member for Bland indorsed the statement.

Mr Watson - I accepted it as applying to the honorable member for Corangamite and his friends.

Mr DUGALD THOMSON (NORTH SYDNEY, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I trust that honorable members are in a fit state of mind to give their attention to a very important measure affecting the whole of our electoral system - every electorate and every member. I trust that the Bill will be regarded as a non-party measure, and that honorable members will do their best to improve our electoral legislation. I regret that the Minister has brought in the Bill as an amending measure. I think that the provision that an amending Bill can be read into an existing. Act, and that the Government Printer can print the complete measure as if it had been passed at one time, ceases to be useful if its application is not confined to Bills in which the amendments are moderate in proportion to the number of sections in the original Act. The result of our dealing in this piecemeal fashion with our electoral legislation is that sections which ought to be amended have been left untouched. No attempt has been made to meet some of the difficulties that have been experienced in administration, or to dispel doubts which have arisen as to the meaning of certain sections, or those which make hard-and-fast conditions necessary, and which prevent improvements that would be of great assistance to the electoral officers in the performance of their duties. When, prior to the beginning of the session, I was preparing to introduce an Electoral Bill, I took a view quite different from that held by the Minister.

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