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Monday, 11 December 1905

Mr GROOM (Darling Downs) (Minister of Home Affairs) . - In a preceding part of the Bill we require that a claim to be registered shall be witnessed by an elector. If a person changes from one polling place to another, it is desirable that his. application for a transfer shall be attested by some person who knows him, and an elector is considered to possess that qualification. Every one over the age of twenty-one years in the neighbourhood will be an elector, and there ought to be no difficulty in obtaining an attestation to an application for transfer.

Mr Lonsdale - A man may be called an elector without being on the roll.

Mr GROOM - In every constituency the rolls are always available, and I do not think that any difficulty can arise.

Mr. LONSDALE'(New England).- I cannot see any sense in making the alteration. Presuming that a man is. on the roll of the polling place which he has left, he cannot vote at the polling place to which he has gone, unless he gets a transfer.

Mr Groom - Yes, he can vote on a " Q " form.

Mr LONSDALE - I am afraid that this alteration may result in the disfranchisement of a large number of electors. In my opinion it would be far better to provide a roll at each polling place, and to make it as easy as possible for electors to vote; but when we require a man to vote at the new polling place we make it much harder for him to exercise his suffrage. Under the electoral law of New South Wales this was done, and I think it might be done under the Commonwealth law. At the last elections great trouble was experienced by many electors when they came to vote. In Tamworth I met the manager of a station, who, I thought, would know all the electors in the district. Being anxious to find out the state of the rolls, I asked this gentleman where he would vote, and he said at Moonbi. I turned up the roll,, and found that it did not contain his name. When he glanced at the roll, he found that the names of forty persons in one small place had been left off. We discovered their names on the roll for Niangala. They were called upon to go up a' range of mountains, and to travel a distance of about thirty miles, in order to vote, although there was a. polling pLace within three miles of them.

Mr Page - - They could have voted on a "Q" form.

Mr LONSDALE - They could not vote on a " Q " form, and, moreover, there was great difficulty in connexion with those forms.

Mr Page - It was better to vote in that way than not at all.

Mr LONSDALE - Yes ; and they would not have been able to vote if I had not telegraphed to the principal returning officer, and asked him to send' to all the polling places in the electorate a supply of " Q " forms. It was not intended to supply them.

Mr. Groom.Every polling place ought to have a supply of " Q " forms.

Mr LONSDALE - Every polling place had1 a limited supply. I telegraphed that unless the Department supplied every polling place with a large number of "Q" forms, half the electors would be disfranchised. So in the case of transfers great difficulty is experienced. So long as the rolls were available, I should allow the electors to vote at any polling place in their electorate, as they did under the State law. That is the better and simpler form. Country people are not like city people, and even the latter do not take the trouble to get their names transferred. We should make the law as simple as possible, in order that the largest number of electors may be able to vote. I do not see how I can propose an amendment in this clause. If I could have my way I should omit the provision, and simply require the rolls to be sent to every polling place.

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