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Tuesday, 12 December 1905

Mr CHANTER (Riverina) - I move-

That the following words be added : - " and shall be published in the Commonwealth Gazette."

Under the existing law, a certain limit is imposed upon the expenses of parliamentary candidates. They are called upon to produce vouchers for every item exceeding £2, to make a declaration before a justice of the peace, and to forward it to the Department. There, these declarations are entombed. Nobody can see them. This, I contend, offers a premium to candidates who are dishonestly inclined. When it is known that under the Act, as it is administered, it is impossible for any person to inspect the details of their expenditure, they will recognise the utter futility of the whole proceeding. What is the practice of the House of Commons in this connexion ? Not only does it limit the expenditure of candidates, but it compels them to file declarations, and produce vouchers. It also publishes their expenditure to the whole world.

Mr Conroy - As a result, £20,000 is sometimes spent upon an election.

Mr CHANTER - When candidates are aware that details of their expenditure will be published to the world, they will be very careful to comply with the law, but when they know that those details will be entombed in the Electoral Office-

Mr Henry Willis - Anybody can inspect them during ordinary office hours.

Mr CHANTER - I tell the honorable member that it is impossible for anybody to see them.

Mr Henry Willis - Under this Bill, any person can inspect them upon payment of the prescribed fee.

Mr CHANTER - This clause provides only a partial remedy for the evil to which I refer. In South Australia, I understand that the details of the expenditure incurred by candidates are published in the Government Gazette.

Mr Batchelor - No. The newspapers usually procure them from the Electoral Office, and publish them.

Mr CHANTER - The fact remains that the particulars are published.

Mr Groom - So they may be under this provision.

Mr CHANTER - What possible objection can any candidate, who has honestly complied with the law, entertain to allowing details of his expenditure to be published in the Commonwealth Gazette?

Mr Conroy - The adoption of that procedure would only add to the cost of elections for an entirely useless purpose.

Mr CHANTER - It would do nothing of the kind. I have no wish to unduly labour this question. I believe that the publication of the particulars to which I refer in the Commonwealth Gazette, would be an inducement to candidates who are not disposed to be honest to act in accordance with the law.

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