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Tuesday, 12 December 1905

Mr BAMFORD (Herbert) - I do not agree with the statement made by you, Mr. Chairman, that it was tacitly agreed that the last division should decide this clause.

The CHAIRMAN - Not the clause, but the question of whether disputed elections should be dealt with by the High Court or by an Elections and Qualifications Committee.

Mr BAMFORD - There is no reason why a compromise should not be arrived at. The machinery which the honorable member for Riverina proposed to provide was practically the sameas that for which provision is made in the principal Act. Paragraph e of section 194 provides that every petition disputing an election or return shall - be filed in the Principal Registry of the High Court or in the District Registry of that Court in the Capital city of the State inwhich the election was held within forty days after the return of the writ.

I suggest that we add a proviso giving the petitioner or the respondent the option of deciding that the petition may be dealt with either by the High Court or by an Elections and Qualifications Committee.If either party objected to the petition being dealt with by the High Court, it would then be necessary for it to be brought before the Elections and Qualifications Committee. I think that the suggestion is one which should meet with the acceptance of honorable members on both sides.

Mr. BRUCESMITH (Parkes).- I should like to learn what course the Minister intends to pursue. I do not wish him to congratulate himself that he has practically carried this clause, because I feel just as strongly as to the need for reducing or abolishing costs in connexion with the hearing of election disputes as I do upon the choice of the High Court in preference to an Elections and Qualifications Committee. The Minister must not suppose that the recent division has determined the whole of the questions involved in the clause. The Committee wish to know what is to be done?

Mr Groom - I have already stated what course I propose to pursue.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - The honorable and learned gentleman took a long time to tell us what he was going to do, but I could not gather his intention from the statement that he made. Is the clause to be postponed, or is it now open to be amended ?

Mr Groom - I propose to recommit it.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Will the Minister state what is the general direction in which he proposes to amend it?

Mr Groom - I propose to limit the costs.

Mr. MALONEY(Melbourne).- I should like to know whether, in the event of the recommittal of the clause, the honorable member for Herbert will be at liberty to move the amendment which he has suggested ?

Mr Groom - If the clause be recommitted that amendment may be moved.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 49 to 51 agreed to.

Clause 52 verbally amended and agreed to.

Clause53 agreed to.

Clause 54 negatived.

Postponed clause 43 (Recount at Senate E lections) -

Mr. GROOM(Darling Downs- Minister of Home Affairs). - The honorable member for Riverina desires to move an amendment in this clause, but as he is not present I shall be preparedto agree to its recommittal.

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