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Friday, 15 December 1905

Mr GROOM (Darling Downs) (Minister of Home Affairs) . - The honorable member misunderstands the position. The deposit would be forfeited. This provision was .recommended by the Conference of Electoral Officers. At the present time any person may . nominate as a candidate up to the hour of 12 noon on the day of nomination, but once the nomination paper and the deposit are lodged - even though 'they may have been sent in weeks before the nomination day - they cannot be withdrawn. That opinion has been given by the Commonwealth officers. The honorable member for North Sydney proposes that before any expense has been incurred by the Commonwealth, a candidate shall be allowed to withdraw his nomination, but that he shall forfeit' his deposit. It is not desirable that we should afford opportunities to bogus candidates to levy blackmail. ; and, therefore, it is considered wise to provide for the forfeiture of the deposit.

Mr BRUCE SMITH (PARKES, NEW SOUTH WALES) - What would prompt a man to withdraw his nomination, unless his d'eposit were returned to him?

Mr GROOM - The prospect of being defeated. He would not have his deposit returned in any case unless he registered a certain proportion of votes. We should do all we can to prevent nominations on mere chance. ' The act of nomination should be regarded as a serious step. I can quite conceive, however, that after a man has, after due consideration, been nominated, the position may become so changed that he may not consider it worth while to go on. "Under such conditions, we propose to give him a chance to withdraw, but the deposit which safeguards the nomination must be forfeited. Take a scattered electorate like that of Coolgardie or Maranoa. A candidate for either of those divisions may desire to hold his first meetings in the populous centres, and subsequently to visit the remote portions of the electorate. Consequently, he may wish to lodge his nomination paper with the returning officer some weeks before the date of .nomination. Upon the whole, I think that the proposal of the honorable member for North Sydney is a fair one, and I am quite willing to assent to it.

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