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Friday, 15 December 1905

Mr FISHER (Wide Bay) - Having given this proposal some consideration, I have arrived at the conclusion that it is wise to allow a candidate, who withdraws, to secure the repayment of the whole of his deposit money. It is useless to deny that when nomination involves some monetary consideration, a man is not likely to offer himself as a candidate for election unless he is fairly confident? that he will have a good run for his money. I recognise that the desire is to protect the Commonwealth from unnecessary expenditure, but although much has been said about bogus candidates. I do not think we are entitled to set ourselves up as judges in that regard. A man may have but a very small following, and yet be honestly convinced that he should offer his services to his country. If a candidate be permitted to withdraw his nomination, and his name does not appear upon the ballot-paper, why should not the whole of his deposit be returned?

Mr Mahon - --That would encourage black-mailing. 1

Mr FISHER - I disagree with the honorable member. Is it reasonable to suppose that a candidate would allow himself to be black-mailed by a man who, he felt satisfied, had no chance of being returned?

If a .candidate is, so to speak, of no consequence, that fact is generally pretty well known.

Mr Mahon - But a candidate might have to spend ^200 or ^300 as the result of his being opposed, and it would therefore pay him to give even an opponent who had no chance of being returned a sum of ^50 to retire.

Mr FISHER - I take it that no honorable member would do such a thing,; if he did, he would be guilty of an act of bribery. I agree with the honorable and learned member for Parkes, that we should make the clause as clear as possible. A candidate who withdraws from, the field should either be returned the whole of his deposit money Or none at all. If a candidate becomes ill or arrives at the conclusion that he has made a mistake, why should he not be allowed to withdraw and to have his money returned ? During the debate a tendency has been shown on the part of many honorable members, to conserve the interests of a particular set of candidates. I think that the principle is a wrong one. Why should a man who is a popular candidate, and therefore likely to succeed, have any right to claim a special privilege or protection ? I strongly hold that if a candidate's nomination be withdrawn before the day of nomination, the whole of his deposit should be returned.

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