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Friday, 15 December 1905

The CHAIRMAN - My attention has been drawn to the fact that portion of this clause is beyond the scope of the Bill, since it refers to the actions of Members of the Parliament. This Bill deals only with electoral questions, and it is, therefore, not competent to embody in it a matter which affects the actions of a member after he has been elected. I think that the clause will therefore need to be redrafted.

Mr. GROOM(Darling Downs- Minister of Home Affairs). - The amendment would, no doubt,be in order if the honorable member confined it to gifts by candidates. I suggest that he should amend it in that direction, allowing candidates to give what gifts they like - provided that there is no corrupt intention - to churches, hospitals, and other charitable asylums, and for the relief of the sick and destitute.

Mr. KINGO'MALLEY (Darwin).- I will accept the Minister's suggestion, although the provision will not be of much effect against the boodler, when amended as the honorable and learned gentleman suggests. I withdraw my amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.

Amendment (by Mr. King O'Malley) proposed -

That the following words be inserted : - 206B. - (i) Any person who having announced himself as a candidate for election to the Parliament, shall before the poll for the election is closed offer promise or give directly or indirectly to or for any club or other association, other tha a charitable institution, any gift, donation or prize, shall be guilty of an offence against this section. Penalty : Five pounds in addition to any other penalty provided by law.

(2)   No person shall be guilty of an offence within the meaning of this section if he honestly believes that the club or association to which the gift donation or prize was offered or given was a charitable institution.

(3)   " Charitable institution " includes a church or other religious body, a hospital, benevolent or other charitable institution, or any society or association having for its object or one of its objects the assistance or relief of sick, destitute,or injured members, or other persons.

(4)   No proceedings shall be taken for a contravention of this section except within three months after the act complained of.

Mr. LONSDALE(New England).- The Committee would have made itself ridiculous if it had agreed to the proposed new clause as originally moved by the honorable member, but I am opposed to that now before the Committee. The honorable member wishes to penalize men for being generous. These attempts to regulate human conduct by means of paper laws compel men to practise deception, and, instead of elevating human nature, do the reverse. Attempts to make men moral by Act of Parliament always fail. Let the man who cannot afford to make gifts have the courage to say to his electors, " I cannot give to this or that cause " ; but do not deprive a man who desires to be generous of the right to be so. I am in no better position financially than is the honorable member for Darwin who is always whining about the way in which he has to give to his electors, and asking that his salary be increased. I question whether he really gives very much. But why should a man be prevented by law from giving if he desires to do so?

Mr Watson - Why should we prevent a man from giving money to individual electors?

Mr LONSDALE - That is a different thing. What is there wrong in giving to a cricket club, or to any institutionof that kind? No doubt it is thought that men of wealth willhave an advantage over poor men by giving more liberally, but I have yet to learn that a man can buy his way into Parliament. All through this session we have been trying to put restraint on individual action, for which there is no justification. I have heard of candidates for this Parliarment telling the electors that if they were returned they would putthe mining laws right, so as to do away with "boodlers," and would amend the land laws, although they knew that this Parliament cannot pass such legislation. Is it not worse to make such statements to the electors than it would be to give to cricket clubs? It make one's blood boil when humbug of* this kind is proposed.

Mr. KINGO'MALLEY (Darwin).- As the honorable member for New England has sung such a loud song about this proposal, I desire to say that it was drafted by the honorable member for Lang, for whom I fathered it. I do not care, financially speaking, whether I am kicked' into or kicked out of Parliament. It is because I am financially independent that I can father these proposals. Members have come to me, and have cried like babies; about the £400 a year salary which they are receiving ; but they have not the pluck to announce themselves publicly in favour of" my proposal to raise the salary of Federal' members to £600 a year. I am not afraid to say that the present allowance is too little, and I do not wish to be in Parliament if my services are considered not worth£600 annually. The honorable member bellowed like a sick bull on the Rocky Mountains; but the proposal came from a member of the Opposition. Whenever they have anything to propose, which they think right, but which they are frightened to bring forward themselves. I shall be willing to father it, because I do not care if my electors kick me out when I am right. Even if they do, I shall still enjoy my two meals a day and my bed.

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