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Friday, 3 November 1911

Senator McGREGOR (South Australia) (Vice-President of the Executive Council) . - I have been surprised and amused a.t the interest which some senators opposite have during the last few months taken in the poor widow, and the poor nomad in the back country who may be prospecting or shearing. It is a newborn zeal with them.

Senator Walker - Why ?

Senator McGREGOR - It was never displayed before, and very little in this connexion was attempted by our honorable friends. I have been amused, also, by Senator Rae's utterances upon this provision. He says he came here to do away with all laws.

Senator Rae - I did not say all laws, but all bad and unnecessary laws.

Senator McGREGOR - The party to which the honorable senator belongs, by whom he was nominated, and by whom he was sent here, sent him here. to make laws. It is all very well for honorable senators to' talk about what the Government and the officials of the Electoral Office are doing. They are doing the very best they can, when a law is passed, to see that its administration is effective; and that is what they are aiming at in this clause.

Senator Rae - By making every one guilty on the " say so " of an official.

Senator McGREGOR - There is no making every one guilty on the " say so" of an official. A majority of the Senate have approved of compulsory enrolment. I do not know whether Senator Rae approves of it or not, because one never can tell what he does approve of. One day, for instance, he approves of a thing; on the next day he does not know where he is, and on the day following he is opposed to it, so that we do not know what he thinks. We must leave him almost out of the count.

Senator Rae - You will know when the vote is taken, as you always do.

Senator McGREGOR - That is right enough. The honorable senator may vote absolutely as he pleases. It is a matter of indifference to me personally how he votes, although I would like to see him vote reasonably and speak rationally when he is dealing with a measure of any importance. What is the principle involved! here ? A majority of the Senate have .approved of compulsory enrolment. Honorable senators on the other side did not approve of compulsory enrolment, and now, when we come to the clause which will make compulsory enrolment effective, they seize the opportunity to attempt to defeat it, and a few honorable senators on this side are doing all they possibly can toassist them to achieve that object. What does this clause mean? We agree that it is the duty of every citizen to enroll. I would like Senator Rae to endeavour to distinguish between a citizen and an elector. A citizen, is not an elector until his name is on a roll. It is provided in the Bill that a man's name must be on a roll, and he is responsible for seeing that it is. If after every facility to enroll is given some persons fail to do so deliberately, and others unintentionally, it is a violation of the law. It does not matter what the cause is when a man does a wrong thing -

Senator Rae - Run him into a yard and brand him.

Senator McGREGOR - In the case of compulsory enrolment, what is the proof that the law has been evaded? The proof is that the name of a man is not on a roll.

Senator Millen - And something more than that - that the name ought to be there.

Senator Rae - Thousands apply and do not get enrolled.

Senator McGREGOR - If Senator Rae, or, for the matter of that, Senator Millen, knew that his name should be on a roll, that compulsory enrolment was the law of the country in which he lived; and neglected or deliberately refused to put his name on a roll-

Senator Rae - Some fool of an officer left my name off after I had applied.

Senator McGREGOR - That is a different thing. If. after the honorable senator applied, a fool of an officer left his name off the roll, the latter was guilty, and not the former. That the name of the person is not on a roll is conclusive proof that the law has not been complied with. It does not matter what the cause may have been.

Senator Keating - But the Court does not look at the roll.

Senator McGREGOR - All that the officer requires to do is to see that the name of the man is not on the roll.

Senator Millen - The officer ought to do more. He should show that the name ought to be there.

Senator McGREGOR - The very fact that there is a law saying that the name ought to be there is proof enough.

Senator Millen - There are a great many citizens whose names ought not to be on a roll.

Senator McGREGOR - All right. I leave that to the honorable senator.

Senator Millen - That is to say, they are not eligible to be put there.

Senator McGREGOR - I know that the honorable senator would like to see far fewer of the prospectors and shearers he talks so much about on the rolls.

Senator Millen - You know that that is not true.

Senator McGREGOR - I am very sorry if I have misrepresented the honorable senator. I do not know that my statement is not true, and he has never given any evidence that it is not true.

Senator Millen - I am not taking their votes away by abolishing postal voting.

Senator McGREGOR - The fact that any names are not on a roll is proof that the law has not been complied with.

Senator Long - No. A man may have taken all necessary steps to be enrolled, and his name may have been left off the roll by accident.

Senator McGREGOR - That is a different thing altogether. The fact that a name is not on a roll shows that the law has not been complied with. Then the assistance of a Court is invoked, and it has to be proved whether there was any justification for the name being on the roll. The officer from the Electoral Branch has not to prove that there is no justification, or that there is any justification. All he has to prove is that the law has not been complied with. It is the place of the elector to produce the proof, because no one else can. An officer cannot prove a justification why the name should not be on the roll. It is the elector himself who can prove a justification for its not being there, and he is given an opportunity to do so at the Court. If he can prove that he took all necessary steps to see that his name was put on the roll, the Court will exonerate him, but if he cannot prove that, the very fact that his name is not on the roll is proof that there was neglect somewhere, and it is his duty to prove that the neglect was not on his part. What has the officer to prove?

Senator Rae - Nothing.

Senator McGREGOR - No. The officer has to prove that the person's name is not on the roll.

Senator Keating - No.

Senator McGREGOR - Well, the officer has to aver that. Can the officer from the Department be expected to exhibit the same characteristics as Senator Rae does? The very statement of an officer is based on something, but the statements of Senator Rae are based on nothing.

Senator Rae - Ah, that is very kind.

Senator McGREGOR - I am only taking what the honorable senator has stated to-day. He has no basis for his statement that the Government are attempting to make hundreds and thousands of criminals. We are doing nothing of the kind.

Senator Rae - They are trying to pass a law which may have that effect.

Senator McGREGOR - We are only doing what we consider to be our duty to make compulsory enrolment effective. All that the officer can do is to aver, from the knowledge that the name of the man is not on the roll, that the law has not been complied with. Then the man concerned has to come and prove that it was not owing to his fault. If he does not come, and cannot be found, then no fine can be collected from him.

Senator Vardon - He is breaking the law.

Senator McGREGOR - If he cannot be found-

Senator Millen - He may be dead.

Senator McGREGOR - Yes ; he may be dead, or he may have gone out of the Commonwealth.

Senator MILLEN - -Yes: but the law can follow him..

Senator McGREGOR - Can it follow him into the grave? I want to show the ridiculousness of the argument of the honorable senator.

Senator Long - It can follow the man for two years.

Senator McGREGOR - The officer has to prove-

Senator Rae - Nothing.

Senator McGREGOR - No ; but the honorable senator wants to compel the officer to prove that a man had some justification for not being enrolled when he knows nothing about the man. He only knows that the man did not carry out his portion of the contract, as far as citizenship of the Commonwealth is concerned.

Senator Rae - And your recommendation for compulsory service is that it can only be secured by this tyrannical means.

Senator W RUSSELL (SOUTH AUSTRALIA) - For which you voted.

Senator Rae - I did not, because there was no vote taken.

Senator McGREGOR - It does nol. matter ; the honorable senator does not need to quibble.

Senator Rae - I do not want to quibble, but you are quibbling.

Senator McGREGOR - There is no quibbling on our part. Here is the Bill, and the honorable senator knows as well as anybody else that it is honestly presented by the Government to carry out the wishes of the people of this country, and yet he will get up and take the erratic course which he takes whenever it so pleases him. This clause is necessary if the compulsory provisions in the Bill are to be carried into effect.

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