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Wednesday, 8 November 1911

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - While I freely accept Senator Pearce's statement as to how this system has worked in Western Australia, I point out that there is a great difference between handling a small parcel of votes and a vastly greater number such as will be the case under the Commonwealth. It would take an enormous amount of time if every application for enrolment had to be sent to head-quarters to ascertain whetherthe applicant had been enrolled anywhere' in Australia before. 1 doubt whether the provision under consideration will stop the duplication of names on rolls. First of all, electors are going to be allowed to apply for original enrolment when they ought to apply for transfer.

Senator Findley - We do not " allow " them; we simply record applications when; they are made.

Senator MILLEN - Then what is the use of the clause which provides that if the elector does not apply for transfer he may be fined?

Senator Pearce - Suppose he makes a mistake through ignorance, applying for enrolment when he ought to apply for transfer, what harm is done?

Senator MILLEN - I am not saying that any harm is done; but it is at once absurd and dangerous to pass a law providing that a man shall do a certain thing and shall incur punishment if he does not, and at the same time to insert a clause to say that you will not punish him when he breaks the law.

Senator Pearce - We do not do that.

Senator MILLEN - That is done by the provision enabling the officers to transfer a man who makes a fresh application when he ought to have applied for transfer. If compulsory enrolment has any value whatever, it lies in the fact that when a man changes his abode he applies for a transfer, and his original enrolment is altered. But if he is to be allowed to re-apply for original enrolment, his name will be on two rolls at once. The system, if carried out properly, would prevent the inflation of rolls, but that will not be done under this provision. The rolls will be glutted through' persons being reenrolled whenever they change their place qf abode. We have adopted a clause which directs the Electoral Office as to what is to be done with a person who applies for original enrolment when he ought to apply for transfer. But now we are passing a provision which will enable such a person to escape punishment. As I said at the outset, because the Minister and the Electoral Office find that difficulties are going to occur, and are not prepared to face the responsibility of giving effect to the penal provisions - they have devised this method of entitling every person to apply for original enrolment instead of for transfer.

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