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Thursday, 16 November 1911


Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I can quite see that the object which the Minister has in view is that where a lady, by reason of her marriage, assumes an altered name, if she was previously enrolled, the alteration shall be made on the roll. I should like to say that I consider this another provision which will weaken the sense of responsibility which it is the object of this Bill to throw upon the electors. I can see, also, very considerable trouble for the Electoral Office in the proposal. A lady, having changed her name by marriage, might reasonably be asked to notify that to the authorities herself. If we are going to adopt the principle of individual responsibility of each elector, the whole matter should be left to them.


Senator Rae - This is a responsibility which would never fall upon the husband. Where would be the equality in that?


Senator MILLEN - This would be a disability which, under our customs, would attach only to one sex. Is the Department to undertake the responsibility of checking all alterations of names of female electors due to their marriage?


Senator Findley - Not necessarily.


Senator MILLEN - Then what is the object of the proposed return?


Senator Findley - It will be useful in the compilation of the rolls. A similar list is provided for in the case of deaths.


Senator MILLEN - But there is a very big difference. A female elector, after her marriage, is still able to communicate with the Electoral Office; but, so far as I know, a person who is dead cannot do so.


Senator Rae - The female elector might be a little busy for three months after her marriage.


Senator MILLEN - But we have still a provision in the law to enable her to vote under her maiden name. Suppose the Electoral Officer is informed by the proposed return that "Mary Johnson" is married.


Senator Sayers - What Mary Johnson?


Senator MILLEN - Exactly. How is the Electoral Officer to decide? It would be much better that we should give the electors to understand! that they must look after such matters for themselves. If the Department is to undertake this responsibility of making alterations in the names of persons, I am afraid that injustice may be done to some electors, and the Department will be given a very great deal of trouble.


Senator Lynch - Will not the addresses be given in the return?


Senator MILLEN - The address of the person who has changed her name may or may not be given. Senator Lynch may have seen a marriage register, and will know the nature of the addresses entered in such registers. I suppose that, if he were to turn up his own marriage register, he would find that the address would possibly be only the town in which he lived. That would be all the information which the Registrar would be in a position to send on to the Electoral Office. The Minister must not be led away by the fact that a somewhat similar return is provided for in the case of deaths. The reason for this is obvious. No one can give the information supplied by that return but the Registrar of Deaths. Nobody is officially dead until the Registrar says so. In this case the Minister is misled by a fallacious parallel, which is drawn between a return of marriages and a return of deaths. There is no means of showing that a woman whose name appears on a return is identical with a woman whose name appears on a roll, and therefore the Electoral Officer will be put to considerable trouble to determine which name has to be dealt with.







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