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Thursday, 16 November 1911

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I congratulate the Government upon having determined to set apart Saturday as polling day. But I would like them to ascertain from the Jewish community whether the peculiar conditions of the latter would not be met if the hour for closing the poll were extended to 8 o'clock. If they would not, the members of the Jewish persuasion might be enabled to obtain their ballot-papers on the Friday preceding polling day, and to forward them to the Returning Officers so that they might be opened the next day.

Senator Mccoll - Postal voting.

Senator GARDINER - No. The Conservative party have adopted such corrupt practices in connexion with postal voting that I can never again view it with favour.

Senator McColl - That has never been proved.

Senator GARDINER - I think that the conscientious objections of those who dislike voting on Saturday should be respected.

Senator McGregor - The honorable senator is a real whale for conscience' sake.

Senator GARDINER - A provision might easily be inserted in the Bill by means of which the conscientious objections of certain persons in the community would be met. For instance, the poll need not close till 8 o'clock in the evening.

Senator Millen - The deputation which waited on the Minister of Home Affairs yesterday declared that that would not meet their objections.

Senator GARDINER - If it would not, I do not think we ought to drive them to do anything that is in any way repugnant to their conscience. Although the clause may well be allowed to pass in its present form after discussion, I think that in the other Chamber a new provision should be introduced under which it would be possible for persons who have religious scruples against voting on Saturday, to obtain their ballotpapers on the Friday preceding polling day, and to forward them to the Returning Officers to be opened the next day.

Senator McGregor - I have a conscientious objection to anything of the kind.

Senator GARDINER - I regret that the Minister does not see eye to eye with me on this matter. I am keenly interested in discovering a method, the adoption of which will suit everybody.

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