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Thursday, 16 November 1911

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) (Honorary Minister) . - In a characteristic manner the Leader of the Opposition desired that the objections of the gentlemen who petitioned the Senate to-day should be met, if possible. The way to meet their objections, he said, was to leave out the day fixed in this clause for holding elections - not that he had any objection to Saturday being taken, nol that he did not believe in Saturday. He wants Saturday to be the polling day.

Senator Millen - I did not say so.

Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator did.

Senator Millen - I give the Minister my assurance that I did not. If he will refer to my Hansard proof in the morning he will find that I never said anything of the kind.

Senator FINDLEY - Are we to understand that the honorable senator does not want Saturday for polling day?

Senator Millen - No, I have not expressed an opinion for or against Saturday.

Senator FINDLEY - Does the honorable senator want Saturday or not?

Senator Millen - I want the Government to stop disfranchising those who they think will vote against them.

Senator FINDLEY - One cannot catch the honorable senator, .no matter how one may try. At one moment he argued in favour of Saturday, and pointed out that the Government would be in. exactly the same position if the word were eliminated, and that the elections could still be held on Saturday. But by holding them on that day the objections of the petitioners could not be met, by his line of reasoning.

Senator Millen - I did not advocate that the elections should be held on Saturday.

Senator FINDLEY - Now -we are to understand that the honorable senator does not want them to be held on Saturday.

Senator Millen - I have not said a word to that effect.

Senator FINDLEY - The reason why he wants the word eliminated is because he does not believe in taking Saturday for the polling day.

Senator Millen - Why do you want this provision in the Bill ?

Senator FINDLEY - To let the people of Australia know that Saturday has been fixed for the polling day. It is incorrect, as Senator McDougall pointed out, for any honorable senator to assert that this clause is intended to disfranchise a number of citizens. It will do nothing of the kind. Senator Barker said, I think, that the members of the Hebrew persuasion in Australia numbered 17,000.

Senator Barker - No, 27,000.

Senator FINDLEY - Is that the adult portion ?

Senator Barker - I did not ask the question.

Senator FINDLEY - Let us assume that there are 27,000 adult Hebrews in. Australia. Senator McDougall has stated, and stated truthfully, that a considerable proportion of them have no serious objection to voting on Saturday.

Senator McColl - How does he know ?

Senator FINDLEY - The honorable senator ought to know that on the Saturday afternoon of each week there are horse races held throughout Australia, that there is a number of men who lay the odds, and that many of those who lay the odds in Victoria, and, I believe, in New South Wales, are Hebrews. If these persons are willing to work hard on Saturday afternoon in laying the odds, surely they cannot have a conscientious objection to recording their votes on that day?

Senator Millen - Do you say that they represent any considerable number?

Senator FINDLEY - There is a very large number of Jews who follow that occupation. When Senator McDougall made that statement certain members of the Opposition tried to make capital out of it. There is, I believe, a section of Hebrews - it is in a minority - which has a conscientious objection to the holding of elections on Saturday;

Senator Millen - When we are dealing with conscience majority and minority do not come into the matter.

Senator FINDLEY - I know that, but after all the majority rule. We cannot, by Act of Parliament, make provision for everybody's conscience. We have gone a long way to meet the difficulty which has arisen by extending the time for polling to 8 o'clock. That will give the conscientious objectors an opportunity to vote, and the other section can vote at any time which they may find convenient. The

Government cannot entertain the idea of striking out the word " Saturday " from the clause.

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