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Friday, 17 November 1911

Senator O'KEEFE (Tasmania) - - Senator St. Ledger appears to be very much exercised in mind by reason of the fact that, so far, very little criticism of this clause has been offered by Ministerial supporters. But when he implied that all honorable senators upon this side of the chamber agree with the clause his remark was rather premature. I have listened attentively to .the discussion which has taken place, and I have been awaiting an explanation from the Minister which . would satisfy me that it was absolutely necessary to strike out' of the schedule to the principal Act the form of nomination which is there laid down. It seems to me - and I speak from experience, having fought threeelections - that there is a possibility of great trouble being occasioned to candidatesif the form of nomination may be altered by regulation, and is not clearly within their knowledge a long time prior to the date of nomination. When a candidate starts out on an electoral campaign - and a candidate for a seat' in the Senate usually commences his campaign many weeks before the date for the closing of nominations- - he invariably takes with him a copy of the Electoral Act. One of the schedules to that Act prescribes the exact form of nomination. Now, it frequently happens that a candidate is in a very remote part of the State for which he is seeking election only a few days prior to nomination. Usually he does not leave his nomination to be attended to by. his friends, who reside in a centre of population, where, of course, the latest, regulations can be obtained, but prefers to personally forward his nominationpaper by post to the Returning Officer, after it has been duly signed in the form that is necessary to render it valid. Under this clause, if that course be followed, it may happen that the paper may not be strictly in accord with the latest prescribed form. In such circumstances, the Returning Officer may say, " This paper is not quite formal. There is something invalid about it," and it may then be too late for the nominationpaper to be returned to the candidate, and for the latter to send in a fresh paper. I believe in the provisions of the Bill; but in connexion with a detail of this sort it seems to me that there is a possibility of considerable trouble being occasioned to candidates. Unless there be good reason for the proposed change in the law, we ought to avoid any such possibility. For that reason 1 would prefer to see the form of nomination which is set out in the principal Act retained. I wish the exact form and wording of the nomination-paper to be clearly set out in the Act itself, which candidates will have with them weeks before the date for the closing of nominations, so that the possibility of mistake may be avoided. I trust that the Minister will be able to meet the desire of the Committee in some way. I do not like to vote against the clause, but I very much doubt whether it is a wise one. I hope the Minister will be able to give some reason for its retention which will satisfy me that I am in error.

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