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Friday, 17 November 1911

Senator FINDLEY (Victoria) (Honorary Minister) . - If all members of the Opposition were as reasonably disposed and as fair-minded as Senator Clemons is. I have not the slightest doubt that this clause would have been passed half-an-hour ago.

Senator Millen - That is the sort of remark that tends to expedition !

Senator FINDLEY - Senator Clemonssaid that if I frankly stated' that the departmental officers had recommended this alteration in the interests of the public and of administration, he would be satisfied.

Senator Clemons - Not quite that; ] said that it would be courteous of the Minister to give the reasons to the Committee.

Senator FINDLEY - I understood the honorable senator to say that he would be satisfied with the reasons adduced by the officials. The same reasons can be given for striking this provision out of the Act as were given by Senator Millen when, while in charge of the 1909 Bill, he moved to omit certain forms contained in schedules. The hollowness and make-believe of the Opposition this morning are highly ludicrous.

Senator O'KEEFE (TASMANIA) - I asked for information, and I was not here in 1909.

Senator FINDLEY - To show the insincerity of those honorable senators who are opposing this provision-

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) -Colonel Cameron. - I rise toorder. Is it proper for the Minister tt. accuse the Opposition of insincerity? I object to that term. *

Senator FINDLEY - I shall endeavour to prove my statement. Senator Millen had charge of an Electoral Bill in 1909. On that occasion he moved to repeal seven forms, and accomplished his object in about five minutes.

Senator Millen - Hear, hear !

Senator FINDLEY - The forms were repealed without discussion.

Senator Millen - Mention what they were.

Senator FINDLEY - I will mention particularly Forms B, C, and D. Form B related to an electoral claim for enrolment, Form C related to applications for transfer, and Form D contained the form of notice of objection to enrolment. The matters dealt with in those forms were all left to regulation. Formerly they were provided for in the Act. On the same occasion, at the instance of Senator Millen, Forms K, L, M, and N were repealed. Form N dealt with the postal ballot-paper. Why, then, cannot this form of nomination also be left to regulation?

Senator Millen - Because the circumstances are entirely different.

Senator FINDLEY - Senator O'Keefehas argued that in connexion with Senate election campaigns not infrequently a candidate is out three or four months before polling day, and that he is fortified with a copy of the Electoral Act, which at present definitely and clearly sets out the form to be used. But if the candidate starts out with a copy of the Electoral Act in his possession , he ought also to' have a copy of the regulations and of the ballot-paper.

Senator Millen - Our complaint is that the Government propose to vary the regulations and nomination-paper as they please.

Senator FINDLEY - An Act of Parliament costs something, and is heavier to carry than the regulations and form of nomination-paper.

Senator O'Keefe - That is splitting straws; get to the point.

Senator FINDLEY - If it is possible for a candidate to start out with an Act of Parliament, it is equally easy for him to possess himself of the regulations which he would be able to obtain at fifty different places.

Senator Clemons - While the candidate was out on his travels, the Act could not be repealed; but the regulations might be altered.

Senator O'Keefe - That is the whole point, and it has not been answered by the Minister.

Senator FINDLEY - The regulations will prescribe the form of nominationpaper.

Senator Millen - Will the Government give a guarantee that that form will not be altered ?

Senator FINDLEY - The candidate would know from the regulations exactly the kind of form required for nomination. If he carries the Act, he will, if he is so particular, also have with him a copy of the regulations.

Senator O'Keefe - No; because new regulations may be issued within a day of the nomination.

Senator FINDLEY - I would point out that, for months beforehand, the regulations and the Act will be available for intending candidates, and the regulations will have printed on them an exact copy of the form on which candidates will be expected to nominate.

Senator O'Keefe - Will it be impossible for a new regulation to be issued within, say, three or four months of the nomination ?

Senator FINDLEY - Nothing is impossible on this earth, but it is unthinkable that any Government would, at the eleventh hour, issue a regulation which would complicate matters, tie up candidates, and, perhaps, invalidate elections.

Senator Millen - Why do you want the power to vary if you do not intend to alter the form?

Senator FINDLEY - We intend to vary it.

Senator Millen - From time to time?

Senator FINDLEY - From time to time, but not at a time which would be inopportune with respect to elections. We do not desire anything of that kind. I hope that the Committee will take a reasonable, common-sense view of the provision, and remember that those who oppose it this morning by their silence agreed, when Senator Millen was in charge of an Electoral Bill, to repeal seven forms in the Act of 1909, including the form in respect to postal voting. On that occasion, there were no dissentients. Even the members of the Labour party, who were sitting in Opposition, allowed his proposal to go through.

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