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Friday, 17 November 1911

Senator McCOLL (Victoria) .- This is one of the provisions of the Bill to which very strong exception has been taken by honorable senators on this side. We have already debated the matte:: at considerable length, and stated what we consider to be the injustice of the proposal. We have had a great many statements as to corruption and malpractices carried on under the postal voting provisions of the present law, but we have not had one concrete example.

Senator Givens - Did I not give the honorable senator an example of the way in which Government officials were corrupted ?

Senator McCOLL - No; the honorable senator gave us some statements which recoiled upon himself.

Senator Givens - Because the Age said that the honorable senator was able to get home on me when he did nothing of the kind, he wants to be the pet of that journal.

Senator McCOLL - I do not want to be the pet of the Age any more than I want to be the honorable senator's pet.

Senator Givens - I should be nicely set up with the honorable senator as a pet.

Senator McCOLL - We believe that a number of persons in the community will be deliberately robbed of their franchise by the abolition of the postal vote. The provisions of this Bill, which seek to deprive women and others of that privilege, contributed in no small degree to the results of the general election which took place in Victoria yesterday. The proposals have been received with general indignation.

Senator Barker - Get out ! Why in the city and suburbs of Melbourne the Labour party had a majority of 20,000 votes. .

Senator McCOLL - I do not know why I should " get out " because the honorable senator tells me to do so.

Senator Findley - If these proposals did our party so much mischief yesterday, why is the honorable senator so desirous of doing good to our party?

Senator McCOLL - I wish to show what a different attitude the Honorary Minister took up in regard to women at the last Commonwealth elections. Upon that occasion a circular was issued, on which there were three excellent photographs of Senators Findley, Blakey and Barker. Accompanying that circular, and printed on the back of it, was the following:

Labour wants women to use their votes to help themselves.

Yet Labour is now. doing its best to deprive women of the opportunity to exercise the franchise. The circular continued -

The ballot-paper is a powerful instrument. Women can either help or hurt themselves and all belonging to them with it.

Yet the Labour party to-day is seeking to rob the infirm, the feeble and the delicate, by depriving them of an opportunity to vote.

Labour appeals to all women to vote the Labour ticket, because the Labour party will, when it attains power, make the lot of women better. The greatest workers and the most sweated are mothers. If the Labour party were in power, it would at once begin to improve the lot of mothers.

It has begun to improve their lot by depriving them of the franchise which they were in a position to exercise by means of the postal vote. The circular proceeds -

If Labour were in power there would be constant employment for every one

How much work does Labour find ?

If Labour were in power housewives would always have a few pounds to spare, and would not have to worry about money matters. It will be said that these proposals are materialistic. But Labour says it is only hypocrisy to prate about the sanctity of the home and the holiness of motherhood if you do no.t give the mother enough money to carry out her noble functions.

That is the way in which the Labour party professes to glorify women, whilst endeavouring .to deprive them of their dearest privilege. I shall not labour this matter; but I feel convinced that the women of Australia will remember their deprivation of this right, and will reward those who are responsible, for it at no distant date.

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