Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Thursday, 15 August 1912

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - I have merely risen to save myself from the possibility that my silence might be taken for assent to proposals contained in this Bill. I confess that it does not appear to me to be very necessary that we should discuss the measure at length, seeing that it deals principally with consequential' amendments in the law proposed as the result of the action taken by Parliament last year in amending the Electoral Act. It was quite essential that whatever the main electoral law of the Commonwealth might be, the machinery necessary for ascertaining the will of the people at a referendum should be in conformity with it. I quite recognise that whether that machinery be good, bad, or indifferent, it must be the same both for an election and the referendum. For that reason, while not taking any action now in opposition to this proposal, I wish it to be clearly understood that the objections raised last year against the Electoral Bill apply in the main to this measure. Those objections are, in fact, just as strong, just as potent, just as enduring, as they were when we voiced them twelve months ago. We regard some of the provisions of the amending Act as grave inroads upon the unchallengeable rights of the electors. Electoral facilities have been seriously curtailed, but having decided to curtail them in regard to the ordinary electoral machinery, I recognise that they must be curtailed in regard to referendum machinery. I do not wish it to appear that the opposition which was manifested to the curtailment of ordinary electoral facilities do not apply equally strongly to referendum facilities. We havenot changed our attitude one iota.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

In Committee :

Clauses 1 to 15 agreed to.

Clause 16 -

Part VIII. of the Principal Act, including sections 35 and 36, is repealed, and the following part and sections are inserted in its stead : -

Senator Lt.-Colonel Sir ALBERTGOULD (New South Wales) [9.20].- Under this clause, a return of expenses in connexion with a referendum is required tobe made. I do not know what value there can be in having a return of expenses as to the matters mentioned here. What is the value of the proposed new section regarding returns to be furnished by newspaper proprietors? It is proposed that the proprietor or publisher of a newspaper shall snake a return setting out the amount '/f matter in connexion with any referendum inserted in his newspaper in respect oi which payment was made, the space occupied by such matter, the amount paid 4o him, or owing, and the names and addresses of the associations authorizing the insertion of the matter. Inasmuch as there is no limitation of expenses in connexion with a referendum, I really do not see why these returns should be required. If some weal benefit were to be obtained, there might be some object in it. Suppose that some association spends ,£20,000 in sustaining * certain attitude in regard to a referendum. There is no law to prevent that feeing done.

Senator Findley - It would be very interesting to know whether certain combinations spend £20,000.

Senator ALBERT GOULD (NEW SOUTH WALES) - Suppose the Australian "Workers Union spent £20,000 on a referendum campaign. Of what earthly use would that information be to the Pastoralists Union? It is undesirable to place these restrictions on individuals, where there is no necessity to do so. It can only ;gratify a certain amount of curiosity.

Suggest corrections