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Thursday, 15 August 1912

Senator MILLEN (New South Wales) . - It is very well known that I am utterly opposed to this clause, and also to the corresponding section of the Electoral Act. It appears to me that it can in neither -case serve any public purpose, "how.ever useful it may be for purposes of plat-i form oratory. I indorse what has been; said by Senator Gould, but I should like to put forward this view: If the Government have pledged themselves, as I think they have, to a class of legislation with regard to our ordinary electoral machinery which is a monstrous interference with the' ordinary decent rights of citizenship, and serves no public purpose, it does appear to me that they are bound to introduce the same hardship and absurdity in the legistlation under which ' referenda are' to be taken. There would otherwise be a considerable amount of confusion as to What people will have a right to do. In the popular mind, there is a close relation between a vote cast at a polling-booth for the election of a member of Parliament and a vote cast in connexion with a referendum. I admit the force of the contention that there may be some reason for the corresponding section of the Electoral Act, inasmuch as a limit is put upon the candidate's expenses. There is no* such limit in connexion with a referendum. But I decline to recognise that this provision is introduced in either case for any purpose at all, except it be to harass the press. The Government, having set out to do that in the Electoral Act, are certainly logical in seeking to enact a similar provision in the legislation for the conduct of referenda. Although 1 am utterly opposed to this provision, I admit that the Government are consistent in their course of folly and injustice in reproducing in this Bill a provision which they have already inserted in our electoral law.

Clause agreed to.

Clause 17 agreed to.

Title agreed to.

Bill reported without amendment.

Standing Orders suspended and Bill passed through its remaining stages.

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