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§ 74. “Certified by the Governor.”

EXECUTIVE CONTROL OF SENATE ELECTIONS.—By sec. 12, the Governor of each State is charged with the duty of issuing writs for the election of senators; and this section enacts that the names of the senators chosen for each State must be certified by the Governor to the Governor-General. This provision was supported in the Convention as helping to preserve the essence of State unity. (Sir John Downer, Conv. Deb., Syd., 393; see also note, § 94, infra.)

The Constitution, while it gives the Federal Parliament wide legislative powers in respect of the mode of election and laws relating to elections of senators, seems to vest the administrative conduct of the elections wholly in the States. The State Parliaments are to fix the times and places of the elections; the State Governments are to issue the writs and certify the result of the polls. The power to issue the writs involves the power to appoint returning officers, who will be State officials, and whose duty will be to appoint deputies, to fix polling places, to advertise, to hold the elections at the times and places prescribed by State laws, and to return the writs to the Governors of their respective States. The method of election (sec. 9) and the laws relating to elections (sec. 10), except as to the times and places of elections, may be prescribed by the Federal Parliament; but the executive control remains constitutionally vested in the States.

EXPENSES OF SENATE ELECTIONS.—From the proposition that the Senate elections are conducted and controlled by State officials, it seems to follow logically that the expenditure in connection with these elections must be defrayed by the States. The returning officers, being States officials, must look to their own Governments for their expenses; and if the States have a free hand as to the number of polling-booths, the advertisement of the elections and so forth, it would be manifestly unreasonable that the Federal Government should be under an obligation to pay any bills which may be incurred, however extravagant; and no such obligation appears to be imposed by the Constitution.




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At the same time, the Constitution does appear to contemplate that the Federal Government shall have the power to defray these expenses. Sec. 83 provides that the Governor-General in Council may draw from the Treasury and expend such moneys as may be necessary “for the holding of the first elections for the Parliament,” not merely for the House of Representatives. It would seem, therefore, that the Federal Government, though it is under no obligation to defray the expenses of senate elections, has the power to re-imburse the States for expenses reasonably incurred. Whether it exercises this power, or leaves each State to bear its own expenses, is perhaps not of much moment, because the aggregate amount of the re-imbursement would come out of the surplus divisible among the several States. The re-imbursement to each State would probably be made, if made at all, on a uniform population basis; and as it would then be charged against each State as federal expenditure on the same basis, the result would be unaltered.

In connection with elections for the members of the House of Representatives, the Federal Government will appoint returning officers and make arrangements for the conduct of electoral proceedings throughout the Commonwealth, and pay the necessary expenses. It will be possible on certain occasions—for instance, at the first election and after a double dissolution—for the Federal authorities and the State authorities to concur in the holding of elections for both Houses on the same day. As the election of representatives in a State will be conducted on the same suffrage as the election of senators for the State, it may be possible for the Federal authorities and the State authorities to join in the expense of providing one common electoral roll for Federal elections in each State.

Qualification of electors.

8. The qualification of electors75 of senators shall be in each State that which is prescribed by this Constitution, or by the Parliament, as the qualification for electors of members of the House of Representatives; but in the choosing of senators each elector shall vote only once.76

HISTORICAL NOTE.—This provision (except the words prohibiting plural voting) was introduced at the Adelaide session in the same form, as part of the preceding clause. In Committee, the words “but in the choosing of senators each elector shall have only one vote” were added on Mr. Barton's motion. (Conv. Deb., Adel., p. 670.) Lest it should be contended that this would prevent an elector from casting votes for two or more candidates, this was afterwards amended by adding the words “for as many persons as are to be elected”—a phrase which later on was rejected in favour of “each elector shall vote only once.” A provision was also added that “if any elector votes more than once, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.” (Conv. Deb., Adel., pp. 675, 1189-90, 1210.)

At the Sydney session, a suggestion by the Legislative Assembly of South Australia, to the effect that senators should be elected in all the States on the basis of one adult one vote, was negatived by 32 votes to 13. A suggestion by the Legislative Council of Tasmania, to leave out the provision as to misdemeanour, was supported on the ground that the words were unnecessary, because a breach of a statutory prohibition was always a misdemeanour. Moreover, it was thought inadvisable to load the Constitution with penal provisions. The amendment was agreed to by 28 votes to 16. A suggestion by the Legislative Council of Victoria, to prevent disfranchisement of existing voters, was formally negatived, with a view to making Mr. Holder's clause (sec. 41) apply to both Houses. (Conv. Deb., Syd. [1897], pp. 416-20.) At the Melbourne session, after the fourth report, the provision was placed as a separate clause.




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