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COMMONWEALTH NOTES
IN THE SENATE
FROM OUR SPECIAL REPORTER

Parliament House, Melbourne, Wednesday

There was an unusual degree of animation in the vicinity of the Senate Chamber this afternoon. The Franchise Bill, which proposes to give a uniform adult suffrage throughout the Commonwealth for all elections for the Federal Parliament, was down for the second reading and attracted a large number of ladies, who thronged the galleries.
Sydney Morning Herald, 10 April 1902, p.7

 

WOMAN FRANCHISE
FEDERAL BILL MOVED
DEBATE IN THE SENATE

In the Senate today, Mr O'Connor, (N.S.W.). who was received with cheers, moved the second reading of a bill to provide for an uniform Federal franchise. Those who maintained that there was no necessity for such a measure had, he declared, mistaken views of the duties of the Commonwealth. (Hear, hear).
The Age, 10 April 1902, p.5

 

THE SENATE

The old question of extending the franchise to women was under discussion, and the familiar platitudes about "invading the sanctity of the home", "the rupture of family life", "the dulling of the gloss of gentle womanhood" and other rotund phrases that would have delighted Sir Lester Dedlock if he had thought of them when holding forth on the evils of society to his innumerable cousins were brought forth in all their pristine vigor Senator O'Connor had in the galleries that audience of ladies which is as well known as the arguments that have "scotched" female franchise whenever it has come before the Upper House of Victoria.

Despite the democratic basis of the Senate constituencies, several fine old crusted conservatives have found their way into that popular assembly, and a female franchise bill was a favorable opportunity for declaring their faith in ideas that are seldom uttered without an apology for being old-fashioned. Sir Josiah Symon, who looks at the House as with a pair of magnifying glasses trying to discover every flaw in logic or fact, championed the cause of last century by opposing the bill. With somewhat elephantine badinage he congratulated Mr. O'Connor on his attempt to amuse the Senate while waiting for the tariff.

There was quite a flutter of excitement among the ladies in the gallery and a revived interest among honorable members in a somewhat flagging debate when Sir William Zeal rose to address himself to the question. Sir William was the president of the retrogressive Chamber which had so often rejected the Victorian Women's Franchise Bill, and it was therefore with considerable surprise that the House heard him declare at the outset of his remarks that "This bill is a step in the right direction."
The Age, 10 April 1902, p. 5

 

EDITORIAL

The Franchise Bill now before the Senate, is, like the Electoral Bill, an instance of the Government's readiness, in the hope of winning support from the smallest of the three parties in Parliament, to force on non-urgent legislation. Despite convenient assertions to the contrary, there is not the slightest evidence of dissatisfaction with the present franchise and electoral arrangements, or of demand for Commonwealth uniformity, on the part of the very large majority of the people.

Not only is there no actual grievance calling for remedy, but the federal precedents are against reckless haste to impose this extension of the suffrage upon all the states would be national tyranny.

No House of Parliament would have kept them out of the political arena if it had been evident that they wanted to come in. The truth is that only a small minority have clamoured to be burdened with political responsibility why cast the trouble of voting upon the women?
The Argus, 10 April 1902, p.4

 

IN THE FEDERAL GALLERIES
THE SENATE

Not since its first meeting had the Senate a more striking "show" day. Almost the whole of the seating accommodation reserved for the public on the floor of the chamber and in the galleries was occupied by ladies, who had come to hear the debate on the second reading of the Franchise Bill.
The Argus, 10 April 1902, p.6

 

THE SENATE

The Senate yesterday passed a bill which conferred the franchise on women. The only speech in opposition to the measure came from the outspoken and impulsive Senator Fraser. The Victorian senator, if he were greedy of political influence, ought to welcome the female vote, for he informed the House that the ladies and woman servants of his establishment, over whom he exercises a patriarchal jurisdiction, number no fewer than ten, therefore woman suffrage would give him ten votes. But no consideration that could possibly be presented would induce Mr. Fraser to alter his attitude of hostility to the petticoat in politics.

In Committee, the reactionary Senator Pulsford tried to change the word "adult" to "male", so as to exclude women but the House was impatient of the hon. member's fearful imaginings. Mr. Pulsford is the most primeval of fossils. His hatred of change, no matter how convenience or just it may be, amounts to a disease.
The Age, 11 April 1902, p.5

 

EDITORIAL

The Senate yesterday passed the second reading of the Franchise Bill on the voices, the small, but very demonstrative, minority antagonistic to the enfranchisement of women, finding discretion the better part of valor, not daring to expose their weakness by calling for a division. Considering that female ratepayers are entitled to vote in municipal elections, and have been exercising their right for a good many years without a voice being raised either in deprecation of the principle or in censure of the practice, it does seem rather absurd, not to say illogical, to oppose the bestowal of the same privilege upon the sex at Parliamentary elections.
The Age, 11 April 1902, p.4

 

EDITORIAL

The second reading debate in the House of Representatives on the Franchise Bill was short, sharp and decisive. Only six members were found who had the courage to record their votes against the bill, which confers upon women the privilege of taking part in Federal elections The old worn out contention that women have not made a sufficient demand for the franchise to entitle them to receive it is discredited as one of those arguments always advanced by the opponents of all political progress The action of the Federal Senate, a chamber elected on a democratic basis and consequently representative of the people in a true sense, in not only introducing this measure, but in passing it without opposition, is in marked contrast to the reactionary conduct of the Victorian Upper House, and is a striking indication of the progress which the cause of female franchise is making in the world.

The social conditions which make it necessary for so many women to earn their own livelihood, and to earn it under industrial laws, make it also highly desirable that women should have a voice in the formulation of those laws. It is an infringement of the inherent rights, which under a free democracy belong alike to men and women, that any individual should have the conditions under which he lives and works regulated by others without any reference to him whatever. Such a disability tends to the degradation of the individual, and it is one under which myriads of woman workers have to labor in communities where men are still the sole arbiters as to the nature of the industrial legislation which shall regulate the employment of the people. As far as electoral rights and privileges are concerned there can be no logical justification for making sex a ground of disability.
The Age, 25 April 1902, p.4

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

The announcement in the House of Representatives this afternoon that the Royal assent had been given to the Franchise Bill was received with cheers.
Sydney Morning Herald, 13 June 1902, p.7

 

 

 

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