ELECTORAL PAPERS MEANING OF 'ELECTORAL PAPERS' FOR PURPOSES OF TRANSMISSION THROUGH POST FREE OF CHARGE
COMMONWEALTH ELECTORAL ACT 1902, s. 207
The Secretary, Postmaster-General's Department:
The Secretary, Postmaster-General's Department forwards the following minute to me for advice:
Clause 207 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902 provides as follows: 'All electoral papers provided for by this Act may be transmitted through the post free of charge, subject to any postal regulations . . .'
As the Act does not define the meaning of'electoral papers provided for by this Act', it is necessary to obtain an opinion as to the meaning of the words referred to.
The Schedule to the Act prescribes a number of forms to be used in connection therewith, and in the absence of any definition or interpretation, the words quoted would reasonably be held to cover only the forms provided for as the 'electoral papers provided for by this Act'. If the words were intended to apply to any and all letters and other communications which the officers administering the Act may desire to send by post, it appears to be necessary that an authoritative ruling to that effect should be made.
In this connection it may be remarked that clause 27 of the Post and Telegraph Act 1901 provides that although it shall not be necessary to prepay the postage upon packets or letters containing ballot-papers or voting-papers or other electoral documents sent in compliance with the law in that behalf to any electoral officer of a State under certain specified conditions, the postage at prepaid rates shall be paid on delivery. As the Commonwealth Electoral Act provides for differential treatment of'electoral papers' provided for by that Act it is necessary that the Postmaster-General's Department should be legally advised as to the extent to which this differential treatment is to be provided for by regulations.
In my opinion the words 'electoral papers provided for by this Act' refer only to electoral documents expressly prescribed by the Act-all of which, I believe, are set out in the Schedule. The words cannot be construed to extend to the whole correspondence of the Electoral Department.
[Vol. 2, p. 322]