Opinion Number. 900

Subject

ELECTORAL ENROLMENT PLACE OF LIVING OF PERSON WHO LIVES FOR CERTAIN PERIODS OF EACH WEEK IN DIFFERENT ELECTORAL DIVISIONS

Key Legislation

COMMONWEALTH ELECTORAL ACT 1902, ss. 56, 57

Date
Client
The Chief Electoral Officer:

The following minute has been submitted to me for advice:

The position in this case is that Miss A. has been transferred, by the Education Department, for an indefinite period, to Oakbank in the Division of Angas, and lives at that place during five days of each week. She apparently returns to her parents' residence at Alberton, in the Division of Hindmarsh, each weekend.

The Police Magistrate and the Commonwealth Electoral Officer are apparently of opinion that Miss A. should be enrolled for the Subdivision in which she lives during (say) five of the seven days of each week and earns her livelihood. There appears to be no doubt that if she chose to regard Oakbank as her place of living, under the Electoral Act, her claim to enrolment for that Subdivision could not be resisted. On the other hand if 'place of living' be interpreted to mean 'place of residence', she might reasonably claim continuance of enrolment for Alberton in the Division of Hindmarsh.

The matter is somewhat important from an electoral point of view, and I think, should be referred to the Attorney-General for advice. A very considerable number of young unmarried men and women throughout the Commonwealth are no doubt circumstanced similarly to Miss A., i.e. are engaged, in different occupations, in Divisions other than those in which their parents reside, and return to their parents' homes (say in the cities) for each weekend.

I have directed the Commonwealth Electoral Officer to refrain from taking any action to recover the penalty pending direction.

Section 56 of the Act provides that any person who would be qualified to vote if his name were upon a Roll and who has lived in a Subdivision for a period of one month may claim to have his name placed upon the Roll for that Subdivision.

Section 57 provides that the Electoral Registrar, if satisfied that a claimant is entitled to enrolment, shall enter the claimant's name on the Roll.

Unless, therefore, a person has lived in a Subdivision for a month he is not entitled to claim enrolment for that Subdivision. It is the duty of the Registrar, upon being satisfied that a claimant is entitled to enrolment, to enter his name upon the Roll. It will be noted, however, that the validity of an enrolment cannot be questioned on the ground that as a fact the person enrolled has not lived in the Subdivision or Division for one month (section 56 (4)).

With regard to the cases mentioned in the Chief Electoral Officer's minute, in which persons live for a certain period of each week in different Electoral Divisions, there does not appear to be any precise line to be drawn. Each case must be decided on the particular circumstances (see Rogers on Elections, 16th edn, Vol.1, p. 149). The question in each case is: where is the elector's abode? In a case, such as that of Miss A., where a single person lives with his or her parents in one Subdivision at each weekend, and is employed during the week in another Subdivision, such employment necessitating his or her sleeping in that Subdivision during the week, I am of opinion that the Subdivision in which he or she lives at weekends should be regarded as his or her place of living for enrolment purposes.

[Vol.16, p. 112]