An Autobiography HTML version

people an appeal to reason and understanding is made much more easily through the eye
than through the ear. The year 1902 saw an advance in the Parliamentary agitation of the
reform, when the Hon. Joseph (now Senator) Vardon introduced a Bill for the first time
into the Legislative Council. The measure had been excellently prepared by Mr. J. H.
Vaughan, LL.B., with the assistance of the members of the executive of the Effective
Voting League, among whom were Messrs. Crawford Vaughan and E. A. Anstey. The
Bill sought to apply effective voting to existing electoral districts, which, though not
nearly so satisfactory as larger districts, nevertheless made the application of effective
voting possible. With the enlargement of the district on the alteration of the Constitution
subsequent to federation becoming an accomplished fact, the league was unanimous in its
desire to seek the line of least resistance by avoiding a change in the Constitution that an
alteration in electoral boundaries would have necessitated.
To Mr. Vardon, when he was a candidate for Legislative honours in 1900 the usual
questions were sent from the league; but, as he had not studied the question he declined
to pledge himself to support the reform. Realizing, however, the necessity of enquiring
into all public matters, he decided to study the Hare system, but the league declined to
support him without a written pledge. Still he was elected, and immediately afterwards
studied effective voting, became convinced of its justice, and has remained a devoted
advocate. Our experience with legislators had usually been of the opposite nature.
Pledged adherents to effective voting during an election campaign, as members they no
longer saw the necessity for a change in a method of voting which had placed them safely
in Parliament; but in Mr. Vardon we found a man whose conversion to effective voting
was a matter of principle, and not a question of gathering votes. That was why the league
selected him as its Parliamentary advocate when effective voting first took definite shape
in the form of a Bill. When, later, Mr. E. H. Coombe, M.P., took charge of the Bill in the
Assembly although the growth in public opinion in favour of effective voting had been
surprising, the coalition between the Liberal and Labour parties strengthened their
combined position and weakened the allegiance of their elected members to a reform
which would probably affect their vested interests in the Legislature. Mr. Coombe had
not been an easy convert to proportional representation. He had attended my first lecture
at Gawler, but saw difficulties in the way of accepting the Hare system as propounded by
me. His experiments were interesting. Assuming a constituency of 100 electors with 10
members, he filled in 60 Conservative and 40 Liberal voting papers. The proportion of
members to each party should be six Conservatives and four Liberals, and when he found
that by no amount of manipulation could this result be altered he became a convert to
effective voting. His able advocacy of the reform is too well known to need further
reference; but I should like now to thank those members, including Mr. K. W. Duncan,
who have in turn led the crusade for righteous representation in both Houses of
Parliament, for of them may it truly be said that the interests of the people as a whole
were their first consideration. Before I left for America I saw the growing power and
strength of the Labour Party. I rejoiced that a new star had arisen in the political
firmament. I looked to it as a party that would support every cause that tended towards
righteousness. I expected it, as a reform party, to take up effective voting, because
effective voting was a reform. I hoped that a party whose motto was "Trust the people"
would have adopted a reform by means of which alone it would be possible for the