W.C.T.U. Franchise Department report – part of Woman’s Christian Temperance Union Fourth Annual Report

The following is the paper on the Franchise Department read by Mrs. C. Wallace, National Superintendent, on the first day of the W.C.T.U Convention. It has been slightly condensed by the writer.

The paper read by Mrs. McLean in your last Convention and distributed in leaflet form, prepared the way for work for Womanhood Suffrage, which was taken up in March as a separate Department. A committee from the Victorian Alliance conferred with a committee from the W.C.T.U. as to methods. That interest was awakened and hearty effort made was proved by the signatures of 30,000 women to the Petition to Parliament, asking that women might vote on equal terms with men. The interest will be better appreciated when we consider the short time in which the work was done. There was an interval of ten weeks between the first mention of the Petition in the Alliance Record and the presentation of the same to the House, but the headings of the Petition were not sent out until about a fortnight later, and most of them were returned a month before wanted, as it was thought the measure the petition was to support would be introduced before it actually was.

There is no cause for discouragement in the failure to secure, in this first instance, that for which you petitioned. An "arrest of thought" has been secured. The question has been brought into the field of practical politics , made a debatable one, on which statesmen and politicians are expected to declare themselves. The granting of the ballot to women in this and other sections of the world may be delayed some time, but the discussion of the question will go on. We must work out the solution, and to this end consider the best means.

We would repeat the suggestion already made:- That each Union appoint a Superintendent; that she subscribe for the Alliance Record, and send to the same address, 1s. for sample package of leaflets. In addition to leaflets, have printed slips, which give the views of distinguished persons on Womanhood Suffrage. These are conveniently inserted in letters. Secure column or portion of column in your local paper for suffrage news. Place literature in club rooms, hotels, Y.M.C.A and all reading rooms possible. Solicit clergymen to preach on woman's condition, past and present. Endeavor (sic) to have the subject discussed in debating societies and made the theme of essays and orations in colleges and seminaries. Memorialise conventions, secular and religious. Secure attention and consideration of the subject at political meetings. Circulate the enrolment papers, securing the signatures of all persons over twenty-one years of age, who believe that women should vote on equal terms with men. Learn what are the electoral privileges of women and how many avail themselves of these privileges. Know the laws concerning assessment and registration of voters, the times, places and conditions therefore; the conduct of municipal affairs. Study carefully what is the legal status of married women, spinsters and widows, and what the protection to person and property. To this end, form societies for the study of law and politics – the science of government – as it well behoves those who are under the law to have a thorough knowledge of its conditions and provisions. The discussion of the following subjects will be interesting and instructive – Courts, Lawyers, the beginning of a Lawsuit, Evidence, Both Sides of the Jury Question, marriage, Divorce, Parent and Child, Teacher and Pupil, Employer and Employee, Public Corporations, Insurance, Land, Wills, Offences against Person and against Property, Rates, Public Institutions, Public Health, the Liquor Laws etc. These and kindred subjects are worthy of study. Awaken interest in all the questions of the day, state and local. Watch Parliamentary proceedings for all legislation bearing directly or indirectly upon each member of the human family, regardless of sex, and upon every home. In the appointment of a Superintendent it is not expected that she is to do all the work, but that she will call attention to it, and that each individual member will take it up, as they did in securing signatures to the Petition. In addition to the Record we would mention the Woman’s Suffrage Journal, a monthly sheet, 1s. per annum. Address, G.P.O, Box 1172, Sydney. The subjoined questions form a series of Political Examination Papers, begun in September number, which might be profitably taken up in the Union and studied as well in the home and school.

Examination Paper

Define briefly the following words and phrases – Hustings. Hansard. Cabinet. Executive Council. Count Out. Stonewalling. Vote by ballot. Labor Platform.

What is the maximum number of members of the legislative Council? and how many members are the in the Legislative Assembly?

Describe the present method of polling votes, and explain what there is about the proceedings which may be injurious or offensive to women?

What are the qualifications required in a male voter?

What persons or classes are prohibited from voting?

Through what stages must a bill pass before it becomes law?

In what way are members of the Upper House or Legislative Council appointed and how long do they retain their seats?

Mention a Colony in which Members of the Upper House are appointed in a different manner, and explain such difference.

What do we understand by the phrase “Local Option with compensation”?

Mention three or ore evils which might be mitigated by legislation.

Select one of these evils and state the most important provision a Bill should contain in order to effect a remedy?

Define briefly the terms – Federal Parliament. Occupants of the cross benches. Plural Voting. Prorogation. Dissolution. Select Committee.

What annual sum is paid by the colony to the Governor, and what salary is attached to the office of Premier?

What is the poll-tax on Chinese?

What is the import duty on bacon, butter, candles, cheese, chocolate, raw coffee, corn-flour, currents, fish, jams, kerosene, preserved milk, raisins, rice and tea?

How is the President of the Legislative Council appointed?

What is “the £40 deposit”, and under what circumstances is it forfeited?

What are the qualifications of a woman voter in municipal elections?

In what month are Aldermen elected?

For what reason are women teachers of Public Schools paid less than men who do the same work?