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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 158


Senator BRANDIS (QueenslandAttorney-General, Vice-President of the Executive Council and Leader of the Government in the Senate) (09:41): I wish to make some brief remarks in contribution to this debate and in support of the motion. The point to be made is that the motion proposed by Senator Fifield is consistent with every single precedent adopted by this chamber following a double dissolution. After the 1914, 1951, 1974, 1975, 1983 and 1987 double dissolutions—in other words, after all of the double dissolution elections that have occurred since Federation—when the appropriate operation of section 13 of the Constitution, which is the provision that provides for the rotation of senators, had to be considered by this chamber, the order-of-election principle was adopted.

Now, it is true, Senator Di Natale, as you say, that in 1998—not after a double dissolution—Senator Faulkner advocated for the countback method. That is true. That is a matter about which the Labor Party might wish to say something; nevertheless, that was not after a double dissolution. The motion that Senator Fifield has moved is consistent with every single constitutional precedent, and, of course, the relevant section of the Constitution, section 13, remains in the form it has always taken since 1901.

Finally, Senator Di Natale, can I correct something you said. You said that the Australian Electoral Commission advocated for the countback method. The Australian Electoral Commission does not advocate for anything; the Australian Electoral Commission merely conducts the count. The safest course for this chamber to adopt is the course consistent with each of the previous six double dissolutions and the division of the chamber in the subsequent term.