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Wednesday, 11 April 1973
Page: 1289


Mr RIORDAN (PHILLIP, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Is the Minister for Services and Property aware of the proposals introduced in the New South Wales Parliament last night by the Liberal-Country Party Government in order to allow yet a further redistribution of State electoral boundaries? Is it a fact there has been a redistribution of electoral boundaries in New South Wales before each of the last 2 State general elections? Is it also a fact that this further proposed redistribution is to be undertaken in spite of a statutory provision that no such action may be taken until 1'975? What effect will a Liberal-Country Party gerrymander in New South Wales have on the democratic proposals of the Australian Government to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act in order to achieve electoral reform by giving, as far as practicable, every citizen a vote of equal value?


Mr DALY (GRAYNDLER, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Services and Property) - The answer to the first question is yes; to the second question, yes; and to the third question, also yes. If I may elaborate, for the benefit of the honourable member, I anticipated a question of this nature today because when the Liberal-Country Party Government in New South Wales is perpetuating one of the greatest gerrymanders of all time I think it appropriate that the nation should know about it. I understand that last night in the New South Wales Parliament - I mention this in view of legislation pending here - at 9.15 the Government introduced a Bill, used its numbers with brute force, as it were, suspended Standing Orders and forced all stages of the Bill through the Parliament within 3 hours. At the time the Bill was introduced members were not able to obtain a copy of the Bill for the second reading stage. The Bill provides also, in defiance of the Act, to have a redistribution of boundaries in a 4-year period instead of a 6-year period as is laid down. Furthermore, it increases from 15 per cent to 20 per cent the margin of disparity in electorates. I might say also that this is the fourth time since 1965 inclusive that the State Government has had an electoral gerrymander.


Mr Turner - I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. As I understand it, questions are directed to Ministers in relation to the administration of their departments. I put very strongly, Sir, that gerrymanders or otherwise in New South Wales have nothing to do with the administration of the honourable gentleman now on his feet.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! There is no point of order involved. The Minister may answer the question. How he decides to answer it is a matter for himself.


Mr Lynch - Does that mean that the honourable gentleman is responsible for gerrymanders having regard to his own Bill?


Mr SPEAKER


Mr DALY - I can understand the concern of the honourable member for Bradfield because he formerly occupied a position amongst the people whom I am criticising at this time.


Mr Turner - On the point of order, Mr Speaker, I submit that there was a point of order. I cannot have it said and I will not have it said that there was not a point of order.


Mr SPEAKER


Mr Turner - Mr Speaker, I insist on my point of order.


Mr SPEAKER


Mr Turner - Mr Speaker, I insist upon it.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I rule that there is no-


Mr Turner - Mr Speaker, I will not resume my seat until this point of order is resolved.


Mr SPEAKER - Order! I am saying that there is no point of order involved. A Minister is entitled to answer a question as he sees fit.


Mr Turner - He is not entitled, Sir, to answer a question in relation to a matter that has nothing to do with the administration of his Department and, Sir, I will not resume my seat.


Mr SPEAKER


Mr Turner - 1 am not prepared, Sir, to resume my seat.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.


Mr Turner - I will not resume my seat.


Mr SPEAKER -I will quote the standing order.


Mr Turner - Certainly, Mr Speaker, but I will not resume my seat.


Mr SPEAKER -It is standing order 142. Is the honourable member defying the Chair?


Mr Turner - Mr Speaker, I am insisting that I have put a proper point of order.


Mr SPEAKER -I will quote the standing order.


Mr Turner - And I am asking you to rule upon it.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I will quote the standing order when the honourable member has resumed his seat.


Mr Turner - I will not resume my seat until the point of order is resolved.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! I think the honourable gentleman has been here long enough to know that when the Speaker gives a ruling any member who has taken a point of order, or a Minister in respect of whom a point of order has been taken, must resume his seat until a ruling is given. I ask the honourable member whether he will resume his seat. (Mr Turner having resumed his seat) -


Mr SPEAKER - This point is covered by standing order 142, which states:

Questions may be put to a Minister relating to public affairs with which he is officially connected, to proceedings pending in the House, or to any matter of administration for which he is responsible.


Mr Lynch - Mr Speaker, on the point of order which has been taken by the honourable member for Bradfield I submit that the question that has been posed to the Minister is totally outside of his direct control. I remind the House, so that it will be very much aware of them, of the provisions of standing order 142, which states:

Questions may be put to a Minister relating to public affairs with which he is officially connected, to proceedings pending in the House, or to any matter of administration for which he is responsible.

The standing order is in 3 parts, the first of which refers to questions 'relating to public affairs with which he is officially connected'. I submit that the Minister for Services and Property is in no way officially connected with the matter to which he is intending to refer in his response in this House. The standing order refers secondly to proceedings pending in the House. I submit that no proceedings are pending in this House at this stage in respect of the matter to which the honourable gentleman is replying at this stage. The standing order refers thirdly to 'any matter of administration for which he is responsible.' I submit again on behalf of the Opposition parties that the Minister is not responsible for the administration of this matter. I further suggest that if the ruling is continued it is contemptuous of the forms of this Parliament and contrary to longstanding tradition.


Mr Daly - On a point of order, Mr Speaker-


Mr Turner - I wish to move dissent from your ruling.


Mr SPEAKER -Order! A point of order has been taken.


Mr Daly - My point of order is that the Commonwealth Electoral Act provides for joint rolls with the State Acts. In addition to that, the subdivisional boundaries of the State electorates have to be taken into consideration in the drawing up of Federal boundaries. Furthermore, the officials of my Department are being compromised by the infamous practices of the New South Wales LiberalCountry Party Government. We have to work in conjunction with the State Government in compiling the rolls, and in every way we are intermingled in this matter, and consequently this matter is not only something that is under my administration to a great extent but it is also something for which I am jointly responsible with the State people concerned.


Mr Malcolm Fraser - I wish to speak to the point of order. The Minister said that the subdivisions and State boundaries were something that had to be taken into account in a Federal redistribution. In the legislation which he introduced and the legislation which has been in existence for a very long period of time, as I recall, there is no mention of taking into account the actual boundaries of electorates within States.


Mr Daly - On a further point of order, in view of the embarrassment caused to honourable members opposite by this disclosure, that finishes my answer to the question.







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