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Thursday, 24 February 1977

Mr SCHOLES (Corio) -The Opposition is opposed to clause 10. 1 think that the argument has been expanded fairly extensively but, clause 7 having been agreed to, a situation has now been created in which the distribution commissioners no longer have the freedom to give latitude in respect of rapidly growing seats in order to keep them within the 10 per cent tolerance required and, therefore, disparities of enrolments will grow at a more rapid rate than would have been the case under a redistribution without clause 7. 1 suggest to the House that the provision in this clause which prevents a redistribution on the basis of a quarter of the seats in any State being outside the 10 per cent tolerance will lead, by the end of the period, to excessive distortion within States. The Opposition therefore believes that this clause should be deleted from the Bill and the existing provision that a redistribution may take place if a quarter of the seats are outside the 10 per cent tolerance should remain.

I am not excited about some of the arguments provided about representation with regard to this provision because I was in this House when Ministers belonging to the National Country Party would not provide any facilities to make it easier for members who talk about representing large electorates to represent those large electorates or for the electors to contact the members. They were as barren of facilities as the Nullarbor Plain. I suggest that honourable members who allowed Ministers to take that course concerning their problems of representation are now shedding crocodile tears. I believe that this clause is designed to prevent disruption but, because we have just agreed to clause 7, it will create excessive disparity between electorates. Since the honourable member for McPherson (Mr Eric Robinson) is sitting on the front bench I might just point out the sort of disparity that already exists. In Queensland the McPherson electorate has 108 800 voters.


Mr SCHOLES -On figures given in the House but not yet recorded, it has 108 800 electors. The 2 smallest electorates in Queensland currently have a total of 97 000 electors. That means that the electors in the electorate of the honourable member for McPherson, no matter how much capacity he may have- I do not make comment on that- have only half a vote each in this Parliament at the moment.

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