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Thursday, 24 February 1977


Mr Donald Cameron (GRIFFITH, QUEENSLAND) - I think that the Opposition must have made a New Year's resolution to look ferocious in 1977. But if Opposition members intend to look ferocious they must back up their comment in this chamber with substance. The opposition which haS just been put forward to clause 10 is simply humbug because, as was explained in the second reading speech on this Bill, the 7 year rninimum requirement for a redistribution is justified when we look at the historical record in this country of when redistributions have taken place. We are told that 7 years is too long a span of time, but when we examine the record we see that, with the exception of the occasional State redistribution, one national redistribution was carried out in 1 906, one in 1 9 1 3, one in 1 922, one in 1934, one in 1949, one in 1955, one in 1968, and we are about to carry out one this year. That means that we have had only 8 redistributions in the 76 years since Federation. On average that means that we have had one distribution every 9½ years.

Yet Opposition supporters have the audacity to stand up here this afternoon and this evening, and in the Senate yesterday afternoon and yesterday evening, and put forward token opposition by saying that this 7 year clause is precluding the workings of democracy in Australia. The fact is that, based on history in this country, this clause is quite sensible. I reject completely the tacit opposition- I described it before as humbugthat has been put forward here tonight. If you teach a galah to say often enough that Polly likes crackers, everyone begins to believe that Polly likes crackers. All of the performing and the grandstanding by honourable members opposite as to the unfairness of the redistribution proposals in the Commonwealth Electoral Act as it stands today, and as it has stood in the past, is simply a case of Polly liking crackers; if you say it often enough some people will believe you.

I believe that the electoral record of this country indicates that the vast majority of Australians have rejected the concept that the Labor Party has struggled for three-quarters of a century on unfair boundaries. The Labor Party has had it fair all right; it has just been its performance which has kept it for some 60 years on the Opposition benches. I remember that the former honourable member for Grayndler told people to vote early and vote often. That was his idea of democracy. On that note I conclude my comments.







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