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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2578


Mr STEELE HALL(12.36) —I move:

(1) Clause 9, page 23, proposed section 25K, after paragraph (c) of sub-section (2), insert the following paragraph:

'(d) if the Electoral Commission is so directed by the Minister following the passing of a resolution of disapproval of a proposed redistribution or determination pursuant to sub-section 25ZC (14A)'.

I wish to move a total of four amendments. The other amendments are dependent on the success of the first amendment. If this amendment is agreed to it will meet the arguments that have been raised and I will then move the second amendment to clause 9. The first amendment is really consequential to the further amendment that produces the argument. As the Special Minister of State (Mr Beazley) knows, much has been said in the arguments that have been put on this question about the power of parliament in relation to the final determination of distribution. A number of very respectable positions can be taken in this regard. It can be said, as the Government has said and as the report of the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform has said, that it is fairer if Parliament does not have a final jurisdiction over the distributions. However, others are of the view, and the Opposition takes the view quite strongly that, in the end, parliament should be the final court, the final determinant as to whether the distribution is acceptable to the Australian community. After all, parliament is the most representative body of the Australian viewpoint. For this reason I have moved the amendment which, if carried, would be the forerunner of other amendments which would ensure that the redistribution would be laid before parliament and would be subject to disallowance.

As I have said, I know that there are those who maintain that the distribution should be accomplished outside any final determination as such. I repeat the question: What could be a more final or a fairer determinant than the people's representatives in the House of parliament? I hope that the Minister will give some thought to this matter. I notice that he has not accepted it in his own amendments. I am not surprised at that, I suppose, because his representatives on the Committee certainly pushed for no further reference back to parliament. I would have been somewhat mollified if the Minister had proposed some reference to parliament which would then have resulted in a view being put before the Australian Electoral Commission. In the absence of the view, one which I would have considered to be a very reasonable view, that parliament's opinions of the distribution should be considered by the Commission, and that was my personal view in that part of the dissenting report on this issue, the Opposition must move for the retention of parliament's power over the distribution.