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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2607


Mr BEAZLEY (Special Minister of State)(4.46) —As I have been directly challenged to respond, the Government's position basically is as was outlined both by the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) and the honourable member for Moore (Mr Blanchard). It relates in the first instance to an administrative question. In fact, this will probably be an easier way for the Australian Electoral Office to deal with this problem than would be its experience in dealing with it in the way that has been suggested by the honourable member for Boothby (Mr Steele Hall). In addition to that, one further point can be made. I assure the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) that there is no question of rats, dogs or anything else of an animal nature being involved in the legislation.

We are concerned here with a more general proposition. The surveys that have been taken by the Australian Electoral Office indicate-I think it would be the common experience of all of us involved in politics that really we do not need surveys to tell us what we nevertheless understand ourselves from having been in the business for a reasonable amount of time-that there is a very real problem in the community in encouraging young people to enrol and get involved in the process. If anything, that problem is worsening rather than getting better. Many factors are involved; some of them do not reflect great credit on us. When I use the word 'us' I mean honourable members collectively and include honourable members on this side of the House. Nevertheless, if we are to have a healthy democracy that situation must cease. Any process which encourages that to cease, provided it can be done in an administrative and sensible way and does not produce, as this will not produce, the type of undesirable effects described by the Opposition, ought to be undertaken. For those reasons we cannot accept the amendment of the honourable member for Boothby.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 28 to 41-by leave-taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 42.