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Tuesday, 6 December 1983
Page: 3327

Mr BEAZLEY (Special Minister of State)(9.49) —I will make a very brief response to the remarks made by the Opposition. I think I need to pick up just two points, that is, the amendment relating to itinerants and the other amendment on the three-sided voting card. On the matter of the itinerants, it should be pointed out that on the various criteria raised by the honourable member for Boothby (Mr Steele Hall), which provide qualifications for a vote as an itinerant, it has to be determined that the applicant does not satisfy either one of those three provisions before a consideration is given to this final one which has been added to them. The question of the closest connection relates really to where the itinerant might more frequently end up when returning to something that remotely resembles a home base, but may not be covered by the other three provisions. One thinks of the instance of an itinerant who is for most of his life a rural road worker-that is the sort of person who is intended to be picked up by this provision-and who, rather than returning to rented accommodation, a home, a member of his family, a spouse or whatever, returns to a particular city. He or she might have a favourite boarding house or hotel when returning to that city. This may in fact vary from time to time, but over a period a pattern may be established which suggests that one boarding house or hotel is the one he or she most frequently goes to. I am advised that that is not an unusual situation.

I accept that there is a degree of force in the comments that have been made about the three-sided voting ticket. I reiterate what the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman) said. He indicated that if anybody is to be a beneficiary of this, it will not be us. The beneficiaries will be the parties on the other side which, instead of getting 50 per cent of Australian Democrats preferences, may in certain circumstances get 66 2/3 per cent. If we find this to be a serious problem, perhaps we ought to take another look at the propositions. However, the concern of the Government is to get this legislation through and in place. Whatever confusion may be created by this-and I do not think there will be confusion-the people who will not be confused are the electors because this is applicable only to those voters who determine to follow the list system. Those voters following the list system will be handed a three-sided how to vote card as they go into the booth and all they will do when they get into the booth is to put the No. 1 into the column of a particular party and they will have their votes distributed according to that formula. It will not be confusing to them. It will provide hours of enjoyment for the Australian Electoral Office which no doubt will deal with this in the expeditious manner in which it deals with most things. I do not see it as likely to be a very great problem, certainly not for the Opposition. We are prepared to take it on the chin in the interests of getting this Bill through and in place for the very many and valuable provisions it contains.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Resolution reported; report adopted.