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Thursday, 7 June 1984
Page: 2774


Senator HARRADINE(4.18) —I thank the Attorney-General. Like him, I would be rather inclined to weigh in in the same spirit. Politics is what we are all talking about. But what I am saying is that the Electoral Commission should not be political. I draw the Committee's attention to section 7A (1) (c) of the Commonwealth Electoral Legislation Amendment Act. Section 7A (1) (c) has been quoted by Senator Macklin as the basis for enabling his amendment to clause 11 ( 4) (b) to operate.


Senator Crichton-Browne —Would you read it out?


Senator HARRADINE —I will just read out proposed new clause 11 (4) (b) to the Senate:

the provision by the Electoral Commission of other information relating to, or relating to the effect of, the proposed law;

Section 7A (1) (c) of the Commonwealth Electoral Legislation Amendment Act states:

The functions of the Commission are-

(c) to promote public awareness of electoral and Parliamentary matters by means of the conduct of education and information programs and by other means;

'Electoral matters' under the heading 'Interpretation' in section 6 of the Act is defined as follows:

'electoral matters' means matters relating to Parliamentary elections, elections and ballots under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act 1904 and referendums;

We are dealing here solely with referendums, but it does not say whether those referendums affect parliamentary matters or other questions under the Constitution, for example, the advisory jurisdiction matters. We must bear in mind that a function of the Commission is to 'promote public awareness of electoral and Parliamentary matters'. It does not say 'electoral or Parliamentary matters.'


Senator Gareth Evans —You have missed your vocation.


Senator HARRADINE —I am just pointing out that it does not say 'or Parliamentary matters', it says 'and Parliamentary matters'.


Senator Gareth Evans —It does not have to be conjunctive in the context. It is disjunctive.


Senator HARRADINE —I am just pointing to the question. When I voted for this legislation last year, I voted in favour of that.


Senator Georges —But you did not understand it.


Senator HARRADINE —I did understand it.


Senator Georges —But you just said you did not.


Senator HARRADINE —I did not say that I did not understand it. I said before the honourable senator came in that this role was not envisaged when we voted for the Commonwealth electoral legislation last year. I have raised this point now so that when things go bung later on the Electoral Commission might understand that this field is full of mines.