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Thursday, 23 August 1984
Page: 239


Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(11.47) —I want to make it clear , if it is not transparently clear already, that the Government will resist any attempt to change the long title of the Bill in the way proposed by Senator Durack. The shortest and simplest way I can make the point about the crudeness of the political tactic that is now being employed is to remind Senator Durack of the long title proposed by his own Government in 1977 when it put forward this simultaneous election proposal. The long title was as follows:

A proposed law to alter the Constitution so as to ensure that Senate elections are held at the same time as House of Representatives elections.

What the Government has done on this occasion is to build the long title around exactly that same sentiment, which is an apt and precise description of what the Bill is basically about, but to acknowledge the point made by Senator Durack and also vigorously by the Australian Democrats that it is true that the Bill is not just about the timing of elections but also about the terms of senators. In acknowledging the force of that point, we have used the same sort of language, but added the further phrase, 'and to adjust the terms of senators accordingly'. In adding that further phrase we have made it clear that there is no question whatsoever of endeavouring to mislead the electorate as to the substance of this measure, but simply to describe aptly and precisely what it is about. For Senator Durack to abandon totally the concepts and the terminology that informed his own Government's 1977 Bill is to be hypocritical and breathtakingly cynical in a way that ought not to command the serious attention of this chamber.