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Thursday, 23 August 1984
Page: 244


Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(12.17) —Lest my silence be deemed to be consent, I make it absolutely clear for the record that of course I do not accept that the change in title that is proposed by the Opposition amendment more accurately reflects the content of the Constitution Alteration ( Simultaneous Elections) Bill, just as one does not say, when one sees a car going down the road: There goes a gear box, an engine, four wheels and an axle. Nor does one say, when one sees a measure of this kind: There goes a collection of provisions dealing with this, that and the other nuts and bolts that make up the end result. What this Bill is about is a Bill to ensure that simultaneous elections always take place, not just on occasions when it suits the convenience of whoever is calling the election. The adjustment of the terms of senators to produce that result is consequential upon that basic motivation, that basic statement, of what the intention of the legislation is all about.

The effect of the measure is to produce a system of simultaneous elections. The means by which that effect is achieved, the means by which that end is achieved, certainly go, among other things, to the question of the terms of senators. It is simply a question as to what is the most appropriate characterisation. Up until today the most appropriate characterisation has been accepted on all sides of politics for the best part of a decade as a description in terms of simultaneous elections. For that now to be moved away from, in the way that is occurring here today, is a product of short term, political opportunism and cynicism rather than any principle judgment about what the proper characterisation of the content of this legislation is. I ask those opposite, who are minded to behave in this way, to contemplate the consequences, in terms of the credibility of themselves and their parties, when they go before the electorate.