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Thursday, 23 August 1984
Page: 244


Senator WALTERS(12.23) —I thank the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) for his answer. What he has said is: 'Yes, within constraints the Prime Minister can call an election whenever he likes'. He then threw in a red herring and said: 'Should the confidence of the Government be lost in the House of Representatives then that would be the occasion when one would not be able necessarily to call an election of the Houses'. That really is a red herring because that is applicable only to the House of Representatives; it has nothing to do with the Senate. Indeed, it is one of the things that the founding fathers decided should not apply to the Senate because of the stability we need. If that occurred in the House of Representatives that would be fine but it certainly should not apply to the Senate. So we leave out that minor possibility that the Attorney-General admitted has not occured very frequently in our history. My next question is: Does that really mean-leaving out the example the Attorney gave-that the only time the Prime Minister cannot call an election of both Houses is under those limitations? In other words, does it prohibit his calling elections too frequently-two elections, one after the other, in very close proximity? Is that the only time that the Prime Minister, for whatever reason, cannot call both Houses together-two quick elections in close proximity, well under the three-year limit?