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Thursday, 23 August 1984
Page: 318


Senator MACKLIN(10.06) —I move:

(1) page 2, proposed new sub-section 13 (5), lines 34 to 36, leave out 'in accordance with a law made by the Parliament for the purposes of that sub- section or, if there is no such law, as determined'.

(2) Page 3, proposed new sub-section 13 (6), lines 37 and 38, leave out the proposed sub-section.

This amendment deals with the following:

The reference in sub-section (4) of this section to the order of the relative success at an election of the senators for a State shall be construed as a reference to the order of their relative success as determined in accordance with a law made by the Parliament for the purposes of that sub-section . . .

Essentially the item here relates to the seniority of senators. Under the Constitution the Senate has the power to determine the order of relative success of senators after a double dissolution. Effectively, that is the only area which is of any import. Last year, during the changes to the Commonwealth Electoral Act, we passed a new section which instructed the electoral commissioner, in the event of a double dissolution and after the election had been declared, to recount the ballot as if only half the number of vacancies were to be filled, and on the determination of who would have filled the positions if only half had been elected at that election to notify those orders of success to the Senate. However the Senate was still left with a determination as to which of those methods it would choose, whether it would choose to follow the relative order of success as determined by that recount under the Electoral Act or whether it would follow what are now the conventional methods, that is, in terms of the order of relative success as determined by the way the senators come to a full quota.

When one examines the intricacies of the matter, one sees relatively soon that it is possible for those lists to differ. The area in which they would probably most significantly differ would probably relate to senators from my own Party. If we had at a double dissolution a full quota, for example, it would mean we would come in third or fourth in most States. However, it does not necessarily mean that we would come in at that order on a recount as determined under the Electoral Act. I am not concerned with the substance of which of those views should be the one that the Senate finally determines as being the most accurate reflection of the views of the electorate. That, I believe, is a debate for another time. However, I believe that in conjunction with this proposal that item is extraneous and has nothing to do with the operation we are looking at. It is indeed a separate matter to determine the relative order of success. I have moved the amendment and preshadowed the other amendment as they concern the same matter. I hope the Committee will support these amendments which do nothing more than take out that discussion of the relative success. If they are omitted, the power to determine the relative success at an election of senators for a State will still be held as it is now by the Senate.