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Friday, 24 August 1984
Page: 332


Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(9.43) —We have looked at the possibility of recasting proposed new section 13 in order to accommodate some of the concerns that were expressed last evening by Senator Durack but we have come to the conclusion-I understand that this has now been accepted by Senator Durack -that that is simply impossible without turning this constitutional provision into a full-scale statutory provision making reference to statutory officers and institutions such as the Australian Electoral Commission. It is simply impossible without doing all that to produce the result of getting absolute precision into the language of this clause so far as it governs the order in which senators are determined to be elected and, accordingly, whether or not they take their seats after a dissolution on a short term or a long term basis.

Under the circumstances, the Government proposes to stay firm behind the clause as it is drafted in the Bill which leaves the question of determining what constitutes relative success to be determined either by resolution of the Senate or by legislation. We understand that the Australian Democrats propose to persist with their amendment to reduce the options to one, that is to say with relative success being determined as it is at the moment simply by resolution of the Senate. I also understand that the Opposition is likely to support the Democrats in that respect. The Government will not pursue the matter to a division because we do not feel desperately passionate about it. However, we think on balance that the option ought to be preserved and would, for the record , indicate our support for the Bill as it stands. I repeat that we will not pursue that position to the point of division.