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Friday, 24 August 1984
Page: 335


Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(10.05) —Since gentlemanly goodwill seems to be slightly more the order of the day than it was about 20 minutes ago let me, in turn, acknowledge that Senator Durack's present proposal for a change to the long title of the Constitution Alteration (Simultaneous Elections) Bill is substantially less offensive than his original proposal, which was indeed a piece of vulgar politicking of a high order. I am delighted to see that he has now retreated on that-not, I suspect, so much because of the force of the advice put to him but rather the consideration that it would probably be knocked out as offensive to Standing Orders if it proceeded in its original terms. Be that as it may, the Government, while not having to be dragged quite as noisily as would otherwise have been the case to the wall over the terms of this amendment, does really rather prefer the language of the long title which is in the Bill as it stands and we wish to persist with that.

In that respect we would hope to be joined by the Australian Democrats who, after all, engaged in a great deal of consultation and discussion with us in setting the terms of that long title when this matter was last in issue before the Senate in 1983. Indeed, their co-operation with us in that respect was the subject of considerable adverse comment, as I recall, from the Opposition of the day. I find it a matter of passing regret that the Democrats should once again have been led by considerations best known to themselves to readjust their position and express enthusiasm for yet another different form of words.


Senator Haines —You do so many backflips we have trouble keeping up.


Senator GARETH EVANS —Now, now, do not fuss. Everything is proceeding calmly and pleasantly. We do not want any grumpiness of any kind to disturb the harmony of this exercise in constitutional reform. Under the circumstances, I simply indicate that the Government believes that the existing long title accurately describes the content of the Bill and accurately communicates that content to the electorate. Accordingly, we wish to remain with it.