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Friday, 24 August 1984
Page: 337


Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(10.17) —As I made quite clear during this debate, yes, I am in favour of fixed term parliaments. I believe that is the correct principled solution to this. I also make it clear that I do not regard this Bill, to the extent that it varies the presently totally fixed character of senators' terms, as inconsistent with that because what is involved is not so much fixed terms for any particular group of individuals within the parliament, but fixed terms for the parliament itself as constituted and determined by the term in office of members of the House of Representatives in a particular parliament. That is the context in which we are talking about fixed terms.

The present position we are seeking to establish of creating a nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives is entirely consistent with that long term aspiration. I would certainly prefer that there was a system of fixed term parliaments, but even such a system of fixed term parliaments could, as we debated last year, not be absolutely fixed in all circumstances because one would have to allow for certain contingencies. I do not want to get into that debate about what those contingencies are, but in the event of a government losing its majority in the House of Representatives and no other government being able to be formed, there would have to be provision for an early election. Under those circumstances, one would wish, under that regime, the Senate to be elected again at the same time as the House of Representatives. So even in a fully fledged fixed term regime there would still be provision for unfixed terms in certain circumstances for both members of the House of Representatives and the Senate. So to the extent that Senator Walters is trying to make a debating point about support on the one hand for fixed terms and support for this measure now, I have sought to answer her. I hope the record will so record it.