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Friday, 24 August 1984
Page: 343

Senator TOWNLEY(10.53) —I should like to follow up something that Senator Walters said, because, while she was speaking, Senator Robert Ray from Victoria said 'Fancy-land' when she was talking about the--

Senator Robert Ray —No-'Fantasy'.

Senator TOWNLEY —No, the honourable senator said 'Fancy-land'.

Senator Robert Ray —No-'Fantasy-land'.

Senator TOWNLEY —It does not matter whether Senator Ray said 'Fantasy' or 'Fancy -land'. I do not think that I am wrong. I think that Senator Ray is wrong, just as another Labor senator was wrong in this place yesterday when quoting figures. However, with regard to the Prime Minister taking the Parliament to the people, it could very well happen as Senator Walters said. I believe that people like elections. I do not believe that they like them every six months; I would not agree with that for a minute. However, we could easily have a situation in which a Prime Minister is elected, very popularly for some reason or another, as Mr Hawke was in 1983. If this proposed constitutional alteration had been in place at that time, he could have, under some pretext, had another election very soon afterwards in an attempt to get total control of the Senate.

I have been a member of this Parliament long enough to know what happens when the Australian Labor Party has control of the Senate. We will see Bills going through this place ever so quickly. Without discussion, they will be gagged and forced through. If perchance the Labor Party gets control of this chamber after the coming election, I think that we shall find that this chamber will be an entirely different place from what it is now. It is obviously the Labor Party's aim to get control and to use the numbers in this place to force through whatever legislation it wishes.

Senator Macklin —Your people guillotined this Bill through in 1977.

Senator Haines —Senator Townley was not a member then, was he?

Senator TOWNLEY —No, the fact is that it was 1975, and I was a member of the Liberal Party for all the time that I was sitting in this place as an independent. But the honourable senators would not understand that perhaps and they obviously do not understand the history of what has gone on in this place as well as they ought to understand it. Whilst what Senator Macklin says about the Liberal Party guillotining that Bill through in 1977 may be correct, the fact is that once when I was present here, when the then Senator Murphy was in control of the chamber, 11 Bills, I think, went through this place, in almost the same number of minutes.

Senator Hill —That will happen again.

Senator TOWNLEY —It will happen again if Labor ever gets total control of this chamber. The point that Senator Walters was making was very valid: That a popularly elected Prime Minister could have election after election until he gets control of this place, if the legislation before us is passed and is put before the people. As I said by way of interjection to Senator Hill earlier, I do not believe that this referendum will be put to the people. I believe that it will be another example of how the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) has proved to be a Clayton's Attorney-General. He is the Attorney-General that one has when one does not want anything to get through. The Government has not really thought about a few of the matters that must be satisfied before this referendum can be put to the people. I shall not give the Government a few of the matters about which it has not thought; but it had better look very closely at the requirements of referendums, because it will then see that they cause certain complications. I know that I have moved a little away from the--

Senator Crichton-Browne —Answer me this, Senator Townley: If the referendum question cannot be put before February, do you think that that will hold off the Prime Minister's election until February because he is terribly concerned about the referendum?

Senator TOWNLEY —When we had referendums before, I said in this place that any Prime Minister who teaches people to vote against something that he puts up is crazy. Whitlam did it, and the people voted against him. Eventually they kicked him out. If Mr Hawke is silly enough to run this referendum and is able to run it, I think he will be just training people, who might otherwise have voted for the Labor Party, to vote against him.

Senator Robert Ray —Therefore, you should support its going up.

Senator TOWNLEY —Anything that Senator Robert Ray supports I would never support , just out of form. It just seems quite crazy. If Senator Robert Ray from Victoria is after something, there is something wrong with it, in my opinion; there is something shifty about it. Therefore, if he suggests that I would support it, I shall do the opposite.