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Friday, 24 August 1984
Page: 344

Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(11.02) —First, on a question of order, are all these things now at large for discussion under the long title? I do not mind endeavouring to answer, but I am wondering whether this is the appropriate time.

The CHAIRMAN —If the Minister is prepared to answer the points, very well, but I cannot force him to answer. They are not strictly relevant to the title.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I do not want to get in a position where, under the guise of debating the title, we shall see all human life once again pass by.

The CHAIRMAN —It is an extremely wide-ranging debate.

Senator GARETH EVANS —In reply to Senator Macklin's question, that matter is squarely addressed by sub-clauses (11) and (12) of the proposed new clause 13. Sub-clause (11) deals with the question of a short term senator whose term will expire in June 1988. Under the new provisions his term of service would expire on the expiration or dissolution of the first House of Representatives to expire or be dissolved after the commencement of the section. Therefore, if we have an election in late 1987 or early 1988--

Senator Macklin —I was looking at an election before mid-1985, another one.

Senator GARETH EVANS —If there is a second election before mid-1985, the short term senator would go out at that election, because the sub-clause says that the term of the person whose term would otherwise expire on 30 June 1988 shall expire on the expiration or dissolution of the first House of Representatives to expire after the commencement. In the wildly implausible, I hope, event that there is a second election between now and the middle of 1985, that consequence follows. The position of the longer term senator is addressed by sub-clause (12) and the same considerations apply.

Senator Harradine raises the question once again about the machinery for determining who is who in the forthcoming election. There will be seven senators elected from each State. The arrangement everybody has in mind is that the sixth person to be elected assumes the long term position and the seventh person to be elected assumes the short term position. That still leaves open the question of what is the proper method of calculation to be applied in determining who is elected sixth and seventh. Senator Harradine quite rightly points to the dilemma debated earlier this morning, as we debated it last night, that if it were done in terms of the sixth and seventh quotas to be filled, is it to be done by reference to the primary votes accumulated by each of the respective senators? The convention and practice of this place have been to do it by reference to the quotas.

Senator Macklin —But who would be permitted to vote on it?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The present continuing Senate. We shall have to debate at some stage whether those two additional from each State or one only of them get a vote.

Senator Robert Ray —It should be resolved before the election.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I think Senator Robert Ray is correct in saying that this matter will have to be debated and resolved by the Senate before the election.

Senator Macklin —Except that the Constitution does not allow that. Section 13 says that we have to make it afterwards. Does this apply to that?

Senator GARETH EVANS —We have to make the decision afterwards, but we can determine in advance who is to make the decision. I think that must be right. There is obviously a hiatus in the Constitution in identifying who makes the decision. Can I suggest that this is a fascinating subject for debate but is not one which needs to be resolved in the context of this matter. The question arises as a result of these clauses, but nothing we do with these clauses will resolve it. I am indebted to Senator Harradine for his contribution, but might I suggest that we return to the long title and resolve once and for all what the long title of this referendum proposal will be.