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Thursday, 7 May 1987
Page: 2481


Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN(12.11) —I have listened with interest to what has been said regarding the amendment moved by the Leader of the National Party of Australia in the Senate, Senator Collard, including the comments made by Senator Robert Ray and Senator Sir John Carrick. Our Leader says that we still want to proceed with the amendment. As a senator from Queensland, I travel Queensland extensively. I am well aware of the many problems that face people who live in the outback, although I am probably not as aware as the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) or the honourable member for Maranoa (Mr Ian Cameron). The distances are very great. As I listened to Senator Ray talk about the disadvantages, the advantages and whether the measure was right or wrong, I thought to myself: `Senator Ray is a senator for Victoria and Victoria will fit into Queensland seven times'.


Senator Boswell —It should have fewer senators.


Senator BJELKE-PETERSEN —I have often wondered why Queensland does not have seven times as many senators as Victoria. Senator Sir John Carrick raised the issue of whether people in the outback, if they were given a 10 per cent tolerance, would have more power in their vote because there were fewer people in those electorates. We must realise that people who live in city electorates can contact their member by telephone without any trouble. They can probably get to their elected member in a motor car within five minutes. They could even ride a bike without any trouble and get some exercise. That is not possible when one lives in the outback. It is essential for those who live in the outback to have access to their elected member and for the elected member to have access to his or her constituents. There is a real need for people who live in the outback to be able to make their point of view known in the same way as people who live in small electorates in the big cities. Those who live in the outback of Australia play a very important part; they help tremendously with our export earnings. I believe that they need a weighted vote and a tolerance 10 per cent, 20 per cent or whatever it should be. It is important to consider their problems. I support the amendment moved by Senator Collard.