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Thursday, 12 August 1999
Page: 7365

Senator ELLISON (Special Minister of State) (10:48 AM) —At the outset can I point out to the Senate that there is nothing wrong, mysterious or deceitful in the word `appoint'. In fact, I would simply refer you to the proposed section 60, which talks in terms of `appointment'. So we have already used in the legislation the word `appointment'. That, I think, has a symmetry with what we are talking about here in the long title, or the question which is to be put to electors on the day. Finally, in relation to informing people and any subterfuge, I would put to the Democrats that their amendment simply leaves the voter begging for more information, because it says:

A Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution to establish the Commonwealth of Australia as a republic.

What form of republic? What sort of republic? This was the very point that I raised earlier, and I will not go over it again. But the situation is that there are various republics around the world. Any Australian elector going to a polling booth on the day would not be assisted in any way by this question. But to say that the use of the word `appointment' is highlighting some flaw or is in some way making the question biased is totally incorrect. The word `appointment' is in line with other language used in the legislation.

The appointment of the President would occur at the time of the vote of the two-thirds majority in the joint sitting. The only thing then needed to be done is the oath of office. It cannot be put any more simply than that. The appointment takes place at that vote. It is then acceded to by the candidate elect when he or she takes the oath of office. So the point of determination is when that vote is taken. The word `appointment' is entirely appropriate and one which has been used elsewhere. The government rejects any suggestion that that word is biased or has been used for some aspect of subterfuge.