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Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories
Governance in the Indian Ocean Territories

DRUM, Dr Martin Lawrence, Private capacity


CHAIR: Dr Drum, although the committee does not require you to give evidence under oath, you should understand that these hearings are formal proceedings of the Commonwealth parliament and warrant the same respect as proceedings of the respective Houses. The giving of false or misleading evidence is a serious matter and may be regarded as contempt of the parliament. For the Hansard record would you please state your name and the capacity in which you appear before the committee.

Dr Drum : My name is Martin Drum and I appear on my own behalf in a personal capacity. I write from the perspective of someone who teaches on Australian politics. The capacity in which this issue first came to my attention is through a PhD project that I supervise. The PhD student was Kelvin Matthews who is the CEO of the Shire of Christmas Island. When he came to me looking to discuss governance on Christmas Island my first comment was, 'What is the problem here? Why is this an issue?' When I investigated I was quite astounded to hear that they do not have the same level of representation that we enjoy in the rest of Australia, certainly on the Australian mainland. The biggest single problem derives from this lack of representation, in my view.

The fundamental principle is that they are governed by laws that they have no say over and have not given their consent to. When I teach Australian politics that is one of the first things that I talk about—that is, we have a right to say yes or no to the things that govern us through our elected representatives. This is not just an abstract point, because it does actually flow through to things like accountability and the responsiveness of government. A lot of responsiveness of government is undertaken in parliamentary estimates and through committees like this, where officials have to account for the spending, the management and the administration of public funds. That is the first issue that came to my attention, and you will see some of these issues outlined in my written submission.

I want to take this opportunity to tease out a couple of issues and to respond to any things that you want to ask me, but I thought that was the best place to start because it feeds into other things. I think Christmas Island and Cocos (Keeling) Islands are, to some degree, out of sight and out of mind in the minds of many Australians on the mainland. We probably associate Christmas Island these days as the site of the immigration detention centre, which I do not think helps their tourism industry and other things like that. We do not really understand their culture as well as we could in places like Western Australia, despite the fact that West Australian parliamentarians legislate on their behalf—not directly and deliberately, but through the 1992 act where their legislation is applied, if it can be, on the island. I think this is part of the problem.

You can actually address a deficit in representation through extensive consultation. That would be some kind of remedy. In other words, if you go out frequently to those areas that are not represented in ways that we take for granted and you consistently and frequently ask their opinions on their issues and the policies and the services that are being delivered to them, then that is some remedy for that lack of representation. I should say that I am in Warren Snowdon's presence and that they have federal representation through the federal electorate of Lingiari, but I do not think that is ideal at all, not because of the lack of skill of any personnel but because our electoral commissions always determine, apart from the number of electors, boundaries based on communities of interest. There should be some kind of commonality and some common aspects in every electorate that we have in Australia, and being thousands of kilometres away from the Northern Territory means it is very difficult to argue that there is any kind of community of interest.

Mr SNOWDON: It is 3½ thousand kilometres from Perth and 3½ thousand kilometres from Darwin.

Dr Drum : It is a long way.

Mr SNOWDON: But it is from both.

Dr Drum : Yes. I do not think there is an easy solution there. You would have the same problems even if you put it into the geographic area closest to Christmas Island, which would be the federal electorate of Durack. That is still a long way away and there is no ideal community of interest there either. I do not think that is an easy situation to resolve. I am just pointing out what that problem is there.

Mr VASTA: They probably have more in common with Norfolk Island than they would with any of the—

Mr SNOWDON: No way, Jose! Apart from remoteness and apart from being an island, it is in a very different location and with a very different history.

Dr Drum : There are some similarities in terms of that problem around service delivery. I am not going to equate their immediate governance, and there are some different cultural things going on there. But there is the same problem: you have got a remote island thousands of kilometres off the mainland that you are trying to deliver services to and you want to be efficient and effective in how you do that. That is why we compared the direct expenditure for both those islands. What you see is that the Commonwealth is tipping a lot more money into Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands than it is into Norfolk.

Mr SNOWDON: At the moment.

Dr Drum : At the moment, yes. That will change under a new governance model, but the point I make here is that governance in Christmas Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands is not a popular thing, at least that is what I found from my visit to the Cocos (Keeling) Islands and you would have heard things through the public hearings process there. People are very frustrated and it is because even though you are spending a lot of money it is not necessarily spent in accordance with the needs and the desires of the people because they have not been consulted enough. I am not just saying that off the top of my hat: I could not find, when I went there, any evidence of any kind of significant or formal consultation process with anyone on the island. Several years ago there was a community consultative committee that existed on the island, which brought together different organisations.

That was defunded at the end of the 2012-13 year. There has been nothing since that time, except a shire-based community consultative committee—I am not going to use CCC, that does not tend to go down well in Western Australia for obvious reasons. The shire has continued to run one and I actually sat in on a meeting of this committee. It was an interesting process and different people expressed different views. At a minimum, I think you should have some kind of committee that the Commonwealth runs. My understanding is that the only time that the Indian Ocean territories administration attended this in recent memory was in December 2014, when officials from both the Commonwealth and the state came to the island to consult—but that was an exception rather than the main rule there. There is no formal or ongoing dialogue. The administrator might be able to have one-on-one or informal anecdotal conversations and go around the island, but there is no meaningful evidence that consultation is taking place in any way shape or form. You are compounding the problem with the lack of representation by not consulting effectively.

The Service Delivery Agreements, SDAs, under which most public funding is delivered to the island are, in recent memory, simply being rolled over rather than being reviewed at their expiry—that is another opportunity for accountability that is being missed and another opportunity for consulting islanders that is being missed as well. That, again, is a departure from what was happening previously. Islanders are saying that things are going backwards not forwards in recent times, which is concerning.

On issue of governance, I will not go on too long as I have addressed some of the things in the submission anyway, I think there is this peculiar reality that the Commonwealth government is spending a lot of money on these services but they are not really being spent effectively, and people are not very happy about it. From what I have seen, the SDAs appear to lack a transparency and accountability, and that is where the SDAs actually exist. There are a number of areas of governance where SDAs do not exist and when they do not exist there is an enormous problem because governance just stops—it is only through the SDA process that there is an agreed pathway for resolving an issue.

There are some examples that came to my attention when I was on the island. The first example is in relation to the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal in Western Australia, who sets the pay for shire offices and elected councillors. There is no SDA there, so the shire has not been able to implement recent decisions from the Salaries and Allowances Tribunal in Western Australia. There is no parity and as such workers there are not being paid the same as workers in other shires—that is not equitable in my view. This is simply because an SDA does not exist.

The second example is in relation to the Environmental Protection Agency, the EPA, who do not have an SDA with the Indian Ocean territories. The Shire of Christmas Island submitted a town planning act and the formal advice from the EPA—I have it here and I thought it was quite extraordinary—was: 'We assessed the town planning scheme as being unassessable'. If that is not a very absurd situation of bureaucracy, then I do not know what is. Effectively that is saying that they do not have jurisdiction even though they are the principal body charged with assessing all town planning acts in Western Australia—so that had to be sent to the Commonwealth and took another 12 months to resolve at the Commonwealth level. We take for granted in Western Australia that these areas of governance proceed, and they are not proceeding effectively in the Indian Ocean territories.

The third example came to me through Kelvin Matthews, the CEO of the shire, who is the delegated officer of the WA Department of Transport when it comes to the awarding of bus and taxi licences. They delegate that authority to him and he takes advice on all applications from the department, as he should I would imagine, such as what is your view about this application given what we know about the applicant, what would you do? He rejected one application based on a poor driving history, which was consistent with the department's advice. When the applicant appealed it and it went to the state appeals tribunal, because it was in the Indian Ocean territories the department could not offer any representation and the shire had to fund almost $10,000 out of its own pocket to try to provide representation to support his determination despite the fact that he was only operating as a delegated officer from the Department of Transport in Western Australia. Was it really his decision? He was simply acting as the dempartment's representative. These sorts of anomalies are occurring fairly frequently in the territories because the mode of government is lacking in many instances. It is important here to offer some examples because it is not good enough, in my view, just to say, 'I think governance is lacking.' We want to see how this is actually working in practice, these kinds of problems.

The other issues are around the overall democratic form of governance. We are very fortunate in our situation in Australia: because of our Commonwealth government having the powers that it has we have a wide variety of options that could be considered in terms of governance—it is not an either/or. You do not have to stick with the current model or go down a complete self-governance avenue. There are a range of different other options that could be pursued.

One of those options could be this: the Commonwealth government already has the ability, under the 1992 act, of terminating the application of any acts in the Indian Ocean territories that come out of Western Australia. It has that authority and that could be amended so as the Commonwealth could exercise that from time to time upon the advice of islanders who are going to be affected by those laws. That would be one way of resolving what is a fairly tricky situation. There are a number of things in the act that could be done to improve governance, but there is also a need to take the ideal form of governance that you settle on to the island.

In every jurisdiction in Australia, pretty much, we have decided, or our parliament has decided, how we are governed. We passed the Constitution Act here in Western Australia in 1889. I think in New South Wales it was in 1853. These are acts passed by our own parliaments that set up how we are actually governed. They are signed off by the Crown and we can amend those acts in our own jurisdictions. I think Cocos (Keeling) Island in 1984, at least, had a vote on independence. But no-one has ever consulted Christmas Island, for instance, on what they think is an appropriate form of governance. We are doing this on a lot lower scale ourselves. As part of Kelvin's PhD project, he is undertaking a survey of governance. I do not think that is quite on the same level as some kind of plebiscite on governance in the future. But in principle that is a really important thing, even if some islanders will not be happy with the final result because that is democracy. Democracy in itself is a legitimising process. It means whatever solution you come up with that is something Christmas Islanders—and perhaps Cocos given we are talking about a common domain at the moment; the Indian Ocean territories—deserve some kind of say as well, depending on how you settle this. They are the main points that I wanted to draw out from my submission.

CHAIR: With recommendation 5 of your list, are we talking about you suggesting self-government?

Dr Drum : I want to be a bit careful that I, as an academic, do not go and do the things that have happened in the past that I am critiquing, or say, 'My model should be followed.' The best is probably what I would call a 'mixed model', where you would give some extra powers to decision-making bodies on the island and they would be carefully audited.

You can see in the last part of my submission I say that we can actually audit local governments, in particular, very effectively. We have got around 140-odd local governments in Western Australia. There are large numbers all over the country. They are the government with the most amount of oversight. They operate with varying degrees of effectiveness but they are subject to a great amount of oversight. The Commonwealth can award extra decision-making powers to a local body like a shire and, at the same time, audit all their funding, audit any SDAs that they have a say in and also repeal or change by legislation any other aspects that become problematic in the future. It is not a path of no return. It is not a path without accountability. I think it can be done and can be done quite effectively.

CHAIR: When was the last time the Shire of Christmas Island was audited?

Dr Drum : Christmas Island shire is audited every year, as are other local governments. In the case of Christmas Island shire, it is audited by the Commonwealth.

CHAIR: Okay. I am interested, as well, in your views regarding the WA state government and representation there. Do you have any thoughts on the ways, problems or technicalities with it being part of a WA state election? I know that Warren Snowdon said that it is 3½ thousand kilometres from his electorate and from Perth, but at least there is one flight from Perth; there are none from Alice Springs, unfortunately.

Mr SNOWDON: I take your point, but it used to be serviced from Darwin. The point is: I do not think it is an issue; I think it is a question of a whole range of other matters, but proximity of services—

CHAIR: Sure, but let's talk about the WA government.

Mr SNOWDON: It is closer to Java.

Dr Drum : I understand that question. There is a little more commonality with Western Australia. That is, firstly, because all the laws that currently apply are Western Australian laws, and that has been the case since 1992. So there is a history there. Secondly, there is more travel to and from Perth than there is from Darwin, and that is apparent when you catch the flights to and from Christmas Island as well. However, I think some of the problems that are there at the moment are unresolved. As Warren has suggested, there is a long distance. There is still not a really clear community of interest that exists. The legal aspects of this are interesting; it might require a plebiscite from both Western Australia and the island in order to do it. Would the state of Western Australia be interested in taking on Christmas Island? It is a very expensive place to deliver services to for a small population. These are all important issues that you need to consider. Christmas Islanders might be just as frustrated with Perth bureaucrats as they appear to be with Canberra. It would resolve one issue, which is being governed by laws that you do or do not consent to. That would be resolved.

CHAIR: I will pass on to other members of the committee. I certainly appreciated your submission. The comparison of figures was most interesting. Thank you.

Dr Drum : Thank you.

Mr SNOWDON: I can give you a lot more history if you like. Firstly, I think that the direction you are heading in, in terms of your submission, is a good direction to head. I think that we have to do a lot more in terms of how we provide decision-making capacity on the island. It used to be the case that, after 1992 when the legislation was enacted, there was a construct where there was a committee on the island and a committee here which reviewed every piece of legislation and provided advice to the community; that has gone. There used to be a formal consultation process, as you pointed out; that has gone. So, in effect, we have the parliament over here making laws which the people on Christmas Island have no idea have been passed and no idea about what is in them. So how those laws impact upon them is an issue. I can recall one occasion where there was a piece of criminal law being passed in the Western Australian parliament where, I think I am right in saying, the Commonwealth used its regulatory powers to have one component of it not apply on Christmas Island. I think I am right in saying that. So that can happen. You are right: the minister in the federal parliament is the minister for everything and can, by regulation, amend legislation. So he could do that right now.

When I had responsibility for territories, in 1994-96 we contemplated the possibility of giving the shire a lot more responsibility—like state-type functions including the power station. It became very clear that there was not the capacity on the island to manage all these things, or the expertise to be able to do the work. Some of the issues—and we confronted these on Norfolk Island—are that the population source is small; the repository of information is small; the level of expertise, which you require to run a governance structure, is limited. So decisions were made which, effectively, meant that the administrator was the decision maker, ultimately. This happened prior to 1996, where the administrator had a lot of delegated powers and was expected to talk to the community and report to the minister.

After 1996—and there is a nice little document which the secretariat has prepared that gives some of the history of this—the administrator became a government employee; a departmental official. There was a couple of years when there was no administrator. All of a sudden the delegation is changed—the department became the authority for making decisions. That, in sum, is why we are where we are. There is, I think, a real argument for us doing more about giving decision making power with more consultation to the communities. But we are stuck. We have an issue—this is an issue for government, not for you or for me: the department has been so pared back that they lack the policy expertise to be able to do this work. That is a problem.

Senator BACK: If an agency of the Western Australian government, after advising the Commonwealth, decides that it is no longer going to offer whatever service it does under its service delivery agreement, what if anything does the 1992 act influence, if you like, in respect of that determination and that decision?

Dr Drum : The 1992 act is a framework for the powers of the minister—

Senator BACK: Which minister—the federal minister?

Dr Drum : The federal minister. It does not say much about state ministers because it cannot really legislate for state government, if that makes sense.

Senator BACK: But is the 1992 act Western Australian legislation?

Dr Drum : It is Commonwealth.

Mr SNOWDON: It is Commonwealth law. It sets up a process where Western Australian law applies from time to time, as agreed to by the Commonwealth.

Senator BACK: I understand that—it is federal legislation but it pertains to the delivery of services by Western Australia. If a Western Australian agency which currently has an SDA in place says to the Commonwealth thank you very much but for whatever reason we are no longer going to offer it after 30 June, is there anything in law that binds that Western Australian agency of government to continue offering that service?

Dr Drum : No, there is nothing that binds Western Australia to doing it. The legislation says that WA law will apply, if it is capable of doing so, and it also refers to the powers of the Commonwealth parliament and the Commonwealth minister in response to this situation, in response to the application that WA enacts. That is the primary focus of it—it has to be, because the Commonwealth cannot really legislate for any powers that Western Australia has, if that makes sense. It cannot really legislate to say what a WA minister can and cannot do.

Senator BACK: But the extension of the question goes to local government, which under the constitution is not an animal of the Commonwealth, it is an animal of the states. Is the relationship of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands local government or the Christmas Island local government a formal, constitutional relationship with the Western Australian parliament?

Dr Drum : They come under WALGA, the Western Australian Local Government Association—

Senator BACK: I know they do administratively but what about legally?

Dr Drum : The level is normally dependent on the number of service delivery agreements that they have. There is a service delivery agreement I believe with the department of local government that helps determine resources and regulation, and they are also subject, of course, to the legislation around planning that comes out from Western Australia. Most of what local governments do involves planning, so they have to spend a lot of time complying with that legislation. The federal act does not say what the Western Australian department does or does not do; it only talks about it from a Commonwealth perspective. What is interesting in your question is that the Commonwealth has always operated with Western Australian public agencies as service deliverers but I do not see any reason why you could not have private providers at different times to deliver services. This could be done, in theory, more effectively and efficiently. For instance, in education we know that the government have asked private providers to do a whole range of things, and you could in theory have a private provider there. It should be considered.

Senator BACK: More than in theory, but in practice. Until recently the state education department of WA provided the education services at the school on Christmas Island but when the state department said they could not provide them in the immigration facility—

Mr SNOWDON: They said they did not want to provide them.

Senator BACK: They did not want to, but the reality was that the Catholic Education Commission actually took that over, did they not?

Dr Drum : Yes, they did.

Senator BACK: I do not know if it still is.

Dr Drum : This already happens to some degree, if you think about it—

Mr SNOWDON: Prior to the 1992, the Commonwealth Teaching Service ran the schools.

Senator BACK: Did they?

Dr Drum : As another example: here in Western Australia we have a number of major hospitals delivered by private providers, such as Ramsay Health Care at St John of God. So, in health there could be a bigger role for other providers also. I think there definitely is a role for some innovation or different perspectives.

I have to say I am not a legal expert; I am a governance expert. I look at what governments do and do not do and their efficacy—things around spending. I am not a lawyer and I would be a bit reluctant to comment on all of them, but I have only read the provisions of the act a number of times and tried to understand them as best I can. I would not want to go too far into constitutional law for that reason.

Senator BACK: Okay. I have another question, totally unrelated to the past. We have observed the role of the so-called administrator, and we have the conclusion that it is really almost a ceremonial role, and that every time we have a change of government we have a change of administrator. I come from the viewpoint of having been CEO at Rottnest Island for seven years, so I have a very clear idea—

Mr SNOWDON: Were you there when Mike Flood was working there?

Senator BACK: I put him on, yes. He was one of my managers—an outstanding manager.

Mr SNOWDON: He and I shared a house together—well, it—

Senator BACK: Is that right?

CHAIR: Community interest!

Senator BACK: I sense the frustration of everybody. I sense the frustration read from Mr Stanhope, who I have not met; Mr Haase, who I know, obviously; and the Cocos Keeling Island community and the Christmas Island community. It is a bloody nonsense, this administrator role, isn't it? But the administrator role could be such an effective one. I would just be keen on your comment on how this committee might address the question of the administrator.

Dr Drum : I know that there are some views that the administrator's role could be expanded. I have a different view. I think that if you have a problem where the community feels that the government is not accountable to them, that to give someone who is appointed without consultation with the community extra powers just exacerbates it. Again, it is not a reflection on the personnel involved—

Senator BACK: No, it is not.

Dr Drum : It is more about the role. I think you are actually better off going down the path where you give local people more of a say. You can use auditing and you can use other oversight instruments in order to make sure that it is being done effectively. I think that is a more effective way of doing things, rather than giving the administrator additional powers. The administrator is one person; I think you would end up creating not quite a dictator, but someone with enormous powers and influence who is appointed from somewhere else and who is 'ruling', if you like, on the island. I think that just exacerbates things, yes.

Mr SNOWDON: But we have a history in this country of having administrators—we have them on Cocos—

Mr VASTA: It is just like the governors—

Mr SNOWDON: Well, they are like governors, yes that is true. But in the context of the Northern Territory, for example, prior to self-government there was a legislative council but there was also an administrator. The legislative council's role was limited, and when self-government became a reality all state-type powers were vested in the government of the Northern Territory by the Commonwealth.

In the context of Christmas and Cocos, it seems to me that one of the issues appears to be that the Commonwealth to have representation because it is a Commonwealth territory. Whether or not it is a senior government official or whatever it is, there is accountability for Commonwealth government programs which needs to be carried. The problem we have at the moment—and this is to go to Senator Back's question—is that the administrator's role has changed.

Your little paper—Sam, you did a really good job!—outlines how it has changed since 1996. I do not think it was a deliberate decision by the government of the day, necessarily. I think the Empire struck back: basically, the bureaucrats got hold of it, they had the delegations and they refused to let them go. I had this conversation with the previous minister in the previous government and the previous administrator about giving back those responsibilities so that they are forced to have consultation processes with the community and have decision-making power on the island, as opposed to in Canberra or Perth. There are a number of administrative structures you could deal with which could give the community a great deal more say and responsibility without necessarily—but also at the same time—beefing up the role of the administrator, who should be accountable directly and only to the minister. The problem we have is that they report back through the bloody department, and that is an issue.

If they are reporting to the minister as the minister's delegate that changes the relationship entirely. It also means that you can set up structures. One of the things that occurs to me is that you could set up a regional governance structure, which might include Cocos Island, where you might have directly or indirectly elected people talking through this structure which the administrator would sit on but would not have a majority vote on.

Dr Drum : Like I said, there is a range of models. It is not one or the other; you look at something that works, and I think you have the opportunity to tailor something that works in this area.


Dr Drum : I think it is better to have an administrator who works in concert with the community and where there are community feedback mechanisms. That would be an improvement. I still think, from my perspective, that someone who values—

Mr SNOWDON: It is a bit anachronistic.

Dr Drum : Yes. It is a bit anachronistic. If you empower local people with the ability to make decisions on their own behalf then, as I said, local government in Australia does have a lot of oversight mechanisms built into it. We can easily audit spending, for instance, which is a big issue. If you look at one of the biggest issues with local government in Australia it has been spending and how that is done. It is actually easier to oversee what we do in local government. Local governments have been dismissed in the past where there have been serious accusations or corruption. You cannot dismiss a state government. So there are ways in which you can give—

Mr SNOWDON: You could dismiss the Northern Territory government if you wanted to! In fact, I would like to.

Dr Drum : From the sentiment I saw, just going out to the island—and it would be interesting to see how a survey went, because you are going from anecdotal to something a bit more substantial—I think there is a desire for islanders to have their own say in broader decision making.

Mr SNOWDON: That has been true since I have been going.

CHAIR: I would just like to clarify one other thing with you, Dr Drum. You are into governance and local government—can you tell us your thoughts about those matters? It was suggested by a person making a verbal statement on Christmas that when the shire elections came up there was voting in the CEO's office, where people were required to put their ballots into an unlocked ballot box, or an unsecured ballot box. Is that a governance issue as far as you—

Dr Drum : I think all ballot boxes should be secured. If you think about state and federal elections that has always been the case. I think that if there are any allegations of impropriety in any electoral process they should always be investigated. I read that statement myself when I read through the transcripts from the island. I think these things should always be investigated because the electoral process is pretty central to integrity in government. I do not think you necessarily take allegations without evidence. They should be tested—

CHAIR: Of course.

Dr Drum : But I would investigate any issues around the electoral process to make sure that it is done completely effectively.

Can I just say something a little more on that same topic? I went to Christmas Island and asked people about representation issues and the like. One of the things that came up was for the Malay and Chinese communities, which are very substantial on the island. A lot of the candidates do not use Malay and Chinese literature when they run for office. There are also cultural reasons, as I understand it, for some of the Malay and Chinese people—I am trying to remember whether it is the Malay or the Chinese who tend to pre-poll a lot before the day. These are people who only receive literature in their own language from some candidates and not from others.

So I am not sure if there could or could not be an issue around the electoral process, but there is also an interesting issue around campaigning. If people are not reaching out enough to those communities, which are substantial communities on the island, they are probably not going to do as well in those council elections. It stands to reason. That is something that came through in discussions when I was on the island.

Mr VASTA: The discussions on Norfolk were that they have actually worked out the voting patterns for such a small population, and that can be—

Senator BACK: Norfolk or Christmas?

Mr VASTA: At Norfolk. At that time they worked out how to get families to vote and worked out the result.

Mr SNOWDON: I had a particular polling place in my electorate, it was very early on, where there were 600 people who voted and only one did not vote for me.

Mr VASTA: And you know who it was?

Mr SNOWDON: I know who it was!

Dr Drum : Obviously a secret ballot is important here.

Mr SNOWDON: We can see!

Dr Drum : But another thing that is important here is that every single person who wants to vote gets that opportunity to vote. So getting more people on the roll is really important.

Mr SNOWDON: Communication is a really important thing, that is quite right.

Dr Drum : It is. I got the impression at times, when speaking to Chinese and Malay people, that that aspect of their culture, which is really distinct on the island, is not always recognised by governments either. The Chinese have been there for over 100 years. They are the largest community on the island. The Malay are a bit more recent, but they are still very substantial. I am sure Warren could tell you a bit more about that, as their representative. It is an important issue when you talk about governments, because governments need to be representative.

CHAIR: What you are saying is that while some people might suggest that there was impropriety with regards to the voting—

Dr Drum : The discrepancy between pre-poll and close of the day.

CHAIR: Discrepancy, yes—clearly that was what was suggested. But you would probably put that down to the fact that the union candidates communicated in Chinese and Malay.

Dr Drum : If those communities are voting in larger numbers ahead of the day, that could well be a factor in that so-called discrepancy that was alleged. I do not think it is just alleged; I think it is probably the case, if they are voting differently.

CHAIR: Okay, all right then. Thanks for attending and giving evidence to the committee at today's hearing. If the committee has any further questions for you they will be sent in writing through the secretariat. Thanks very much.

Dr Drum : Thank you.