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Monday, 11 December 1905

Mr FISHER (Wide Bay) - This is a very suitable time in which to deal with the Bill, because with the approach of the Christmas season we are all in a mood to deal with so many amendments. I think that most honorable members are of opinion that amendments such as have been proposed should be incorporated in our electoral law. As regards the redistribution of seats, there are special reasons why trouble arose in the last Parliament.

Mr JOSEPH COOK (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - There were no reasons then which do not exist now, according to the figures.

Mr FISHER - The honorable member for North Sydney spoke of one State, but in Queensland there were very peculiar and regrettable circumstances that complicated the whole matter in. a degree which, perhaps, is not understood at the present time. I shall do all in my power to see that a redistribution of the States is passed before the next elections are held. I have no doubt that if the ensuing season is sufficiently protracted, the House will deal with this question in a satisfactory manner. In my opinion, a big principle is involved in the amendment under consideration. I do not look so unkindly upon the action of the Senate in making this amendment as does the honorable member for Herbert. It is an indication of the kindly interest which the Senate takes in our welfare, and of its desire to keep us out of the way of temptation. But apart from that consideration, the first principle of parliamentary government is that the elect of the people shall settle every matter concerning the administration of public affairs. These questions must come before the House, and if the majority ever do an act which is proved to be unjust, I shall have every confidence in the judgment of the democracy. The people may excuse a trifling inadvertence, but the perpetuation of an injustice will undoubtedly bring punishment upon its perpetrators. In my opinion, the House should retain the power of accepting or rejecting any plan of redistribution of seats, and, therefore, I shall vote with the Government.

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