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Wednesday, 13 June 1906

Mr WILKINSON (Moreton) -- What the Minister of Home Affairs has just said with regard to re-naming the constituencies may contain some force, but if he will look at the map he will find that in Queensland all the constituencies, except, I think, Capricornia and Darling Downs, are named after individuals. Not only are Moreton, Oxley, Kennedy, and Fitzroy in Queensland named after individuals, but I think that the majority of the constituencies in the Commonwealth will be found to be similarly named. The Minister desires to pass the motion without obscuring the matter, and asks merely for an expression of opinion. I think, and I believe I express the opinion of a majority of my constituents when I say that the names suggested' by the honorable member for Maranoa and the honorable member for Kennedy would be welcomed. Like other members who have spoken for Queensland, I have to compliment the Commissioner upon the excellent work which he has done, but I think that nothing would have been lost if the consideration, of this motion had been delayed for a week, until the report from which the Minister has quoted so copiously had been placed in the hands of honorable members, because I know that there is not a feeling of universal satisfaction with the division which has been made. Personally I vam perfectly satisfied, because I know the difficulties with which the Commissioner had to contend. I believe that he has made the best division of Queensland which could possibly be made, and therefore I have no objection to offer. An objection which has been urged is possibly consequential upon our electoral law, which, rightly in my opinion, gives the franchise to those who have done as hard pioneering work in the State and Commonwealth as other men have done, and who are now in Dunwich Benevolent Asylum. An objection is taken against these men voting en bloc for one constituency. Although they will come into the new constituency of Moreton, still I think that there is some justification for the objection. These men and women who have come upon bad times in their old age and infirmities are gathered in one centre on Stradbrooke Island, in Moreton Bay. They number between 1,000 and 1,100, and have been drawn from various parts of Queensland. I think that if an alteration had been made in the electoral law so as to allow such persons to vote for the constituencies from which they had come, it would' have given greater satisfaction to the people of Moreton electorate and to the people of Queensland generally, because those who are now engaged in earning their living, and have to pay taxes to keep up this benevolent institution, consider that the votes of a considerable number of them may be outnumbered by its inmates. I think that these people have every right to exercise the franchise, because, although they are not now engaged' in an active struggle for existence, still in the past they have done their work for the country.

Mr SPEAKER - I am afraid that the honorable member is hardly discussing the question.

Mr WILKINSON - I bow to your decision, sir. I am merely stating the reasons which have been alleged by Queensland elec tors as to why some other divisions might have been made. In my own opinion, better divisions could hardly have been made, though I know that petitions have been lodged against them. I believe, for instance, that a petition came from certain residents in the districts at the lower end of the Lockyer.

Mr Groom - They came too late.

Mr WILKINSON - Petitions were also sent from the northern end of what is called in the State the Moreton electorate. They also were too late. It appears that there is some dissatisfaction with regard to the present Moreton electorate. It would have been well, in my opinion, if honorable members had had the report relating to the division to peruse, in order that they might see the reasons which were given for the divisions proposed by the Commissioner. Unfortunately, we have not the report before us, and, therefore, are acting in the dark. Personally, however, I shall not oppose the proposal. I am aware that my action in regard to this matter has been called in question by opponents. I wish to put myself straight with my constituency, the House, and the country, and to say that I took no part whatever in inciting people to raise objections. I say now, as I said in the beginning, that, in my opinion, Mr. Lawson has made the best possible division under the circumstances ; and, while I should have liked to see effect given to the wishes of those who have expressed opinions against the proposed changes, still I do not see how the matter could have 'been settled in a better way than it has been. I offer no objection to the proposal of the Minister. All I have to remark to him is that it would, perhaps, have been just as well to allow the divisions in Queensland to remain as at present, because, in a short time - having in view the population that Queensland is attracting from New South Wales and Victoria1 - T am sure that she will be entitled to a tenth representative when a further redistribution will require to be made.

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