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Wednesday, 3 May 1939

Mr PATERSON (Gippsland) . - I favour the setting up of a committee, as proposed by the Government, to make recommendations for the improvement of the method of electing the Senate. Any one who gives a moment's thought to the subject must realize that something should be done to improve the present system, under which a party which gains not more than 51 per cent, of the total votes cast throughout Australia may win the whole eighteen seats at any normal election, whereas a party which may obtain 49 per cent, of the total votes cast may be left entirely without representation.

Mr Lazzarini - The honorable gentleman did nothing to improve the position while it favoured his own side.

Mr PATERSON - That is not so. I have again and again raised my voice against a continuance of the present system, quite regardless of its possible effect on my own or any other party. I do not think any one can justly defend the present procedure. As things are, Ave have witnessed the extraordinary spectacle of a great political party choosing candidates for the Senate because their names begin with the letter " A ".

Mr Lazzarini - That is not true.

Mr Lane - It is true.

Mr PATERSON - If the chief qualification for candidature for a seat in the Senate is a name beginning with the first letter of the alphabet, our whole democratic system of elections will be brought into disrepute and ridicule. Under the existing system Abraham has an advantage; Zachariah is at a discount. A candidate's chance of election should be the same whether his name begins with a Z or an A.

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