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Wednesday, 3 May 1939


Mr HOLLOWAY (Melbourne Ports) . - This motion is fraught with grave dangers and difficulties, and has all the elements required for the introduction into our democracy of the gerrymandering of electoral boundaries, and changes in election methods at a time and in a manner favorable to the parties which happen to be in power. The worst feature of the proposal is that members of Parliament themselves would form the select committee which would determine the method to be adopted.


Mr Gregory - The committee would merely submit a recommendation.


Mr HOLLOWAY - But the recommendation would come from a committee comprised of members of this Parliament. This would not be fair, because on the committee would be a majority representative of the party which happened to be in power. The party now in power would be in a position to put the recommendation of the committee into effect at a time which would best suit itself. The recommendation would be determined on party lines, and the Opposition would have no opportunity to have effect given to its views. The present system has 'been in vogue since 1919. Almost from the inception of federation, defects in the system of voting for the Senate were discovered. At one election almost 100 per cent, of one party's nominees would be elected, and on the next appeal to the people the pendulum would swing to the other extreme. It is difficult to recall a period of any length when we had anything like a balanced upper cham'ber. However, no attempt was ever made to straighten out this tangle when the results were suitable to the party now in power. We know that history repeats itself in this respect. All of us are aware of the periodical swing of the political pendulum. Time alone seems to work this out ; it is something apart altogether from politics. To-day it is obvious to every Australian that unless something extraordinary occurs to interrupt this cycle a sweeping change in -the party representation in this Parliament will take place within the next few years. Therefore, this proposal is brought along by this Government, a dying government, which has had to gamble and barter in portfolios for the last three or four years in order to retain power.







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