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Thursday, 18 October 1956

Mr LESLIE (Moore) .- I should not have participated in this debate were it not for the attack made upon me by the honorable member for East Sydney (Mr. Ward).

Mr Cairns - It was not an attack.

Mr LESLIE - Of course it was an attack, lt was made not upon me, but upon the privileges which the Parliament has decided that senators and members, including those who represent Western Australian electorates, shall enjoy. Let us have it clearly stated for the record that the regulations provide that each member shall be entitled to travel from his electorate to Canberra and return once a week during the sittings of the Parliament. No restriction is made as to distance. This Parliament, which is presumed to be a democratic one, treats all senators and members equally without regard to the distance they must travel to and from Canberra. Western Australian members, and I in particular, have often been singled out for attack in relation to the cost of our transport to and from Canberra to attend our parliamentary duties, lt appears to me that the Western Australian electors are begrudged the right to have their representatives attend to their duties in both their electorates and the National Parliament.

According to the honorable member for East Sydney Western Australian representatives should not enjoy the privileges which are accorded to those fortunate members who represent the eastern States. According to him the Western Australian members are not entitled to maintain contact with their electorates if they attend to their duties in this Parliament regularly. But it is hardly an exaggeration to say that there is nothing to prevent some members who represent eastern States electorates from sleeping in their own beds in their own homes after they have attended to their parliamentary duties here. I am reminded that some of those who live nearest to Canberra have the worst records for attendance in this Parliament.

Mr Daly - A scandalous statement!

Mr LESLIE - Nothing of the sort! lt is a direct statement which apparently has hit the honorable member where it hurts. We members from the distant States make a considerable sacrifice in order to be here. Distance, in itself, is a sufficient penalty for those of us from Western Australia, yet the honorable member for East Sydney apparently makes the undemocratic suggestion that we should be prohibited from attending to affairs in our electorates. I hope that this constant attack on me, personally, which is also an attack on Western Australian members and, indeed, an attack on the whole of Western Australia, will now stop. Apparently, the honorable member for East Sydney begrudges Western Australian members their rights, and Western Australians the rights which they were promised if the State joined the federation - rights which they were promised again in 1933 at the time of the secession movement. It is all very well for some honorable members to talk in this way about Western Australia, but I remind them that they went out of their way to make sure that Western Australia would remain a partner in this Commonwealth. No suggestions were made then that it would cost too much money for Western Australian members to travel to and from their State to Canberra.

Mr Wight - Take the honorable member for East Sydney with you when you go back.

Mr LESLIE - Earlier, I spoke about the penalty which we already suffer. I can assure the House that it would be an unbearable penalty to take the honorable member for East Sydney to Western Australia. Apparently, it is only East Sydney that can put up with the honorable member.

These attacks have to stop. A few days ago, two Labour party speakers played on this theme, and the honorable member for Mallee (Mr. Turnbull), said that evidently a concerted attempt was being made in this matter. I say that as long as this Parliament is a democratic one, as long as there is not prohibition on the travel of any members, I. on behalf of my Western Australian electors, will insist that they shall enjoy and I shall enjoy the same privileges as those more fortunately situated persons in the eastern States.

Mr Daly - What does the honorable member go home for?

Mr LESLIE - I can tell the honorable member what I go home for every week-end.

Mr SPEAKER - Order! There is too much noise. I ask the House to come to order.

Mr LESLIE - If the honorable member for Grayndler wishes to represent his electorate in a really efficient manner, I shall offer to take him with me to Western Australia so that he may see how well I carry out my duties in my electorate. I understand that he accepts the offer. Anyway, I hope that I have heard the end of this constant attack by the honorable member for East Sydney on the honorable member for Moore, and the cost of his travel.

The honorable member for East Sydney has referred to the matter of a motor car and has suggested that there is an anomaly. 1 am not suggesting that a car could be made available every week-end to take me to Western Australia and to bring me back to Canberra. I doubt whether any honorable member, whatever his circumstances might be, would have the right to make such a suggestion, even if the place were as close as Sydney.

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