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Wednesday, 3 May 1961


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Order! The honorable member should get back to the bill.


Mr DALY - I was merely making this passing reference to a man who has made withering charges against the members of the Opposition. I was prompted to rise only in order to show the public of this great country the type of people in the Australian Country Party who make charges against members of the Labour Party. I wanted the people to hear of this opinion of the honorable member for Mallee which was given by a man who, I think, was at that time the leader of his own party. I want the people who might, by accident, at some moment when they are sleepy and want to be put off to sleep, read the speech of the honorable member for Mallee, to realize that the person making it is not held in very high regard by those who know what the real parliamentarian has to have in order to be able to present a case.

I should like to see the honorable member for Mallee make some constructive suggestions in the Parliament about the electoral reforms that are needed - and they are many. The Opposition has submitted a number of them. 1 will lay the odds that practically every one of them will be dismissed out of hand and not accepted, despite their importance and despite the fact that they will be designed to prevent certain malpractices regarding the vote in this country which have existed for many years. The honorable member for Mallee would be better advised to read the Electoral Act section by section and this bill clause by clause. Instead of blaming the Opposition, as he has done, he should put the blame at the feet of the Minister whose responsibility it is to reform these malpractices. He, being a free and independent thinker like, as we are told so often, all members on the Government side should do something. Why could he not submit amendments and test them in a vote of the House? If he has the courage that he has always said he has, but which he has never shown in this Parliament, why does he not show that he is prepared to vote against the Government even on issues' such as this? I know the honorable member too well. He is always putting these things up, but doing nothing about them. On one occasion in this Parliament I saw him vote to gag himself. Any man who. could do that will not put up a case for amendment of the Electoral Act and be prepared to fight for it.

I suggest that the honorable member might well have moved amendments to do' what he suggests, and put them to the test. He should have put the blame at the feet of the Government for any shortcomings in the Electoral Act, instead of trying to lay it at the feet of the Opposition, which in no way is responsible for those shortcomings, because we have not been in government for many years. I therefore hope that, in view of what the honorable member for Mallee said, the Minister will take some notice of the amendments from the Opposition. I hope that a number of these important amendments, which deal with postal voting and other questions relating to the closing of the poll and things of that nature, will receive support on the other side, because they are important and they are worth supporting.

There are many more amendments which could be submitted, and if there was an ounce of thought in the Government backbenchers they would probably have submitted a few amendments themselves on this important legislation. When all is said and done, it will take more than this bill to save a few of them at the next general election. If at this stage they could have put up some amendments that might have been worth while and could be assured of the support of the honorable member for Mallee, that might have been a contribution to democracy despite the statement of the late Archie Cameron about the honorable member for Mallee.

Having infringed on your generosity, Mr. Deputy Speaker, almost to the limit, I resume my seat with those few comments.


Mr Turnbull - I desire to make a personal explanation, Mr. Deputy Speaker.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Does the honorable member claim to have been misrepresented?


Mr Turnbull - Yes. The honorable member for Grayndler said that I had found fault with the Commonwealth Electoral Act. During my whole speech I did not find any fault with the act. I supported the act. All I said was that the commissioners should use the power they are given to bring about what I suggested. I favoured the Commonwealth Electoral Act all the time, and found no fault in it.







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