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Wednesday, 23 May 1973
Page: 2541


Mr LYNCH (Flinders) - by leave- The Opposition parties welcome the announcement which the Leader of the House (Mr Daly) has made concerning the proposed redistribution for Western Australia. This is a significant step. As the Leader of the House made clear, following the 1971 census the Chief Electoral Officer determined, in accordance with the provisions of the Representation Act, that 10 members of the House of Representatives are to be chosen from Western Australia in lieu of the present 9 members. Therefore, the announcement made by the Minister is an essential step to safeguard the needs of the people of Western Australia and to satisfy the constitutional requirements of the Act. But it is not an announcement that should cause the Leader of the House to have any great sense of joy, and I regret that he sought marginally to politicise a subject of very great concern to an important section of the Australian people.


Mr Gorton - It was more than marginal.


Mr LYNCH - As my senior colleague, the right honourable member for Higgins, has just pointed out, it was more than marginal. When, I say that the Leader of the House should have no great sense of joy in making this statement, I reflect the feelings of the people of that great State of Western Australia. As the honourable gentleman would be very well aware, the State of Western Australia returned additional representation to the Opposition benches during the course of the last Federal election. I refer to my colleagues, the honourable member for Stirling (Mr Viner) and the honourable member for Forrest (Mr Drummond) - 2 outstanding members of this Federal Parliament, as you would be the first to acknowledge, Mr Speaker - who have joined this national Parliament from that State. I also have regard to the reaction which the people of Western Australia have had to the activities of the present Federal Government and also to the nefarious activities of the present State Government. I can see the Minister for Urban and Regional Development (Mr Uren), who has just joined the Leader of the House at the table, acknowledging that statement by a graceful smile because he recognises the disabilities which characterise his Party in Western Australia. I am told in fact that colloquially the Premier of Western Australia is called the 'super Tonk' in that State.


Mr Keith Johnson (BURKE, VICTORIA) - That is disgraceful.


Mr LYNCH - I think it is disgraceful but I am simply echoing a term which is used freely in Western Australia to characterise the

Premier of that State. I think it is a very discreditable term; I regret it is used at all. But 1 simply draw attention to a term which has been and is used by so many people, both inside the Australian Labor Party in that State and outside it, to indicate the sense of respect, responsibility and public esteem with which the Premier of Western Australia is held at present - by the use or misuse of the derisive term the 'super Tonk'.

I also very much regret that the Leader of the House sought to politicise what is in fact an important statement, because to bring politics into this is unbecoming of the honourable gentleman. He would be the first Minister to acknowledge that the real reason that the redistribution was not carried out prior to the last Federal election was that the then Governmnent did not receive the final population figures from the Commonwealth Statistician in sufficient time to enable a redistribution to take effect in that State prior to the last election. Western Australia, of course, is entitled to an additional seat and quite obviously a redistribution is required to satisfy the constitutional requirements of the Act and to cater for the need of the people of Western Australia.

It is significant that the Leader of the House referred to the Commonwealth Electoral Bill which was rejected by the Senate. The Minister foreshadowed that the Bill will be coming back to this place during the month of August and I would suspect from the manner in which the statement was made by the Minister that the redistribution proposed in this statement in fact will be carried out under the present boundaries and under the existing formula. If that is so, it is the Government's clear intention, by inference, to carry on as at present, which would indicate that there is no real nexus between what is proposed in this statement and the Commonwealth Electoral Bill. I simply observe, for the purposes of the record, that the Leader of the House injected into this statement what I would have thought an extraneous comment, namely, the foreshadowing of the Commonwealth Electoral Bill coming back to this House. He is the. first to know that it provides for a gerrymander of the worst possible type. It is unbecoming of him and the Government he serves. He would be well aware of the strong stand which the Opposition Parties are taking in saying to the Australian people that this Bill is shabby, and discreditable and, I repeat, unbecoming of the honourable gentleman. It is a Bill which seeks to place the Labor Party in Government in this national Parliament in perpetuity. As the matter has been dealt with already in the House of Representatives and in the Senate he can be assured that the fate of the Bill will be very much before, us when it comes around a second time.

In summary, whilst not joining with the Leader of the House in all of the comments he made, the Opposition recognises that the statement is significant. Members of the Opposition Parties are the first to acknowledge the fact that the redistribution is being carried out. We look forward to the support of the people of Western Australia - support which has not been denied us in the past and which was so obviously heavily forthcoming in the course of the last federal election. I say to the Government that far from this document representing any threat, by inference or in any other way, to the Opposition Parties, we welcome it because we will stand to gain as a result of the good sense of the Western Australian people they know full well how badly regarded and how disregarded they are by the present Government in all of its activities, as it seeks to develop a centralised administration in Canberra.

Mr DALY(Grayndler - Minister for Services and Property)-- Mr Speaker, I desire to make a personal explanation.







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