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Tuesday, 25 September 1973
Page: 1473


Mr DALY (Grayndler) (Minister for Services and Property) - I move: That the Bill be now read a second time.

This Bill, which is in identical form to the Representation Bill 1973 passed by this House on 30 May 1973 but rejected in the Senate on 7 June 1973, seeks to amend the formula in the Representation Act for determining the number of members of the House of Representatives in the several States. This legislation was carried without a division in this House on 30 May 1973, again with Country Party support. It was, however, rejected and voted against by the 5 Country Party senators in the Senate on 7 June 1973 - another acrobatic act that is exceedingly difficult to follow. This was another example of opposition without rhyme or reason, evidently designed to embarrass rather than further the interests of the people of the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory.

Before dealing with the amendments of the Representation Act proposed by the Bill, I will refer briefly to section 24 of the Constitution, which is relevant. Section 24 provides, in part:

The House of Representatives shall be composed of members directly chosen by the people of the Commonwealth, and the number of such members shall be, as nearly as practicable, twice the number of Senators.

Section 24 further provides that the number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people and the section goes on to specify the manner in which that number is to be determined 'until the Parliament otherwise provides'. As honourable members will know, Parliament has otherwise provided in the Representation Act. A short time ago I re-introduced the Senate (Representation of Territories) Bill 1973, which provides for senatorial representation for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory. The Government's legal advice is that section 24 of the Constitution does not have application in relation to senators who may be provided for a Territory under the provisions of section ' i22 of the Constitution. In other words, the requirement contained in section 24 for the number of members of the House of Representatives to be as nearly as practicable twice the number of senators does not relate to Territory members or senators provided under section 122 of the Constitution. Furthermore, 'the people of the Commonwealth' in the context of section 24 are the people of the States. The formula in section 10 of the Representation Act for determining the, number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States, sets out that a quota shall be ascertained by dividing the number of people of the Commonwealth by twice the number of senators. The number of members to be chosen in each State is determined by dividing the number of people of the State by the quota; and if on such division there is a remainder, one more member shall be chosen in the State.

Clause 3 of the Bill before the House makes it clear that in applying the formula provided in section 10 'the people of the Commonwealth' are the people of the 6 States and do not include the people of any Territory. Clause 5 of the Bill which substitutes the words 'the Senators for the States' for the word 'Senators', makes it clear that Territory senators are excluded from the formula for determining the number of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States. Thus, consistently with section 24 of the Constitution, the introduction of Territory senators will not affect the representation of the States in the House of Representatives. Opportunity is being taken in clauses 4 and 6 of the Bill to make some amendments of a formal nature to sections 7 and 13 of the Representation Act. The present provisions of these sections do not take into account the fact that one House of the Parliament may be sitting although the other is not. At the same time it is desirable to bring the period within which regulations are to be tabled under sub-section (2) of section 13 into line with the period of 15 sitting days provided by the Acts Interpretation Act in relation to regulations generally. I commend the Bill to the House.

Debate (on motion by Mr Peacock) adjourned.







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