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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 3342


Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce Leader of the Opposition) - I want to move an amendment to the long title of the Bill. At present, the long title reads:

A Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution so as to ensure that Senate Elections are held at the same time as House of Representatives Elections.

Of course, the fact is that that is not the purpose of the Bill. It may be an incidental result of the Bill, but it is not the purpose of the Bill. Clause 4 of the Bill proposes that the Constitution be altered by omitting sections 12 and 13 and substituting new sections 12 and 13. The existing section 12 of the Constitution provides:

The Governor of any State may causerights to be issued . . .

The existing section 13 of the Constitution provides that senators shall hold their offices for 6 years. The proposed new section 13 will alter that provision and the senators no longer will hold office for 6 years; they will hold office for the period of 2 Houses of Representatives. As the long title of the Bill is the question that will be put to the public, it is absolutely imperative that the question on the ballot paper on which the electors will be asked to express a yes or no view be actually the question involved in the Bill. I implore the Government that, if it is to be taken seriously in its wish to alter the Constitution for the good of the Australian people and not for the good of the

Australian Labor Party, it should put the question in its proper form. I therefore move:

In the Title, omit all words after 'Constitution', substitute the words 'to provide that the term of service of a Senator shall expire upon the expiry or dissolution of the second House of Representatives to expire or be dissolved after he was chosen, or upon an earlier dissolution of the Senate'.


Mr Reynolds - That is a bright amendment.


Mr SNEDDEN - I heard an interjection to the effect that it is a bright amendment. It appears to me that the interceptor has not read the Bill.


Mr Killen - He would not be alone.


Mr SNEDDEN - I doubt whether there are too many on the Government side who have read the Bill. If honourable members opposite have not read the Bill, I will refer them to the words I propose to omit. I am referring to clause 4 of the Bill, which proposes to substitute a new section 13 in the Constitution. Although the clause is too long for me to read out, it can be seen quite clearly I am sure that the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) who is now sitting at the table will agree with me - that the amendment to section 13 of the Constitution which will result if this Bill is approved will provide that senators shall hold office for a term of service which will expire upon the expiry or dissolution of the second House of Representatives to expire or be dissolved after he was chosen'. For these reasons, I think that in all honesty that ought to be the long title of the Bill so that the people will have before them the question which is really involved and not a spurious question.







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