Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Wednesday, 31 July 1912

Senator HENDERSON (Western Australia) . - I move -

That all the words after the word "That" be left out with the view to insert in lieu thereof the following words : - " in accordance with section 22 of the Electoral Act, the distribution be disapproved of and referred back to the Commissioners with an intimation that due consideration does not appear to have been given to the diversity of interest and the absence of means of communication between the districts of Mount Magnet and Cue and the other portions of the proposed Division D, and that the Commissioners be requested to make the distribution on the basis of existing enrolment and not by way of anticipation, so as to give each division as nearly as is practicable an equal number of electors."

Section 22 of the Electoral Act reads -

If either House of Parliament passes a resolution disapproving of any proposed distribution, or negatives a motion for the approval of any proposed distribution, the Minister may direct the Commissioners to propose a fresh distribution of the State into divisions.

The amendment clearly expresses a very patent fact when it states that it does not appear evident that the Commissioners have taken into consideration diversity of interest, particularly when applied to Cue and Mount Magnet, in connexion with the Kalgoorlie electorate. 'I shall deal with that point at a later stage. In my opinion, the failure of the Commissioners has been entirely due to the fact that they overlooked several very apparent points of evidence which they 'might have taken into consideration. They gave the Kalgoorlie electorate 3,640 voters above the quota, and they did that, as the Minister of Defence has pointed out, because of the trend of a shifting population for a considerable number of months. They gave Kalgoorlie this excess of the quota eighteen months prior to the date of the election anyhow. They assumed the right to prophesy. They claimed to know what is going to happen for Kalgoorlie. No matter how wise or clever he may be, I do not see how any man could candidly say that he could for one month tell the future of a district like Kalgoorlie, apart altogether from the possibility of the transcontinental railway taking a very large number of persons to the electorate. It is quite true, as Senator Lynch has interjected, that Kurnalpi has shown signs of a revival, and no honorable senator, not even the Commissioners, dare say that it is not going to be a very large and prosperous field ; and this is in the Kalgoorlie electorate, for which there was no provision made by the Commissioners, inasmuch as the revival has taken place since they made their report. Then Ora Banda is in precisely the same position. Again, the railway will of necessity add a very large number of voters to the Kalgoorlie electorate. Moreover, the Commissioners did not give the slightest consideration to the policy of the Government of Western Australia. Had they done so they would have realized that the State Government have already taken the preliminary step in an undertaking that will very largely increase the population of the Kalgoorlie electorate, and that is by deciding to build a railway between Norseman and Esperance. There is going to be a fairly large agricultural population catered for by the railway. It will open up a very large area of land on which settlers will be found in the very near future. The Commissioners did not take this fact into consideration at all. I have the same right to make a prophecy as they had ; in fact, I do not know that I have not a little more right to do so, because, notwithstanding all their wisdom and knowledge of Western Australia, probably some of us here have had a considerably wider experience, and possess a better knowledge of its industrial conditions, than do some of the men who took upon themselves this kind of work. I might as well prophesy that before polling day there will be 9,000 or 10,000 electors above the quota in the Kalgoorlie electorate, instead of the 3,640 electors credited by the Commissioners'. I come now to the question of diversity of interest. If I could only take honorable senators with me from Cue to Mount Magnet, and then to Kalgoorlie, they would be rather astounded when they read in the report of the Commissioners that diversity of interest had been taken into consideration by them. If any sane man will tell me that there is the remotest semblance of a connexion between the interests of the people of Cue and Mount Magnet and those of the people of Kalgoorlie,' I shall withdraw the amendment and everything I have said. But I want honorable senators to understand that the Cue and Magnet people have always been connected with the Coolgardie electorate. They have always been connected in every way with the Port of Geraldton. All their business transactions are there centred. There is not the slightest connexion between them and the people of Kalgoorlie. Therefore, how any one can for a moment imagine that the principle of community of interest has been taken into consideration is more than I can fathom. Certainly in putting the Magnet and Cue people into the Kalgoorlie electorate, the Commissioners have succeeded in considering diversity rather than community of interest, to this extent - that it would be impossible to travel the whole world, and find any two communities of people more diverse in their interests than is the case with Cue and Magnet and Kalgoorlie. In order to establish community of interest between those places, you have to come down to Perth from Cue or Magnet, and then go from Perth to Kalgoorlie. That is the only mode of transit that brings those communities into relation with each other, I have .no desire to prolong the discussion. I am more inclined to take a vote than to talk about, the matter. If I talked for a week, I could not add very much more to what I have said, and it can undoubtedly be borne out by every Western Australian senator. The realm of prophecy to which the Commissioners have flown is as ridiculous as the idea that they have established community of interest. It is quite possible that before the election takes place, the difference in regard to the quota will be more than double that which the Commissioners have placed before us. I submit this amendment in order that the Commissioners may have an opportunity of soundly reviewing the position.

Suggest corrections