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Wednesday, 31 July 1912

Senator GARDINER (New South Wales) . - I am in very much the same position as the last speaker. I feel very great reluctance in recording a vote which, perhaps, might be interpreted by some persons as an evidence of dissatisfaction with the work of a very conscientious commission. On the other hand, having heard the statement of facts made by Senators Henderson and Lynch, I should be very reluctant indeed not to. take their guidance in a matter affecting Western Australia. I am generally inclined to deal with these questions fairly. I think that, on this occasion, the balance will go down in favour of my colleagues here.

Senator Millen - Which colleagues?

Senator GARDINER - Had the Minister of Defence put up an argument in favour of the motion as strong as that given by Senator Henderson for sending the report back, I think I should be found voting behind the Government, as I generally am when I am wanted. I have another reason for sending the report back. We are up* against another grievance, and that is that the country constituencies are getting altogether too large for individuals to represent. There is a means of giving the country districts better representation. If this scheme be referred back to the Commissioners, the Government may take advantage of the interval to find a means of reducing the size of country constituencies by adding to the number of the senators, as the Constitution empowers the Parliament to do. Take, for instance, the State which I have the honour to represent in common with others. It is almost impossible for individuals to represent the huge constituencies which are to be found in that State, and the time is rapidly approaching when some steps must be taken to do what can be done to limit the size of country constituencies. I hope that the Government will give some consideration to the fact that the Constitution empowers Parliament tr> decrease the size of constituencies, and toincrease the number of senators.

Senator Millen - Do you mean with advantage ?

Senator GARDINER - I feel sure that it would be an advantage to the Leader of the Opposition if he had half-a-dozen more supporters here.

Senator Millen - We shall get them without an alteration of the electoral law.

Senator GARDINER - I think that every honorable senator must realize that questions do not receive that full debate here which they ought to get. The number, of senators is too small for the Senate tobe an effective deliberative assembly. I think that if its strength were increased tofortyeight senators, great advantages would" accrue.

The PRESIDENT - Order. I hopethat the honorable senator will not continue that line of argument.

Senator GARDINER - A proposal is submitted, sir, and I am putting before the Senate a better way out of the difficulty. I am quite reluctant to vote against the report of the Commissioners. I am perhaps more reluctant to vote against the expressed opinions of my colleagues Senators Henderson and Lynch.

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