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Wednesday, 26 October 1921

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) . - I find myself in the same position as my honorable colleague from Tasmania. Just before the Senate met I intimated to the Minister for Repatriation (Senator E. D. Millen) that I should like an opportunity today to give notice of a question. Ho reminded me that on occasions like the present even notices of questions were not received. This places me in an awkward position.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - As the motion in another place places others.

Senator KEATING - I do not know that I am not justified on the motion for the adjournment of the Senate in referring to the matter which I intended to raise, and asking the attention of the Leader of the Senate to it. It is not a matter of individual concern, but one which affects the whole State of Tasmania. It is a matter of administration which, so far as I know, is at present proceeding, and I take advantage of this opportunity to mention the matter in the hope that, perhaps, the Minister for Repatriation will see that it is not at present further proceeded with. Since 1908, the State of Tasmania has been a party with the Commonwealth to a joint scheme of electoral administration. That scheme has brought about a uniform roll, one set of electoral officers and offices, one set of forms for enrolment, transfers, and so on. It has resulted in great efficiency, economy, and smoothness of administration, and in immense convenience to the electors. The State authorities of Tasmania adopted the five Federal electorates for the House of Representatives for the Tasmanian Legislative Assembly, making of each a composite electorate returning six member's to the State Parliament. I understand that the Federal authorities are at the present time about to proceed with, if they have not already commenced, the redistribution of Tasmania for electoral purposes for the House of Representatives.

Senator E D MILLEN (NEW SOUTH WALES) - In conformity with the Commonwealth Electoral Act.

Senator KEATING - Quite so; but inasmuch as the whole of the electoral administration in Tasmania for the last twelve or thirteen years has been a joint administration, and the State authorities have adopted the electoral boundaries fixed by the Commonwealth, for the purposes of elections to the Tasmanian Legislative Assembly, I suggest to the Minister for Repatriation that no further action should be taken in this matter without due consideration 'being given to any representations which might be made by the State authorities. In other words, I suggest that the State authorities might be taken into consultation and conference in connexion with any proceedings for the re-alignment of electoral boundaries in Tasmania. I was afraid that if we adjourned to-day, and perhaps again to-morrow, this matter might be proceeded with in the course of ordinary administration, and I, therefore, invite the Minister's attention to it.

Senator Russell - The new electoral boundaries would have to be approved by Parliament.

Senator KEATING - Exactly ; but I desire, and I think every other member of the Senate will desire, that the harmonious co-operation between State and Commonwealth authorities which in this matter has existed in the past in Tasmania, will continue in the future. If anything should happen now from which it might be contended that the Commonwealth, by high-handed action, said, "These are the new boundaries. Take them or leave them," that might lead to a rupture.It might prevent the continuance of the joint electoral administration, and would be no incentive to the authorities of any other State to accept the hand held out by the Commonwealth for many years past - since 1905 - for the joint administration of electoral affairs.

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