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Monday, 9 November 1964


Senator ANDERSON (New South Wales) (Minister for Customs and Excise) . - I move -

That the Bill be now read a second time.

The main purpose of this Bill is to give a State an additional member in the House of Representatives for any fraction of a quota in lieu of a member for a remainder greater than one-half of the quota. This Bill, though of importance, is short in compass and can be shortly and simply stated. First, however, I think I should set out briefly the history leading up to the proposed amendments.

Following the taking of the 1961 census, the Chief Electoral Officer, as required by law, determined the number of members to be chosen in the several States. As honorable senators would be aware, the procedure for determining the number of members is found in section 10 of the Representation Act. This section requires that the quota shall be ascertained by dividing the number of the people of the Commonwealth by twice the number of senators. Then, the number of members to be chosen in each State shall be determined by dividing the population of the State by the quota. The section further provides that where there is a remainder greater than one-half of the quota, one more member shall be chosen in the State.

The application of this procedure following the 1961 census resulted in the following entitlement for each State -

 

This is a total of 120 members for the House of Representatives or an overall decrease of two members on the existing representation.

The determination represented a gain of one member for Victoria but the loss of one member each for the States of New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia. On the basis of this determination, distribution commissioners were appointed for the purpose of redistributing the States into new divisions and the commissioners' proposals were ' tabled in the Senate on 9th October 1962. During the debate on the New South Wales proposals, the Opposition in the House of Representatives opposed the proposed loss of a member in New South

Wales and also referred to the proposed loss of a member in both Queensland and Western Australia. The Opposition expressed the view that one more member should be chosen for a State when the remainder was 10 per cent, of the quota. The Leader of the Country Party in the House of Representatives also opposed the proposals and suggested that where there was "any remainder at all", a State should be entitled to one more member for that remainder.

In view of the comments made during the debate on the New South Wales proposals, the Prime Minister undertook to have the arguments for and against the proposals carefully examined. This examination has been effected and the Government agrees that steps should be taken to ensure that a State obtains an additional member for any fraction of a quota and this Bill purports to achieve that objective.

The Bill also provides that the last determination made by the Chief Electoral Officer, that is the determination made following the 1961 census, which would have resulted in the loss of one member each for New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia and a gain of one member for Victoria, will be rendered ineffective. A fresh determination will then be made which, in effect, will result in 46 members being chosen for New South Wales, 34 for Victoria, 18 for Queensland, 12 for South Australia, 9 for Western Australia and 5 for Tasmania, following the next redistribution. That is, a total of 124 members of the House of Representatives for the States as against the 120 members which would have been the case without the proposed amendments. I commend the Bill to honorable senators.

Debate (on motion by Senator McKenna adjourned.







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