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Monday, 9 November 1964

Senator LAUGHT (South Australia) . - Like Senator Wedgwood, I rise to support the Bill and reject the proposed amendment. I think the Bill is a very practical measure. It is interesting that it can be discussed in the Senate without reference to any electoral matter that may personally affect honorable senators. The population of Australia has greatly increased. Possibly it has doubled since the Representation Act was last examined. Certainly it has risen by between one million and two million people since the last redistribution.

The practical effect of the measure is that there will be 124 members of the House of Representatives instead of 120 members, as was calculated by reference to the old Act. I have discovered some figures which may interest honorable senators. They are based on the latest enrolment figures as at 26th June 1964, which reveal the total number of electors for each State. Should the Representation Act be amended to provided for an increase of two members from 122 to 124 in the House of Representatives, South Australia will have 12 members for an enrolment of 550,303. The quota would be 45,859. The permissible maximum could rise to 55,031 and the permissible minimum could fall to 36,687.

If the Representation Act were unaltered, the number of members of the House of Representatives would be reduced by two, from 122 to 120. In the case of South Australia, with 11 members and an enrolment of 550,303, the quota would rise to 50,028. The permissible maximum would rise to 60,034 and the permissible minimum would fall to 40,022. As a South Australian senator, I think it appropriate that the quota should fall to 45,859 rather than rise to 50,028. I say that for a number of reasons. First, the amount of work to be performed by members of this Parliament is increasing each year as the Commonwealth .assumes new functions. Secondly, additional work is involved because of the development of the functions already assumed by the Commonwealth. I shall give an illustration. The advent of commercial television has added greatly to the functions of the Commonwealth in South Australia, the State which I represent. The Commonwealth's role in the provision of postal and aerodrome facilities has broadened. The demand for telephones has greatly increased. AH these matters come within the responsibility of a federal member of Parliament.

At present we are examining the position in the House of Representatives. I welcome the Bill which will increase the number of members for South Australia from 11 to 12. Further, instead of a quota for a member being 50,028, it will, fall to 45,859. I think there is good sense in these changes and I see no reason to delay their implementation.

It seems to me that before the redistribution of electoral boundaries in a State should take place, the men charged with the responsibility for redistribution should know for how many members of the House of Representatives they are expected to make territorial provision. Therefore, it is logical that this Bill should bc passed first so that when the time comes for the other necessary work to be carried out, the commissioners will know precisely the starting point. If the redistribution were simply in contemplation, the commissioners would not be able to determine the starting point. I think there is great virtue in the Government introducing this legislation now, rather than deferring it as suggested in the amendment moved by Senator McKenna. I give the Bill my support and I think it will have a speedy passage without, of course, the proposed amendment being carried.

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