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Tuesday, 4 December 1973

Senator McMANUS (Victoria) (Leader of the Australian Democratic Labor Party) - The Australian Democratic Labor Party will vote against these Bills. We realise that they can only be delayed and that we cannot prevent the referendum from being held. But we believe it is worth while to vote against the Bills at the present time to highlight our opposition to what is an obvious attempt to gerrymander elections. I was interested some years ago to read a paper upon this very point in the 'Australian Quarterly Review' of March 1969. This article was written, I believe, by a member of the Australian Labor Party who was particularly interested in the subject of elections. In the course of the article he pointed out that any proposal such as this, which allegedly will make electorates of equal size and so bring about equality in voting, cannot fail to do the opposite. He could not see in it any great reform and he pointed out that the objection always to anything of this nature comes from the fact that it can lock up large minorities in certain seats and in effect give those minorities no say in the government.

What, for example is the worth of a Labor vote in Kooyong? The people of Kooyong who vote Labor have no representation. Contrarily, what is the worth of a Liberal vote in Gellibrand? Under this system of equal electorates the Liberals in Gellibrand have no representation. In a number of seats the Australian Democratic Labor Party has quite sizable minorities but it does not get one member in the House of Representatives. On occasion we have obtained in elections 500,000 votes. But we do not get any representation in the House of Representatives. Is there any provision in this Bill, by a Government which says that it wants electoral justice, to give the DLP with 500,000 votes any representation? There is none at all.

Let me say categorically that the purpose of this Bill is not electoral justice. The Government is not interested in electoral justice. This is one more attempt to get control of the electorate in order to perpetuate Labor government. This issue was raised prior to the last election. The DLP in the course of its advertising predicted that the Labor Party if elected would do just this. At the time no attempt was made by the media or most of the Press commentators to deal with the question of electoral justice. They did not deal with the DLP's argument that the Labor Party would do this. They said that it was unthinkable that a Labor Government would attempt to do this type of thing and therefore they did not give our arguments any consideration. There were people in the Labor Party who became very eloquent and said that the advertising of the DLP was unacceptable, that it was wrong that that kind of advertising could be used. At that time Mr Hugh Cudlipp, who is a leading personality in the British Press, was in Australia. Some members of the Labor Party went to him in the hope that he would issue a statement attacking the DLP's advertising. But he laughed at them and said that the sort of political advertising that he had seen in the Australian election was cream puff advertising. He said: 'I would be sorry to see British elections conducted on these lines. I prefer a bit of fight '.

However, that did not prevent a number of representatives of the Press, many of whom now occupy lucrative positions to which they have been appointed by the Labor Government, coming out and expressing horror that the DLP could suggest that people like Mr Whitlam or Freddie Daly would seek to gerrymander electorates to perpetuate themselves in office. All I will say about these people is that they knew perfectly well from their association with Parliament that the average attitude of political parties is not 'Is this electoral justice? ' but 'Who is going to win? '. That is the attitude in this Bill. Mr Daly has sat down and has tried to work out a system under which his Party will win and be perpetuated. He is putting it up here in a Bill seeking a referendum in the hope that he will pull the wool over the eyes of the people. The situation is that we are to have, say, 100,000 people in each electorate. Has there ever been a greater joke than that? Suppose that we had 100,000 people in each electorate. Honourable senators opposite know very well that in the inner areas of the big cities, particularly areas in which there are a large number of migrants- and the migrants have big families-out of 100,000 people 40,000 to 45,000 might be adults and 55,000 to 60,000 might be children. In other electorates where old retired people live the proportion of children is much smaller.

So the position is that under the arrangement put forward by the Labor Party we would have certain electorates in which there would be inevitably far more adults who are entitled to vote than in other areas. Members of the Australian Labor Party have sat down with their experienced men in electioneering and worked out that such a proposition would suit the Labor Party down to the ground because such an arrangement would favour them. The Government has now introduced this proposal which it says would give one vote one value. If the Labor Party believed in the principle of one vote one value it would introduce this principle in its own Party. In the proceedings which resulted in my leaving the Labor Party there was a vote in which the three small States and one delegate from a small State voted against us. The 2 States where all the population is- Victoria and New South Walesand one of Queensland voted for us. But in the event the Federal Executive decided against us because there was no representation on a population basis. The representatives of the two bigger States and one of Queensland were defeated by 7 votes which came from the smaller States.

What has the Labor Party done about representation in the Senate to bring in the principle of one vote one value? I was defeated in the Senate elections of 1961 for 3 years. At that time I scored 2 10,000 votes. There were 10 senators in the Senate from Tasmania at that time who together represented 1 80,000 voters. I did not get a seat although I got 2 10,000 votes. But 10 senators with an average of 18,000 votes each got in for Tasmania. What was the attitude of the Labor Party? I said to Senator O 'Byrne, who is a Tasmanian senator: 'Do you agree, Senator O 'Byrne, with a situation whereby 10 senators from Tasmania representing 180,000 voters were elected and I did not get a seat although I got 30,000 more votes than the 10 of them'. He said: 'Of course I do'. But Senator O 'Byrne will vote for this Bill on the ground that he favours one vote one value.

There is not one vote one value on the Federal Executive or the Conference of the Australian Labor Party; the States get equal representation. But why does not the Labor Party follow the principle of one vote one value in its own Party parliament? There is not one vote one value at the Australian Council of Trade Union conferences. The unions would not have it. At the Australian Council of Trade Union conferences small unions get representation out of all proportion to the big unions. One did not get one vote one value- this has been changed recently- on the Trades Hall Council in Melbourne. A big union of 70,000 to 80,000 members would get 4 votes and a union made up of 53 members would get one vote. Members of the Australian Labor Party do not believe in the principle of one vote one value, otherwise they would introduce it into the affairs of their own Party. That is why I say that this proposition is just one more example of the attempt to fix the ballot box, to fix the ballot paper, in the interests of maintaining the Australian Labor Party in office.

If members of the Australian Labor Party really believed in the principle of one vote one value they would advocate the system of election which gives the nearest approximation to the principle of one vote one value, that is, the HareClark system. In saying that I am supported by the opinion of some distinguished people inside the Australian Labor Party. In a recent address to the Proportional Representation Society in South Australia, Mr Clyde Cameron said that in his opinion the only system of election which could be calculated to give electoral justice to all parties was the Hare-Clark proportional representation system. I endeavoured to produce in this chamber a report which the Victorian Branch of the Australian Labor Party commissioned about S years ago on this subject. A committee of the Victorian branch of the Australian Labor Party, led by the late Senator Sam Cohen, Mr Gordon Bryant and other leading personalities of the branch, was asked to sit down and determine the system which in its opinion would give electoral justice and would ensure that if the Australian Labor Party ever received 50 per cent of the votes it would be in government. The committee sat down and produced an excellent report which indicated that the fairest system of election and the system which gave the nearest thing to electoral justice was the Hare-Clark proportional representation system. When I attempted to have that report incorporated in Hansard we had the amazing situation of one supporter of the Government, Senator Mulvihill, refusing me leave to do so.

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