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High Court judgement on representation ACT

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Leader of the\ Opposition

Press Statement Nq/O


Statement by Hon E G Whitlam,Q.C., M.P.

The High Court's judgement makes a redistribution of federal, electoral boundaries inescapable and urgent. . The Fraser Government has no excuse for further delay.

• Over a year-ago the Court declared invalid the section of the Representation Act which purported to link a redistribution to the holding of a census. Despite the Court's decision that a redistribution need not wait upon the census, the Fraser Government did nothing. . .

The Court has now declared invalid the procedure by which the numbers of members in each State have been determined since 1964, when the Menzies Government amended the Representation Act to allow additional members in certain States.

No redistribution of boundaries has occurred during the past eight years. The last four general elections have been held on boundaries drawn up in 1968, and the last five general elections have, been based on a formula which the Court has declared unconstitutional.

Having frustrated any redistribution under the Labor Government, the Liberals have done nothing about a redistribution themselves. . They ignored the results of the 1971 census and defeated redistributions based on that census which the Labor Government proposed to the Parliament. They also defeated bills. designed to give effect to the redistributions. They repeatedly resisted electoral reform and the application of electoral laws.

. Their last excuse for delay has now disappeared.

Each successive set of figures and High Court decision has rendered the existing boundaries more out-of-date, unfair and untenable.

The. Liberals least-take account of the fact that the-Chief Justice, Sir'Garfield"Berwick, has now - ruled invalid an amendment to the Representation Act approved by a Liberal Cabinet in which he was Attorney-General. . · .

Sydney 2 February 1977

Pa r l i a me n t H o u s e . Canberra, ACT. 2 0 0 0