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Balance of payments and exchange rates

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FOR Iru-ui-a-iATiui'i OF PRESS H-jBARGO: Sunday

rTHarch 1974


The Government is determined to press on with its attempts to

alter the constitution. The present intention is to have a referendum over four matters which were originally introduced ■ "

last session and which have been reintroduced this session.

The first Bill concerns holding simultaneous elections between

the House of Representatives and the Senate. The referendum ■ ' would do 2 things, it would reduce the average term of every

Senator and secondly, it would make sure that the 2 elections

are held concurrently for the Senate and the House of Representatives

The referendum is quite unnecessary if Mr Whitlam wants ■ ' simultaneous elections all he has to do is to pull out the /

House of Representatives with the Senate some time before June.

We would welcome it. '

The second Bill has a nice sounding title. It is called 'The

Constitution Alteration (Democratic Elections) Bill'. There is

a clear implication that the Federal Parliament has not been . .

democratically elected in the past. That is not correct, with one exception the Party that gained the majority support has

at the same time gained Government. That exception was under a Labor redistribution.

The impact of this referendum proposal would be to take seats

out of rural areas into the cities. The size of the seats is

to be determined, not on the basis of the .number of electors,.,

but on the basis of people. In - other words everyone under the -

age of 18 and all unnaturalized migrants would be included.

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.This would lead to great imbalance between electorates of a

serious kind. The people who ought to count in determining

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the size of electorates are the enrolled voters of Australia.

T h e y are the· people with a commitment and with a responsibility.

This referendum is- also designed to tell the States how they

must elect their members of Parliament. People in the States .

are quite capable of making these decisions themselves and do

not need Canberra to tell them how. . .

The third referendum- is-to make it possible for the Commonwealth

-directly to- provide funds for the local government.; They can

do that now if- they want to, through the States and from .

Section 96 grants.- The referendum is only necessary if the .

Government has the intention of bypassing the S t a t e s , of cutting

off their feet* The· Government has in fact embarked on a long

■ term policy of squeezing the States from, both directions. It.

-is determined to reduce the area of State responsibility by

increasing use of tied grants and by talcing over, additional State

responsibilities. '·

-From the-other· direction the Commonwealth is committed to using

local-government in a w a y that would also reduce the responsibilities

- of-States. — The ’Ultimate- result would be abolition of the States.

•The-grants- -to- local government would also, of course, be tied,

the money would have to be spent in certain ways. Canberra wou l d

control all activity. .

-•The^ f o u r t h ; referendum -would make it easier for future referendum

to be carried by reducing from 4 to 3 the number of States that

must approve the proposal. That w ith the other measures will

also be opposed. . . · . -

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•There is xa f i f t h ·proposal but that will not be put to referendum

at the same time as the Senate election. The main thrust ' ■ of the

proposals in their totality would be to make Canberra more

powerful and the States weaker. Such measures will be opposed.



ITobody likes double· standards wherever they n a y appear; whatever

the form may be in. The Government is applying a double standard

' In. its education-paymentse For a Ions while the Labor:Party

kicked the previous government because v;e believed and believe

·'!&!: independent schools ought to be given a certain predictable

ibasic grant to assist with their running costs» ' ' ' ' ' · · ■ - ’ · '

The ' : 1 Λ

A: . . . . .

Labor Party opposed this and said that the funds should be

The Prime Minister nad®. available on the basis of n e e d s . alone.

; confirmed . that : ‘ v i e w : in answer to a question last week. N o w it

efebears that the. Commonwealth is using the needs criteria for

payments that it makes to independent schools right across Australia

tut for schools in the Australian Capital Territory and in the

Northern Territory the Commonwealth is p a y i n g , in addition, a

4l;at per capita grant of 2055 of the cost of the education for

children in Government schools.

That, payment involves a quite different principle»

Oho standard is. applied f o r ;A u s t r a l i a .another quite different

standard is applied in the Commonwealth’s oven territories.

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^jjptiring the- week-· ;there·., was eh attack on the Government for their . . . . . . ’| ■ ■ ' rwal policies especially for the abolition of the super subsidy® I wanted, t o ‘ .participat© in that debate but the Government allowed

only , a very· few . speakers.' and gagged, the debate and therefore

IfeWas·-not 'given.■ anvopportunity to participate. It is significant

ttiat.for the Government Dr C a i r n s , Mr Crean and the Prime Minister

apokev Their members from rural electorates were very silent.