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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2575

Dr KLUGMAN(12.16) —As the Chairman of the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform which made this recommendation, I say that it was in the interests of appointing a fair commission that we recommended to restrict the positions to people who had reached a certain level in their careers and who would be less likely to be stood over by governments. That is why we restricted the appointment to the highest possible level. The alternative would have been to omit the restriction as far as the non-judicial appointee was concerned and appoint anybody who appeared to be acceptable. I do not know who the Government will appoint to any of the three positions. I am quite sure that the Government will go out of its way to ensure that the appointees have no previous political involvement and that the Australian Electoral Commission is independent and fearless.

My own view-I think the other Committee members will agree with me-is that federal redistributions carried out by all kinds of commissioners appointed by all kinds of governments were reasonable redistributions. Nobody suggested that any of the redistributions were politically biased. One of the reasons we take the line that the redistributions should be final is that all kinds of political groups in the Parliament-especially in the Senate, of course, where governments often do not have a majority-are able to stop a redistribution. It is quite clear that, for example, a party or a group of parties will knock back any sort of redistribution because they want to delay an election or have an election carried out on old boundaries.

We need an independent, fair body. We interviewed a number of distribution commissioners. I think the honourable member for Boothby (Mr Steele Hall) would agree that there was no suggestion from anybody on the Committee, no matter how biased, that any of the redistributions have been politically biased. I accept the point that there are and always have been people in the Public Service who have political backgrounds and political biases, but those people are not likely to be chosen for appointment.

Amendment agreed to.

Clause, as amended, agreed to.

Clause 8 agreed to.

Clause 9.