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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2613


Mr YOUNG(5.20) —I have a few words to say on this matter. It is a well-held theory in this Parliament that the people who cry wolf most about Lenin and Stalin and Soviet Russia may have some interest in pushing that barrow . I remember someone making that charge years ago against Billy Wentworth. It seems to me that the honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) cries wolf too often on this sort of thing. I wonder whether he has an ulterior motive in keeping their names before us and whether, as some people allege, he belonged at some time to a secret cell in Hobart. He is always wearing a red flower. I suspect that he is doing a job for someone and putting up a different front. He goes crook about public funding, but he used 90,000 bucks driving his car round here last year when he was a Minister. He did not mind spending that money.


Mr Hodgman —Well, the figure is going up. Keep it clean. I ask for a withdrawal.


Mr YOUNG —On the question of registration--


The CHAIRMAN —Order! There is a point of order. Will the honourable member withdraw the remark?


Mr YOUNG —I withdraw. I have always been bewildered that earlier parliaments did not take the step of providing registration of political parties. We register dogs, aeroplanes and cars, and if we step outside the place we can be asked to breathe into a machine to see whether we have been drinking. The people of this country have acceped all sorts of laws, yet the main instruments of this democracy, namely, the political parties, have never been asked to register. They are now being asked to register in recognition of the part they play in our democracy. This is not so selective. If it was terribly selective, if it restricted those who might want to form a political party or if it restricted in some way or gave benefit to the parties already formed, perhaps people would have a logical objection to it.

Let us look at the way in which a party can be registered. One person in the parliament can be recognised as a party and can be registered as a party. A party does not need 500 members. If a party has no representative in the Parliament, it needs 500 members. I suggest to honourable members that, going on the experience of the last election for the Bundestag in West Germany, there will emerge in Australia other parties-conservation parties and perhaps others- which will not find any difficulty at all in complying with what is laid down in this legislation. It may not be to the advantage of the established parties for these things to develop but, judging from what is happening in Europe, it almost goes without saying that these things will occur.

I do not see any way at all in which the measures incorporated in this Bill will restrict the freedom of people to form political parties, to have them registered and to receive the benefits which may flow to them as a result. I do not see any inconvenience to the Australian people. The Australian Labor Party has been in existence for over 90 years; the Liberal Party, under its present name, for about 40 years, and the National Party, under its various names for 70 or 80 years. The forces have not changed much. The names may have changed occasionally, but the people of Australia have grown up with basically the same type of system we have at present. It may change. I do not see any bar to that change in the proposed new sections incorporated in clause 42 of this Bill.