Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard   

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 23 August 1984
Page: 241

Senator LEWIS(12.01) —There are only a few things I would like to say in regard to the amendment moved by my colleague Senator Durack and the foreshadowed amendment to be moved by Senator Macklin. The first is this: Both of these proposals are an attempt to make the Government honest. I think there is much merit in that. As my colleague Senator Walters pointed out, it is possible for the Prime Minister to have simultaneous elections of both Houses of Parliament every time there is an election if that is what the Prime Minister wishes. Senator Walters did not hear it, but in response to that the Attorney- General (Senator Gareth Evans) interjected 'only within a 12-month period', or words to that effect. That is right. It may be only within a 12-month period but the Attorney-General was, in fact, confirming what Senator Walters was putting forward.

Senator Harradine —Months earlier.

Senator LEWIS —That is right. As Senator Harradine says, it is wrong only if the Prime Minister wants early elections. The situation is quite clear. So long as the Prime Minister of the day is prepared to allow the Parliament to run its full term or nearly its full term-and he has a period of 12 months in which to play around-it is possible, as it is now, to have simultaneous elections.

Let us look at the Constitution Alteration (Simultaneous Elections) Bill 1984. As Senator Macklin has pointed out, the purpose of the Bill is to affect the terms of senators.

Senator Walters —Shorten, not just affect.

Senator LEWIS —The Attorney uses the word 'affect'.

Senator Mason —Adjust.

Senator LEWIS —Senator Mason interjects: 'Adjust'. That is the word that is used in the Australian Democrats' amendment. I will accept that, but of course, as my colleague Senator Walters keeps trying to say, the truth is that the inevitable result will be to shorten the terms of senators because one cannot adjust their terms upwards, only downwards. Although it is a pity that the Democrats' amendment does not use the term 'to shorten the terms of senators', the proposal put by the Democrats, like the proposal put by the Opposition, is designed to make this Government honest so that the Bill actually recites what the real purpose of this proposal which is to go to the people is all about. I will support both amendments.