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Thursday, 23 August 1984
Page: 321

Senator DURACK(10.19) —The question really is not as simple to determine as the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) would have us believe. What he seems to be saying is that we should move a further amendment if we want to achieve the current situation. I do not know whether the Government is firmly keen on that.

Senator Gareth Evans —The Democrats' amendment gets us to the present situation because it leaves in the words.

Senator DURACK —That is right. We do not want the present situation to continue. I understood the Government did not want the present situation to continue either. As I understand it, the Government wants clause 4 as we do.

Senator Gareth Evans —There is no argument about clause 4. We all want clause 4.

Senator DURACK —In accordance with the resolution of the Constitutional Convention, the convention that has always applied we want no discretion on the part of the Senate or of the Parliament in relation to determining the order of senators. We want and I understand the Government wants-or I thought it did-that the order of seniority of senators should be determined by their order of election.

Senator Gareth Evans —But that assumes there is no ambiguity about proposed new sub-section (4), which there is as it now stands.

Senator DURACK —That is the trouble. The Attorney-General is saying now that there is a great ambiguity about sub-section (4). If so, we had better clean it up.

Senator Gareth Evans —No, we just accept either the Democrats' or ours.

Senator DURACK —That is not going to achieve the Attorney's purpose, either.

Senator Gareth Evans —I am perfectly happy with my purpose achieved in the way it is in the Bill.

Senator DURACK —I thought the Attorney, in quoting the view of the Constitutional Convention, which is to the effect that the present, longstanding convention is that the seniority of senators is determined by their order of election, was telling us that that is the one we should be following; by changing the Constitution so that it is no longer just a convention but becomes a constitutional provision.

Senator Gareth Evans —No, let me explain.

Senator DURACK —Go ahead.