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Thursday, 23 August 1984
Page: 244

Senator GARETH EVANS (Attorney-General)(12.19) —I think Senator Ray has knocked the nail on the head. If the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke) so advises the Governor-General and if the Governor-General accedes, yes it is the case, within the 12-month period prior to the required dissolution of the Senate, that that can occur. But that is not the point in issue here. The point is to create a situation where by simultaneity always occurs in the event of a House of Representatives election being called, for whatever reason, for example, the loss of a majority in the House of Representatives by virtue of people crossing the floor. That is one circumstance, quite apart from political opportunism, that might lead to an early election in a situation of a finely balanced House of Representatives.

It is in those circumstances that there might well be a need to have an election well before that final 12-month run home for the Senate. It is in those circumstances that it would be manifestly absurd-this has been generally accepted on most sides of politics and by most individuals-to create a situation whereby one could not simultaneously deal with the situation in the Senate and, as a result, one had to confront the possibility of another election for the Senate within a period of 12 or 18 months thereafter. That is one situation that can occur, albeit it has not occurred very often in our history and hopefully will not occur too often in the future, but it is one example of an entirely principled or non-partisan opportunistic way in which a situation might arise whereby this Bill will have some real utility and real effect in ensuring that we did not have a multiplicity of elections in the future in the way we have had them in the past.

I hope that the good faith of those putting the measure forward, from the point of view of getting some stability and sanity into our system of government, will be appreciated and that we will stop this cheap point scoring that has been so characteristic of this debate in the last hour or two.