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Tuesday, 11 September 1984
Page: 805


Senator MACKLIN(5.23) —by leave-I move:

That the Bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have my second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows-

The purpose of this Bill is a purely functional one which I hope will gain the support of both the Government and the Opposition in order that it can gain a speedy passage through this place and, indeed, the House of Representatives as well.

In looking at the situation which we will face at the next election, it is quite clear that the Representation Act has failed to address the question of the order of election of senators although it determines the dates from which those senators who are elected will serve in this place, dependent on the order in which they were elected. This was an obvious over-sight by the Government which needs urgent rectification.

The intention of the Bill is to ensure that the situation in regards to the order in which senators are elected at the next election remains the same as it is at present under the Electoral Act for a normal half-senate election. There seems to be no reason to change that situation, given that the next election-and this Bill will only apply to the next election-will, we have been consistently assured by the Prime Minister, most likely be a 'normal' half-senate election.

Indeed, having looked at this situation, I am surprised that the Government chose to put clauses concerning the order of election of senators in the Electoral Act rather than the Representation Act in the first place. It would seem more logical to place it in the Representation Act, but I dare say the Government has a sound and logical reason for proceeding in the way it did.

Before concluding I would like to comment on the opinion that some people have expressed that, because we are electing seven rather than six senators for each State at the next election, that the first part of section 13 of the Constitution somehow applies.

That is not the Australian Democrats opinion. We believe that the first part of section 13 only applies to a double dissolution situation. What we are dealing with here is covered by section 14 of the constitution which deals with the increase or diminishing of the size of the Senate.

I commend the Bill to the Senate.

Debate (on motion by Senator Robertson) adjourned.