Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 11 December 1905

Mr McWILLIAMS (Franklin) - It is very desirable that Members of Parliament should, as far as possible, be relieved from discussing the boundaries of electoral divisions in which they are personally interested. Tasmania, under present circumstances, has a minimum representation of five honorable members, and I think it quite possible that there will be no alteration made in the boundaries. If the Commission is to be a heavily paid one, it is worth while considering whether it would be necessary to appoint three Commissioners for such a small State. My personal opinion is that the SurveyorGeneral of the State could do the whole of the work himself, practically as well as could three Commissioners. I differ entirely from the view that the Senate, in inserting this clause, is encroaching on the rights of the House of Representatives, considering that the Bill was submitted for the Senate's consideration. The principle we have to consider is whether the boundaries shall be decided by Parliament or by Commissioners. How absurd it would be to call upon a member like myself to express an opinion as to the boundaries of Queensland, for example ! I have absolutely no knowledge of that State to qualify me to arrive at a decision. I can remember a case in the State Parliament of Tasmania, when the representatives of adjoining electorates, each desired to have a portion of one of these electorates included in his own. There we had at once a conflict between two men directly interested.

Mr Page - Then other members, who were disinterested, could decide the question.

Mr McWILLIAMS - But on what information? For example, a similar question might arise between the honorable member for Kennedy and the honorable mem- ber for Maranoa, both gentlemen whose word I should be prepared to accept on any matter of fact.

Mr Page - But the honorable member for Kennedy and myself are quite agreeable, although he is taking some of my electors.

Mr McWILLIAMS - But supposing honorable members under the circumstances were not agreeable? The honorable member for Kooyong has cited a case in which a corner of an electorate may be thrown into an adjoining electorate represented by a member holding entirely opposite political views from those of its former member.

Mr Tudor - I am glad that Toorak is not thrown into my electorate.

Mr McWILLIAMS - And I think the Toorak electors are also glad. In such a case it is highly undesirable that an honorable member directly interested should be called upon to decide the boundaries.I am sure the Chairman would not allow me to say that the manner in which the redistribution of New South Wales was refused by the last Parliament was a scandal ; but that would be the term applied to similar proceedings in any matter outside politics. The last Parliament refused to allow New South Wales to be divided into something like fairly even electorates, with the result, as has been pointed out, that there are cases of one electorate having more than double the number of electors to be found in an adjoining electorate.

Mr Chanter - How did Parliament refuse ?

Mr McWILLIAMS - Parliament decided that New South Wales should not be brought under the Electoral Divisions Bill.

Mr Tudor - The same decision was arrived at in regard to other States.

Mr McWILLIAMS - I know that, but I speak of New South Wales because of the inequalities which there are in that State.

Mr Tudor - There are similar inequalities in Victoria.

Mr McWILLIAMS - I believe there are to a lesser extent.

Mr Tudor - To a greater extent.

Mr McWILLIAMS - Could there be a greater condemnation than the facts I have stated, of the system which some honorable members favour? If the delimitation of the boundaries of New South Wales had been put: into the hands of a Commissioner, the inequalities and difficulties I have described would not have arisen.

Mr Page - We have had too many Commissions and Commissioners.

Mr McWILLIAMS - I believe that the electorates mapped out by Commissioners were accepted by the House without alteration. Unless we appoint Commissioners, differences of opinion will arise in the House, and the Bill may be shelved for the session. That will mean no redistribution of seats prior to the next election, and there will be a continuation of the present state of affairs.

Mr Page - The present arrangements were good enough to return the honorable member.

Mr McWILLIAMS -I was returned for an electorate delimitedby a Commissioner, and it would be infinitely better if all the representatives were returned under similar conditions. Believing, asI do, that the more we keep political influence out of the division of electorates the better it will be for honorable members themselves, I shall vote for the retention of the clause.

Suggest corrections