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Thursday, 25 November 1971
Page: 3636

Mr WHITLAM (WERRIWA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I ask the Minister for the Interior whether the Chief Electoral Officer has yet prepared the certificates of the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth and of the several States as required by the Representation Act. If not, why has he not done so in view of the fact that the Acting Statistician published the figures a month ago? Can he explain why the Chief Electoral Officer's certificate could not have been prepared by, say, 4th November, as it was in 1954 after the census of that year, and thus have opened the way for a redistribution of electoral divisions within II months of the census, as also happened after the 1954 census? Why is there a delay in initiating a redistribution when the figures show not only a most unfair disparity in the population of the electorates but also a clear entitlement to an additional seat in both Western Australia and the Australian Capital Territory?

Mr HUNT (GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Interior) - To my knowledge the Chief Electoral Officer has not yet obtained from the Commonwealth Statistician the census figures for the purpose of a redistribution. Until they do come to hand it is not possible to say conclusively whether a redistribution is either necessary or possible overall. The last redistribution, of course, was undertaken in 1968 and the Commonwealth did obtain figures from the Commonwealth Statistician when they were gazetted on 14th August 1967. There was a redistribution in 1968 and an election in 1969. There has always been some difficulty, as experience has shown, in rushing through electoral redistribution processes in that sort of time. It does take time to appoint commissioners and it takes time to take evidence from the public, and to draw boundaries. From the information I have obtained from the Chief Electoral Officer, it takes at least 7 to 8 months to undertake a redistribution after the appointment of the commissioners.

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