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Thursday, 9 December 1971
Page: 4390

Mr TURNBULL (MALLEE, VICTORIA) - My question is addressed to the Minister for the Interior, who administers the Electoral Act. With a view to giving non-metropolitan Australia an opportunity to develop, will the Minister, when the next redistribution of Federal electorates is being made, endeavour to have the permissible 20 per cent over and 20 per cent under the quota fully implemented in favour of rural areas? The Minister will realise that this is provided for in the Electoral Act. In other words, will he endeavour to have decentralisation of political representation adopted?

Mr HUNT (GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Interior) - I am well aware of the views of the honourable member on this question of decentralisation and of his adherence to the belief that, in order to achieve decentralisation, decentralisation of administration is essential. Over the years, the Government has taken into consideration the need to try to get a balance between representation for rural constituents and representation for metropolitan constituents. The Act has been framed in such a way as to ensure that people living in rural areas can be adequately represented. We have some very large electorates, like the electorate of Kalgoorlie, which covers an enormous area. Of course, the people in such . areas are not able to see their member as frequently as constituetents in the electorate of Grayndler can. So, we do have a very necessary tolerance to try to ensure that adequate provision is made for people living in the rural sector. I can assure the honourable member that we will observe the provisions of the Electoral Act should there be, and when there is, a redistribution.

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