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Thursday, 29 March 1973
Page: 916

Mr GRASSBY (Riverina) (Minister for Immigration) - The measure before the Parliament concerns democracy. In case some of the honourable members who are at present in this place and some of those who have taken part in this debate have forgotten I remind them that there is a very good definition of democracy which I should revive for the occasion. It was a definition by Abraham Lincoln, not unknown in our country and in our history, who defined democracy as 'government of the people by the people and for the people'. Listening to the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony), who spoke just before the sitting was suspended for dinner, we could be forgiven for thinking that he was talking about democracy in terms of government of the majority by the minority because that seemed to be the summation of what he was saying; but then again he seemed to have a remorse of conscience once or twice during the course of his remarks and he said: Unbalanced representation is not good for the nation'. Is not that a very interesting comment coming from the Leader of the Australian Country Party which has 9 per cent of the vote? In the history of the Federation it has not had more than 10 per cent of the vote. Yet it has had 20 per cent of the Cabinet. Of course this is a very good and new definition of democracy!

In the famous election on 2nd December 1972 which brought so many changes we found that this sterling fighter for freedom that we heard just before dinner represents the 9 per cent that has 16 per cent of the Parliament. This is indeed a new definition of democracy. If Abraham Lincoln were among us he would be bewildered. I might say that I have no doubt about which side of the Parliament he would be sitting on. But let us have a look at some of the very interesting claims that were made by the Leader of the Australian Country Party. He was talking with all the magnificent arrogance of a feudal lord who has his fiefdom and does not wish anybody to interfere with it. He was talking about half of the nation as if it was his own, as if it was his private property. I know that he is a man of considerable means because the honourable member for Gippsland (Mr Nixon) told us just last night that the honourable member could buy and sell us all. The thing that is worrying me is whether he is not seeking tonight to buy and sell us all once again. But let us have a look at what we are talking about.

We are talking about the state of the Parliament; the state of the parties in the national Parliament. We are talking about 22 country members on the Government side. We are talking about 12 country members in the Liberal Party. We are talking about 20 members of the Country Party, hardly including the honourable member for Gippsland who is not really here at all. I am sorry, he is here.

Mr Nixon - I raise a point of order. I have been misrepresented. Is it an appropriate time for me to speak?

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