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Tuesday, 29 May 1973
Page: 2814

Mr N H Bowen (PARRAMATTA, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I move the following amendment:

In sub-clause (2), omit the words 'one-tenth more or one-tenth less', substitute the words 'one-fifth more or one-fifth less'.

In explanation, perhaps I should say that the 2 amendments which have been put forward will bring the guidelines and directions to be given by the legislation to the distribution commissioners into conformity with the guidelines and directions which apply in respect of every other electorate in Australia. The Opposition does not think that there should be a change in substance in the Territory or that in some way it should be treated differently from other electorates by the dis tribution commissioners. That was the purpose of the first amendment I moved.

The second amendment relates to the margin. This has been a matter of debate and I will not make a long speech about the margin to be allowed in electorates. The amendment is designed to bring this margin into conformity, as a matter of consistency, with the permissible margin the commissioners have in relation to every other electorate in Australia. That is not to say that the commissioners will use the margin. They do not use it unless they need to. It is quite possible that, if the population of the Australian Capital Territory remains static - which is unlikely - or grows very rapidly in the 2 divisions equally, no use of this margin will be required. But if, for example, with the new suburbs of Tuggeranong in the south it is seen by the commissioners on the trends of population that there will be a very large increase in the southern division, making it very much larger than the other division in two or three years time, they will require a tolerance when they fix the 2 divisions so that with the passage of time the position will be brought closer to one vote one value.

Honourable members will recall that in the United States of America, where it was held that the constitution required one vote one value, it has been conceded that 10 per cent is not necessarily enough to achieve it. The commissioners may need more than 10 per cent to achieve one vote one value at the time of an election, depending on the capacity of growth. In fact, on the construction of the constitution in America, 15 per cent and more is permitted. But that is not to say that this would be used. It would be a matter for the commissioners to do what was proper, taking the trends into account. The Opposition thinks that, having that in mind and having in mind the need for consistency and not to make a special case of the Australian Capital Territory, this amendment should be made to the Bill.

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