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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 3424

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Dr Jenkins (SCULLIN, VICTORIA) - Is leave granted?

Mr Street - This is the document to which I drew your attention a moment ago. It is an extraordinarily long and complex document. I have not bad time to study its full complexities.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - Will the Minister clarify this document. Leave has already been granted for one set of tables to be incorporated in Hansard. This is a second set of documents. I take it that leave is not granted.

Mr Street - I want to be quite clear on this. There is no objection to leave being granted for the incorporation in Hansard of the document described as Attachment 'A', for it shows the Federal divisions.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER - But leave is not granted for inclusion of the second document? Mr Street - No.

Mr DALY - I do not intend to read those tables, but it is interesting to note that the Opposition has refused leave to incorporate them in Hansard. I ask all Government supporters to note that leave was refused, Requests will be made from the other side from time to time for the inclusion of documents. (Extension of time granted). I thank the House. What I wanted to incorporate in Hansard were the details of the distribution of New South Wales into State electoral districts; the details of the distribution of Victoria into State electoral districts; the details of the distribution of Queensland into State electoral districts; the details of South Australia into State electoral districts; the details of Western Australia into State electoral districts - all taken from the official reports. The Liberal and Country parties, represented at the table at the moment by a former Prime Minister, are so ashamed of them that they will not allow the details to be incorporated in Hansard. Is it any wonder? I shall make certain that they are circulated. At least the members of the Country Party have some self-respect; they are ashamed of their past. It is no wonder the Party is changing its name, for those associated with it want to get away from all the crimes they committed. I can understand the attitude of the former Prime Minister who is sitting opposite, for he was a party to all the gerrymanders that have occurred here in the past 20 years.

Even a cursory glance at the current enrolments for Federal divisions shows that there is a considerable variation in enrolment between the divisions. Diamond Valley in Victoria, for example, has an enrolment of 83.970 electors as at 26 October 1973 whereas Maranoa in Queensland has an enrolment of only 45,800 electors. Thus, if an election for this House were held tomorrow, an elector in Maranoa would have a vote worth 1.83 times the vote of an elector in Diamond Valley. Current enrolment details for State legislatures make the Federal figures look almost respectable. The schedule shows how the technique of zoning has been used to achieve a degree of malapportionment that might be thought to occur only in fairy tales.

This is the real situation in Australia today under Liberal-Country Party governments. Now we know why they do not want it on record. Now we know why they do not want to face the people at a referendum. Now we know why they have survived in government; it is because of gerrymanders and cooked electorates, which they seek to perpetuate. It is obvious that efforts to reform the basis of the electoral system to ensure equal representation for people in Parliament are bound to end in frustration. The only way in which the evils of malapportionment can be banned from the Australian political scene for all time is to inscribe the principle of equal representation into our Australian Constitution - one vote, one value. I thought 2 Country Party supporters were going to pass out just then. It is useless to attempt to enshrine such a principle in the Constitution of any particular State or States, for such Constitutions can be changed at the will of the Parliament concerned. The only Constitution that is unalterable except by the express permission of the Australian people is the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Australia. It is in our Australian Constitution that we must provide a strong guarantee of equal representation.

That is the purpose of this Bill. As the Prime Minister said in his second-reading speech it is designed to seek approval for 'an amendment of the Constitution which would write into it the principle of substantial equality of electoral divisions for all the Parliaments of Australia and a provision that the State Houses of Parliament be elected directly by the people'. In those circumstances we find that honourable members opposite not only will not face the people at a referendum; they are ashamed to agree to publication of the details of their re-distribution.

They seek by malapportionment to cling to power in this Parliament, and the Country Party will fight to the last in order to ensure that. Others yap along at the heels of the Country Party, and the former Prime Minister is one of them. Let us not forget that the members of the Country Party did not want the former Prime Minister once, and can honourable members blame them? Then they took him back and he nearly wrecked the country. Members of the Country Party were right the first time. I submit that the people are entitled to express their opinion on any issue, and honourable members opposite who fight that deserve the fate that they met at the last election. If they do not trust the people they should not be in government. This is precisely what the Leader of the Australian Country Party and other honourable members opposite will not do: They will not let the people pass judgment on a constitutional change.

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