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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 3432

Mr KILLEN (Moreton) - I have but 3 minutes before the guillotine falls. Therefore, the tumbrel must move swiftly. I think that 3 minutes is quite ample time in which to explain why there is no necessity for this Bill. The whole purpose of the referendum procedure is to enlarge the powers of Parliament, and the referendum procedure was devised with precisely that in mind. What is offered by this Bill? What is offered is nothing more than an attempt to declare rights as seen by some members of this Parliament. If one turns to the various clauses in the Bill one sees that that is just the case. For example, if one turns to clause 4 one finds a proposal which seeks to have divisions of people that shall be as nearly as practicable the same. Does anybody say that this Parliament does not have that power today? It is here.

Further on the Bill contains an arrangement that there shall be reasonable conditions relating to elections. The only new thing in this Bill, in respect of which this Parliament does not have power, is power to control the States. This has been the lamentation of honourable gentlemen opposite. If they are so virtuous about expressing their concern for State parliaments why do they not turn their attention to some of the local government authorities? Or am I to understand from the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) that he takes the view that virtue is all right done on a regional basis but, when it comes down to the brass tacks of running local government authorities, we can have gerrymanders there in the plainest extent? This Bill is a spurious attempt by the Government to encourage the view throughout the nation that the Commonwealth Government has been created on the basis of gerrymandering. One has only to state the proposition to see the absurdity of it. The Government was elected in precisely the same circumstances as the previous Government was elected. There was no substantial alteration. I think it is a gratuitous insult to the civil servants of this country who administer the legislative procedure to suggest that gerrymandering can and does occur.

The last thing I want to say to the Minister for Services and Property is that he has been travelling around the world for months investigating voting conditions, ensuring that he can pick up something that might help him on his way. Every time anything is mentioned to do with voting conditions the honourable gentleman starts to behave like a fussy old governess - and one riding side saddle at that. The simple truth is that the honourable gentleman has brought nothing back to this Parliament from his experiences. This Bill is a spurious Bill. It reflects an attempt by the Labor Government to declare in some curious fashion what is in fact a political battle cry. The Minister could not explain to the House what is meant by 'as nearly as practicable'. He did not attempt to explain it. What is nearly as practicable to the honourable gentleman may in the eyes of his friend the Minister for the Environment and Conservation (Dr Cass) be thoroughly impossible. The simple truth is that the Constitution should not be subjected to having this sort of rubbish put into it.


Mr KILLEN - On that note I finish.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The time allotted for the second reading of the Bill has expired.

Question put:

That the Bill be read a second time.

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