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Wednesday, 5 December 1973
Page: 4310

Mr WHITLAM (Werriwa) (Prime Minister) - in reply - I hope that the right honourable member for Lowe (Mr McMahon) will not take it amiss if I express disappointment that he has departed from the views which were espoused 15 years ago by such distinguished colleagues of his as Sir Neil O'Sullivan, Sir Alexander Downer and Mr Justice Joske.

Mr McMahon - It is the fourth time he has said this.

Mr WHITLAM - The right honourable gentleman is disowning them now, 15 years later. There were also Mr Drummond and Mr Hamilton. The fact is that there is nothing particularly revolutionary or novel about the amendment to which the right honourable gentleman and his Senate colleagues now object. It was put in 1958 and 1959 by a Constitutional Review Committee sponsored by Prime Minister Menzies. Nobody in the intervening years has objected to the proposal.

The other proposal, which is not objected to, also involves an amendment to section 128 of the Constitution to allow the voters in the Territories to be counted in the national total which must be obtained in favour of any proposed law to alter the Constitution as well as a majority in not less than half of the States. This proposal is one which has been made since the Constitutional Review Committee report. It was proposed under Prime Minister Gorton and was proposed under Prime Minister McMahon. It is being put to the people under the present Prime Minister. Perhaps I can conclude with this thought: This is one case where the Senate cannot prevent the people expressing their voice because if, after another 3 months, we put this Bill and the attendant Constitutional Alteration Bills through the House and the Senate again rejects them, shelves them or unacceptably amends them, then without any limitation of time the Bill can be put to the people.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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