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Tuesday, 4 December 1973
Page: 2418

Senator LILLICO (Tasmania) - I rise merely to draw attention to one aspect of the Bill which is before the chamber. Before doing so I want to say that I found myself to be in agreement with most of what Senator McManus had to say- I suppose 90 per cent of it- but not with what he had to say about a comparison between the electoral figures for Tasmania and the electoral figures for Victoria and the other States. The precise reason why the Senate was created was to counteract imbalances such as that which exists in another chamber between Tasmania and the other States. In my view it is fit and proper that the position at present with regard to the small State of Tasmania and the larger State of Victoria should pertain. The long title to this Bill states:

To alter the Constitution so as to ensure that the Members of the House of Representatives and of the Parliaments of the States are chosen directly and democratically by the People.

That in itself is a misnomer. Senator Withers quoted from an article by Malcolm Mackerras, who wrote an article for the 'Bulletin' in regard to this measure. He said that the Bill should be labelled:

A Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution so as to rid Australian Parliaments of anti-Labor gerrymanders and to insert pro-Labor gerrymanders in their stead.

He went on to cite as an example 6 blue ribbon seats- 3 blue ribbon Liberal seats and 3 blue ribbon Labor seats- and said that if they were assessed on a population basis only 59 per cent of the people would vote in the blue ribbon Liberal seat of Bradfield, 44 per cent in the blue ribbon Labor seat of Grayndler, 46 per cent in the blue ribbon Labor seat of Sydney, 62 per cent in the blue ribbon Liberal seat of Warringah, 59 per cent in the blue ribbon Liberal seat of Wentworth and 43 per cent in the blue ribbon Labor seat of Werriwa. That is the direct opposite of the proposition that we heard so much about some time ago of one vote one value.

I am disappointed that a neighbouring country in which this system has been practised ever since the acceptance of elected parliaments in that country has not been quoted. No mention has been made of it. I refer to New Zealand. Just before 2 December- in the week before 2 December- there was an election in New Zealand. The newspapers in this country hailed it as a landslide victory to Labour in that dominion. There were various contentions as to what effect it would have on the subsequent election in this country. While I was in New Zealand I got hold of some Press cuttings on the election results. It should be remembered that in New Zealand elections are assessed on a population basis and that New Zealand is pretty meticulous in this respect. The New Zealand legislation lays down that there must be a redistribution every census. Incidentally there must not be a disparity of more than 5 per cent between any of the electorates. Among the newspaper headlines in New Zealand- in my view the newspaper headlines in New Zealand are just as foolish as some of the newspaper headlines in this country- there was one which said: 'Labour Sweeps to Power- Mr Kirk party's fourth P.M.'. Another said that Labour had the backing to redeem its policies. They went on and on. I think one of the headlines said that the New Zealand Labour Party had a mandate to put all its policies into operation because of the landslide victory. In the forefront of this screed I have before me a dissertation by a lecturer in political science at the Auckland University in which he devoted many pages to the reasons why there should be such a terrific swing to Labour and what caused it. It should be remembered that in New Zealand the electorates are assessed on a population basis.

Senator Wright On people as distinct from electors.

Senator LILLICO (Tasmania) Yes , on people as distinct from electors. I was amazed to find that in this mighty swing that caused so much comment the New Zealand Labour Party received only 48 per cent of the votes polled. There was a swing of 3 per cent. The Labour Party gained 48 per cent of the votes polled, and that 48 per cent elected 64 per cent of the members. These are official figures that I am quoting. The National Party gained 41.5 per cent of the votes polled, and that 41.5 per cent elected only 36 per cent of the members. That is what happened in New Zealand. I repeat that the Labour Party gained 48 per cent of the votes polled. This mighty swing, which these strange newspapers hailed as a landslide, was accomplished on a minority of the votes. That is as much like democracy as I am like Cleopatra. It is just a parody; nothing else. May the Lord save and preserve us from ever having introduced into this country the system that operates in New Zealand.

That is what I rose to say. I think it is worth saying. I think it is worth placing on record that the so-called landslide to Labour in New Zealand was just a complete and absolute farce and one of the most ludicrous things that one could possible imagine in democratic elections. I wish that my speech was being broadcast and that the New Zealand people were hearing it. I went to the office of the National Party in Auckland and I said to the man in charge: 'This Labour Party Government gained only a minority of the votes'. I had a job making him understand what I was talking about. I believe that wein Australia are years ahead of the New Zealanders so far as democratic representation is concerned. Let us not put the clock back.

That is why I am with Senator Withers in his opposition to this awful measure, which is put up and calculated only to give a very definite advantage to the Labor Party. There is no other reason. The Labor Party is not interested in democracy. I have seen too much of its actions to think that it is. They go back a long time to when the Labor Party abolished the Legislative Council in Queensland. It loaded the place with Labor members and, in spite of the fact that a referendum which was held just a few months previously decreed that the place should not be abolished, the Labor Party went on and abolished it. The Labor Parly's actions over the years are loaded with things like that. Honourable senators can rest assured that this proposition is only part of a blueprint to ensure a permanent Labor Government in this country.

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