Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Full Day's HansardDownload Full Day's Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Thursday, 28 November 1974
Page: 2939

Senator SCOTT (New South Wales) - I rise to say briefly that along with my Party I oppose this Bill in its present form. It contains no fewer than 34 specific points and I am somewhat surprised and disappointed that such a massive Bill as this should come before us at this time when on 1 1 April this year the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) said in a Press conference: 'There will be no amendments of the electoral laws under my Government in the next Parliament other than those which are set out in the policy speech'. The Labor Party's policy speech made no reference to changing the preferential system. I wanted to make the point that I am surprised and disappointed that in those circumstances and in view of that statement we are confronted with a Bill which has so many parts to it.

Senator Missen - Perhaps that is why the Labor Party is not defending it here.

Senator SCOTT - Perhaps that is the reason. A system of first past the post or optional preferential, call it what you will, basically gets around in logic to assuming that everything is either black or white. Naturally we all know and must admit that this is not the situation. This sort of attitude will construct a system in which minority views and minority parties virtually have no place and in which the total scene resolves itself into a battle of the giants. Consequently I do not believe that this really contributes anything to an effective democracy. It has been shown in many places on many occasions that a first past the post system, or a system of optional preferential voting which is perhaps a prelude to first past the post, is a form of voting which has elected minority governments on many occasions. I have in mind the present Labor Government in the United Kingdom which is in office after having polled 37 per cent of the votes. I am sure that that is not a result which the Australian Government would suggest was a true reflection of the feelings of the people or one which was giving to those people a proper measure of representation. This system was tried, as Senator Wood said, in Queensland in the 1930s and when it last operated there, in 1941, 1 notice that with something like 5 1 per cent of the votes the government of that day was elected with 66 per cent of the seats. Had this sort of system prevailed for the last Federal election in Australia 49 per cent of the votes would have won 58 per cent of the seats. The fact that came from the 1974 election was that with 49 per cent of the votes the Labor Party became the Government, having won 51 per cent of the seats. I do not think we could get much closer to a proper and fair representation of the people than that. Whilst looking through these many points- there are 34 of them in this Bill- 1 find that perhaps I would put a cross beside only two or three of them and put a tick beside most of the others, with perhaps a few question marks against some. But I am not prepared to accept those two or three crosses and I am sure that if those particular provisions were taken out they would, from a Government point of view, virtually destroy the Bill. So with those few remarks I indicate that I oppose this Bill.

Suggest corrections