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Wednesday, 3 May 1961

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The Chair has no authority to prevent an honorable member from passing remarks about anybody who is not a member of the Parliament.

Mr McMahon - Would you direct attention to the fact that it is churlish and ill-mannered?

The CHAIRMAN - What the honorable member says is a matter for himself.

Mr COPE - I did not intend any insult to the officer. I merely made a general remark in passing. I also mention in passing that the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser) directed the attention of honorable members to a question that was asked about remarks made on two occasions by people who were not members of this. Parliament. Now, when an honorable member on this side says something about a person who is not a member of the Parliament, a Minister takes strong exception to it.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member will discuss the matter before the committee.

Mr COPE - As I said before, I am sure all honorable members will agree that the Communist vote is the most disciplined vote in Australia. Will any honorable member deny that? Let me now refer to what happened in the electorate of Banks in the 1955 and 1958 elections. In 1955, Mr. P. M. Clancy, the, Communist Party candidate who contested the Banks seat polled 3,356 or 8.014 per cent, of a total of 41,875 votes cast. On that occasion, his name was at the top of the ballot paper. In 1 958, when a Liberal candidate occupied' top position on the ballot-paper and Clancy held second place, Clancy polled only 1,634 or 3.55 per cent, of a total of 48,700 votes cast. The advantage in being at the top of the ballot-paper was worth over 4 per cent. 1 know of one instance during the last federal election in which the Liberal Party selected for Parks a man who was not the best candidate offering. He was selected purely because the Liberal Party knew that his name would appear at the top of the ballot-paper. It was a seat that the Liberals dearly wanted to win from the Labour Party, and they by-passed a much more suitable man who was wellknown and well-liked in the electorate. The man who was by-passed was a most intelligent person who would have been a much more suitable candidate but he was not selected because his name would not appear at .the top of the ballot-paper Every member of the Liberal Party knows that the selection of candidates depends on the position in which their names will appear on the ballot-papers.

The Minister spoke about how many people were elected, but did not submit figures to support his argument. We have the irrefutable facts backed up by figures. Earlier the Minister made out a good case in favour of the drawing-out-of-the-hat system. When speaking to the Deputy Leader of the Opposition about redistributions, the Minister said, " If you have them too often, people do not know who their candidates are." That is so. After the 1955 re-distribution, the people of Sydney were muddled for some considerable time because they did not know who their members were. When there is a re-distribution and people are transferred to other electorates they do not know who their members are. Especially is this so in the case of electors who are wishing to cast absentee votes. The position is not so difficult for the electors who are voting in their new electorates because the names of the candidates are well advertised, but very often those who are seeking to cast absentee votes find it necessary to inquire who the candidates are. If there is no officer present at the absentee table outside the booth, the electors are not sure who the candidates are and almost invariably mark their papers from top to bottom when they enter the booth.

At one time the Labour Party conducted pre-selection ballots under the alphabetical system and we found that those whose names began with " A " enjoyed a distinctive advantage. This was especially so in Senate pre-selection ballots, although there was also an advantage in the preselection ballots for the House of Representatives. The Labour Party altered the system several years ago at its annual conference. The names of candidates are now drawn out of the hat and placed on the pre-selection ballot-papers for the House of Representatives and the Senate in the order in which they are drawn. At the last pre-selection, which was made under the new system of drawing out of the hat, the three successful Senate candidates were Arnold, Ormonde and Amour. Arnold was lucky and drew No. 1 position.

On one occasion, I assisted as scrutineer at a pre-selection at which 600 votes were cast. Thirty of the voters marked their ballot-papers from top to bottom just as is done quite often at the final election. Even though it was only a pre-selection, 5 per cent, of the voters merely marked their papers from top to bottom, lt is my opinion that the advantage to be derived from being at the top of the ballot-paper is worth at least 3 per cent, or 1,200 out of every 40,000 votes cast. I admit that this advantage is greater in federal elections than in State elections because, at federal elections, two papers have to be filled in at the one time. When the electors are confronted with twenty-odd names for the Senate and only four or five for the House of Representatives they become confused and many of them simply vote across the paper for the Senate and down the paper for the House of Representatives. When the Minister says, in the face of that evidence, that it is of no advantage to be at the top of the ballot-paper, his statement it too ridiculous for words. He is only pulling his own leg, and everybody on the Government side knows he is pulling his own leg.

The CHAIRMAN - Order! The honorable member's time has expired.

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