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Thursday, 10 March 1966

Mr ANTHONY (Richmond) (Minister for the Interior) . - in reply - I listened tonight with great interest to the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory (Mr. J. R. Fraser). I was not quite wre whether his remarks were a preview of his policy speech for the forthcoming election. No doubt the member for the Territory, whoever he may be in the future, will have to go to the people of Canberra with a very much broader policy than has been the case in the past. The honorable member tonight spoke for some considerable time. He seemed almost to be trying to say that we should not give a vote to the member for the Australian Capital Territory. He mentioned arguments that the Government had used over the years but did not mention the criterion which the Government has stuck to rigidly - that is, that this matter would not be considered until the electoral population of the Territory approximated the electoral quotas of the States. That has been the Government's view.

The stage was reached when the Government again had to look at this question. It considered it and decided that the time had arrived when the people of the Australian Capital Territory should be given electoral rights which would enable the member for the Territory to have full voting rights in the Parliament. After listening to the honorable member for the A.C.T. speak of his difficulties in representing this area, I will pay him due credit. He does have heavy electoral commitments in that he has to do work normally performed in a municipal or State sphere. But he almost gave me the impression that the member for the Australian Capital Territory, whoever he may be, would be so busy on these matters that he would not be able to cast an informed and intelligent vote on national and international affairs. I hope the honorable member did not really intend that I should interpret his remarks in that way. However, he would almost allow me to think that perhaps we did the wrong thing in giving the honorable member for the Australian Capital Territory full voting rights, because he is so preoccupied with his own local affairs.

I turn now to answer a question asked by the honorable member for the Northern Territory (Mr. Nelson). The honorable member asked what form of representation the Government is considering should be given to the Northern Territory. I reiterate what I said in my second reading speech - that the Government will re-examine the question of full voting rights for the honorable member for the Northern Territory only after the referendum has taken place next year. It is absolutely impossible for me to inform the House of what form of representation will be chosen. The honorable member for the Northern Territory asked whether it would be representation both in this chamber and in the Senate. Such questions will have to be studied. It is a complex problem, and the decision will be taken only after the Government has given a great deal of consideration both to the principle of electoral quotas and to the possibility of representation both in the House of Representatives and in the Senate.

The honorable member for Grayndler (Mr. Daly) apparently finds it impossible to keep out of any debate relating to electoral matters. He enjoyed the opportunity tonight to air his hatred of the Australian Country Party. However, it was delightful to hear him tonight pose as the great crusader supporting the principle that some allowance should be made for area. He used the words "huge areas". He also referred to huge distances to be covered and difficulties experienced by honorable members in trying to represent large electorates. This was sweet music such as I have never heard come before from the honorable member for Grayndler. We remember the occasion last year when he fought hard for the principle that no variation should occur in the sizes of electorates and, if there was to be any variation; it should be a maximum of only 10 per cent. The honorable member's words tonight have gone down on the record and I- am sure that we will be able to quote them for many years to come to illustrate his opinion about the difficulties of communication in electorates covering large areas.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.

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