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Monday, 13 September 1971
Page: 1219

Mr Calwell asked the Minister for the Interior, upon notice:

(1)   If the quota established as a result of the recent Census affects the number of seats in each Slate of the Commonwealth, will he arrange for a redistribution of electoral divisions for the House of Representatives to be made before the election of the 28th Parliament.

(2)   If marked discrepancies in the number of electors in each electoral division in one or more States are found to exist, even if the number of divisions now allotted to each State does not need to be varied, will he give favourable consideration to a general redistribution.

(3)   If a redistribution is undertaken, will the Government instruct the Chief Electoral Officer to make adequate allowances for the transfer of population now taking place throughout Australia and, in particular, the growth of population in each capital city.

Mr Hunt (GWYDIR, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for the Interior) - The answer to the right honourable member's question is as follows:

(1)   At such time as the necessary statistical information is available following the taking of a census, the Chief Electoral Officer is required to ascertain the numbers of the people of the Commonwealth and of the several States as at' the date of the census and make and forward to the Minister a certificate setting forth the numbers of the people. He is also required to determine and forward to the Minister a notification setting forth the number of Members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States. A decision about the need for a redistribution based on the population figures derived from the recent census and the timing thereof cannot be made until after the necessary preliminary steps have been taken by the Chief Electoral Officer.

(2)   Consideration will be given to the need for a redistribution at the appropriate time if there are marked variations in the number of electors enrolled for the Division in a State, even though the determination by the Chief Electoral Officer may indicate that no alteration is to be made .in the number of Members in the House of Representatives to be elected for the State.

(3)   The matters to which Distribution Commissioners are required to give due consideration in making a proposed distribution of a State into Divisions are specified in the Commonwealth Electoral Act These include the trend of population changes within the State. Distribution Commissioners are not subject to instructions or directions by the Minister or the Government as to the matters to be taken into account.

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