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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 3433


Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (Leader of the Opposition) - I intend to move the amendment which has been circulated in my name. It relates to the long title to the Bill, which reads:

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-

To that point I agree that that is a description of this Bill- and democratically by the People.

I do not believe that the words 'and democratically' should be included in the long title because they carry a very clear inference that the elections until now have not been carried out democratically. A curious result of this is that the Government is alleging that it was not democratically elected and that by the amendment of the Constitution there will be henceforth democratic elections. Quite clearly those words have been chosen because they are words which will appeal to members of the public when they come along to vote. They are not in fact appropriate words because they are argumentative. In a referendum, those in favour of the referendum can put their case and those against it can put their case, and in that putting together of the cases all the argument can be put. Clearly there ought not to be words of argument in the title itself. Therefore I move:

In the Title, omit the words 'and democratically by the People', substitute the words 'by the People and that the criterion for determining the size of an electoral division shall be the number of the people within it'.

If the amendment were carried the long title would then read:

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 by the People . . .

That would be a fair description of what the Bill proposes, subject to the additional words which deal with the other major aim of the Bill, that is, the substitution of the criterion of apportionment of electorates by population as distinct from electors. At present the apportionment is all on the basis of the number of electors. The Bill proposes that it be on the basis of the number of people. That would include children, those who have not bothered to enrol and, of course, those who do not have Australian citizenship. I have already explained the differences that this would make and I will not repeat my arguments on this occasion. But I do say that the words 'by the People and that the criterion for determining the size of an electoral division shall be the number of the people within it' should be substituted for the words 'and democratically by the People'. If my amendment were carried the question that would be put to the public in the referendum - if this proposition is accepted by both chambers or if it comes back to this chamber and is accepted the second time - would read:

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 by the People and that the criterion for determining the size of an electoral division shall be the number of the people within it.

I think that should be agreed to by the Government. It certainly represents a much fairer description of the purpose of the Bill than do the present words. The words 'and democratically' are emotive, highly argumentative and should be eliminated if there is to be a fair referendum.







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