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Monday, 24 May 1965

Senator PALTRIDGE (Western Australia) (Minister for Defence) . - The Government does not accept the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition (Senator McKenna). The amendment provides that a draw shall be made to determine the position of candidates on ballot papers for House of Representatives elections. There is no support for the belief, recently expressed by the Leader of the Opposition, that some advantage accrues to the person who holds the first position on a ballot paper. It is well recognised that there is an advantage in Senate elections, but this does not occur in House of Representatives elections. An analysis of past elections shows that there is not really any advantage in being in the first position. In fact, in the 1958 House of Representatives election in New South Wales, the Australian Labour Party candidate was in first position on seven occasions and the respective candidates polled 46.74 per cent, of the votes. In respect of other positions on the ballot papers in that election, the Labour candidates obtained 47.22 per cent, of the votes. At the last three House of Representatives elections, candidates in the first position were elected on 108 occasions as against 102 occasions for the second position and 103 occasions for the third position.

The question of making a draw for positions on House of Representatives ballot papers has been considered on several occasions, but there is no evidence that any advantage is given to the candidate at the top of the ballot paper. I present an analysis showing the position on the ballot papers of the elected candidates at the 1958 and 1961 House of Representatives elections. This shows that, of candidates in the first position, 41 were successful; 40 were successful from the second position; 31 were successful from the third position; 9 were successful from the fourth position; and one was successful from the fifth position. At the subsequent election in 1961, 32 were successful from the first position; 45 from the second position, 32 from the third position; and 13 from the fourth position. It seems that this does not support the case that there is an advantage, and therefore the Government does not propose to make any alteration to the existing provision.

Question put -

That the new clause proposed to be inserted (Senator McKenna's amendment) be inserted.

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