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Tuesday, 23 April 1985
Page: 1694

Mr WHITE(9.13) —I will be brief, but I think it is timely, while this Representation Amendment Bill is going through, that we remind the Australian people why the original Bill which it seeks to amend was introduced, which is a great mystery to honourable members on this side of the House and, of course to some 84 per cent of Australians, according to the gallup poll referred to by the previous speaker, the honourable member for Warringah (Mr MacKellar). Additional parliamentarians are not wanted by the people of Australia and they certainly are not wanted by the Liberal Party of Australia. Just as a matter of interest, an extra 35 members of parliament brings the total number of politicians in Australia to something like 850 State and Federal members. In the State of Tasmania, where there are about 400,000 people, there are 12 senators and five members of the House of Representatives. It was bad enough when we had 10 senators from each State, but Parliament has now been extended to accommodate 12 senators from each State.

We are not opposed to the Bill. The additional members are here and they deserve to be paid, but it is ridiculous that we go on and on in this country increasing the number of politicians to represent 15 million people. Before the last election I represented the largest electorate in Australia in terms of the total number of people in my electorate.

Mr Rocher —And you did it well.

Mr WHITE —As my learned and very clever colleague reminds me, I did it well. Since then I have been given another member of staff. Certainly it is beyond me why we have this drastic reduction in the number of people we represent. Let me just mention the costs involved. By my calculation it costs something like $200,000 a year to keep a Federal member of Parliament. Those are the direct costs-salary, office, office staff, et cetera. A member's share of the cost of running Parliament is about half a million dollars. On top of that, it is costing the Australian taxpayer an extra $40m to put extensions, which are not yet complete, on to Parliament House.

Mr Donald Cameron —It is going to cost $45m extra to accommodate the extra members.

Mr WHITE —That is right, plus whatever the annex costs are, plus all the additions that have had to be made to this Parliament House. This has all been done because the Australian Labor Party thought it was going to gain electorally. In fact, it made no difference. It certainly was returned to government at the last election, but not because there are extra members of parliament. Its little ploy of foisting on the Australian people another 35 members-which it thought would mean it would be entrenched forever-is going to fail.

As this Bill passes through the House it should be remembered that the Opposition is not opposed to it, but the people of Australia should be reminded just who was responsible for having another 35 politicians in this Parliament and the associated costs.