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Tuesday, 29 November 1983
Page: 2941

Senator MACKLIN(6.22) — The major provisions in the Representation Bill relate to the transition clauses and in particular to the method of dealing with the next half-Senate election. Also in the Bill are transition clauses relating to a double dissolution. In debate on the second reading of the Bill, Senator Teague, in particular, raised matters dealing with the transition clauses. It was an interesting speech, mainly because Senator Teague seemed to be unaware that there are two sets of transition clauses. The main thrust of his argument related to the Australian Democrats. The argument went basically that overall the Democrats would get more members elected under the new proposals, but we should be worried about the transition clauses, and that this was our real reason for opposing the Bill. It is actually very difficult to tie those two arguments together because I am totally unsure as to why we should be worried about these transition clauses if we are to get more members elected. However, the tortuous logic of Senator Teague's contribution came finally to that situation. If one looks at the second set of transition clauses, those which relate to a double dissolution, one sees that we have the prospect at the next Senate election of there being 12 senators from each State. That situation, however, was not addressed by Senator Teague.

I say very briefly that it is very difficult to go from a Senate which has 10 senators from a State to a Senate which has 12 senators from a State without some transition clauses. The clauses in this Bill seem to us to be fair and adequate transition clauses to take us from where we are now to where the Senate resolves we should be. I point out that the current situation in the Senate in terms of the percentage support in the community is as follows: The Australian Labor Party, as of the last Senate election, represents in this chamber 47.39 per cent of the electorate; the Liberals represent 33.69 per cent; the National Party represents 8.21 per cent; the Australian Democrats represent 10.42 per cent; and Senator Harradine, the Independent, represents 0.29 per cent.

Senator Harradine —I got about 20 per cent of the vote.

Senator MACKLIN —This is the Australian electorate. I am talking about 1983. In the vote just recorded in the last division of the Senate, representatives of 55 .6 per cent of the electorate voted in the affirmative. It has been the case with every Bill that has gone through this chamber that it has been supported by representatives of the majority of the electorate. I register the fact that after the third reading and after the next election that will not be the case.