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Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Page: 3367


Senator MACKLIN(10.42) —I move:

(3) Page 4, after clause 5, add the following new clause:

'5A. Section 6A of the Principal Act is amended-

(a) by inserting ''in the English language'' after ''pamphlet'' in sub-section (1); and

(b) by adding after sub-section (2) the following sub-section:

''(3) The Chief Australian Electoral Officer shall cause the text of the pamphlet referred to in this section to be translated into such languages as are prescribed, and shall cause copies of those translations to be printed and to be made available in such quantities and at such places as are prescribed.''.'.

The amendment looks at an issue that I believe it is important to address if we are looking at change in the Referendum (Constitution Alteration) Bill. I refer to the problem that I raised in my second reading speech confronting the ethnic communities. We have sought here to cause the Chief Australian Electoral Officer to pay attention to the dominant ethnic languages in Australia and to make provision for the booklet with the Yes and No cases to be printed in the dominant ethnic languages and provided at appropriate places. Our suggestion has been that these could very well be the post offices around Australia. There could be a differentiation in relation to the dominant ethnic groups without particular areas of Australia, rather than seeking an across the board operation . The point I make-it has been raised with me by a number of ethnic communities- is that the items in the Constitution are of a technical nature and that, while one may have a reasonable grasp of the second language, that grasp sometimes fails when one moves into an area where the vocabulary is specialised and the concept is technical. I think this is one such area and I am quite sure that the ability of many of our new citizens to engage in the full democratic process in Australia will be greatly enhanced by making provision for those booklets to be provided in a manner which will allow those citizens to understand the complexities of the changes to the Constitution that are needed.