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Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Page: 3454


Senator HARRADINE(10.32) — I foreshadow that I will move an amendment which incorporates what is generally agreed to be the appropriate course. The Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) said that the benefit of Senator Lewis's proposal was that it was clear, unequivocal and presumably reflects the content of the Bill. Senator Lewis's amendment states:

To extend the maximum terms of members of the House of Representatives from 3 to 4 years and of senators from 6 to 8 years.

I have explained why the word 'terms' is not appropriate. I have simply provided to extend the maximum life of the House of Representatives. I believe the words 'House of Representatives', are more appropriate than is the word 'Parliament' because this proposal is to reflect what is contained in the Bill. Clause 4 of the Constitution Alteration (Parliamentary Terms) Bill 1983 talks about the House of Representatives. It does not talk about the Parliament. In fact by voting for this measure the people will be changing the Constitution. What part of the Constitution will they be changing? They will be changing, as the Bill says, section 28 of the Constitution. They will be changing it in this way:

Section 28 of the Constitution is altered-

(a) by omitting three years and substituting 4 years; and

(b) by adding at the end thereof the following paragraph: In relation to a House of Representatives-

not the Parliament-

whose first meeting occurred before the commencement of the Constitution Alteration (Parliamentary Terms) 1983, the last proceding paragraph has effect as if the reference to 4 years were a reference to 3 years'.

In fact that is why I agree with Senator Lewis that the words 'House of Representatives' should be included. When the people vote they will be voting to alter the term of the House of Representatives. They will not be voting to alter the terms of members of the House of Representatives but the term of the House of Representatives. The amendment which I foreshadow and which will be circulated shortly in my name in part states:

. . . to extend the maximum terms of service of senators from 6 to 8 years'.

That is precisely what the Bill means. I should like to come back to the point made by Senator Macklin. In his contribution he more or less presupposed that the first proposition, the simultaneous elections proposition, will be carried. Who is to say that the simultaneous elections proposition will be carried? It may not be carried.


Senator Jessop —It will not be carried.


Senator HARRADINE —Exactly, Senator Jessop; it will not be carried. In fact there are honourable senators in this chamber who strongly oppose the simultaneous elections provision but who support this provision to increase the term of the House of Representatives from three to four years. I think Senator Hill is in that situation. Senator Jack Evans is in that same situation. They oppose the first proposition of simultaneous elections but support the change to the term of the House of Representatives. If the people will follow the recommendations of those two honourable senators they will reject the first proposition and accept this proposition. The Australian Democrats have said all along the line that they want these matters to go truthfully to the people, no matter whether they agree with them or not. The policy of the Australian Democrats is that referenda should go to the people. If referenda should go to the people let us put the questions to the people as they are contained in the legislation. Let us not hide anything. The amendment which I foreshadow is simply a refinement of Senator Lewis's proposition to extend the maximum life of the House of Representatives from three to four years and to extend the maximum terms of service of senators from six to eight years. That is how I believe the proposition ought to be put to the people. I hope the people will solidly defeat it. (Quorum formed)