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Wednesday, 7 December 1983
Page: 3456

Senator JESSOP(10.47) —I believe that it is very difficult for people in the electorate-I would like Senator Chipp to listen to me on this-to understand what the word 'parliament' means. I think that is the point. I know that Senator Chipp and his colleagues are very fair about wanting to present the people with the facts about these things so that it is clear in their minds. I believe that the question of the extension of the life of the Parliament from three to four years is very difficult for many people in the community to understand. I would be grateful if I could be afforded the courtesy of the Attorney-General listening to me, rather than perambulating around trying to coerce people into supporting his attempts to subvert the issue. It is very difficult for people to understand the issue. People have come to me and said: ' What is this extension of the Parliament to four years all about?' I tell them that it means an extension of the term of the House of Representatives to four years, but it also means an extension of the Senate term to eight years. I think that is very important.

Senator Chipp —There is nothing sinful about that.

Senator JESSOP —I am not talking about it being sinful. I am talking about a proposition that we have to put to people who do not understand the issue as the Democrats do. Quite clearly, they know what parliament is all about; I know what parliament is all about, but the people of Australia do not understand. It is very important, though, to understand that the public at large needs to be guided in this way before people exercise an intelligent vote at the referendum. Senator Gareth Evans is gabbling away to himself. I want him to listen to this.

Senator Gareth Evans —At least I am sober, Senator.

The CHAIRMAN —Order! I ask the Attorney-General to withdraw that remark.

Senator Gareth Evans —I withdraw it, Mr Chairman.

Senator JESSOP —There is no need to be nasty. I would not want to insinuate anything about the honourable senator who has just made that statement. But I heard him say earlier that he supported Senator Lewis's amendment. I think that he was quite right in doing that. I do not know why he changed his mind. I suggest that it is in the interest of this Parliament to consider what I have said-that many people outside it do not really understand what Senator Chipp has said, but I think that on reflection--

Senator Georges —It is not only outside.

Senator JESSOP —I know that.

Senator Georges —I cannot understand what you have been talking about. I have been listening to you for five minutes. I have watched your hands waving around.

Senator JESSOP —The honourable senator wants to sit here for eight years, but the people outside this place do not want him to do that. It is very important to explain those things to the people before they vote in the referendum. I suggest that, on reflection, Senator Chipp might agree with the proposition that I am putting.