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Tuesday, 26 November 1985
Page: 2295

Senator ROBERT RAY(10.10) —It is a sad day when I have to get up here and agree with Senator Sir John Carrick. I think that the Government will have to give consideration to how it funds habitation reviews. The current Act says that every two years there will be a habitation review. I have some doubts whether that is sufficient on two grounds. The first is whether it is fair. I suspect the Australian Labor Party does better out of annual habitation reviews than biannual ones because our voters tend to be on the move far more than Liberal voters. Therefore, I think in our own self-interest we may have to look at annual habitation reviews. Secondly, I know that no government likes to tie in an annual expendure item that it always has to pay out. No Finance Minister, no Treasurer, has any particular liking for that. We have spent a lot more on making Australia a democratic community in the last three years. We have set up the Australian Electoral Commission; we have introduced public funding and introduced a whole range of reforms. Senator Sir John Carrick is right that if the basic building blocks are not there, a lot of those reforms become farcical. If this Government wanted to learn a lesson about roll habitation, it had only to look at the role of the previous Government, which was very tardy in this particular exercise. It seemed to have habitation reviews in Labor electorates but never in National Party electorates. When we talk about a clean roll, the one thing we do not do is cut off the roll the moment an election is announced and disfranchise a couple of hundred thousand people. Apart from those minor disagreements with Senator Sir John Carrick, I think he is basically right. That is the price of democracy. It will probably cost $2m to $3m a year and it is unavoidable.