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Thursday, 17 August 1989
Page: 266


Senator SCHACHT —Is the Minister representing the Minister for Administrative Services aware of reports that the sitting member for Barker, Mr James Porter, is under pressure to stand aside to make way for a Mr Ian McLachlan? Can the Minister advise the Senate of the cost to the Australian taxpayer of holding such a by-election at this time?


Senator ROBERT RAY —No, I was not aware that Mr Porter was under any pressure to resign. I am certain that sort of behaviour never occurs in this Parliament. It is unthinkable that such a thing could occur. I have gone on the public record, maybe in a sense of history, in justifying by-elections. I certainly justified the by-elections in Adelaide and Oxley. I certainly did not mind the other one that occurred in Groom. I really think that politics is a process of renewal. I do not want to get renewed yet. However, politics is a process of renewal, and I think an occasional by-election on both sides of the House is a pretty good idea, especially if it is not in a marginal Labor seat. The cost-at least in a direct sense, including public funding and the various costs-of the last three by-elections was $231,000 for Adelaide, $198,000 for Port Adelaide, and $195,000 for Groom. That does not include all the hidden costs that come to the taxpayer by Ministers and shadow Ministers uselessly trooping through one after the other like a troop of baboons trying to get votes. All those hidden costs probably double the total cost in the end, but they never show up in any of the expenditure. I am sure that if there is a desire by Mr Porter to leave parliamentary life now he has no future in politics he would attune that to his future employment needs. I do not think we can condemn someone, if a job comes up and his own Party has deserted him, for jumping at the opportunity and for allowing-what was his name?-Mr McLachlan to come into Parliament. We should not begrudge a couple of hundred thousand dollars now and then for Parliament to renew itself, otherwise it will become like the Senate.