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Wednesday, 18 June 1902


Mr CONROY (Werriwa) - I hope that the amendment of the honorable member for Gippsland will not be carried in its entirety. In the first place, somebody must be appointed to determine these divisions.


Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - The Minister can get the assistance of any officer he desires from the States ; they are all at his command.


Mr CONROY - To me it is perfectly clear that Parliament could not undertake the task of dividing the different States into the electorates required. Can any honorable member declare where the different polling places in his electorate should be located? If Parliament undertakes this work, particular towns may be compelled to vote in one electorate when by community of interests they distinctly belong to another. I desire to see these distributions kept as free from Parliamentary interference as possible. If the honorable member for Gippsland would limit his proposal to the retention of one commissioner, or the chief returning officer, I should be prepared to support it. I would further point out that a similar system to that proposed by the Government obtains in England, and also in New Zealand, which colony has been held up to us as an example of extreme radicalism. I do not think that honorable members can spare the time necessary to carefully study all the boundaries of the various electoral divisions so that they may be enabled to determine whether those boundaries are acceptable.


Mr O'Malley - Why should we shirk our responsibility?


Mr CONROY - Because we are not competent to decide this matter. If I read the surveyor's decription of the boundaries of any electorate throughout the Commonwealth, I will undertake to say there are not very many who could follow it. Can the honorable member for Gippsland define the limits of his own constituency at the present time? I am sure that he could not.


Mr O'Malley - Only South Australia and Tasmania have to be subdivided.


Mr CONROY - Is no alteration to take place in the existing electorates in the other States?


Mr Page - How shall we be better off if the boundaries are determined by commissioners instead of by Parliament ?


Mr CONROY - The honorable member has not grasped the gist of my remarks. I hold that Parliament is not competent to define those boundaries. The divisions must be madeby some outside authority.







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