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Wednesday, 18 June 1902

Mr WATSON (Bland) - The unsatisfactory results of the system in New South Wales I do not regard as due to any fault of the system itself, but as due rather to the fault of the Government in appointing the commissioners they did. In New South Wales the commissioners were set a standard, with the quota amounting to 11,000 electors, from which they had as nearly as possible to get an equal number of electors in each district. But the commissioners brought in a report showing the disparity of 9,000 in the Barrier and 15,000 electors in Newcastle electorate.

Mr Wilks - There was a disparity between the 15,000 in the electorate of Dalley, and the number in other electorates.

Mr WATSON - At any rate, there was an enormous disparity, and Parliament was in the position that they had to accept the scheme or go without any division.

Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - There are no such disparities in Victoria,

Mr WATSON - In Victoria, though the idea was togive greater representation to some districts than to others, the disparity was not so great as in New South Wales, where it was sought to obtain equal electorates. It would be a safer plan if the men or man - because I do not think it necessary to have three - who have the fixing of the boundaries should be as far as possible removed from party considerations. If we once set the example of the Government of the day fixing electoral boundaries, it may be followed in subsequent allocations of seats.

Mr A McLEAN (GIPPSLAND, VICTORIA) - If it does not work well we may trust the Parliament to alter it.

Mr WATSON - There is a disposition on the part of English-speaking people to follow what has been done, simply because it has been done. The experience in America in this connexion has not been such as to encourage us to follow their example. In the most recent elections in the United States there were "many complaints of gerrymandering. It is more than likely that the dominant political party will endeavour to arrange matters in their own way ; and, on the whole, I think we had better stick to the principle of having a commissioner.

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