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Thursday, 19 June 1902

Mr F E McLEAN (LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES) - I hope the amendment will not be pressed. It appears to me that the quota and the margin are ample safeguards against any great inequalities of misrepresentation. The anomalies created in New South Wales are just as great as those in Victoria. In some cases in New South Wales, 9,000 or 10,000 electors return a member, and in other cases the roll contains 15,000 or 16,000 names. The proposal of the Attorney-General is- no indorsement of the Victorian system.

Mr Deakin - Or of any other system.

Mr F E McLEAN (LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We are laying down the safe principle that, as far as possible, existing electorates shall not be disturbed, unless to comply with the conditions of the law. I do not hold with the idea that the country should have any more representation than the city. I believe in one vote one value, and I think that principle is established in the Constitution itself, seeing that the number of representatives assigned to each State is based on population. In fixing the number of electors to each electorate, we ought to be guided by the spirit of the Constitution. At the same time, there will always be practical difficulties in arriving at anything like an equal number of electors for each electorate, and, the commissioner must pay regard to the considerations set forth in order- to arrive at a satisfactory division. We are not perpetuating the system established in Victoria, but if no greater anomalies have been created in that State than we find in New South Wales, we might safely respect the existing divisions, with the limitation that the commissioner is to be guided by the principle laid down - by the quota and the margin. Personally, I think that a margin of one-fifth would be preferable to one of one-fourth.

Mr Watson - One fifth is too large a margin.

Mr F E McLEAN (LANG, NEW SOUTH WALES) - We shall find it necessary to continually re-arrange the boundaries of the electorates if we make the margin too narrow. In New South Wales, with a margin of 25 per cent., we found the electorates frequently getting beyond the number allowed by law. It seems to me that a margin of one-fifth would be sufficient.

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