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Wednesday, 30 July 1902

Mr PAGE (Maranoa) - I do not agree with those who say that we are advocating a dog-in-the-manger policy. My experience at the last election was that the candidate who had a seat in the State Parliament had a big handicap over other candidates, since he possessed many privileges, including a railway pass. I have been away from the State for nearly two years, and some of my constituents have forgotten that there is a Federal Parliament:. - "A -member of the' State Parliament can go through the electorates and make 'his breath sweet, as it were, and put a " dig " in for one. In Queensland it is understood that one or two federal 'electorates are to be contested by Ministers of the Crown. Is that a desirable state of things to exist 1 They are in a position to confer favours on particular parts of the federal electorates they desire to represent. All they wish to do is to defeat the present representative in this House, and it is quite likely that, if successful, they will resign in order to allow somebody else to run for the seats under their auspices, and so put the Commonwealth to the cost of by-elections. Some honorable members say that the people ought to be afforded an opportunity to elect the best men. In my opinion there are better men outside Parliament than there are in it. The people have a wider choice outside Parliament than in it. Why should a member of a State Parliament have any claim on a federal seat any more than a member of the Federal Parliament should have a claim on a State seat ? In Victoria we had an instance of the electors wishing a member of this Parliament to run for a seat in the State Parliament. What would have been the consequences if he had stood 1 If he had won he would have resigned his federal seat if he had not won, he would have retained his federal seat, but he would have succeeded in keeping some man out of the State Parliament. If I were a member of a State Parliament and thought I had a good chance of winning a federal seat, I should manfully resign, so that I might run on even terms with the other candidate. If any other member of the State Parliament had any courage he would do the same thing. I cannot see why any man should be in a position to run with the hare and hunt with the hounds. I hope that the amendment will be carried, so that all the candidates for a federal seat may start from scratch.

Mr. HENRYWILLIS (Robertson).The new clause will not have the effect of limiting the choice of the people, for every person who desires to stand will be eligible for nomination, but a member of a State Parliament would have to resign his seat before he could stand. There is every reason why he" should resign his seat. Honorable members who have addressed themselves to this question had in mind only those federal members who intend to offer themselves for re-election. All persons should be on the same footing. Those who have not sat in the Federal Parliament, and who will 'have to stump the country at considerable expense, will be at a disadvantage if they have to compete against a man who is provided' with a railway pass, and is able to use his influence as a Member of the State Parliament in order to promote his candidature. If it is desired to give a wide choice to the electors let it be provided that those members of a State Parliament who desire to contest a federal electorate should be at liberty to do so, after they have resigned their seats. If they are defeated, the people will have an opportunity to elect them to the State Parliament within a few months. The Government proposal can be very safely supported, and full justice will be done to everybody, but if the proposal of the honorable member for Bland is adopted, a very great injustice will be done to those candidates who will not have a. railway pass and other facilities for promoting their candidature.

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