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Thursday, 6 May 1915

Mr SPEAKER - Order ! Will the honorable member connect his remarks with tho question before the Chair?

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) - My point is that when an honorable member is required in advance, before he is elected to Parliament - before he has had an opportunity to consider such a question as this - to pledge himself, he is placed in such a position that he is not free, to vote for such a proposal.

Mr j H Catts - The statement is not true.

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) - I do not know that the honorable member is entitled' to make such a statement.

Mr SPEAKER - I ask the honorable member for Cook to withdraw the remark, and I ask the honorable member for Wannon to confine himself to the question before the Chair.

Mr J H Catts - The honorable member said that we were pledged to certain electoral principles. That is untrue, but, as the expression is unparliamentary, I withdraw it.

Mr RODGERS (WANNON, VICTORIA) - I had no intention of making any direct reference to the honorable member for Cook. This House cannot hope to reasonably reflect the evolutionary development of the political life of the country if the members of any political party, before . coming here, pledge themselves to any particular electoral system, and so render it impossible for them to assist in moulding a better system. I am not politically pledged to any electoral system that can be improved upon. I am free to vote for any suggested improvement that will be in the interests of the people, no matter from what side of the House it may come. My party gives me that freedom. The proposal made by the honorable member for Angas deserves the special consideration of the Opposition. It is democratic, in that it would give substantial minorities, subject to the quota to which the honorable member has referred, an opportunity to secure direct representation in the Parliament of the Commonwealth - in the only place where that direct representation can be of any use to it. Why should any party fear to allow any person to enter this Chamber, as the logical representative of a substantial minority, to represent the views of that substantial minority as they can never be voiced outside? I believe that this system will make for the enlargement of the political thought of Australia, and that it deserves well at the hands of the House.

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