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Wednesday, 20 March 1968

That represents in effect four Sydney Labor seats. Parkes was only an accidental victory for the Liberal Party on the last occasion. The divisions to be created are set out as follows:

Beecroft, Pymble West etc' 'Sutherland, Bulli, Corrimal etc' 'Lalor Park, St Marys etc' 'Fairfield, Merrylands etc'

In their generous way the Liberal Party suggests that another two or three Liberal seats be created. This is what could be called by the Liberals a spontaneous and generous approach. Let us look at it. The Country Party seat of Lawson is to be abolished. This seems strange. Is it not unusual for the Liberal Party to submit a proposal to eliminate one of the Country Party members in this chamber? Whom does the Liberal Party want in Lawson? Does it want another honourable member for Adelaide (Mr Andrew Jones) or some spectacular character like that? We find that the seats have been generously distributed. The Liberals like Calare. They have given the seat of Calare 13,000 electors from the existing Lawson electorate. Gwydir, the Liberals suggested, should get 18,000 from the existing Lawson electorate. The honourable member for Paterson (Mr Fairhall) a member of the Government's own Ministry has been given only 1,300. The only seats that the Liberal Party in its proposals has submitted as needing any alteration are seats held by Country Party members of this Parliament.

If by accident a Liberal happens to hold a country seat such as Macarthur the Liberals have made no suggestion for changing the seat. Apparently they want to let him have what he has. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro) was lucky to win but will want luck to hold the seat and the Liberals are leaving him the whole division with the exception of a few votes. If honourable members look further along to Mitchell and others they will see that wherever a country seat has been held by the Country Party or the Labor Party there has been a vicious attack but in Robertson, Macarthur and EdenMonaro, held by the Liberal Party, the Liberals have recommended no change whatever.

I am concerned about this ;or a number of reasons. As a democrat 1 hate to see disunity in the Government Parties and following as it does so closely upon the disclosure of the attitude of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) and the Leader of the Country Party (Mr McEwen) towards one another, it is not good for the Government of this country. Is it not another vicious move in the jungle war? Is it not bad for the unity of government? The boys in Vietnam think that the Government is united. The Government wants to be so, but here the Country Party's own colleagues are trying to wipe them out. I am not criticising the Country Party tonight. 1 am asking for a united front against its vicious opponents who sit in government trying to eliminate it and the members of the Labor Party. What better appeal could 1 make? It is distressing to the honourable member for Watson, to me and others. We know the redistribution Commissioners will not take notice of intimidatory tactics like this and we do not like to see them practised on the Labor Party, the Country Party, or anyone else. I speak tonight on behalf of the Country Party and the Labor Party because I believe the Country Party is trying to maintain a measure of unity by being silent under great provocation from members of the Liberal Party. I have never seen anything worse than the general secretary of the New South Wales Branch of the Liberal Party writing a letter to the Commissioners asking for a gerrymander and trying to wipe out not only the Labor members of this Parliament and to create a number of seats but also to eliminate

Country Party members of the Cabinet and others who are supposed to be their friends.

These tactics are damaging in every possible way. Naturally, if they are given effect they will be bad for the Australian Labor Party. But we understand the desire of the Liberals to eliminate some potential members of the next Federal government or make our chances of election impossible if this can be done by redistribution. We also believe that it is very dangerous for this blatant intimidation to be practised against electoral commissioners. I do not quite agree with the idea that it is a good thing to tender submissions in advance, because this does give some semblance of truth to the belief that this is what one could describe as intimidation.

I ask the House: What will be the position in this Parliament if the redistribution commissioners do find it necessary to bring to this Parliament exactly what the Liberals have suggested? Even the most biased honourable members opposite would have to agree that if this happened it would be looked upon as intimidation and a rort. My purpose tonight is to speak generally on the matter, to enlighten the people as to what is happening in this country and to awaken the Country Party to the fact that its colleagues in government do not want some members of the Country Party here. The poor member for Lawson, who is absent from this Parliament tonight, is the subject of an appeal to the commissioners by his colleagues of the Liberal Party to wipe him out irrespective of what the effect of this would bc on the country or anyone else.

I bring this matter to the notice of the Parliament. 1 am sorry that members of the Country Party are with us in this because they are the colleagues of the Liberals and we want nothing to do with them. But we would not expect any better. I am sorry to see that the Liberal Party has turned against the Country Party in retaliation, 1 would think, for its outspokenness on the question of leadership on which, evidently, the Country Party has followed lines of high principle.

Question resolved in the affirmative. House adjourned at 10.42 p.m.

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