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Tuesday, 12 September 1972
Page: 1135

Mr HURFORD (Adelaide) - I believe that the speech just made by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Hunt) has to be shown up for its illogicality. The best I can say for him is that he did not have his heart in it and that he had a difficult brief. I will not detain the House for long, but I want to point out that this came through rather clearly. He mentioned that the House was being stampeded into this. I want to point out that far from that being the case, people in the States of South Australia and Western Australia - the Minister mentioned them - studied the legislation that went through their own Parliaments and there is overwhelming support for simitar legislation at the Commonwealth level. I do not know whom the Minister has been talking to, but let me assure him that in my urban seat I meet as many people as anybody in this House during the course of my work in the electorate. To give one example, last Saturday morning I was out at a shopping centre which is my usual forum on Saturday mornings and a number of people came up to me to speak about this very issue. They said: 'Is it really a fact that this Government will allow us to go away and fight for our country at the age of 20 yet we cannot have a vote?' The Government does that with the 20 year olds. The honourable member for Diamond Valley (Mr Brown) is interjecting, but I cannot hear what he is saying. It would be interesting to know where he stands on this issue. I hope that he will get up and tell us.

Mr Brown - They get the vote in the war zone, as you know.

Mr HURFORD - Yes, but what about when they come home? What about the ex-national servicemen or those who joined the Army at 18 years of age? I know that these people get a vote when they are in a war zone, but there are a lot of other people who do not. The Minister spoke about the difficulties of bringing this in. Far more difficulties face the Commonwealth Electoral Office right now because in South Australia and Western Australia its officers have to make the distinction between people who can vote in State elections and those who can vote in a Federal election. They face far more difficulties than they would if the Minister did the proper thing and acceded to the overwhelming feeling in the country and allowed 18 year olds to vote.

The other great argument he put forward was also put rather insincerely, I feel, because, I repeat, he did not seem to have his heart in the brief he was giving to the House. His argument was: Fancy making voting compulsory. He said that we over estimate what we are doing in this House. If he believes that what we do in this House is not important, let me tell him that all of us on this side do not agree. We are disgusted that the reformation of the House that is needed has not been carried out. The House should be reformed in so many ways, and this is not being done though it accords with the wishes of the people. We do not believe that by downgrading what we are doing here is to follow the proper course or, indeed, follow the wishes of the people. The Minister may believe that such a vote should not be compulsory, but why does he not allow it to be at least voluntary?

Mr Whitlam - If he were to put forward an amendment to that effect it would be carried.

Mr HURFORD - Exactly. The Leader of the Opposition has pointed out so correctly that the Government could agree to the Standing Orders being suspended to enable the debate to continue - I notice that the honourable member for Sturt (Mr Foster) has the call - and a quick vote could be taken on the Bill. In the meantime the Minister could bring forward an amendment which would enable his wish that the vote be voluntary to be implemented. The Minister said that this matter has not been thought through. I believe that-

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