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Friday, 15 June 1906

Senator KEATING (Tasmania) (Honorary Minister) . - I move -

That the Senate approves of the distribution of the State of New South Wales into Electoral Divisions, as proposed by His Honour Judge Murray, the Commissioner for the purpose of distributing the said State into Divisions, in his report laid before Parliament on the 7th day of June, 1906.

I need hardly remind honorable senators that for some time past consideration has been given by those interested to the question of therepresentation of the States of New South Wales and Victoria, in the House of Representatives. Before the beginning of last session it had been intimated in various quarters that New South Wales was not receiving the proper measure of representation to which she was entitled under the Constitution, and that the State of Victoria was receiving more than her share. Some discussion took place as to how, in accordance with the terms of the Constitution, representation should be reapportioned, so that each State would get its proper measure. In order that there might be no doubt about the procedure, an Act was passed, called the Representation Act. By virtue of the provisions of that measure, an inquiry has to be instituted as to the population of the several States, for the purpose of determining the representation to which each is entitled in the House of Representatives. We provided for what was called an Enumeration Day; and we decided that every census day should be an enumeration day throughout the Commonwealth, and that between the decennial censuses there should be an intervening day - about fiveyears from the census - which should also be an enumeration day. And on every enumeration day, whether such an enumeration day as I have mentioned, or a census day adopted for the purpose, the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth must ascertain thepopula lion of the whole of the Commonwealth and of each of the States. In accordance with the provisions of the Act, the nth of December last was fixed as the enumeration day, and on that day. the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth ascertained, according to the principles laid down in the Representation Act and schedules, the population of the whole of the Commonwealth and of the several States. Those figures were obtained bv communicating with the Statisticians of the various States, and asking for returns showing the numbers of the people as on the 30th September, 1905. in each State. The information was received from the various Statisticians on the 10th January of this year, and on the ] 2th January the Chief Electoral Officer furnished the certificate required by the Representation Act, showing the number of people in the Commonwealth and in the several States, and a copy of that certificate was published in the Commonwealth Gazette on the j 6th January. That certificate has, since the assembling of Parliament, been laid on the table of the Senate. In accordance with that certificate, as issued and gazetted - I stale refer more particularly to it later - the Chief Electoral Officer on the 1 6th January reported as to the necessity or otherwise of a redistribution of the States of New South Wales, Victoria. Queensland, South Australia, and Tasmania, and on the 2nd February as to the redistribution of the State of Western Australia. So far as New South Wales and Victoria, were concerned, the figures relative to population showed that a redistribution was necessary. The figures showed that New South Wales was no longer entitled to twenty-six representatives, but to twentyseven ; and that Victoria, instead of being entitled to twenty-three members, was entitled to only twenty-two. With regard to Queensland, the figures as to population revealed .no necessity for redistribution; but the amending Electoral Act of last session, section 23, sub-section 2, paragraph b, provides, that -

A proclamation directing a redistribution of any State into divisions may be issued whenever in one-fourth of the divisions in the State the number of electors differs from a quota ascertained in the manner provided in such Act by a greater extent than one-fifth more or one-fifth less.

In the State of Queensland it was found that in five out of the nine divisions the electoral population was either above or below the margin of allowance. It was in con- sequence of the necessity imposed by the Electoral Act for a redistribution, whenever such a contingency occurred in a certain proportion of the electorates of a State, that Queensland had to be redistributed. In regard to the States of South Australia and Tasmania, neither the provisions of -the Representation Act nor the Electoral Act necessitated a redistribution of these States. Later on a proclamation was issued, directing the distribution of the State of Western Australia, In the case of Western Australia the figures revealed no necessity for a redistribution. As honorable senators know, Western Australia-

Senator Millen - Is the Minister now dealing with the whole of the States?

Senator KEATING - I am taking the opportunity to deal generally with the whole scheme, so as to avoid the necessity of repetition in. the case of each of the other motions. Proclamations were issued in regard to Victoria and New South Wales on the 23rd January, necessitated by population, and by reasons that were shown for a different measure of representation than heretofore enjoyed by those States. Queensland, on the other hand, had a proclamation issued on the same date, because in the existing divisions there was a deviation from the principle laid down in the Electoral Act, section 23, sub-section 2, paragraph b - the provisions of which I have already quoted. These circumstances were in existence in regard to Queensland, and in consequence a proclamation for a redistribution of that State was issued, under the provisions of section 23 of the Electoral Act. As honorable senators are aware, Western Australia is entitled to five representatives by virtue of the Constitution, irrespective of what the population may be, and the same applies to Tasmania, and, indeed, to any other State if the population falls below the necessary number to entitle it to five representatives. The circumstances were not entirely similar to those in Queensland, but in one electorate there was a deviation from the quota - I forget for the moment which way - of one-fifth more or less. The preceding Administration had taken steps for a redistribution in the case of Western Australia. It was deemed advisable, in order, while other redistributions were taking place, to have a redistribution in Western Australia, so as to have no single, electorate out of harmony with the general provisions for deviation from the quota.

For that reason a redistribution was directed by proclamation in the case of Western Australia. In every case a Commissioner was appointed, as provided bv the Electoral Act. The Commissioner selected in each case was one who had been appointed for a similar purpose by the preceding Government. But in order to prevent any technical objections which might be hereafter raised, the Government took the extra precaution of, so to speak, recalling the existing commissions, and issuing to each of those gentlemen another commission, superseding the former one, and thus practically doing the work de novo. Honorable senators have had furnished to them the plans of the proposed schemes of redistribution, and the reports made by the different Commissioners, and I am now moving, in accordance with notice, that the distribution with regard to New South Wales be agreed to. It will probably be interesting to honorable senators to know briefly what is the effect of the distribution. According to the determination of the Chief Electoral Officer, in pursuance of the provisions of section 9 of the Representation Act, New South Wales was entitled to twenty-seven members in the House of Representatives, Victoria to twenty-two, Queensland to nine, South Australia to seven, and Western Australia and Tasmania to five each. According to the certificate of the Chief Electoral Officer previously referred to, the population in the various States on the 30th September, 1 905, was : - New South Wales, 1,483,393 ; Victoria, 1,214,098 ; Queensland, 506,935 ; South Australia, 372,768; Western Australia, 247,072 ; and Tasmania, 178,627, making, a total for the Commonwealth of 4,002,893. In accordance1 with section 10 of the Representation Act, a quota has to be ascertained by dividing the total population of the Commonwealth by twice the number of the members of the Senate, namely, by seventytwo. That figure divided into the total population gives a quota of 55,595, with a remainder over of fifty-three. Then, in order to determine the representation for each of the States, the population of each State has to be divided by the quota, and if on such division there is a remainder greater than one-half the quota, one more member shall be chosen in the State. In the case of New South Wales, when the quota of 55,595 is divided into the population, a quotient is given of twenty-six, with [llj-2 a remainder of 37,923. That remainder is more than half the quota, and, consequently, New South Wales is entitled to twenty-seven representatives instead of twenty-six. Proceeding in the same way in regard to Victoria, a quotient is given cif twenty-one, with 46,603 over. The remainder is more than half the quota, so that Victorian representation has to have one added, making twenty-two representatives. In regard to Queensland, the quotient is nine, with 6,580 over, and that not being more than half the quota, nine remains as the number of representatives. In South Australia, the quotient is six, with 39,198 over, and that being more than half the quota, the State becomes entitled to seven representatives. The return as to Western Australia is interesting. The quotient is four, with 24,692 over. The remainder is less than half the quota, so that the proper representation to which Western Australia is entitled, apart from the constitutional provision, is four and not five. Under the Constitution, however, Western Australia is entitled to five representatives. In the case of Tasmania, the quotient is three, with 11,842 over, and that being less than half the quota, the representation to which Tasmania, apart from the Constitution, is entitled would be three, but, as in the case of Western Australia, the representation remains at .five. With those figures, the Chief Electoral Officer supplied the different Commissioners, who received their instructions with their commissions. In the case of New South Wales, the Commissioner chosen was Judge Murray, who is responsible for the redistribution which I am now submitting for the consideration of the Senate. As honorable senators are aware, there were previously twenty-six electorates for New South Wales, and under the proposed redistribution there will be twenty-seven. Under the existing distribution of twentysix divisions the quota is 25,895, and under the provision of the Electoral Act, which allow for a deviation of one-fifth either way, the maximum number of electors that should be in any electorate in New South Wales is 31,074, and the minimum 20,716, the margin of allowance being 5,179 either way from the quota of 25,895. In the twenty-six divisions there are several electorates where the maximum is exceeded and several where the numbers do not reach the minimum. Those above a maximum are Dalley with 1,709 above; East Sydney with 39 ; Lang with 6,475 > Newcastle with 1>555 i North Sydney with 7,515; Parkes with 5,730; South Sydney with 189, and Wentworth with 620. Here we have eight electorates out of harmony with the provision of the Electoral Act, in so far that the number of electors is in excess, not of the quota, but of the maximum number of electors allowed by law for any division. The electorates in which the numbers are below the minimum are : - Barrier with 724 below; Bland with 902; Canobolas with 633; Darling with 6,548; and Riverina with 4,723. That makes five electorates which are out of harmony with the principles of the Electoral Act in so far that they contain, numbers below the minimum required bv the Electoral Act. Honorable senators have had an opportunity to inspect the maps exhibiting the changes, and I have here a list of the proposed divisions showing what part of the present electoral districts are contained in them, together with the estimated electoral population resident in each. In East Sydney, which takes in parts of the present divisions of East Sydney, Wentworth, and West Svdney. the estimated electoral population is 27,994. West Svdney has an electoral population of 28,040, whilst a new division which takes in parts of the present electorates of Lang, South Syd'nev. and West Sydney, and! for which the name " Cook " has been suggested by the Commissioner, has an estimated electoral population of 26,400. South Sydneyhas an estimated electoral population of 27,162; Wentworth, 25,594; North Sydney, 25,9.16; Dalley, 27,620; Parkes, 26,363 ; and Lang, 25,986. A new division, comprising parts of the present electorates of Illawarra, Parkes, and1 Parramatta, for which the name " Nepean" has been suggested, has an estimated electoral population of 25,921 ; and! Parramatta, an estimated electoral population of 26,339. These are the metropolitan and submetropolitan divisions, and they have a total electoral population of 293,335. Honorable senators will ses that there is very little variation in the electoral population of all these divisions. In addition to these eleven metropolitan and sub-metropolitan there are sixteen country, or extra metropolitan divisions, the population of which ranges from 27,000, which is above the quota, to 21,000, which is below it. In no instance is there a deviation from the quota to the extent of more than one-fifth above or below. The electoral population of the divisions is as far as possible preserved on an equal footing. Of these sixteen divisions only one is new in name and substance. I refer to the division for which the name of "Mitchell " has been suggested, which takes in parts of the present electorates of Bland, Canobolas, Macquarie, and Robertson, and has an electoral population of 24,040. The Commissioner who has proposed the redistribution has suggested certain names for the new electorates, but as honorable senators are aware, the Electoral Act leaves to the Governor-General in Council the power ro proclaim the names and boundaries of the divisions. The function of the Commissioner is to distribute the States into electoral divisions. Due consideration is, of course, paid by the Governor-General in Council to any legitimate representation or suggestion as to the naming of the electorates, but the names of " Cook," " Nepean," and " Mitchell " have a particular significance, especially to those who are acquainted with the history of New South Wales. I do not propose to do anything further than submit the motion in the terms in which it is couched. Every opportunity is afforded by the Electoral Act to those who wish to register objections to the proposed divisions. Certain representations have been made to His Honour Judge Murray, and after carefully considering them he has given effect to some and set aside others. Honorable senators who choose to peruse_the comprehensive report that His Honour has furnished upon this subject will find for themselves his reasons for not acceding to certain representations, and the reason why, in other instances, he thought that the suggestions were worthy of acceptance. I have much other information before me, but I am afraid that I should weary honorable senators if I attempted to give it to them. I shall be very pleased, however, to supply any further information that honorable senators mav desire.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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