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Tuesday, 15 November 1983
Page: 2726

Mr HODGMAN(10.04) —I rise to join the debate in its dying moments and to speak briefly, but I hope feelingly, to the men and women of Australia who are listening to it. The one million Australians who are listening to the debate , I think, are entitled to hear in calm and rational terms an outline of what is before this Parliament and what we are debating tonight. The men and women of Australia should know that the legislation which is before us, which will be known as the Representation Act 1983, has been brought into this Parliament by the Hawke socialist Government. It is legislation without any mandate whatever. It is legislation which is wrong in principle and wrong in politics. It is legislation which, if implemented, will cost the taxpayers of Australia an extra $10m per annum and produce an extra 35 members of the Federal Parliament. I have to cast my mind back to the Sydney Opera House when the Prime Minister (Mr Hawke )--

Dr Klugman —I raise a point of order. The honourable member for Denison has obviously calculated a $70,000 per month car content for every one of those members and that applies only to him.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drummond) —Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member--

Mr HODGMAN —The honourable member for Prospect demeans this place and behaves like the honourable member for Fremantle (Mr Dawkins). Shame on him.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Denison! The Chair is still in the process of trying to rule on the point of order. I warn the honourable member for Prospect that his was a frivolous point of order. I invite him not to make any such points of order.

Mr HODGMAN —I will not do anything further than invite the honourable member for Prospect to repeat his comments outside the House. I now say, putting it on the line, that the people of Australia are entitled to know that there are people in this Parliament, in the Government-the honourable member for Fremantle and the honourable member for Prospect (Dr Klugman)-who are prepared to do anything they can to try to silence me. They will fail, as those who have tried to silence me during my 16 years in politics, State and Federal, have failed.

Let us have it right out in the open. Before the House tonight is legislation for which the Government has no mandate. Did the Prime Minister stand up at the Sydney Opera House and say: 'If I become Prime Minister of Australia I will bring in legislation which will create 35 new members of the Federal Parliament' ? How many votes do honourable members think he would have lost if he had stood up and said that he would give the people of Australia an extra 23 members of the House of Representatives and an extra 12 senators? How many votes do honourable members think the Prime Minister would have lost if he had stood in front of the people of Australia at the Sydney Opera House and said: 'It will cost you an extra $10m a year'? How many votes do honourable members think he would have lost if he had said: 'Add to that the cost of the extra staff, travel expenses and so on'? I suggest to honourable members that the Prime Minister would not be Prime Minister today if he had put that proposal forward.

The legislation is wrong in principle and it is wrong in politics. Let me deal with the principle aspect first. I ask: Where is the consensus of which the Hawke socialist Government boasts when 76 per cent of Australians are dead against the legislation that is before us today in this Parliament? Where is the consensus when the Government comes into this Parliament with a mandate of 13 per cent of the Australian electorate? I have yet to find one single constituent of Denison who thinks that there should be more members of the Federal Parliament. I served as a member of the State Parliament for eight years. I have served eight years as a member of the Federal Parliament. If honourable members opposite can tell me the people out there who believe we should be increasing the number of members of the Federal Parliament I would like to know their names and addresses. They must be as scarce, as rare, as hens' teeth. Let us get right down to the issue. The Government says that it is a government for all Australians. It says it is a government of consensus. What sort of a consensus does it get out of 13 per cent? With the greatest of respect to my coalition colleagues, whose views I respect-they are put forward with great sincerity-I have to say that there is no mandate.

The legislation is wrong in principle and it is wrong in politics. Why is it wrong in politics? I will tell the Government why it is wrong in politics. It is my firm belief-these figures may not be agreed to by some people but this is the way I see it-that the effect of the increase in the House of Representatives will be to increase the number of seats held by the Australian Labor Party. I believe the principal objective of this side of politics is to get the socialists out of office at the earliest possible opportunity. I happen to think that the present Government is bad for Australia. I happen to think that this country cannot afford to have this Government in power for any more than one term. Five years ago I made two predictions. One was that one day Robert James Lee Hawke would become Prime Minister of Australia. That has come true. My second prediction was that he would be Prime Minister of Australia for one term. Whether honourable members believe it or not, I think it is timely to remind the people of Australia that all that is required to remove the Hon. Robert James Lee Hawke from the Lodge and to insert the Hon. Andrew Sharp Peacock into the Lodge is a swing of 2.3 per cent and a recapture of some 13 seats. Surely that is what we, the anti-socialist forces in this Parliament, must make our No. 1 objective.

Rightly or wrongly, I have to believe that if 23 new seats are created in this Federal Parliament 14 of them will go to the Australian Labor Party. The balance will go to the anti-socialists. What will happen with regard to the Senate? A situation will be created in the Senate in which it will be impossible for the next decade, I suggest, for a government to have a majority in that House. Let us be quite clear what we are about to do. Honourable members do not have to take my word for it. Let them look at the words in 1967 of the Hon. Harold Holt and of the Hon. Edward Gough Whitlam. On this issue they were absolutely unanimous. They said that it would not be possible for a government to have a majority in the Senate. The statistics demonstrate overwhelmingly that there will be a hung Senate in control of this great country for the next decade at least if this legislation goes through. I say with respect to all involved in this debate: Think very carefully on the matter. The prize of power, the prize of the Lodge, rests in this Parliament in the House of Representatives. What sort of government will we have in this country if it is frustrated by the Senate for the next decade?

I notice that honourable members opposite are not laughing at me. I know and they know that the Labor Party is divided on this. There are within the ranks of the Australian Labor Party people who are very concerned about this legislation, first, because there is no mandate for it; secondly, because it is wrong in principle; and, thirdly, because it is wrong politically. Let me say why it is wrong in principle. It is wrong in principle for this reason: It was not thought up originally by members of parliament. The Leader of the Opposition (Mr Peacock ) made that quite clear in a devastating speech. He proved beyond any doubt that the honourable member for Boothby (Mr Steele Hall) did not propose this. The honourable member for Boothby said that this should be put to the Committee so that it could express its view and that it should be put to the people of Australia so that they could come before the Committee. What happened? This is why it is so shamefully wrong in principle. The numbers men in the parties got together and came up with a result which now will demonstrate to the people of Australia the way in which they made their calculations, because the Liberal Party and the Australian Democrats will oppose this legislation and the Labor Party and the National Party will support it. This is wrong in principle. It is a matter of very profound regret that on a matter as important as this, without any mandate at all and without any approval from the people, we are going to force the men and women of Australia, the taxpayers of this country, to accept more members of parliament. There was no mandate for it and frankly 76 per cent of people are against it. A combination of circumstances led to a meeting of the minds. Quite frankly, I am absolutely shattered that this legislation can go through the Parliament at this hour of the night. If it goes through and if it is passed in the Senate the people of Australia will rightly wreak their vengeance on those who have forced this upon them. They do not want more members of parliament and they do not want legislation like this at a time of national economic recession. I appeal to the Special Minister of State (Mr Beazley), as one of the most intelligent and reasonable members of the Hawke socialist Government, to think again and to pull this legislation out because, quite frankly, it is wrong for Australia, it is wrong for this Parliament and it is wrong for the anti-socialist forces of this nation.