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Thursday, 17 November 1983
Page: 2864

Mr LIONEL BOWEN (Minister for Trade)(12.04) —in reply-I shall quickly answer a couple of matters. The honourable member for Denison (Mr Hodgman) said that half Senate elections were a rarity. I remind him that unless this referendum succeeds there will be three elections in three years-two in the case of the Senate, and this is a problem. I also remind him that the simultaneous elections proposal which was put to the people in 1977 received 62. 2 per cent support. There is no question of weakening the power of the Senate. There is always an opportunity to manufacture a double dissolution position, as the last Government did this year.

The honourable member for Gippsland (Mr McGauran) felt that eight-year Senate terms were too long. Of course, they might not necessarily be eight years long; they will be equal to two terms of the House of Representatives, which we think will be less than eight years. The avoidance of half Senate elections over the next ten years will save the taxpayer $64m. The delegates to the Consititutional Convention suggested that we have referendums. This referendum is to avoid having a half Senate election. There is no effect on the external affairs power. I thank honourable members for their contributions. I remind honourable members that the vote is now about to take place. It will take at least 45 minutes, and for that reason we now have to close the debate.

Mr ACTING SPEAKER —The question is that the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr Burr —Which Bill are we voting on?

Mr ACTING SPEAKER —The question is that the Bill be now read a second time.

Mr Dobie —Mr Acting Speaker, may we have your advice on this matter? There are honourable members who wish to vote against the matter. Will you advise us at what stage it would be appropriate for that to take place?

Mr ACTING SPEAKER —The constitutional requirement is that a division take place on the third reading. Do I understand that a division is not required on the second reading?

Mr Burr —We are happy to divide on the third reading.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill read a second time.