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Monday, 11 December 1905

Mr KNOX (Kooyong) - I hope the Committee will agree to retain the clause as it is. After listening to discussion. I regard this provision as the very kernel of the measure. We must jealously prevent any interference by honorable members, interested bodies, and interested associations in the delimitation of the electorates. I have always consistently held that the desirable course is to appoint one or more Commissioners to carry out this work. We have it in our power, when appointing Commissioners to see that thoroughly good men are selected. My experience of a similar appointment in Victoria leads me to the opinion that a Commissioner, occupying so high and responsible a position, would not exercise his power in the interests of any section of the community, or any party in Parliament. All who know the record of the Victorian Commissioner are convinced that he did not give one tittle of consideration to the interests of any particular member, but was concerned only with what he regarded as the just interpretation of his instructions,. I take a thoroughly disinterested view of this matter, because the Victorian Commis sioner has cut off the Toorak portion of my electorate, which, I think, ought to be represented by some member holding the views which I profess.

Mr Tudor - There have been two Commissioners in Victoria ; would not the honorable member's remarks apply equally to the previous Commissioner?

Mr KNOX - Certainly; but that Commissioner dealt with different conditions. This House has full opportunity to select a Commissioner with the highest qualifications, and that is where, it seems to me, the discretion of Parliament can be exercised. It is the desire of every honorable member to have fair and just boundaries, and to keep the administration of the Electoral Act pure. Those who hold a contrary view to myself on the question immediately under discussion do so, I am sure, with a desire to arrive at the object I have just indicated - with the desire that there may be a proper representation of the views of the various electorates. I have been asked by the Toorak electors, and by the Oakleigh borough, to endeavour to have these places retained in the Kooyong electorate, but my reply has been thatI have no power in any shape or form - that the whole matter is in the hands of the Commissioner. I say deliberately that I am exceedingly sorry these portions of my electorate have been deleted. But, notwithstanding that fact, I think the method proposed by the clause is the one from which we are likely to get the fairest results. We cannot expect to have a Commissioner who will give satisfaction to every one; such a man is not born, nor likely to be born. We cannot, in my opinion, take any more effective steps to prevent gerrymandering than to have a Commission of one, two, or three members. I favour the appointment of one Commissioner, on whom can be thrown the full responsibility for the determination of the boundaries. I speak with knowledge when I say that in Victoria we have been very fortunate in the Commissiners we secured, and, therefore. I hope that the principle underlying clause 8 will be adopted.

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