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Monday, 11 December 1905

Mr CHANTER (Riverina) - When speaking on the motion for the second reading of the Bill, I intimated my objection to this clause, and am very pleased that the Minister has agreed to its deletion. Some honorable members do not seem to apprehend the position. They appear to think that it is proposed that Parliament should deal with the distribution of electorates without employing a Commissioner or any other expert officer to suggest certain boundaries. But that is not proposed. The Act at present provides that a Commissioner shall be appointed who shall do the detailed work, and make suggestions to Parliament, accompanied by plans. The clause which the Minister has invited the Committee to omit from the Bill would hand over the whole of the power to a Commissioner, and Parliament would) have no opportunity to revise his scheme. That appears to me to be a monstrous proposal. What has been our past experience in connexion with the division of electorates? In New South Wales, when Commissioners were appointed' for the first time to define the boundaries of electorates, they conceived it to be their duty to issue circulars asking members of Parliament to attend at the office, and give them all the information They could, with suggestions as to how the boundaries ought to be determined. But the Commissioner appointed by the Commonwealth absolutely refused to see any member of this Parliament, or to receive information from any, except in a written form. If Parliament is not satisfied with the boundaries proposed by the Commissioner, it should be able to refer the scheme back to him for further consideration. In the light of the information given by members, the Commissioner would be in a much better position the second time to draw the boundaries on a fair and equitable basis. When the Commissioner's second report was presented Parliament would probably have no hesitation whatever in accepting it. The question simply is whether Parliament is prepared to stand bv the provisions of the present Act; to appoint a Commissioner to define the boundaries, and to submit a report for confederation. ; or to surrender the whole power to a body of gentlemen whom the GovernorGeneral may appoint? I take it that the Committee will support the Minister in retaining a revisory power.

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