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Wednesday, 27 October 1971
Page: 2573

Mr CALWELL - I desire to ask the Acting Prime Minister a question of great national importance.

Mr James - Is this question a Dorothy Dixer?

Mr CALWELL - No. it is not. I ask the right honourable gentleman the following question: In view of the report of the Commonwealth Statistician that the census held in June last shows that Western Australia is now entitled to an increase in its representation in this House from 9 to 10 will he arrange for the Government to give early consideration (a) to a redistribution of the seats of this House before the next election; (b) to an increase in the number of seats for the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory respectively from 1 to 2; and (c) to the passage of the necessary legislation to permit citizens of 18, 19 and 20 years of age to be enrolled as citizens of the Commonwealth before the next election? Secondly, will he arrange for the Minister for the Interior to make a statement, as soon as possible on the effect which the extension of the franchise to 18, 19 and 20 year olds will have on the numbers enrolled in each of the 125 electoral divisions represented in this House?

Mr ANTHONY - The right honourable member for Melbourne is correct when he said that the recent census showed an imbalance in Western Australia and that conditions were such as would enable a redistribution to take place there. However it is not normal for there to be a complete redistribution of Federal electorates because of an imbalance in one State. Generally when an imbalance appears in a number of States after a period of years a redistribution is carried out. I should think that there is no likelihood of a redistribution being undertaken before any possible election, the present timing of the election being about the end of next year. To carry out a redistribution is a lengthy process requiring at least 1 8 months notice for a Government to be able to do it satisfactorily. In those circumstances it is most unlikely that the Government would contemplate a redistribution.

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