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Wednesday, 14 March 1973
Page: 544

Mr SCHOLES (CORIO, VICTORIA) - Is the Minister for Services and Property aware of statements which have been made outside the House that the proposed amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act are the first substantial alterations to that Act since 1902? Is he also aware of claims that by taking the area considerations out of the Act large electorates will be disadvantaged, despite the fact that the electorate of Kalgoorlie has the third largest population of any electorate in Australia?

Mr Hunt - I rise on a point of order. The question relates to a Bill before the House.

Mr SPEAKER - There is no substance in the point of order. The honourable member for Corio has not anticipated a debate. There has been only a second reading speech. That is the decision of the Chair.

Mr DALY (GRAYNDLER, NEW SOUTH WALES) (Minister for Services and Property) - Firstly, Mr Speaker, may I thank you for your wise decision. The proposed amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act are not the first changes to the Act since 1902. The honourable member for

Gwydir introduced legislation in this Parliament on 31st March last year in which he proposed changes in the Act which went back to 1902, but he was not prepared to proceed with the legislation. In 1965 the LiberalCountry Party Government introduced into this Parliament legislation changing sections of that Act, which had remained practically unchanged since 1902. In that respect there is nothing new in a change to the Act, except that the Country Party cannot keep up with progress. As to the feeling that this legislation will disadvantage large electorates in the country, let me say that the Australian Labor Party knows a lot about this problem. We represent all the largest country electorates in Australia - Kalgoorlie, Darling and others. I could go on for half an hour naming them. As I said last night, we are the only country party in the Parliament. Far from causing disadvantage, the Labor Party intends to give proper facilities to all members of this Parliament, particularly those in the outlying and far flung districts. The provision of proper facilities was neglected by the previous Government. We will see that members do not have loaded electorates but that they have adequate facilities to service their electorates. The Commonwealth Electoral Bill which I have introduced, if carried, will be of great advantage to members and to the people of Australia and will be a real hallmark of democracy.

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