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Thursday, 29 March 1973
Page: 905

Mr SNEDDEN - The Minister for Services and Property said that. Every honourable member will know that Canada in the last 3 months has magically become a country elevated by the Prime Minister as the criterion of virtue for all countries to follow. What is good for Canada is good for Australia! We in Australia will emulate Canada, according to the Prime Minister. It is interesting that Canada - this paragon of virtue - provides for a tolerance variation of 25 per cent. Apparently a nasty, undemocratic gerrymander operates in Canada -the country which has been elevated to this level by our Prime Minister. But are we to believe from the Australian Labor Party's insinuations that in Britain, where constituencies vary from between 40,000 to 80,000 electors, there is an insidious, nasty gerrymander that is destroying the democracy of that country? In fact most countries set no margin of tolerance at all. They simply require electoral districts to be as nearly as practicable equal.

But to return to Australia: In the last 5 years about 49 divisions have experienced population changes in excess of 10 per cent, several by as much as 40 or 50 per cent. On 27th September 1972 the Chief Electoral Officer issued a certificate which said that under the current legislation there was need for a redistribution only in Western Australia. This Bill will create the need for a redistribution in all States except Tasmania. Therefore the Bill creates the need for a redistribution where no need now exists. I do not believe it is altruism on the part of the Labor Party that leads it to pursue this course for redistribution.

In 1922 the redistribution under the Electoral Act with a tolerance then, as now, of 20 per cent serviced 5 elections. Similarly, the 1934 redistribution serviced 5 elections. The 1948 redistribution serviced 3 elections and the 1955 redistribution serviced 5 elections. 1 say again that our record in achieving majority government and approximation of one vote one value throughout our history has not been surpassed by any world standard. In fact, in the last election the Labor Party polled fewer votes in proportion than the percentage of seats it holds in this Parliament. How can it declare the previous redistribution to be a gerrymander?

There is no present need for a redistribution except in Western Australia, and there is no reason why that should not proceed. We could not do it last year because we could not obtain the Statistician's certificate, following the census, within the time needed for the process to be carried out before the election. This Bill hinders the pursuit of one vote one value and efficiency of electoral management. Its result can only be a justification for this Government to alter electoral boundaries to suit the Labor Party. So much for the Minister's piety and his high sounding principles. This Bill will achieve nothing but artificial Labor Party advantage.

We reject the opportunism of the Labor Party to use its power in office now to consolidate office for itself in the future. We urge everybody to look beyond the slogans and the rhetoric of the second reading speech to the realities. There has been much high-handedness and arrogance from this Government already. Let us have no more. I reject the Bill.

Suspension of Standing Orders

Motion (by Mr Daly) - by leave - agreed to:

That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent the Minister for Education speaking for a period not exceeding 30 minutes.

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