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Thursday, 29 March 1973
Page: 937

Mr KING (WIMMERA, VICTORIA) - It was in the 'Griffith Times' of 20th November. There it is. That is my answer to the interjection of the Minister for Immigration. If the Government introduces this issue I will accept the statement from the Minister for Services and Property that he did have a mandate to introduce this Bill. Working on the assumption that one vote one value was not used during the campaign in country areas, as was the enlarging of country electorates - I am sure that there were very few, if any, used it - I believe it is now up to the Prime Minister to go to the people on this very question. If the Government has not a mandate to introduce this Bill-

Mr Cross - Hear, hear!

Mr KING - I am glad that the honourable member for Brisbane agrees with me. I would like to see the subject of electoral reform made a major platform in every electorate, not only those which suit the Government. It would be very easy for the Prime Minister to go to the people then address all the electorates around the capital cities of Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. I would like him to come out into the country areas and to say what he proposes to do. I do not think the Prime Minister is game to try to postpone this issue. He would like to get this Bill through. But I have news for him. He will run into a lot of opposition before this Bill receives the assent of this Parliament.

The simple fact is that I do not think the people outside of this Parliament will accept the principle that he is putting forward. The Minister for Services and Property said that the Australian Labor Party is the strongest country party in the House. I have never heard such rot. What are the country electorates that are represented by members of the

Labor Party? With the exception of the seats in Tasmania country seats held by Labor Party members are Kalgoorlie, Grey, Riverina, Macarthur, Eden-Monaro, Darling, Hume, Capricornia, Dawson, Leichhardt and Wide Bay. Most of these electorates have one large industrial complex in them. All but 2 of the 11 seats held by the Labor Party that I have named have been held either by the Liberal Party or the Country Party while I have been a member of this place, and that is only 14 years. I would suggest to the people, and Mr Deputy Speaker, I would suggest to you, that if this Bill gets the publicity that it deserves outside of this place so that people can know what does go on, no doubt all bar two of these electorates will return to either the Liberal Party or the Country Party at the next election.

In conclusion I would again challenge the Prime Minister to postpone this Bill until after the election and let the people decide what they want. The major issue in the minds of the Australian people is whether they are to have the right to have a say on this matter. Failing this, in fairness I must oppose the Bill entirely and suggest again to those Government supporters from Tasmania that if they do not want to be accused of being two-faced (hey should also speak up against the Bill.

I have a minute of my time left. I am glad that the Minister for Immigration has come into the chamber, because there are one or two things that I would like to say to him.

Mr Grassby - I have been here all the time.

Mr KING - I apologise, if the Minister has been here all the time. I did not notice the Minister until about halfway through my comments. We heard tonight from the Minister the usual colourful but, can I say without being too unkind, empty speech. Despite all the interjections from this side of the House we could not get the Minister to come down to the real facts of the situation and talk about the effect that this redistribution will have on his own electorate. The Minister talked about democracy and all sorts of things. He was critical of the Leader of the Australian Country Party (Mr Anthony). He also said something about fertility in his electorate; I think that is right.

Mr Grassby - Yes, you are right.

Mr KING - Since the Minister spoke I have had a look at some figures, and I am a little amazed to notice that since 1966 the voting population in the Riverina electorate has increased by 2,824 but the total population has increased by only 461. The Deputy Leader of the Opposition was quite right when he said the Minister was hissing against the wind.


Order! The honourable member's time has expired.

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