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Tuesday, 3 April 1973
Page: 994

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock (LYNE, NEW SOUTH WALES) - Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The documents read as follows) -










Mr HUNT - I thank the House. To take the case of only 3 electorates, namely, Grayndler, Macquarie and Chifley, the rapid changes will be seen. 1 mention first the electorate of our beloved Minister for Services and Property.

Mr Daly - I think that might be abolished.

Mr HUNT - It could well be. If one examines the figures incorporated it will be seen that in 1968 Grayndler had a number of electors 14.01 per cent above the quota. In December 1972 the number was 7.8 per cent below the quota. In Macquarie the number of electors in 1968 was 6.5 per cent above the quota and in December 1972 it was 14.4 per cent above the quota. In 1968 Chifley had 7.5 per cent fewer voters than the quota and in December 1972 had 20.2 per cent more than the quota. Several divisions have increased population by as rauch as 40 percent between 1968 and 1972. Forty-nine electorates had population changes up or down in excess of 10 per cent. Twentyfour divisions increased their populations by more than 20 per cent. Thus, if the Commissioners were bound by a 10 per cent tolerance in 1968 it would have been necessary to have another redistribution prior to the 1972 elections. In considering the 10 per cent tolerance as against the 20 per cent tolerance provided in the existing Act I think we should refresh our memories, as indeed they have been refreshed by previous speakers, by looking at the report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review. This report recommended a 10 per cent tolerance, but the honourable member for Holt conveniently did not quote this passage of that report. It states:

The Committee was assisted in its task by the then Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth, Mr L. Ainsworth, who also obtained the views of the Commonwealth Electoral Officer and the SurveyorGeneral for each 0f the States. The preponderance of that opinion was clearly in favour of retaining the marginal allowance at the existing one-fifth fraction.

The report continues:

Undoubtedly, it would be easier to apply a onefifth margin than to work within the limits of a onetenth marginal allowance from quota. Nevertheless, the Committee is satisfied that the problems of applying a one-tenth margin are quite manageable.

The Committee members did say that but, of course, they were not the experts in the field and therefore their opinion would not be as sound as that of Mr Ainsworth and those of the Commonwealth Electoral Officers in the States. In considering the desirability of a 10 per cent tolerance instead of a 20 per cent tolerance surely the Minister must have taken section 25 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act into account. It provides that whenever one-quarter of the divisions of the States are out of balance - that is one-fifth above or one-fifth below the quota - a redistribution may be held. So it is clear why those people who had the closest working knowledge of the problem - the Electoral Commissioners - favour the 20 per cent margin instead of the 10 per cent margin which is provided in this Bill.

In regard to the third point I raised initially, that is the proposed guidelines for the Commissioners, in 1965 the Government amended the Commonwealth Electoral Act to set clearer guidelines to assist the Distribution Commissioners in their task. This was done to achieve uniformity in the redistribution process between the States. These amendments have had a far and widespread effect on the outcome of redistributions, not simply favouring the rural areas, but taking into account the great spread of population and the growth of population in the marginal city areas. To remove from consideration such factors as area, remoteness and sparsity of population is flying in the fact of commonsense and, to use the Minister's own words is making a mockery of democracy'. Only a man who represents an electorate of 3 or 4 square miles could fail to understand the difficulty of representing people in large electorates where distance, remoteness and sparsity of population make the task frustrating and difficult. Only those who have experienced the privations of remoteness, the tyranny of distance and the loneliness of the outback really understand the need for these factors to be taken into account when drawing boundaries.

The guidelines contained in the Bill completely wipe aside these considerations leading to a situation whereby those already large electorates like Kennedy, Kalgoorlie, Grey, Maranoa and Darling could well be fixed well over the quota. In other words the Commissioners may be forced to make them even larger by adding people from other communities to an electorate where in fact they may not have a community of interest. If ever there was a half baked, half cocked Bill that shows complete contempt for the great outback pioneers of this nation, this is the masterpiece. It is an incredible hotpotch of inpractical notions, unfair contentions that would lead us to a crazy situation of having one redistribution on top of another. Neither does it achieve one vote one value as a principle, nor does it offer a practical workable proposal to Distribution Commissioners in a time when population mobility can cause enormous fluctuations from place to place in 12 months. Nor does it treat with understanding and sympathy the problems of people living in the remote areas of Australia.

Other honourable members have spoken about New Zealand. It is futile to compare Australia with New Zealand or with any other country which has so vastly dissimilar characteristics. The Electoral Act as it stands acknowledges these facts.

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order!The honourable member's time has expired.

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