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Wednesday, 4 April 1973
Page: 1096

The CHAIRMAN - Order! When I am speaking I would ask the honourable member to remain silent. I suggest' that the honourable member should relate his remarks to the clause. He is getting very wide of the clause.

Mr HUNT - It is all relevant.

The CHAIRMAN - It may well be relevant but this is the Committee stage of the Bill and clauses are being debated. Up to this stage the honourable member has not mentioned the clause under discussion.

Mr HUNT - The point I am making is that under the provisions of this Bill the present enormous size of electorates will be extended as a result of an increase in the tolerance. Undoubtedly this will make it even worse for the people who are being represented in electorates like Gwydir and Darling. If this Bill is passed the number of voters in the electorate of Darling must be increased by at least 9,000, and whence will these people come? The commissioners will look at the city of Dubbo and will lump Dubbo, West Dubbo and Gilgandra into the electorate of Darling, or Parkes or elsewhere, pushing in a group of people who have no community of interest with the residents of Broken Hill. Not only is this bad from the member's point of view but it is also bad for the people living in Dubbo. It will be of no advantage to the people living in Broken Hill. It is incredible that we should have to debate an issue such as this. I cannot understand why experienced people who have some knowledge of the extent of the diversity in this the largest island continent in the world should try to tailor an electoral system that does not suit the physical or geographical features of this country. I do not believe it is fair to the rural people.

Forget the Country Party; it represents 20 of the 45 rural seats. The Labor Party polls 44.8 per cent of rural votes in Australia and the Liberal Party polls at least 10 per cent. So this is not a party political matter. One should not talk in terms of it being party political. Let us not forget the people that a government should set out to represent, whether they be Aborigines living on the bank of the Darling River or struggling farmers living on the Namoi. We are all Australians and we should not try to take cheap political points by favouring rural areas over city areas or vice versa. It is time we tried to look at this matter in a sensible and rational and national way and forgot about taking cheap political tricks and trying to engineer an electoral system to the short term advantage of one political party.

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