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Wednesday, 11 April 1973
Page: 1292

Mr DALY (Grayndler) (Minister for Services and Property) - The Opposition seems determined not to ask questions this session and, of course, far be it from me to take away from that right. However, I must take a few moments to reply to a very distinguished member of this Parliament. After all he has been in this Parliament for almost 20 years and was in the State Parliament for15 years. When a member such as the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) rises with such indignation at my protest against a gerrymander why should I not answer him in some way by speaking to the motion before the Parliament. The honourable member has moved dissent from your ruling, Mr Speaker, in relation to standing order 142. Standing order 142 says:

Questions may be put to a Minister relating to public affairs with which he is officially connected, to proceedings pending in the House, or to any matter of administration for which he is responsible.

Does the honourable member say that I have no responsibility in connection with State officials in my administration of the Commonwealth Electoral Act? Does he not realise that the States compile joint electoral rolls with the Commonwealth, the major part of the cost of which the Commonwealth bears? Does he not know that the boundaries of State electorates come within the concern of redistribution commissioners appointed under the Commonwealth Electoral Act? Does he know that I am responsible, once I walk out of it, for the malapportionment in State electorates if I let matters like this go unchallenged?

In every way my Department is very much concerned with this matter. I have just signed an agreement with the Western Australian Government on joint rolls. So why do State electoral boundaries not come within my concern? Why am I not entitled to have a question of that nature asked? The honourable member for Bradfield, who raised this matter with all his great forthrightness and justice, now sits as idle and as silent as can be over the greatest gerrymander that, as he knows, has ever been put on in New South Wales. Why does not the honourable member stand up and have a go at those who destroy every democratic principle in Australia? Why sit there and bubble and burst over what the Country Party is doing in New South Wales but say nothing about it? After 35 years in Parliament the honourable member, with righteous indignation, stands up and tries to say that I have nothing to do with electoral boundaries.

Mr Speaker,your judgment was wise and sound. If it was not the honourable member for Bradfield who moved this motion, I would say that this was just another attempt to disrupt the proceedings of this Parliament. That is why I will not take a lot of time in speaking to the motion. But I defy any honourable member to study the Commonwealth Act and the State Acts and to prove that I am not closely connected with the administration of State electoral matters as well as Federal electoral matters. I do not have the Act with me, but I can say that subdivisional boundaries have to be taken into consideration. The plot in New South Wales, to which the honourable member offers no objection, is sponsored by the Country Party in its desperation to destroy one vote one value, to keep electorates malapportioned and in every way to perpetuate in this country the most undemocratic processes. I am worried about the honourable member for Bradfield. He is almost desperate today with indignation. He is roused; he is fuming. If I did not know that he is a man of sober habits and good intent, I would think that something had stung him. The motion of dissent has been moved in a fit of pique because I have unveiled for the public what was done in the New South Wales Parliament last night-

Mr Whitlam - And how it was done.

Mr DALY - And how the Liberal and Country Parties pushed the legislation through. In the dead of night the Liberal and Country parties got to work in New South Wales. In the dead of night they drew up new electoral boundaries. They gagged everybody who tried to speak. They want nobody to know what went on in the darkness of the night in Macquarie Street. The honourable member for Bradfield does not worry about what was done in the dead of night in Macquarie Street. In years gone by he was there when it was being done but he did not know that it was happening. Now that I have revealed the situation he has woken up to what goes on in the place whence he came and he wants to do something about it in this Parliament. Far be it for me to take up the time of the House during question time, other than to reply to the honourable member and to say that I would like him as a lawyer to prove to me that this matter is not within the compass of my portfolio. In addition, if he cannot present a better defence than he has presented this afternoon in respect of this matter, then certainly I would not want to be defended by him in a court of law. Mr Speaker, I support your ruling. It is wise. It shows a true spirit of democracy and it is in keeping with the highest traditions of this Parliament and the great men who have occupied your position before you.

Mr Turner - Mr Speaker, I raise a point of order. In the speech which the Minister for Services and Property just made I caught the words 'If I did not know that he is a person of sober habits . . .' I did not catch the rest, but I presume it was that he would suppose that I had been drinking-

Government supporters - No.

Mr Turner - ... or that I was out of my mind. Very well. I deeply resent an implication of this kind. I think I am known, not only in this House but also outside it, as one who has always been concerned about upholding the dignity of this House and the proper means of carrying on its business. To have an aspersion of this kind cast upon me is something which I deeply resent.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I can assure the honourable gentleman that no aspersion was cast.

Mr Turner - I am glad to hear it.

Mr SPEAKER - Absolutely none. I heard every word that was said.

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