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Wednesday, 11 April 1973
Page: 1294

Mr RIORDAN (Phillip) - My question had a very salient and pertinent point which has conveniently been overlooked by all honourable members from the Opposition who have spoken so far. It is interesting to note that the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) took the point of order on the answer that was being given and not on the question that was asked. This is very significant. 1 asked the Minister what effect the proposals in New South Wales would have on legislation which has been introduced into this Parliament. It is those proposals and the possible effect of those proposals that were the subject of my simple question. Why there should be such fuss and bother over an honourable member asking a Minister a simple, straightforward question is beyond my comprehension.

Why would I not be concerned? A proposal which seeks to increase the tolerance and the capacity for gerrymander from 15 per cent to 20 per cent, when this House has decided in its Act that it should be reduced from 20 per cent to 10 per cent, is a backward step which will have an immediate effect. It is no good honourable gentlemen opposite saying that State boundaries and subdivisions have no effect. I do not think they are foolish enough to believe that. For example, do they not know that between the 1969 and 1972 elections subdivisions were changed by the Commonwealth Electoral Officer with reference to nobody merely to suit the redistribution of electoral boundaries in New South Wales? Some subdivisions were eliminated from Commonwealth divisions and boundaries were changed. It is no good saying that the boundaries can be different, because they cannot. In my electorate 2 subdivisions were eliminated and one was changed to conform to State boundaries.

Mr Jarman - On a point of order, Mr Speaker, is this noise or speech that we are hearing from the honourable member opposite relevant to the motion of dissent from your ruling?

Mr SPEAKER - Of course it is relevant.

Mr RIORDAN - The honourable gentleman obviously anticipated what I was going to say. The southern boundary of the electorate of Phillip is somebody's side fence. It is the boundary of the State electorate of Coogee, and it is on the southernmost point of the electorate of Phillip. Of course, it is interesting to note the attitude of the Opposition on this question. I hope that the Minister for Services and Property will tell the electoral commissioners when and if they are appointed of what has been said in this House on this subject today. The proposition has been advanced by those who lead the Liberal Party and the Country Party in this Parliament that it does not matter if there are different subdivisional boundaries-

Mr Katter - I rise to order. Is the honourable member for Phillip suggesting in any way that the Minister for Services and Property will dictate to the electoral commissioners?

Mr SPEAKER -Order! There is no point of order.

Mr RIORDAN - It is to be hoped that the commissioners, if and when in the future they are called upon to do their job, will take note of what has been said here today because what has been put is that they need pay no regard to Federal or State electoral boundaries and they need pay no regard to subdivisional boundaries. In practical terms that means that there can be different rolls and different subdivisions for State and Federal electorates. I personally agree with that approach. I am delighted to hear that the Opposition takes the same view. If that is the answer to my question then I am happy to resume my seat. But that is not the answer that I got from the Minister. I simply want to put it to you, Mr Speaker, that your ruling was completely correct. The members of the Opposition should have listened to the question I asked. If the honourable member for Bradfield will accept my assurance that I asked the Minister what effect a proposed gerrymander would have on proposals to be passed in this House, I believe he will withdraw his motion of dissent. The terms of my question make what he put in support of his motion completely irrelevant.

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