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Thursday, 12 April 1973
Page: 1377

Mr SPEAKER - -Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?

Mr GARLAND - I do, Mr Speaker. On 10th April the Minister for Education (Mr Beazley), with whom I share an electoral boundary, purported to explain how I misrepresented him in my remarks at the second reading stage of the Commonwealth Electoral Bill (No. 2) 1973 or. 4th April. In my speech, as is recorded at page 1086 of Hansard, I criticised on 5 grounds his comments about the

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Western Australian electoral system. The Minister sought to claim that I misrepresented him on two of those grounds. As recorded at page 1283 of Hansard, after speaking of quota ratios the Minister said:

The upper House seats have multiple members. I did not say there was that distribution in the House. I said it could arise that a person representing an electorate of 80,000 had 8 members representing much fewer. Small country upper House electorates of 9,000 could have 3 members for each seat and in 3 country seats there could be 9 members - 1 said

That is his aside, Mr Speaker, not mine- representing fewer people than a person from one of the large metropolitan seats.

It is not permissible for me to argue the full case now. But there is nothing like that disparity indicated. There are not 3 Legislative Councillors, but two, in each electorate, two and not one in the city electorates as well as the country. Not only is there not this proportion of 9 to 1 existing, but arithmetically there could not be.

The second, and I believe major point, of the misrepresentation occured when the Minister said:

I said that at the last State election in Western Australia the Liberal Party won 29.3 per cent of the vote and the Australian Country Party won 5 per cent of the vote, and with 34.3 per cent of the vote between them they lost the election by only one seat.

He then made an assumption not mentioned in his original speech. He said:

Presumably where there was no Country Party candidate the Country Party voter voted for the Liberal candidate and where there was no Liberal Party candidate the Liberal Party voter voted for the Country Party candidate.

That is not fully or significantly valid in this argument. He went on and referred to-

Mr SPEAKER - Order! The honourable gentleman is now debating the subject.

Mr GARLAND - No. I am being very careful to avoid doing that. He referred to a statistical index not mentioned in his original speech, which is a theoretical concept of dubious value in supporting the case. But the crux of the matter, from the quotation of his which I have read, is that he used a percentage based on the votes cast only in those electorates contested, and applied that to the whole of the State. He excluded those electorates which for various reasons were uncontested. In the Legislative Assembly the Liberal Party did not contest 14 seats, the Country Party 37 seats-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! I ask the honourable gentleman to deal only with the part in which he has been misrepresented.

Mr GARLAND - I am explaining the points that the Minister made in a lengthy peronal explanation of 2 or 3 minutes which was permitted to him. I am showing that he left out the most important part of the argument. I end on the note that an important statistic in my argument which he omitted was that in that election the Labor Party obtained 48.99 per cent of the votes and it won the 1970 election by one seat in a House of 51 seats.

Mr Chipp - 1 rise to a point of order. At the conclusion of question time when the Prime Minister asked that further questions be placed on notice, my friend the honourable member for Griffith, in his usual courteous way, asked the Prime Minister whether question time could be extended for 5 more minutes in view of the events of this week. The honourable member for Robertson, who was handing something to the Clerk, said in a most arrogant way to members of the Opposition: 'If you fellows behaved yourselves you might get a few more minutes.' If that had been said in a spirit of jest we would have accepted it, but it was not. This matter is very important to the Opposition. We deeply resent that mark.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! A point of order should be taken at the time of the event.

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