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Wednesday, 23 May 1973
Page: 2543

Mr HUNT (Gwydir) - I seek leave to make a short statement.

Mr SPEAKER -Order! Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted.

Mr HUNT - I join the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Mr Lynch) in congratulating the Minister for Services and Property (Mr Daly) on making this statement tonight and for showing a great degree of realism in announcing a redistribution of electorates in Western Australia. I do not think I should let this occasion pass without saying that the former Government was not able to undertake a redistribution in Western Australia because the Commonwealth Statistician was unable to furnish it with final figures in sufficient time to enable a certificate to be issued, thus enabling a redistribution to take place in Western Australia. Nevertheless, I think the Minister has shown great wisdom in moving now to undertake a redistribution in Western Australia, even if that redistribution is to be undertaken in accordance with the terms of the existing Electoral Act. I think the Minister, and indeed the Government, perhaps have read the mood of the Parliament. Whilst there was a slight insinuation in the Minister's statement of a warning to the Senate that the former Bill will be reintroduced, there was not the same fervour in talk of a double dissolution as there was prior to the Victorian State elections. Being a realist, I know why the result of the Victorian elections would moderate such a mood.

It is true that Western Australia is entitled to 10 members instead of the present nine. It is right and proper, as the Minister has said, that he should introduce procedures to provide Western Australia, in the terms of the Act, with a redistribution to take account of the needs of Western Australia. But I cannot help saying that there is a degree of hint in what has happened here tonight. Obviously the Government has taken it for granted that the Electoral Bill will be defeated again in the Senate. The Government will go ahead and have a redistribution based on the old formula and then proceed to have an election, probably at a later stage when the Government feels that the climate may be more favourable to it. To honourable members on this side of the House I say that I feel that the climate will probably deteriorate as the months pass and as the people of Australia really understand the sort of economic mess into which the Government has driven this nation.

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