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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 3319

Mr SNEDDEN (Bruce) (Leader of the Opposition) - When one picks up this Bill and reads the long title of it, one immediately understands the way in which the Labor Government is going about its business. It has deliberately chosen terms which are designed to mislead the electors. It has deliberately chosen terms which put the rosiest possible complexion on the proposal for the amendment of the Constitution. The title of the Bill states that it is a Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution so as to ensure that Senate elections are held at the same time as House of Representatives elections. That sounds very attractive to the person who reads it and says: "Yes, I would like to have them held together'. The Government has refused to give us adequate time in which to explain what lies behind this Bill, lt has refused to give us time in Committee to move amendments to this Bill, and particularly to move an amendment to the title, because it is the title that the elector will see when he goes to the ballot box to mark his ballot paper. It would have been more honest for the Government to have titled this Bill 'a Bill for an Act to alter the Constitution so as to provide that the term of office of a senator shall be for 2 terms of the House of Representatives', because that is what the Bill is designed to do.

The proposal contained in the long title is a fraud. A constitutional referendum is not needed to ensure simultaneous elections. All that is required is for the Prime Minister (Mr Whitlam) and his Government to have the courage to have a House of Representatives election. All they need is the courage to go to the people. There must be an election for half the Senate in the first half of next year. Let the Government have a House of Representatives election at that time, and then there will be simultaneous elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives. There is absolutely no need for a referendum to achieve that purpose. Therefore, in view of the way I correctly described the long title, the long title which will be put to the Australian people on the ballot paper is a fraud.

We will have 15 minutes for the Committee stage. In the Committee stage we will move an amendment. We will not even have the opportunity to explain our case. The 15 minutes for the Committee stage will include the time taken in division. In fact, there are 5 clauses to the Bill. The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) - he is now in the chair as the Deputy Speaker - who fancies himself as pushing the present Speaker out of that position on his performance -

Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER .(Mr Scholes)Order!The Leader of the Opposition may make any point he wishes in debate, but I suggest, that he not detract from the dignity of this House by making the type of allegation he just made against the occupant of the chair, whoever he happens to be. I suggest that he should apologise to the House for the remarks he made about the Chair.

Mr SNEDDEN - Mr Deputy Speaker, you chose to participate in this debate and you -

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