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Thursday, 15 November 1973
Page: 3418

Mr DALY (Grayndler) (Minister for Services and Property) - One can always be certain that the very mention of electoral boundaries gives a nightmare to every member of the Australian Country Party. They sit in this place only because they are the greatest gerrymandered in any parliament anywhere in the world. Here is a Party one of the members of which, sitting in the back, the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Hewson), was elected on 16.63 per cent of the primary votes. No wonder he does not want the system changed. The Australian Labor Party candidate who was defeated got 48 per cent of the primary votes and the Liberal Party candidate polled 24 per cent, with the Democratic Labor Party candidate getting 8 per cent and the Independent candidate 6 per cent. The honourable member for McMillan beat only a couple of Independents and the DLP candidate, but he is now sitting in the Parliament. Why would he not fight for the gerrymander? Why would not the Leader of the Country Party (Mr Anthony) get animated? Why, he has a Party that since 1949 has only once polled more than 10 per cent of the vote of the people but has exercised 16 or 20 per cent of the power in this Parliament. Why would he not want a system that has given the Country Party the premiership and government in Queensland on 19 per cent of the vote? No wonder members of the Country PartY do not want the Australian people to pass judgment on this kind of system.

The Leader of the Country Party, speaking today, was not attacking the legislation; he wants to deny the people the right to say whether or not they stand for Country Party gerrymanders or for a fair and equitable system in respect of electoral boundaries. The honourable member spoke about distance in relation to country seats. The Australian Labor Party holds more country seats than any other party in this Parliament. In addition, we hold the largest seat - Kalgoorlie. We have the seats with the highest population. We are the only Party that has done anything to make the task of country representatives easier by providing them with some of the things needed to make it easier for them to represent their constituents.

The Leader of the Country Party said that only 2 hours had been allocated for discussion on this Bill. Does he not know that the Liberals wasted last night on tin pot points of order and hurly-burly an hour and a half that might well have been spent in debating this measure? An hour and a half was thrown away last night by the Opposition which, in a contemptible way, had no respect for the dignity of this Parliament. Some months ago in this Parliament we debated the issues involved in this measure. There was lengthy debate on it, and I remind the Leader of the Country Party that it was not rejected by this House. It was passed twice in this chamber in an attempt to give equality of voting to the Australian people, but decadent old men in the other chamber, comprising mainly the rump of the Liberal Party, decided that they would not allow the Australian people to have equitable voting. That is why we have not got it today. Having a good look at the Leader of the Country Party and the Country Party itself, one asks how could they win without loaded electorates. Who would vote for them? The Leader of the Country Party talks about 45 per cent of the population enrolled in my district. Only slightly more than 50 per cent of the eligible population is enrolled in the electorate of the Leader of the Australian Country Party, yet he reckons he will be the next Prime Minister. I do not aspire to that position. He can get only 50 per cent of the people in his electorate to bother to enrol. No wonder Country Party members want to fight for the present system.

I shall now outline at some length why they fight for it. The honourable member who received 16 per cent of the votes has had more say in the Parliament than the honourable member who got 80 per cent of the votes. He interjects constantly. The principle of universal suffrage was enshrined in the Federal Constitution of 1901. But attempts to frustrate the effective implementation of this widely accepted basis of democracy continue to this day led by every member of the Australian Country Party and their lap dogs along at their heels, the members of the Liberal Party supporting them. One way of judging whether we have a fair and democratic electoral system is to relate the percentage of votes won by a party to the seats gained by it at an election. I have a table prepared for me by the Chief Electoral Officer, showing a comparison of results of the last 4 elections for this House. I seek leave to have the table incorporated in Hansard.

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