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Tuesday, 14 October 1975
Page: 2054

Mr KING (Wimmera) - I wish to correct the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) and to remind him that this is not a cognate debate. I thought Mr Acting Speaker was very lenient to him in allowing him to wander all over the ship as far as the Electoral Bill (No. 2) is concerned. I wish to raise the question of the counting of votes in accordance with the amending Bill. As all of us in this House appreciate, as far as a Senate election is concerned, you work on the principle of a quota. In arriving at that quota you take into consideration the number of formal votes cast and also the number of candidates who are to be elected. The Bill also states that a vote will be classified as formal providing the ballot paper is filled in with the total numbers in accordance with the number of senators to be elected.

The honourable member for Port Adelaide talked about 300 or 400 candidates, which to me is absolutely ridiculous. If that were the case and we were to elect, say, 5 senators it would be obvious that a number of people could vote for candidates who were not even in the final running for election. That would automatically disfranchise those people who would cast a vote for the candidate in which they would be interested. Over the years the Government has always talked about equalisation, a fair go for all, one vote one value and that sort of thing. In previous debates not one member of the Government has said- I hope the Minister for Housing and Construction (Mr Riordan), who is at the table, understands the matter and will give me an explanation- what will eventually be the quota after the first three senators or even the first 4 senators out of a team of five are elected. It would appear to me that whilst No. 1 would be able to fulfil a quota and Nos. 2 and 3 might be able to fulfil a quota, when it comes to Nos. 4 and 5 there is every possibility that no formal votes, or very few, would be left. If that were the case the senator who was appointed to be No. 4 or No. 5 would be elected with fewer votes than those who would be elected No. 2 or No. 3.

I do not wish to say anything more about that matter other than that I hope that the Minister will be able to give me a firm assurance that senators so elected under this scheme will be elected on the same number of votes as Nos. 1, 2 and 3 could be elected on. I would like an assurance on that, because after all this is to my mind a discriminatory provision of the Bill. I do not know whether the honourable member for Port Adelaide had any justification in suggesting that a lot of migrants- I think that is what he saidcast informal votes at the last Senate election. All I can say to that is that the electorates he read out were returning basically Labor or Government members and it would appear as a result of that that those people who support Labor members must be less intelligent than those who support members on the Opposition side of the House.

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