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Tuesday, 14 October 1975
Page: 2083


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! The honourable member for Wilmot will cease interjecting.


Mr Duthie - It is tedious repetition, Mr Deputy Speaker.


Mr HUNT - Repetition or not, let me say that the closure of 900 polling booths throughout

Australia has disadvantaged a great number of people in areas such as the electorate of Gwydir who, on wet polling days because there are no all-weather roads, will have to ride to vote, go in a 4-wheel drive vehicle or pay the fine for failing to vote. What the closures will effectively do in certain circumstances is disfranchise people who would otherwise be entitled to vote. If the honourable member for Duthie is happy with that prospect -


Mr Duthie - I rise on a point of order. I am the honourable member for Wilmot.


Mr HUNT - I am sorry, the honourable member for Wilmot. Well, if he is happy with that, he is not the man I thought he was. The honourable member for Port Adelaide also spoke of the defeat of Reg Pollard in 1966.


Mr Duthie - An excellent illustration.


Mr HUNT - 'An excellent illustration', says the honourable member for Duthie. The honourable member for Duthie was successful -


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Order! It is the honourable member for Wilmot.


Mr HUNT -The honourable member for Wilmot. He was successful in confusing me that time. The honourable member for Port Adelaide will remember that in 1 966 there was a massive landslide against the Australian Labor Party and I suspect that Mr Reg Pollard was more a victim of the swing against his Party on that occasion than a victim of the system. The proposition that a draw be made to determine the order in which names of candidates will appear on the ballot papers for the House of Representatives generally stems from a mistaken assumption that the top position gives significant advantage to the candidate in that position. I will produce some statistics that will prove my point that this is a mistaken view. Honourable members will know that in the case of a Senate election provision is made for a draw to determine the order in which the respective groups appear on the ballot papers. However, there are important differences between ballot papers for a Senate election to fill periodic vacancies and the ballot papers for a House of Representatives election. The principal difference stems from the fact that there are 5 periodic vacancies to be filled at each Senate election whereas elections for the House of Representatives are based upon single member constituencies. This results in a multiplicity of candidates for a Senate election and there is little doubt that the tendency to cast a so-called donkey vote increases proportionately with the number of candidates standing for election.

Another influencing factor lies in the fact that the State as a whole comprises the electorate for Senate elections whereas House of Representatives elections are conducted on the basis of individual divisions. Accordingly candidates for House of Representatives elections, being considerably less in number than for Senate elections and being associated with the particular divisions, are generally better known to the electors.

It is of interest to look at the statistical evidence for the 1969 House of Representatives election as it shows up the relationship between candidates who were placed first on the ballot papers and candidates who were elected. The figures show that in respect of 123 divisions, plus the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, 35 candidates who were placed first on the ballot papers were successful; 43 candidates who appeared second on the ballot papers were also successful; and of the remainder of the successful candidates twentyfour were placed third, nineteen were placed fourth, one was placed fifth and three were placed sixth. Iris significant to note that of the 35 successful candidates who appeared first on the ballot papers twenty stood as Australian Labor Party candidates whereas fifteen came from the Government Parties.

Let us not have all this tripe and onions about the electorate being stupid. I think some people were stupid in 1972 and a few less were stupid in 1974. But I do not think we need underestimate the wisdom of the average voter of this country.


Mr Fisher - They are not stupid all the time.


Mr HUNT - They are not stupid all the time. As someone said, you can fool half of the people half the time but not all the people all of the time. I think that is worthy of note too. I would like to incorporate in Hansard a table which makes an interesting analysis of figures taken over 5 House of Representatives elections. It shows the position in which successful candidates appeared on the ballot papers. For instance, it shows that 2 candidates contested elections on 29 occasions and that the candidates in the first position on the ballot papers were elected on 20 occasions whereas the candidates in the second position were elected on 9 occasions. I seek leave to incorporate this table in Hansard.


Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER -Is leave granted? There being no objection, leave is granted. (The document read as follows)-

An interesting analysis is set out below which covers five House of Representatives elections. It shows the elected candidates in relation to their position on the ballot-papers-

(a)   There were 2 candidates on 29 occasions and candidates in first position on b/pps. were elected on 20 occasions while the candidates in second position on b/pps. were elected on 9 occasions.

(b)   There were 3 candidates on 330 occasions and candidates in first position on b/pps. were elected on 1 13 occasions while the candidates in second position on b/pps. were elected on 1 18 occasions while the candidates in third position on b/pps. were elected on 99 occasions.

(c)   There were 4 candidates on 1 88 occasions and candidates in first position on b/pps. were elected on 40 occasions while the candidates in second position on b/pps. were elected on 56 occasions while the candidates in third position on b/pps. were elected on 41 occasions while the candidates in fourth position on b/pps. were elected on 5 1 occasions.

(d)   There were 5 candidates on 5 1 occasions and candidates in first position on b/pps. were elected on 8 occasions while the candidates in second position on b/pps. were elected on 14 occasions while the candidates in third position on b/pps. were elected on 13 occasions while the candidates in fourth position on b/pps. were elected on 1 1 occasions while the candidates in fifth position on b/pps. were elected on 5 occasions.

(e)   There were 6 candidates on 1 2 occasions and a candidate in first position on b/pps. was elected on 1 occasion while the candidates in second position on b/pps. were elected on 3 occasions and a candidate in third position on b/pps. was elected on 1 occasion while the candidates in fourth position on b/pps were elected in 2 occasions while the candidates in fifth position on b/pps. were elected on 2 occasions while the candidates in sixth postition on b/pps. were elected on 3 occasions.

(f)   There were 7 candidates on 2 occasions and a candidate in second position on b/pps. was elected on 1 occasion while a candidate in third position on b/pps was elected on 1 occasion.

(g)   There were 8 candidates on one occasion only and the candidate in fourth position on b/pps. was elected.

(h)   There were 9 candidates on 2 occasions and a candidate in second position on b/pps. was elected on 1 occasion while a candidate in fourth position on b/pps. was elected on 1 occasion.


Mr HUNT -The table clearly gives support, on the basis of 5 elections, to the fact that the positioning on the ballot paper does not make any real difference to the voters 'choice. So one wonders why we are going through this tedious exercise of trying to alter the system and confuse people who generally have become accustomed to the alphabetical system. For the sake of change we have another Bill. I think the Opposition is taking a very responsible attitude on behalf of the Australian people in saying no to this quite unnecessary change in the electoral legislation.







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