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Wednesday, 14 November 1973
Page: 1789

Senator McMANUS (Victoria) -The Australian Democratic Labor Party will not support the Representation Bill. This Bill was previously before the Senate and was defeated but it has now been returned. Its purpose is to give representation in the Senate to the Australian Capital Territory and possibly to the Northern Territory also. As we said before,'we believe that the Senate while it is a House of review is also a States House. The history of the negotiations which took place for the formation of the Senate shows that it was clearly understood that the Senate would be a House where the States would each enjoy equal representation. We do not see that either of the Territories has yet arrived at the stage where it should receive senatorial representation. I will not detain the Senate long because this matter has been previously debated. I merely say that I regret the continual tendency of another place to attempt to interfere in the Senate.

Not long ago we had an attempt which the people rightly rejected to break the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives in a way which would have destroyed the basis of representation as between the 2 Houses, and could have resulted in the Senate becoming an inferior House under the Australian Constitution. The people rightfully defeated that attempt to interfere in the affairs of the Senate. We now have this proposal which could alter the very delicate balance in the Senate upon which many people are relying at present so that the Senate can restrain the spate of legislation which comes into the Senate at a rate that has never been seen in parliamentary history. When we have so much legislation being capriciously and hastily rushed into the Senate it is all the more necessary that the Senate should retain its status as a guardian, or rather a watchdog, of proper parliamentary procedures. We now have other proposals based on other lines, which I will not debate now because they have yet to come before us, to interfere with the term for which senators are elected. I believe that there is a deliberate attempt for some reason to interfere with the affairs of the Senate and to make it an inferior House instead of the House the designers of our Constitution intended it to be, that is, a House having its own strong place in our Constitution. For that reason the Democratic Labor Party will not vote for this proposal to alter the basis upon which the future numbers in the Senate may depend.

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