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Tuesday, 10 December 1974
Page: 3259

Senator WOOD (QUEENSLAND) - Despite the unusual questioning in this chamber today I ask the Leader of the Government: Can he remember that there was an election in Queensland on Saturday? Does he also remember that on that occasion the Australian Labor Party was just about decimated? Has he also seen a statement from our conceited, vain, arrogant Prime Minister to the effect that the people of Queensland are apparently living in dark areas, reflecting upon their judgment?

Senator Wheeldon - I rise on a point of order, Mr Deputy President. Your practice the other evening, if I recollect it, was to enforce strictly the Standing Orders with regard to reflections on members of other Houses of Parliament. Senator Wood has just described the Prime Minister of Australia as conceited, vain and arrogant. I would like to know whether this is not to be regarded as a reflection, in which case such terminology may be used in any event about members of another House, or whether you will ask Senator Wood to withdraw what he said of the Prime Minister.

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Webster)- I think Senator Wood's remarks were made more in the nature of political comment. Senator Wood might moderate his language regarding the Prime Minister and perhaps rephrase his question.

Senator WOOD -I ask the Leader of the Government in the Senate: Has he seen a statement from the Prime Minister that the people of Queensland live in dark areas, indicating that they cannot think clearly, which is an insult to the people of Queensland? It is not an insult, of course, according to honourable senators on the other side. Will he convey to the Prime Minister the feeling that it is an insult. Will he also convey to the Prime Minister -

Senator Milliner - Ask your question.

Senator WOOD -Would the honourable senator like me to go back to the Morosi matter? Would the Leader of the Government in the Senate also convey to the Prime Minister that the people of Queensland live in stronger, brighter sunshine, which no doubt accounts for the fact that they can think more clearly than other people- hence their decision on Saturday?

Senator MURPHY -I think probably it is better to pass over the remarks which were made by the honourable senator about the Prime Minister. They serve no useful purpose. We know that Senator Wood is no admirer of the Prime Minister of this country, but he is Prime Minister because of the votes of the people of Australia, twice. Whatever may be the views of the people of Queensland, the people of Australia have elected Mr Whitlam twice. The honourable senator and his Party take great comfort from the result of the Queensland election. But should they take such comfort, and should the people of

Australia or even of Queensland take such comfort, from a situation where a coalition with S8.7 per cent of the votes gets 69 seats and the Australian Labor Party with 36.3 per cent of the votes gets only 1 1 seats? Had these electorates been distributed in a way which was compatible with democracy- honourable senators will recall the great declarations by the Supreme Court of the United States of America that an election by the people means that there must be equal electoratesthe coalition would have gained 52 seats and the Australian Labor Party 30 seats.

That is not a comforting thought for the ALP, but I think it is an even more distressing thought for Australia and Queensland that we should have existing in Australia a State in which there is no democracy. If there was democracy there it is clear that the ALP would have lost- we face that- but it is not satisfactory that we allow to persist in our community an undemocratic system, a gerrymander of the worst type, which results in ALP members being put out in droves, in a manner quite unrepresentative of what occurred in the voting. I concede that there is no doubt that it would have been a severe loss for the ALP, but these results cannot be satisfactory to anyone. I do not think we should allow to persist any longer in any part of Australia a system which is so undemocratic.

Senator Wood - I rise to order. The AttorneyGeneral did not answer the key point of my question which was that the Prime Minister stated that the people of Queensland were living in dark areas, suggesting that they are unable to think correctly. This is an insult to the people of Queensland. Will he convey that to the Prime Minister?

The DEPUTY PRESIDENT- There is no point of order. That point of the question was answered by the Minister.

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