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Wednesday, 11 December 1974
Page: 3367

Senator WOOD (QUEENSLAND) - I direct my question to the Leader of the Government in the Senate and preface it with these remarks: Yesterday I asked him a question about the Prime Minister insulting the intelligence of the people of Queensland as a result of the vote on Saturday. In reply he gave me a long tirade about the gerrymander in Queensland. I ask him now whether he has seen the 'Australian' of yesterday's date in which it was stated:

For things are even worse than they first appear for the Labor Party in Queensland: Ironically, without the gerrymander, the ALP would almost certainly have won only one or two seats instead of about eleven.

Has he also seen the comments by Mr Hawke, the President of the Australian Labor Party, and by Mr Egerton, the Vice-President of the Australian Labor Party, condemning the Government for its attitude to Queensland and saying that it lacks grass roots appeal and that it is drowning in the think tank in Mr Whitlam 's office? If so, does he not agree that the people of Queensland were very intelligent in acting as they did?

Senator MURPHY - The honourable senator suggests that the Australian Labor Party would have won only one or two seats in Queensland if there had not been a gerrymander. It would have been an impossible state of affairs if, having secured over one-third- 36 per cent- of the votes, the Labor Party had ended up with only one or two seats in a House of 82 members. Surely that would indicate that whatever the system might be called if not a gerrymander, it would be utterly undemocratic. I turn now to the other aspect of the honourable senator's question. If there is one thing that distinguishes the Labor Party from its opponents it is our ability to learn. We will apply ourselves with resolution to overcoming any errors that we have made in explaining our policies to the people of Queensland. I understand that in some areasfor instance, Rockhampton- the vote held very well.

Senator Milliner - It increased.

Senator MURPHY - It increased. I spoke to the candidate there and he told me that perhaps the significance of and the reason for that was that very great care had been taken to explain the Federal policies to the people of that area and when they understood what the Federal policies were they stood by the Labor Party in the election. That is one lesson we all ought to learn. Certainly the Government draws no comfort from the results of the election. We will apply ourselves with diligence to overcoming any errors that we have made and in carrying to the people of Queensland the message that the Australian Government regards them with as much affection as it regards people in any other part of Australia. We want them to co-operate with us in the great things that are envisaged and are being done by this Government. We hope that they will come with us on the next occasion we go to the polls.

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