26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. I. Aston) took the chair at 2.30 p.m., and read prayers.
Mr DALY presented a petition from certain residents of Australia praying that the Australian Government use its influence to achieve the release of all political prisoners in Greece and take steps to prevent further intimidation of Greek migrants, in Australia.
Petition received and read.
– I address a question to the Minister for Social Services. Does the agreement that exists between the Department of Social Services and the Registrar of Mine Workers Superannuation in New South Wales deprive many mine superannuitants of the fringe benefits that social service and Service pensioners enjoy? Is it a fact that under the merged means test aged and invalid people are entitled to receive some part of the pension until their means as assessed Teach, in the case of a single person, approximately $12,000 and, in the case of married persons, $24,000. Is the Minister aware that many mine pensioners with assets far less than the figure quoted are being compelled to remain on a mine pension when they could be receiving a part age pension and part miner’s pension? Will he prepare a break-up of the figures that are being used by the Department in its collaboration with the Registrar of Mine Workers Superannuation so that all concerned will be satisfied that no-one is being taken for a ride in respect of pension entitlements?
– This is a complicated matter, as the honourable member will appreciate. A few weeks ago I discussed it with officers of the Miners Federation. I think that the honourable member’s idea of having a paper prepared is a good idea. I will instruct my Department to get in touch with other relevant departments and to follow the course he suggests.
– Has the Minister for Labour and National Service seen the article that appeared in last Tuesday’s ‘Financial Review’ about the increasing number of disabled people and the need to assist them to obtain employment? Will he inform the House whether the Commonwealth has a programme to assist disabled people who are able and willing to work, to obtain employment?
– I did see the article, which I read with a great deal of interest. It caused me to check up on the latest position. In the Department of Labour and National Service we have about 200 people who are specially trained to assist disabled people to obtain suitable employment. About half that number are employed full time in that capacity. We work in conjunction with a number of different organisations. My Department is at present co-operating with the Australian Council for the Rehabilitation of Disabled Persons in a campaign throughout Australia to promote among employers acceptance of a policy for the employment of the handicapped. Over the last 12 months about 2,000 firms have been specially visited, with varying degrees of success. I am pleased to say that many firms are cooperating in the scheme. Currently we manage to place about 10,000 to 12,000 disabled persons per annum, but at the moment we have about 5,000 disabled persons for whom we are seeking vacancies. Anything that any honourable member can do to bring these matters to the attention of individual firms will be a useful service. It is not a dramatic task, but it is one which calls for continuous and persistent effort in order to make as many contacts as possible. We seek long term benefits for disabled persons rather than a short spectacular programme that may soon be forgotten.
– My question is directed to either the Minister for the Interior or the Minister representing the Minister for Tourism, whichever is appropriate. I preface the question by stating that the author Arthur Broom described the Olga Mountain in the Northern Territory as the spiritual heart of Australia. Recently representatives of the Natural History Society of South Australia returned from a trip to Ayers Rock and environs with great praise for the astonishing sight that Olga Mountain represents. Will the Minister give consideration to providing camping facilities at this unique area similar to those at Ayers Rock?
– I must agree with the honourable member that the Olga Mountain and Ayers Rock are among the most outstanding pieces of scenery in Australia and, in fact, in any part of the world that I have visited. In respect of providing facilities at Ayers Rock, the honourable member will know that there are several motels of a type in the ancillary area to Ayers Rock, and my understanding is that the Tourist Board in the Northern Territory Administration is presently studying proposals to see what further facilities can be made available in the area to the general public. I will convey the honourable member’s request to the Tourist Board and see that some note is taken of it.
– In the light of the principles which the Prime Minister has recently enunciated on certain aspects of foreign exploitation of Australian capital and which I believe have impressed the nation because of the serious view that has been taken of them, will he have a study made of the widespread activities of the Ludwig organisation in Australia, with particular reference to the group’s attitude to sharing equity with Australians and the use it is making of Australian capital? In particular, will he examine urgently the background to the decision of the New South Wales Government to sell the Oakdale colliery and large reserves to this organisation when several Australian coal mining companies were given no opportunity to discuss or negotiate the sale, despite their opening bid being greatly in excess of the Government’s own estimate of its value? Finally will he also have a very close look into the so-called partnership announced yesterday between the Ludwig organisation and another Australian insurance company? Were the facts as reported, namely, that the Ludwig group would acquire a 50% interest by means of contributing shares, but that the group had to be guaranteed dividend returns from Australian sources adequate to cover all further calls on these shares or else the calls need not be paid?
– As I indicated to the House yesterday - and this, I think, is the matter with which the honourable member began his question - it is the Government’s policy and wish to obtain overseas capital to develop Australia, to develop new industries and to expand existing industries. I have no knowledge of the particular activities of the group to which the honourable member refers. If, in fact, there is no opportunity made for Australian participation by way of equity, then that would be something which the Government would wish not to happen because I have made it clear before that the Australian Government wishes for opportunity to be given for equity participation. Equally I believe I have made it clear that we seek overseas capital. By that I mean overseas capital and not the use of indigenous Australian capital by overseas firms. We will do all possible to ensure that overseas capital continues to come in to help to develop this country.
As regards the sale of the State coal mine about which the honourable member asked, this is purely and simply a matter for the State Government. I know nothing of the way in which that sale was made or of any of the circumstances surrounding it. I think that question can be answered only by the New South Wales Government. In regard to the last part of the honourable member’s question, again I have no knowledge of the facts he raises. I have read of some arrangement between the Ludwig group and an insurance company. I understand that it is not a life insurance company. I will seek to find, out what I can for the honourable member. . .
– I ask the Prime Minister a question supplementary to that asked of him by the honourable member for Evans. Will the right honourable gentleman at the same time inquire whether the Ludwig group is the same group which secured - also, I believe, without Australian equity participation - the rights to transport bauxite from Weipa to Gladstone for the reason that the Commonwealth Government and the Queensland Government have not come to an agreement for the Australian National Line, the only Australian company which has suitable ships, to operate this service between those two ports?
– I can discover from the Queensland Government, if the Leader of the Opposition wishes me to do so, who is carrying bauxite from Weipa to Gladstone. I do not know that this reflects directly on the question I answered initially and in reply to which I said that we do wish to obtain overseas capital for the development of Australia. We do wish that capital to be overseas capital and not indigenous capital used by overseas interests.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. In view of the original statement to the effect that drought relief for Victoria will cease on 30th September, has the right honourable gentleman received representations from Victoria requesting an extension of this period? If so, what is the length of the period for which theextension was requested? Has the Government considered the latest submission? If so, when will an announcement be made about the result of that consideration?
– Yes, 1 have received a communication from the Premier of Victoria asking that drought relief grants should be continued beyond the point at which, the premier was informed they would not be continued. 1 believe there was a meeting of shire councils in Victoria which passed a resolution asking that this assistance should continue for a further 6 months. In fact I think what was being referred to was the provision of money to municipalities to enable public works to be carried out in those municipalities. The honourable member will realise that the Commonwealth, when it came in with its unprecedentedly generous grants, came in, amongst other things, to enable persons who were displaced from their employment because of droughts to be employed by municipalities on general improvement works. There appears to be a desire that these general improvement works should go on. But I have not received any information that Victoria is in fact in the grip of a drought which prevents people from being employed on the farms in which they were previously employed. However, this matter is under consideration.
– I ask the Minister for Defence whether he recollects having stated in this House on the 11th instant that the Royal Australian Air Force needed a strike reconnaissance capacity of the kind provided by the F1 11 to complement its entire force and that the Government found this capacity, in the best shape in the world, in the F111. How many of the F111 aircraft have been ordered for the purposes of fulfilling a reconnaissance role? When were orders placed? What was the cost of modifications at the time the orders were placed? What is the expected cost of modifications now?
– The Government ordered 24 F111C aircraft with a proposal that half a dozen of them would later be modified to a reconnaissance version. If the honourable gentleman reads the statement which I made in the House last May he will get the information that he seeks regarding costs.
– I ask the Minister for Primary Industry: Have meat prices in the United States risen substantially since the announcement of a voluntary restriction on the exportation of Australian meat to that country? If so, and particularly bearing in mind consumer reaction in the United States to the price rises, does the Government consider that now would be an appropriate time to send a representative to the United States to confer on the possibility of increasing United States meat import quotas?
– The honourable member is correct in his statement that meat prices have increased in the United States since the operation of the restrictions. The restriction on imports over the next few months could mean that prices will go even higher. As for getting the Americans to alter the present arrangements, I must point out that the quota system in America is administered under an Act of the Congress and is not a matter that the Administration administers of its own volition. The United States meat imports legislation lays down a formula for the quantity of meat that may come into the country and stipulates when quotas may be applied. What happens is that the Administration determines what is known as a ‘trigger level’ each year and then solicits information from exporting countries as to the quantity that might come into the United States. Should it appear that the quantity will reach the trigger level, the United States immediately imposes quotas on countries 10% below the trigger point. The estimate made in June this year by the Secretary of Agriculture of the likely demand for imports showed that it was well below the trigger point. However, because of the increased prices to which the honourable member has referred there has been a heavier importation of meat into the United States. As a result exporting countries have had to take corrective action quickly so that quotas do not come into play. Quotas definitely would not be to the advantage of Australia.
– Is the Prime Minister aware of the existence of joint Commonwealth and New South Wales legislation known as the Coal Industry Act? How does he distinguish between his intervention in the attempted takeover of MLC Ltd and his Government’s inaction in the sale to the United States Clutha Ludwig group of the New South Wales State coal mine at Oakdale? Will he instruct the Minister for National Development to discharge his functions under the Coal Industry Act to ensure that such coal resources are developed to the best advantage of the public and in the public interest? Will he prevent future non-disclosure of nominee companies and stock exchange share manipulation by legislation based on the United States Securities Exchange Commission regulatory activities?
– As I indicated to the House before, the sale of the New South Wales State coal mine was made by the New South Wales Government and questions on it should be directed to the New South Wales Government, which is the responsible authority. The second part of the honourable member’s question clearly deals with a matter of policy and is therefore not suitable to be dealt with at question time.
– Has the attention of the Attorney-General been drawn to a paper entitled ‘Freedom Scientology - Australian Issue No, 2’ in which in the last paragraph allegations are made and half truths stated accusing me of smear tactics concerning a religious philosophic group which is called the ‘Church of Scientology’? In view of the fact that the document, libellous in its content, does not disclose the name of the printer or publisher or any authorisation, will the Attorney-General examine its legality and ascertain whether it is in breach of the law?
– I have seen a paper which seems to correspond with the description given by the honourable member for Adelaide. I have not studied it, but I will have a look at it and inquire whether there has been any breach of the law.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General. I ask the honourable and learned gentleman whether he attended the annual general meeting of MLC Ltd after the H. G. Palmer fiasco to advise and protect the MLC directors. Has he ceased to be retained by MLC Ltd? If so-
-Order! This matter does not come within the ministerial control of the Minister. The question is out of order.
– I rise to a point of order, Mr Speaker. I suggest that as aspersions have been cast on the Minister he should, with your permission, have a chance to answer the question.
– if the Minister wishes to answer he may do so.
– In the course of active practice at the Bar for more than a quarter of a century before coming to this place I acted for a substantial number of individual clients, banks, insurance companies, newspapers, oil companies ‘ and shipping companies. I will not go on with the list.
– Any from this side?
– Yes. Amongst the insurance companies I represented was MLC Ltd. I represented that company from its formation in 1962, and prior to that I represented Mutual Life and Citizens Assurance Co. Ltd.
I do not know whether the suggestion of the honourable member is that at the time of the H. G. Palmer matter I should not have continued to act for MLC Ltd. If that is the suggestion, he shows very little appreciation of the obligations of a barrister. Since I became a Minister in this Government I have not continued any practice whatever at the Bar. I may say that ifI were to refuse to advise the Government in any matter in which a former client of mine was involved, any usefulness thatI may have to the Government would be significantly restricted.
-I ask the Minister for the Interior a question. Why did the Government buy the building in Melbourne known as Cromwell Building for $4.7m when it already owns a whole city block of 10 acres of which not more than 25% is used by it at present? How long does the Government expect local government authorities to pay Federal Government taxes, for example pay-roll tax, when the Federal and State governments buy up huge areas of the best real estate in a city and refuse to pay rates and taxes yet expect to get all the services, such as roads, granted to them without even ex gratia payments?
– The Government bought Cromwell Building after very carefully investigating all the facts. We were critically short of space in Melbourne for Federal departments. It is true that we have built on the Spring Street site a considerable amount of floor space - approximately 280,000 square feet. With the establishment of new Federal departments such as the Department of Education and Science we found that we urgently required additional space. Cromwell Building was offered to the Commonwealth Government for leasing, but after an investigation by the Treasury and my Department the conclusion was reached that to buy the building would be a better proposition. The Government entered into negotiations and finally purchased Cromwell Building. I should add that in studying the economics of purchasing the building the Government viewed the matter having regard to the normal commercial terms and a sinking fund was allowed. As a result, there has been a considerable saving to the taxpayers by the purchase of this building.
I understand that some honourable members have criticised the fact that Commonwealth departments do not pay rates on buildings. Of course, neither do State Government departments, as was mentioned by the honourable member for Chisholm. The Victorian Government is responsible for local government in that State, so the Victorian Government is more guilty - if guilty’ is the word to use - in this respect than the Commonwealth Government because I understand that whilst the Commonwealth Government escapes the payment of rates of the order of $275,000 the Victorian Government escapes the payment of rates of the order of $324,000. An honourable member asks: ‘So what!’ The fact is that Sir Henry Bolte attacked the Commonwealth Government on this very point. At the same time he attacked the Commonwealth Government because. he claimed, it had failed to decentralise its departments. I point out that the Commonwealth Government built at least eight decentralised Commonwealth offices - and I mean properly decentralised Commonwealth offices - in towns such as Sale, and Wangaratta. Sir Henry Bolte referred to Kew. I do not think that the people in the La Trobe Valley would be very impressed with the idea that the Premier of Victoria believes Kew to be decentralised. The last point I wish, to make is that the Commonwealth Government has had to overcome a very critical shortage of space for its departments. It is my belief that not only has the Government done the most economical thing but that in the long term it will have an asset (hat the taxpayers will be proud of.
– I ask the Minister for Labour and National Service: Will the Government consider building a block of flats or blocks of flats in Canberra to provide initial housing for assisted passage migrants arriving in Australia who wish to settle in this city? In considering this matter will the Minister bear in mind the fact that the Ainslie Hostel, which formerly housed migrants in this city, has been closed; that there is not the same opportunity to secure emergency housing in Canberra as there is in the larger and older cities of the Commonwealth and that at present families migrating from overseas who wish to join relatives already established in Canberra are unable to secure accommodation?
– The honourable member will realise that the decision to close Ainslie Hostel was taken after he had made representations to the Government over a period of time. These representations were mainly on behalf of the residents of Ainslie, who were dissatisfied with the Ainslie Hostel. Alternative arrangements were then made for the accommodation of the residents of Ainslie Hostel. The question of what, if any, accommodation should be provided for migrants in Canberra is at present under consideration.It will depend, as it does elsewhere, on the availability of permanent accommodation after a transitory period and on a number of other factors, including funds. At the moment the Government has no plans for the provision of such accommodation,
– I address my question to the Attorney-General. I refer to resolutions on the notice paper relating to redistribution and the understanding by everyone in this place, and I should imagine by everyone outside, that before the redistribution proposals can become law these resolutions must be passed. With your leave, Mr Speaker, I also refer to section 57 of the Constitution, which provides for a double dissolution if the House of Representatives passes any proposed law and the Senate rejects or fails to pass it. I ask the AttorneyGeneral: Is any record held in bis Department of any determination having been made by any of his predecessors as to whether resolutions that have been passed by this House and by the Senate are within the terms of section 57 of the Constitution? If so, will the honourable gentleman consider making available for the earnest consideration of all honourable members of this place and of another place the determination in question?
– I will have an inquiry made as to whether there is any such determination. Whether it would be made generally available would be a matter I would wish to consider further. However, one question that obviously would arise is whether these motions which we will have before this House and the other place would not be mere resolutions under the Commonwealth Electoral Act rather than proposed laws. I would be very much interested to find that anyone took the view suggested by the honourable member.
-I direct a ques tion to the Minister for Defence. Is it true that the Boeing aircraft company has decided that its swing wing supersonic transport aircraft is now impractical because of a serious increase in the weight of the aircraft severely limiting its carrying capacity and the distance it can fly? Has Boeing almost eliminated research into swing wing aircraft? If this is correct, does it not create serious doubts as to the suitability of the F111 for Australian defence purposes? Does the aircraft recently accepted by the Minister comply with the original specifications as to carrying capacity and distance of operation?
– I understand that the Boeing company is giving consideration to putting aside its proposed swing wing design for a supersonic transport aircraft.
– This is a design problem and it is entirely within the purview of the Boeing company whether it pursues a certain amount of development for that aircraft. I draw attention to the fact that there is a very great dissimilarity between the functions of the SST which Boeing is designing and the F111. There is nothing in the reported experience of Boeing or in the opinion of Boeing to cast any doubt on the capacity of the swing wing design accepted for the F111: The fact is, of course, that the weight of the necessary carry through box of the F111 was well allowed for when this aircraft was designed. Nothing that has happened to it since limits in any way the anticipated performance of the aircraft in respect to range or pay load. My advice from the Royal Australian Air Force at the moment is that the aircraft in its present configuration meets the Air Staff requirement.
– My question is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport. Are large parcels of wool being lifted from Australia by ships other than Conference line ships? If so, how many of these ships are operating to Australia? How many bales of wool are involved? Are the freight rates being charged by such ships less than the freights charged by the Conference lines? Is it the intention of such ships to continue the service or will they conclude at the end of the WOOl season? Under whose flag are such ships operating?
– It is true that, as a result of the necessary re-negotiation of contracts to ship wool from Australia, there has been some change in the pattern of negotiation. This is not only relative to the reduction in freight that has been offered by the Conference lines for the shipment of wool from Australia to the United Kingdom and the Continent but it is also relative to the duration of the contracts that the Conference is offering. These contracts initially are being offered for a 2-month period. I understand that some of the United Kingdom and European wool buyers have already negotiated contracts outside the Conference lines. These contracts are predominantly with Russian flag vessels but there are a number of other vessels involved which are presently in the trade or expected to come into the trade. These contracts, 1 am told, are at present of 12 months duration and reputedly they are being negotiated at a discount below the reduced rate available with the Conference lines. As to the extent to which these contracts indicate a trend towards the break-up of the Conference, there has already been some mention in this House of the continued dependence of Australian shippers on the availability of shipping space and frequency of services. At the same time, if, as a result of a measure of competition, shippers are given a better opportunity to negotiate a reduced freight rate, this could be to the shippers’ advantage. The Government is concerned that the Conference system should continue to operate in the future and, of course, it will for this reason be keeping a very close watch on the position.
– I direct my question to the Prime Minister. I would like to mention that I have been advised by the Parents and Citizens Association of Malabar in the electorate of Kingsford-Smith as to tha dangerous condition of the public school at Malabar. This condition has been brought about by a severe shortage of finance and it could lead to serious injury to the scholars attending the school. I ask: Could the Prime Minister have an urgent investigation made of the dilapidated and dangerous condition of this school with a view to making the necessary finance available to the Askin Government for the purpose of urgent repairs essential to the future safety of children attending the school?
– I suggest to the honourable member that he get a State member from his district to ask the State Minister for Education that question.
– I ask the Minister for Civil Aviation a question. I am sure all members are concerned about the serious allegations and suggestions made by the honourable member for Hindmarsh concerning contracts between the Department of Civil Aviation and private enterprise. Has the Minister any further information to give to the House regarding the contract let to the Avis company?
– Last week the honourable member for Hindmarsh did ask a series of questions in relation to the contract which is to be signed between my Department and Avis Rent-A-Car System Pty Ltd for services to be provided at a number of airports throughout Australia. I obtained the information for the honourable member and have submitted a letter to him giving the full facts in relation to his questions. However, the letter is fairly lengthy and I would not like to give a long answer to a question without notice. Therefore, with the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate the text of the letter in Hansard and I seek leave to table copies of the documents attached to the letter.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
23rd September 1968.
During the course of the debate on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 1968-69 you made certain serious allegations about the administration of the Airports (Business Concessions) Act J 959-66 by the Department of Civil Aviation. i said during the debate 1 would write to you conveying information on the matters you raised and also provide you with a copy of the public tender schedule which invited tenders for the airport car rental contract. A copy ofthat schedule is attached, together with a copy of the press statement which I issued when the contract was let. As you will see from the schedule, service at fifty-three airports was clearly specified; and an examination of the statement will show I did not say that Avis Rent-a-Car System Pty Ltd was the only tenderer. At the outset, you have obviously been misinformed.
Public tenders for the car rental contract were invited on 23rd November 1967, and closed on 41h March 1968. The original closing date of 23rd January 1968 was extended at the request of Kay Corporation Ltd. As asked by each company. I then interviewed the Chairman of Kay Corporation Ltd, and Managing Director of Alex Kay Pty Ltd (Kays Rent-a-Car), the Vice-President of Hertz International and the General Manager of Hertz of Australia Ltd.I also interviewed the Managing Director of Avis Rent-a-Car System Ply Ltd. In short, the representatives of Kay Corporation Ltd, and Hertz of Australia Ltd advised me that their companies would submit offers for sole rights and would, as permitted by the tender schedule, tender on a multiple rights basis.
As I have advised you, three organisations submitted tenders, namely Alex Kay Pty Ltd, Hertz of Australia Ltd, and Avis Rent-a-Car System Pty Ltd. Each company tendered for sole rights and, in addition, Alex Kay Pty Ltd, and Hertz of Australia Ltd, also submitted alternative tenders for a multiple rights contract as was permitted by the tender specifications. At no time were the conditions of tender varied, except that the ownership of Armidale Airport was transferred to a local authority and deleted from the list of airports. Tenders were not re-invited as you implied.
On the 8th May 1968, the highest tender submitted, that of Avis Rent-a-Car System Pty Ltd, for sole rights, was accepted. The Avis offer of a minimum $2.05m over the lease period was more than$1m in excess of the offers submitted by either of the other tenderers. Thus, although each company offered to provide car rental services at the airports specified in the tender schedule, the Avis offer was by far the highest. In debate, I have already informed you of the Government’s policy to reduce the gap between revenues received end the cost of our civil aviation facilities, and acceptance of the highest offer of Avis was in keeping with this policy.
As I have said one tender for sole rights was received from each of the three car rental companies. Contrary to your stated views the tender specification had not been amended in any way since tenders were invited and the granting of the contract, except for the deletion of one airport.
Although there were the discussions which the management of the companies had with me and some minor inquiries of the Department about car parking sites, there have been no variations of the basic tender conditions since tenders were invited. ) should also mention at this juncture lhat, according to public announcements, Sir Arthur Rylah did not become a Director of Avis RentaCar System Pty Ltd until some time afterthe contract was granted to that company.
From our past experience, it was clearly preferable to invite tenders on a sole rights basis and you will be interested to know that at London Airport only one rent-a-car operator (Hertz) holds the franchise. One ear rental operator can he accommodated in our airport terminals but at many of our airports we cannot accommodate more than one without creating unacceptable congestion. All car rental operators are, of course, permitted to continue to attend airports to deliver vehicles to clients who have made pre-arranged bookings. By requiring the successful tenderer to operate at a minimum of 52 airports, the Commonwealth ensures that the service is provided at as many airports as possible and not only at the larger airports which are the only commercially attractive sites for the operator. The expectation that a 10 year contract would ensure high bids and maximum revenue to the Commonwealth has been realised with the offers received. The successful tenderer will have to make considerable investment in new buildings, some terminal alterations and in storage and servicing facilities for his vehicles. A 10 year period provides a reasonable time for him to amortise his investment.
You also asked about mote] licences and how they are advertised. Public tenders were recently invited for the development and operation of a motel at Melbourne Airport. The contract was granted to the only tenderer, TH Motels, the trading name of subsidiary companies of Travelodge of Australia Ltd. Public tenders have now been invited for motel developments at Perth. Jandaket and Adelaide Airports.
As I told you, any complaints about the standards of service in airport concessions are investigated and, when necessary, action is taken to rectify the matter. On rare occasions there are breakdowns in standards of service even though standards are policed but, as I have said, prompt action is taken to obviate any lowering of standards. To ensure the highest possible standards of service to airline passengers in’ these facilities, it is most important that contractors have sound business experience, day to day management ability and, of course, financial stability.I think you will agree that these qualifications are essential to obtain high standards and for this reason only contractors who can establish evidence of having these qualifications are accepted.
It is the normal practice for tenderers to be interviewed by a Committee consisting of at least three departmental officers to establish that the tenderers have the necessary business experience, management capacity and financial stability and to clarify any matters associated with the tender. Some offers are quite complex and explanations about the offer are sought by this Committee. The recommendations made by the Committee are then considered by the Department’s Business Board of three members. In this instance, the tenders were summarised by a departmental Business Representative and referred to the Business Board which has power delegated to it to accept tenders up to a period of 10 years, unless a liquor authority is required. The decision of the Business Board was considered by the Director-General and myself before the tender was accepted. This practice will continue to be followed in the case of the tenders now being invited for the motels at Perth, Jandaket and Adelaide.
I think you will now understandthat, as all the tenderers for the car rental contract tendered in accordance with the lender specifications and each is a recognised operator in the field, the amount offered by each of them was the prime criterion on which the contract was granted. Similarly, in the case of other major airport concessional activities, public tenders are invited in accordance with the provisions of the Airports (Business Concessions) Act where lease terms in excess of three years are contemplated.
In so far as your questions without notice of the 17th September are concerned, I now answer them as follows:
Answer: The terms of all the tenders were first summarised by a departmental Business Representative. The tenders were then considered by three members of the departmental Business Board. Because of the significance of this contract, the decision of the Business Board to accept the highest offer was considered by the Director-General and finally submitted to me for concurrence.
Answer: Avis was advised of the success of their tender on 20th May, and on the same day I issued a press statement. Also on 20th May oral advice was given to all other tenderers that their tenders had been unsuccessful, and on the 21st May written advice to this effect was sent. On 23rd May, two Avis officials visited the Department for discussions about a variety of matters and at the conclusion of these discussions asked two departmental representatives to join them for a drink at the Southern Cross Hotel. These officers subsequently had a meal in the grill room of the hotel with the Avis officials and also with representatives of an airline and motor car firm. During the meal, the Managing Director of one of the unsuccessful tenderers, invited the group to visit his home that evening. The same Avis officials and departmental officers accepted the invitation.
All of this took place after decisions had been taken, the firms advised and public announcements made.
Finally, I can again assure you that the Airports (Business Concessions) Act is administered in a most satisfactory manner and I do not have any doubts about the integrity of the public service officers who exercise powers flowing from that Act.
Yours sincerely, (Sgd.) R. W. SWARTZ (R. W. Swartz)
– I ask the Prime Minister: Will he give consideration to making an ex gratia payment to each municipality in Australia in which the Commonwealth owns property that is exempt from the payment of rates; - and certain State taxes - by virtue of the provision in the Constitution that exempts the Commonwealth from payment of such rates and taxes? As the amount involved is very considerable at.d the concern in State and local government circles is one of annoyance and protest, will he have this matter listed as one of urgency?
– This is a matter on which I would think that the Minister for the Interior would be more knowledgeable than I. I do know that in various areas the Commonwealth does pay for services that are provided - various rates, including electricity rates, garbage rates and things of that kind. On the general question of ex gratia payments, that would be again a matter of some considerable policy import, and I do not think it is one that is suitable for answering at question time.
– 1 address a question to the Minister for Social Services and refer him specifically to my electorate of Griffith where since 1966 some 25 families have had twins and half a dozen or so have, had triplets. In one case one woman has had two sets of twins. In view of the Government’s generosity in making special grants to women who have given birth to quadruplets, and in view of the fact that there is talk of an election this year, will the Minister try to bring pressure on the Prime Minister to give consideration to the payment of a baby bonus for twins and triplets?
– I do not really consider that this is an election issue. This matter has come up before the Cabinet Welfare Committee and is under consideration at the moment. As it is a matter of policy, I do not think I should go further in my reply.
– I refer the Prime Minister to the answer given by the Minister for Defence to the honourable member for Perth in this House yesterday. The Minister said:
Their conclusions and any plans arising from them will be submitted to the Government for consideration in connection with the possible new 3-year programme which will itself be considered after the strategic appreciation has been dealt wilh.
– In what context are you quoting?
– I refer the right honourable gentleman to the Minister’s use of the term ‘possible new 3-year programme’. What did the Minister mean by possible new 3-year programme? Was he referring to the defence review which is now a year overdue? Does his use of the word possible’ imply grave doubts about the future of this review?
– All I have received from the Deputy Leader of the Opposition is a truncated quotation which is taken out of context. When I asked him what it referred to I received no answer. I suggest that if he wishes to ask a question he begins at the beginning and makes quite clear precisely what he is talking about.
– I preface my question to the Minister for Primary Industry by saying that the sudden cessation of shipments of meat to the United States of America has resulted in a serious fall in the price of fat cattle in Australia and will cause heavy losses in the industry, particularly to people engaged in crop-fattening of cattle in Queensland where oat crops are maturing and the cattle depasturing must be sold. In view of this position will the Minister confer urgently with the United States authorities in an endeavour to arrange for an early resumption of shipments of meat to the United States, even if these have to be taken from next year’s allocation? Will the Minister arrange for a conference between Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and other countries interested, with the object of maintaining, by mutual agreement, regularity of supplies of meat to the United States within the global limits imposed by the United States Government?
– Yesterday I tried to point out that there should not be any fears of drastic falls in the prices of livestock. This is only a temporary restriction on the export of meat to the United States market. It should lead to restricted buying for that market, I would think, for a period of only 6 weeks. At the moment we are still engaged in negotiations with the American authorities as to the precise amount that we will be able to export to America this year. We have just about filled the estimated quota of which we notified them at the beginning of the year, and we are trying to put a restraint on our exports so that quotas will not be imposed.
The honourable member asked whether there was any chance of alternative arrangements being made. As I mentioned in reply to another honourable member, this matter is administered under an Act of the United States Congress. The Act has been brought in to give protection to the American cattle producers. It is a matter of judgment just how much political pressure can be brought to bear on the United States Congress to alter the formula that applies at the present time. As regards getting together with other countries, the Australian and New Zealand Meat Boards have co-operated right through. These two countries are the principal exporters of meat to the United States market. We export approximately 70% of the meat that goes into America. The balance comes from Canada, Mexico and the central American States. As regards next year’s quota, which begins in January, the United States authorities will be fixing a new trigger level which we hope will be a little higher than it is this year. They will be negotiating with all governments as to the likely imports of meat from their countries.
– On 19th September, the honourable member for Fremantle asked me a question about a bust in King’s Hall purporting to be that of Charles James Fox but which he understands to be of King George IV. In 1926, Mr John G. Davies, an Englishman, presented to Prime Minister Bruce two marble busts’ for display in the new Parliament House in Canberra. These were described as depicting the Right Honourable William Pitt and Charles James Fox.
Subsequently Mr Rupert Gunnis, an expert on British sculpture, visited Parliament House and expressed the opinion that the bust alleged to be of Fox was in fact George IV. Unfortunately Mr Gunnis died recently but it seems beyond any reasonable doubt that the bust is that of George IV and is a copy by W. Spence of an original by Joseph Nollskens. I will discuss with Mr President what is the best thing to do but I am inclined to think that this might be designating the bust correctly as George IV.
Mr ANTHONY (Richmond- Minister for Primary Industry - by leave-I wish to inform the House that the Government has decided that the raw cotton bounty should be continued for a further 3 years and be phased out in that period by providing a total of $4m in respect of the crop harvested in 1969, $3m for the 1970 crop, and $2m in 1971. Bounty payments will then cease. lt was indicated by the Government in 1963 that in considering the future of assistance to the cotton industry at the end of the 5-year bounty period the Government would take into account the economic situation of the industry as shown by an economic survey of the industry by the Bureau of Agricultural Economics. The BAE has carried out this survey of the industry covering the 3 years from 1964-65 to 1966-67. In brief, the survey has shown that the objectives of the Government’s policy on cotton have been substantially achieved. A prosperous industry capable of meeting most of Australia’s requirements has been developed in the past 5 years. While there are differences in the performance of the various regions of the industry, in general terms the industry is a prosperous one with high levels of farm income and rates of return to capital and management, particularly in the Namoi area and in New South Wales and in central Queensland. 1 propose to release to the Press today the main results of the economic survey of the industry. In broad terms these indicate that the bounty has made a substantial contribution to the income levels achieved in the industry. Nevertheless, these results have shown that a major part of the industry would be able to operate quite profitably without the bounty. What has happened in the Australian cotton growing industry during the five seasons of the present’ bounty scheme can only be described as a revolution. In that period production has increased from less than 6,000,000 lb of lint in 1964 to an estimated 70,000,000 lb., for the current crop. Australian average yields in the same period have risen from 180 lb of lint per acre to an estimated 950 Jb this year. Accompanying this there has been a remarkable increase in the quality of cotton produced. It has also developed from being essentially a rain grown crop mainly in Queensland to a highly mechanised crop, grown predominantly under irrigation in three States. The area of greatest expansion has been, without doubt, the Namoi area in New South Wales. In 1964 this area produced a little more than 2,000,000 lb of lint and this year it has produced about 53,000,000 lb. Agricultural development on the Ord irrigation scheme has been based on cotton and there has been a twelve-fold increase in production in that area.
With the 1968 crop the industry has, for the first time, reached the stage where it can supply, both in quantity and quality, the requirements of Australian spinners for short and medium staple cotton. In 1963-64 the value of raw cotton imports was over SI 5m; it is now reduced to less than $2im per annum. So it will be seen that the saving of foreign exchange resulting from this development of the raw cotton industry is very significant. Although in terms of actual production- the 1968 crop will1 be in excess of spinners’ total requirements, there is still a need to import the long stapled combing cottons which Australian growers have not yet succeeded in producing in any quantity. These imports represent about 15% of spinners’ needs. With new varieties at present under trial, growers are reasonably confident that they will be able eventuality to supply the bulk of Australia’s requirements of raw cotton in these grades.
When the Government introduced the current scheme with the 1964 crop, its major objective was to encourage the development of a selfcontained and economic industry by providing assistance at a level, and for a sufficiently long period, to induce the very heavy initial investment in farms, machinery and gins. An additional and important objective was to encourage the production of the grades and staples required by the Australian spinning industry, and bounty premiums were provided to give an incentive to quality production. At this stage it will be seen that in only 5 short years the Government’s objectives are well on the way to complete realisation and what might be called the first phase in the development of a selfcontained and economic raw cotton industry has been completed.
The Government’s objective in the second and final phase, which will commence with the 1969 crop, is to assist the industry to consolidate that development. In considering this second phase it is important to recognise the high capital requirements of the cotton production and marketing process. There has been a very heavy capital investment in the industry over a very short period, both on farms in expensive specialised machinery and by growers in respect to ginneries - an investment which is still continuing. A feature of the development of the industry is that it has taken place mainly in new areas and requires substantial investment in ginneries, most of which are operated by grower co-operatives with the very heavy capital expenditure being provided by growers. Storage facilities will also be important now that local requirements appear to be fully met by the local industry.
It must be remembered, however, that at this stage for only one season has production exceeded Australian requirements and that was a season with very favourable growing conditions. All seasons may not be as favourable. Moreover, as indicated earlier, bounty payments have represented a significant proportion of the gross receipts and net farm income of cotton’ producers. It has been recognised therefore that an immediate cut-off in these bounty payments would be too severe a step at this point of time, bearing in mind also that there are still considerable differences in the regional performance of the industry. The Government feels confident, however, that, with the additional assistance to be provided, the industry will achieve the necessary firm base to assure its future stability without Government assistance.
I should add that now that production in the industry has reached the levels of spinners’ requirements, the industry may need to look closely at whether some change or improvement in its marketing arrangements is required, including a voluntary equalisation scheme, which, I am given to understand, the industry is presently considering. Under the present scheme, bounty is paid only on cotton above a stipulated grade sold for use in Australia, and, whilst production was less than local demand, this did ensure an equal distribution of bounty between growers. However, it will be clear that now that production exceeds demand, such an arrangement, if continued in the second phase, could only lead to intense competition for local sales with price as the major weapon. The effect could well be that the full benefits of the bounty would not be retained by growers. To discourage this type of competition developing, the Government has decided that during the second phase the bounty should be paid on the basis of production.
As at present, cotton eligible for bounty must be above a determined quality. It is also proposed to retain the present system which provides for bounty premiums for quality cotton and, if necessary, to increase these to ensure that the incentive to aim for quality production remains. Although the new arrangements do not commence until next year, preparations for this crop must soon commence in some areas and this notification of the Government’s intentions will enable growers to proceed with confidence with their preparations.
– by leaveI wish to comment briefly on the statement made by the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony). To say that his remarks stagger me would be an understatement. 1 find it incomprehensible that a Country Party Minister - I acknowledge that the decision may be not his but a Cabinet decision - should advocate such a heavy reduction in bounty that over a period of 3 years it may be removed altogether. I do not have the latest figures, but I understand that last year we imported $74.6m worth of cotton fabrics, and in the year before $73. 8m worth of cotton fabrics. In other words, the cotton industry is divided into two parts - the growers of raw cotton and the manufacturers or spinners of cotton goods.
As far as I can see there was no statement or hint in the Minister’s speech about what the Government might do to foster a cotton industry which would embrace the growing of cotton and the manufacturing of cotton goods. The areas that will be seriously affected will be the Ord River, where there are new farmers in new areas, the Nogoa area and the general area of central Queensland, the new areas at Narrabri, and the new areas of the Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area. The Minister’s argument is based solely on the achievement of self sufficiency in the production of raw cotton. This is accepted. Self sufficiency has been more than achieved.
– At a prosperous level.
– 1 do noi disagree with that for large scale established irrigation farmers because the cotton bounty was based on rain grown or dry land cotton. Everybody knows that cotton growers in established irrigation areas are making significant profits. Farmers on the Ord have made significant profits and so have those in the Narrabri area.
Farmers who are going into irrigated areas are forced to pay for harvesters and machinery which are protected and influenced by tariffs. All the costs are influenced by domestic agreements or tariffs, and the growers are forced to produce at an import parity price which, as everybody knows, is heavily influenced by the American policy on exports of cotton. America subsidises exportable cotton and so reduces the import parity price. America denies this, but every country that is trading in competition with America knows full well that America is subsidising the export of raw cotton. I .say again that I am amazed to think that the Government has sold out the cotton producer. The Government should have examined t’.ie possibility of paying a differential bounty in the new areas of the Nogoa, the Ord, the Namoi and the MIA. It has established a motor car industry, a chemical industry and a wool textile industry. Why can it not establish a viable cotton industry also? The greatest deficiency in this country is people. One way to give people jobs is to establish secondary industries. That is what we need. We need a viable cotton industry. It has been shown that we can produce cotton at close to the import parity price. There is no reason why a sensible policy of protection such as has been applied to all other secondary industries in Australia should not be adopted to establish a viable cotton textile industry.
The bounty has been reduced from 13c to 5.8c this year. This will mean a further reduction as the ceiling is further pierced. The Minister has given no reason whatsoever, in terms of efficiency as laid down by the Tariff Board for other primary industries, why the cotton industry should not receive at least some help. Why does the dairy industry receive help? Why do the beef industry and the wool industry receive help in the form of promotion and research? Why does the wheat industry receive help under a stabilisation scheme? But the cotton industry will receive nothing, if I interpret the Minister’s statement correctly, after 3 years. This is a very serious matter. I assure the Minister that the cotton growers in central Queensland, Western Australia and northern New South Wales, other than those who arc really established, will resent this action very much. If we can establish secondary industries including a chemical industry and a motor car industry, which are both highly protected by tariffs, why can we not establish a viable cotton textile industry?
– I present the following paper:
Raw Cotton Bounty- Ministerial Statement, 25 September 1968 - and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Chancy) adjourned.
Mot ion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That Government business shall take precedence over general business tomorrow.
– I move:
The proposal involves the erection of a six storey building to accommodate laboratories for research and administrative offices for the Division. The estimated cost is $ 1,800,000. The Committee has reported favourably on the proposal, and upon the concurrence of this House in this resolution detailed planning can proceed in accordance with the recommendations of the Committee.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 19 September (vide page 1257), on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the House of Representatives approves of the redistribution of the State of New South Wales into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs F. L. Ley, C. W. Prince and R. F.
Mallon, the commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before the House of Representatives on the 18th day of September, 1968, and that the names of the divisions suggested in the report, and indicated in the map referred to therein, be adopted, except that the name ‘Kuringgai’ be substituted for ‘Hornsby’ and the name ‘Grose’ be substituted for ‘Blacktown’ and the name ‘Cook’ be substituted for ‘Kurnell’.
Amendment (by Mr Nixon) - by leave - agreed to:
Substitute ‘Berowra’ for ‘Ku-ring-gai’.
– There being no objection. I will permit that course to be followed.
– I seek the indulgence of the House to raise a matter. The proposal outlined by the Leader of the House raises certain difficulties. I think that some honourable members may wish to illustrate general principles in relation to specific States. In my own case I would have to speak twice. I do not want to inflict myself on the House twice, Mr Speaker.
– It is a matter for the honourable member to decide whether to speak once or twice. As it is the wish of the House to adopt the procedure outlined by the Leader of the House, I will permit that course to be followed. I call the Leader of the Opposition.
– I move:
That the words ‘the House of Representatives approves of the redistribution of the State of New South Wales into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs F. L. Ley, C. W. Prince and R. F. Mallon, the commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into divisions, in th:i, report laid before the House of Representatives on the 18th day of September 1968, and’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: since the distribution provides for a greater equality of population in the proposed divisions than has been allowed to develop in the existing divisions, the House of Representatives accepts the redistribution of the State of New South Wales into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs F. L. Ley, C. W. Prince and R. F. Mallon, the commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into divisions, in their report laid before the House of Representatives on the 18th day of September 1968, but does so with reluctance since the distribution:
permits a greater inequality of population in the proposed divisions than has occurred in any previous distribution;
fails to provide that as nearly as is practicable one man’s vote is to be worth as much as another’s; and
ignores the Constitution’s plain objective of making equal representation for equal numbers of people the fundamental goal for the House of Representatives, and agrees’.
This distribution is greatly overdue, lt has been overdue since the 1961 census. An enumeration certificate filed in this House on 22nd February 1962 showed that New South Wales was entitled to 45 divisions instead of 46, Victoria to 34 instead of 33, Queensland to 17 instead of 18 and Western Australia to 8 instead of 9; that South Australia should remain at 11 and that Tasmania, as an original State, should continue to have 5 divisions. That is to say, there was to be a change in the number of divisions in four out of the six States. Commissioners were appointed in April 1962 to submit proposals for a redistribution in accordance with those amended entitlements. The matter came before the House at the end of 1962, when a motion was moved by my predecessor. It was known that in an almost evenly divided House the Country Party or some of its members would support the members of my Party. The motion required two particular courses to be followed before the distribution could proceed. Firstly, it required a referendum to carry out the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review concerning the Commonwealth’s legislative machinery. Secondly, it required amendment of the Representation Act to restore as far as possible the lost divisions to those States which were deprived of them.
Thereafter, proceedings took the usual leisurely course which was common practice under the Menzies Government. In 1964 there was an amendment to the Representation Act, which was assented to before the end of that year. In February 1965 a further enumeration certificate was presented to the House restoring the lost divisions to New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia and giving an extra division to South Australia. But still there was no new distribution. Before the end of 1965 both Houses unanimously passed Bills for referendums to enable aboriginals to be counted in reckoning the numbers of people of each State and thus the numbers of their members in this House and also to permit the number of members in this House to be increased without any corresponding increase in the number of members in the other place.
At the beginning of 1966 Sir Robert Menzies retired. He was succeeded by the late Mr Holt. In the Governor-General’s Speech opening the Parliament on 8th March 1966 it was announced that the referendums would not be held. In the middle of 1966 a further census was conducted. Early last year the referendum Bills passed through the Parliament. Again they were passed unanimously in this House. The nexus referendum, however, was defeated at the end of May last year. In July of last year a further enumeration certificate was filed. It showed once again that New South Wales was due to lose a division, that Victoria and South Australia were entitled to one more division and that all other States would have the same number of divisions as they have at the moment. Still commissioners were not appointed to carry out a distribution in accordance with the requisite number of divisions. They were not appointed until February of this year. The final report of the commissioners has now come up in this House for debate and determination.
The Parliament has thus had to wait 7 years for a redistribution. During that period there have been greater movements of people and increases in population than in any period in the history of Australia. In particular, Sydney and Melbourne are now grossly under-represented in this House. For instance, roy own electorate has one-quarter of a million souls, which is almost three times the proper number of people for a Federal division. There are over 100,000 electors in the division of Werriwa, which is more than twice the proper number of electors for a Federal division. Similar examples can be quoted of other divisions in Sydney and the outer suburbs of Melbourne. This serves to show that the longer one delays doing the right thing the harder it becomes to do the right thing and the less likely one is to do the right thing.
The Constitution requires equitable representation in this House, State by State. It is no longer constitutional - the Government is aware of this and has been warned by its legal advisers - to hold a Federal election with 46 divisions in New South Wales or 33 divisions in Victoria. If an election were held for 46 divisions in New South Wales, for 33 divisions in Victoria or for both, the Attorney-General of Victoria, or an elector in Victoria could have the election declared unconstitutional. The balance of representation between the two largest States has been distorted. Furthermore, if the Representation Act was validly amended in 1964 to give an additional division to South Australia, the same course could be taken, in the event of an election, by the South Australian Attorney-General or any elector in South Australia in respect of the underrepresentation of South Australia. That is to say, there just has to be a redistribution of the divisions in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. It can no longer be delayed by amendments to the Representation Act or by further referendums. Constitutional prescription is mandatory. This Parliament, however, should also insist on equitable representation in this House, division by division. We should no more accept the principle of regional discrimination - of discrimination for or against pan. cular regions within States - than we are permitted to accept it as between States.
Tn judging these proposals we should bear In mind the reason why so far reaching a redistribution in the mainland States was necessary at all. It is because there has been a demographic revolution since 1955 when the present distribution took place. The result of these vast changes in population patterns in the last 13 years and more has been that intolerable inequalities have developed between electorates. Tremendous departures have taken place from the basic principle of equal representation. A redistribution has been enforced by the gross inequalities of representation which have arisen because of population growth and population changes. Therefore, the distribution should be judged by the degree to which it approaches equality of representation and provides as nearly as possible that equality of representation can be maintained in the face of the future and inevitable population changes which will occur before the next redistribution, which is not likely to take place before the next census in mid-1971. Clearly the present proposals are acceptable to the extent that they are immeasurably more equal than the existing distribution. If the choice is between this proposed distribution and the present boundaries, there can be no doubt that the proposals are to be preferred. Equally, however, it must be stated that the proposals fall far short of a proper application of the principle of equal representation at the present moment and they have an inbuilt tendency towards rapid and increasing inequalities as time passes’ and inevitable population changes occur.
Under these proposals for the mainland States, 6 Sydney seats, 5 Melbourne seats, 3 Brisbane seats and 2 Perth seats exceed the average number of electors in their respective States by more than 10%, while 8 rural seats in New South Wales, 3 in Queensland, 2 in Western Australia and 1 each in Victoria and South Australia fall short of the average by more than 10%. In no previous distribution have such variations been so numerous or so gross. Thirtyone divisions, a quarter of the divisions in this House, will fall short of the quota of electors by more than 10% or will exceed that quota by more than 10%.
I should make it plain that these criticisms do not contain the allegation of a gerrymander. I do assert that malapportionment has occurred.. A gerrymander is gross distortion of electoral boundaries for blatant political purposes. I cannot prove and I do not assert that this has happened in this case. What has happened here is a malapportionment - the underrepresentation of certain sections of the community at the expense of others. This is malapportionment committed under legislative sanction - the amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act made in 1965 - and committed wilh ministerial encouragement.
To fault these proposals is not to criticise the commissioners themselves but the framework within which they had to operate and the background against which they had to operate. They are all experienced public servants, particularly those in New South Wales. They cannot be expected to make recommendations which they knew a majority of the House of Representatives would reject. They cannot again be expected to make fair recommendations to a Minister if the consequence were the loss of his Party’s support and his leader’s patronage leading to his dumping by the Prime Minister. Honourable members will remember what happened to the Minister for the Interior who brought in the 1962 proposals. Two of the commissioners, the Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth and the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for New South Wales, remember that in 1962 the then Prime Minister failed to support them when they attempted a fair transfer of electorates from rural to metropolitan areas consequent upon the loss of one New South Wales division. In their own submissions in 1968 the Liberal Party baulked at abolishing 2 Country Party seats out of 45 divisions in New South Wales, although they admitted that this was the logic of their own proposals and statistics. They baulked at this step because Sir Robert Menzies would not accept abolition of 1 Country Party seat out of 46 New South Wales divisions in 1962.
On 15th March of this year the General Secretary of the New South Wales Branch of the Liberal Party wrote to the commissioners for New South Wales in the following terms:
Within the region of 14 existing rural divisions, the population trends (which now encompass only 11.7 quotas) viewed in isolation would suggest the abolition of two divisions. However, the application of sub-sections (b). (d) and (e) of section 19 (2.) in our view swings the balance of judgment in favour of the abolition of one division in this region.
The malapportionment in the case of New South Wales in these proposals flows from the fact that the commissioners did not abolish two Country Party scats in New
South Wales. It is clear from their proposals in 1962 that that is what they would have done. One Country Party seat in New South Wales was due for abolition in 1962. A second Country Party seat was due for abolition in 1968. The Liberal Party’s statistics prove that there should be an abolition of two or three Country Party seats in New South Wales. The Liberal Party itself asked in its official submission to the commissioners that only one Country Party seat be abolished in New South Wales. Is it any wonder that on this occasion the commissioners, two of them having served 6 years ago, baulked at a step repudiated 6 years ago. They knew the Liberal Party and the Country Party would combine in abolishing only one instead of two Country Party seats in New South Wales. From this flows the injustices to people in the growing centres of New South Wales. The provincial centres and the great coastal cities will be underrepresented in the next House of Representatives. The commissioners are realistsThey have had to produce reports which were realistic in terms of the party structure within this Parliament.’ Realistically, they have anticipated that the Liberals would succumb to Country Party pressure and sell out on the principle of equal representation.
I have said that no previous redistribution has made such numerous or gross variations from the quota within the States. In evidence given by the former Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth, Mr Ainsworth, to the Constitutional Review Committee, it appeared that until 20 years ago no New South Wales division had varied from the State quota of electors by as much as 10% at the time of distribution. Since then only Darling has varied by so much. In the 1 948 distribution Darling was given 13.8% fewer electors than the New South Wales quota. In the 1955 redistribution Darling was given 11.5% fewer and in the abortive 1962 redistribution it was given 13.5% fewer. Under the present proposals for New South Wales, Darling is given no less than 18.1% fewer. In addition, Riverina, Lyne, Cowper, Calare, Paterson, Hume and Gwydir have all been given 10% or more fewer. On the other hand Grayndler, Sydney, Parramatta, Wentworth, St George .and Evans have been given electorates more than 10% in excess of the quota. [Extension of time granted.] I thank the House.
The distortion is even greater if population-the people’, as the Constitution invariably refers to them, and as the Act principally refers to them - is taken as the criterion. The most populous division, Sydney, had 126,430 people at the 1966 census. The least populous division, Robertson, had 73,280. This is a difference of 72.5%. These country electorates which I quoted and which the claque applauded are not advantaged here. The electorate in New South Wales which, has the smallest population is Robertson. This is not a remote or difficult electorate. The third most populous division, Werriwa, had a population of 123,260. It has the most rapid growth rate in the State. By the time of the next election it will be the most populous electorate in the State. The second least populous division, Lyne, had 79,730, and the third least populous, Paterson, 80,170.
It is in these figures that we can see the gross and indefensible territorial discrimination contained in these proposals. In fact, the electorates below the quota are not those marked by vast areas and difficult communications. The electorate of Darling - one-third of New South Wales - is not the least populous. There are seven other divisions in New South Wales which, under these proposals will have smaller populations than Darling.
The disparity is just as marked in other States, Kalgoorlie is the largest electorate in the world, yet Moore and Canning in Western Australia have smaller populations. In Queensland, Macpherson which includes the Gold Coast, and Capricornia which is based on Rockhampton, have smaller populations than Kennedy, Maranoa or Leichhardt. In Victoria, Mallee is the largest and most remote electorate.
– One of the best..
– But for its representation. There are eight divisions in Victoria that have smaller populations than the electorate of Mallee. I hope even the Country Party will realise that this redistribution is not calculated to make it easier to represent large or remote electorates. The population factors have been disregarded; the growth factors have been disregarded.
At the same time, the reports do not make special provision for the fastest growing electorates. Electorates such as Werriwa, Cunningham, Mitchell, Prospect and Macarthur are in either the top or middle range, both in order of electors and in order of people. Yet these are the areas of New South Wales where the great population growth has occurred since 1955, and where the population growth will increasingly occur before the next redistribution. In Victoria, Lalor, Bruce, Bourke and Maroondah are already in the upper half of the divisions listed in order of people and by no means at the bottom of the list in order of electors. Under these proposals the divisions are already unequal and have been so drawn as to guarantee compounding of current inequalities at a compound rate. In New South Wales there has been a clear territorial discrimination, not in favour of vast inaccessible electorates but in favour of the medium-sized electorates such as Robertson, Lyne, Paterson, Hume and Cowper, and against Sydney electorates and the regional’ centres of Newcastle, Wollongong-Kembla and Lithgow-Bathurst.
Macquarie, on the figures provided by the Liberal Party last March to the Commissioners, is the only New South Wales electorate outside the SydneyNewcastleWollongong complex that has increased population or enrolments comparable with the State growth . since 1955. Yet Macquarie has been given more electors. It is the only electorate in the country which has been keeping , pace with the State’s growth. Accordingly it has been given more people and electors. With 99,580 people it is eleventh out of 45 in order of people and fifteenth in order of electors. The electorate of Paterson, for instance, which is the third smallest in order of people in the State, grew between 1965 and 1968 by 4.2%. Hume, which is the fourth smallest in people, declined by .2.7% between 1955 and 1968. Cowper,’ the fifth smallest in terms of population, rose by .2% between 1955 and 1968. There is no possibility of these electorates, which are right near the bottom in terms of population, ever approaching the middle range, let alone getting above it. They have been favoured; they have been privileged.
The Electoral Act of 1965 requires the Commissioners not only to Uke account of the ‘disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance’ and ‘the sparsity of population of the division’ but also ‘the trend of population changes within the State’ and the density of population of the division’. These two latter considerations have every bit as much weight as the two former. They have not been given anything like the same weight in the proposals. The Minister who sponsored the amending Act, the present Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony), is reported in Hansard for 26th May 1 965 as having said:
The population of a division includes children, migrants and everybody in the area.
In the same speech he said:
It is up to the Distribution Commissioners to try to determine what the mean number of electors will bc during a- S-year period and to try to ensure that it remains at about the same level as the quota.
The Commissioners in New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland have been assiduous in ascertaining and allowing for likely, enrolment changes in only one area, the inner metropolitan electorates. They have freely allowed for the anticipated decline in enrolments in these areas by giving these electorates very large populations, as in Grayndler, Sydney, Melbourne, Wills, Darebin, Melbourne Ports, Brisbane and Griffith. They have wiped out Dalley, Parkes. Watson and East Sydney in New South Wales and Yarra, Seullin, Isaacs and Fawkner in Victoria. Thus, in the case of inner city electorates, eight seats have been abolished because of declining or static enrolment. The fact that most of these electorates contain very large numbers of unenrolled migrants has been ignored. But static enrolment or declining population in other areas has met with no comparable loss. One rural scat has been abolished in New South Wales because - and merely because - the State has lost one seat.
The Act deliberately uses the words ‘the trend of population changes’ instead of such words as ‘the trend of enrolment changes’. The Commissioners have consistently paid more weight to the trend of enrolment changes than of population changes and in doing so have consistently penalised cities and centres. I speak with some feeling on this matter. In my own electorate only 42.92% of the population is enrolled. There are some electorates where 65% of the population was enrolled at the time of the last census. In my electorate the average age of the population is 6 or 7 years lower than the Australian average. Half the population in my electorate is under age 21. This applies to the outer suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne. It will apply, as the next census will reveal, to the outer suburbs of Brisbane and Adelaide as well. In truth the commissioners are being incited to disregard migrants and young families.
The Australian Labor Party has consistently advocated the principle of equal representation and has pressed it in this House and in the other House on every appropriate occasion. Basically it is a question of opposition to discrimination and privilege. Regional discrimination is probably the most irrational of all forms of discrimination. Over-representation of regional interests is one of the least defensible of all forms of privilege.
-Order! The honourable member’s lime has expired.
– May 1 have a short extension of time?
– Mr Speaker. 1 move:
That a very short extension of time be granted the Leader of the Opposition.
-Order! The practice of the House allows for one extension of time only. If a second extension is sought then I think the Standing Orders will have to bc suspended.
– I will not press for it.
– I do nol propose to traverse in any detail the arguments advanced by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) in support of the contention that country electorates should not have a smaller number of voters than electorates in the city. This has been canvassed over a long period in these kinds of discussions, and the arguments in favour of country electors being able to have a representative with a smaller number of voters are well known to this House. I would perhaps be more impressed by the devotion of the Leader of the Opposition to to ‘the principle of one vote one value were it not for a submission which he himself made to the commissioners in New South Wales because, Mr Speaker, he made a submission asking that 4,000 voters should be taken out of the electorate of Prospect and added to the electorate of Reid thus making Reid the largest electorate in the State of New South Wales. Under the original proposals of the commissioners the difference between Darling and Grayndler, to which the Leader of the Opposition has referred, was 40.16%, and to this he takes the objections we have just heard. Under the proposals made by the Leader of the -Opposition to the commissioners the difference between Darling and Reid would have been 43.6%, a much greater difference than the one to which he objected. Not bad going for one so devoted to one vote one value!
All I wish to say is that the motion which we now debate stems from the 1966 census and, as a result of that census, the Chief Electoral Officer, in pursuance of the provisions of the Representation Act, took action to determine the numbers of members of the House of Representatives to be chosen in the several States. I think there is no argument and no discussion but that this was done and properly done. We have known for long - and this, too, is admitted by all sides - that gross inadequacies have arisen between the various electorates. For example, the electorate of Mitchell in New South Wales had an enrolment in May 1968 of 109,000 and West Sydney had an enrolment of 29,000. The electorates of Bruce and Lalor in Victoria had enrolments of 130,000 and 123,000 respectively as compared with Melbourne and Scullin which both had enrolments of approximately 30,000. These figures are indicative of the population movements which demanded, and demand, a re-distribution of electorates, and they are full justification for the actions taken by the Government in taking steps to see that such a re-distribution was recommended.
The reports of the distribution commissioners for each State and for the redistribution of the boundaries inside ‘ each : State into electoral divisions are now before us, and it is these to which the Leader of the Opposition takes objection. The com- missioners alone have the power to lay down the actual boundaries proposed for electorates, but the House has the power to decide whether those recommendations shall or shall not be accepted. I am sure, and it is inevitable that this would be so, that there are some members of Parliament who consider that the re-distribution could and should have been effected in some different way, particularly if it has some effect on a particular electorate in which they are interested. But on the whole I think that most members will believe, as the Government believes and as has indeed been admitted by the Leader of the Opposition, that the commissioners have done their work conscientiously, and that an impartial observer would consider that they had done it without bias, taking Australia as a whole.
– Mr Speaker, I object to a remark made by the. honourable member for East Sydney about riding instructions. I think it is a remark objectionable to the commissioners, to the Prime Minister and to the Government and 1 ask for its withdrawal.
-Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member for East Sydney will cease interjecting. I understand that he is to speak during this debate, so I. suggest that he refrain from interjecting.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. Just as there was no point, of order so there were no riding instructions, as the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine) well knows. The necessary statutory requirements of the Act - and some honourable member interjected _ ‘What about the Act itself?’; but the Aci was passed by the Parliament in both Houses - have been met and there is no suggestion, even from the Leader of the Opposition, that these necessary statutory requirements have not been met. All he is objecting to is that the provisions of an Act of Parliament have been applied by commissioners appointed to do an independent job. This is the second time since the last redistribution of the seats of this House that the umpires - if I may put it that way - have “presented their recommendations as to- how the seats in the various States of Australia should be redistributed. The Government believes that the decisions of the umpires should be accepted, and should be accepted throughout Australia.
There are two aspects of the reports to which I should like to make special reference, however. The first aspect - and this, I think, ought to be a subject on which all members in this House can take a common view - concerns the naming of electorates. The naming of divisions has never been a task imposed upon distribution commissioners. They have done it, but it has not been a task imposed upon them. When they bring their reports forward, for the purposes of identification they have, in the past and on this occasion, recommended their own names for divisions. The Government regards the names which have been proposed at this time as satisfactory in all but a few cases. Honourable members will note that some changes are proposed in respect of electorates in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. For example, in Victoria it is proposed that the name Isaacs be substituted for Beaumaris. But what has concerned us is that at the present time the distribution commissioners give names to divisions without any real guidance whatsoever from this Parliament. The naming of electorates may well need to take into consideration questions of geographical affiliation and historical affiliation, whether names which otherwise might disappear for electorates should be preserved, the question of Aboriginal names for particular electorates and matters of this kind. The Government is therefore going to propose that there should be set up a committee of this House - four members to be appointed by the Prime Minister and three to be appointed by the Leader of the Opposition - to consider these matters and in the future recommend from this House to the Commissioners the names which might be considered appropriate when such an exercise is again carried out.
The second aspect of this matter to which I wish to refer is that in two States - New South Wales and Queensland - minority statements have been made by individual commissioners, and these minority statements have been tabled for the information of the members of this House. But, Mr Speaker, they do not themselves constitute reports of the distribution commissioners which, within the terms of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, the Parliament may accept or reject. The only report which may be accepted or rejected in each case is the report of the commissioners, notwithstanding that in two cases it is a majority report only. As I have said, the statements of reason for dissent have been tabled. They have no higher status than that.
Mr Speaker, the Government’s view is that the report for each State should be approved. We may be dissatisfied with some. The Opposition may be dissatisfied with some. But a redistribution is overdue. Good government requires that electorates should be brought more into line. The Government does not believe that parties in this House should seek to pick and choose between the reports of the commissioners in the various States, but that the reports for all States should be accepted. So on behalf of the Government I commend all the motions to the House. I remind the House that it has been freely admitted by the Leader of the Opposition that the requirements of the Electoral Act have been fulfilled by the commissioners and that it can be nothing more than a matter of personal opinion, in which he and I disagree with each other, as to whether seats in country areas, spread over vast amounts of land, should not reasonably be permitted to have a smaller number of electors than small seats inside metropolitan areas which are easily looked after by the representative concerned.
– -Order! The honourable member for Newcastle will cease interjecting.
– I wish I could hear him.
– I will say it again.
– Order! I warn the honourable member for Newcastle.
– The honourable member for Newcastle, I hope, will vote for the redistribution in New South Wales - I expect he will - but in either case, we as a Government believe - and we put this belief before the people - that the proper machinery has been carried out, that the commissioners who are required to recommend a redistribution have done so in accordance with the terms of the Act and that, to finish with a phrase I have used before, the reports of an impartial umpire should be accepted by this Parliament to enable a redistribution to take place.
– Is the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– The original question was:
That the motion moved by the Minister for the Interior be agreed to, to which the Leader of the Opposition has moved, as an amendment:
That the words ‘the House of Representatives approves of the redistribution of the State of New South Wales into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs F. L. Ley, C. W. Prince and R. F. Mallon, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into Divisions, in their Report laid before the House of Representatives on the 18th day of September, 1968, and’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: since the distribution provides for a greater equality of population in the proposed ‘Divisions than has been allowed to develop in the existing Divisions, the House of Representatives accepts the redistribution of the Slate of New. South Wales into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs F. L. Ley, C. W. Prince and R. F. Mallon, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into Divisions, in their Report laid before the House of Representatives on the 18th day of September, 1968, but does so with reluctance since the distribution:
permits a greater inequality of population in the proposed Divisions than has occurred in any previous distribution;
fails to provide that as nearly as is practicable one man’s vote is to be worth as much as another’s; and
ignores the Constitution’s plain objective of making equal representation for equal numbers of people the fundamental goal for the House of Representatives, and agrees’.
The question now is:
That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.
– I raise a point of order. I do not wish to canvass your ruling, Mr Speaker. I first want to ascertain what your ruling is. Is it your ruling that the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition and seconded by the honourable member for Cunningham is in order?
– I believe so. Could you inform me on what grounds you would consider it is not in order?
– I put to you that the House should not entertain an amendment to a motion when the proposed amendment will have no effect different tothe motion before the House. The motion before the House, if agreed to, will have the effect of adopting the redistribution proposal. If the proposed amendment is passed it will still have the same effect of adopting the redistribution proposal. All that is put in by the proposed amendment are prolix expressions which have no meaning, other than to prosper some unknown political view of the Leader of the Opposition. But let us suppose that the House were asked to vote on this amendment. If the House votes against it, it means it is voting against the adoption of the report.. Whatis the consequence of that? What you, Mr Speaker, are really committing the House to do is to vote for the amendment, because it must be put first. You are asking the House to vote for the amendment if the House is in favour of the original motion. I would submit to you that it is a completely undesirable amendment and one which you ought to rule out of order.
– I believe that ‘ the amendment is relevant to the morion. What the House is required to do is to vote for or against the fact that the words stand part of the question. The question now is:
That the words proposed to be omitted stand part of the question.
If that is carried, the question will be that the motion be agreed to.
– Mr Speaker, if you would permit me, I think, perhaps, you have not quite captured my point. The essence of the submission I make to you is that anybody who’ wants to have the redistribution accepted will have the first question put to him: Are you in favour of these words? The situation then will be that people who are in favour of adopting the redistribution will find themselves in difficulty.
– If I may just interrupt the Minister, the question is that the words stand part of the question.
– So what there is, in fact, before the Chair is a substantive initial motion which is in favour of the adoption of the distribution commissioners’ report. You are now proposing to accept an amendment which also is in favour of the adoption of the report by the distribution commissioners. It is an amendment which does not achieve a result.
– The requirement under the Standing Orders is that the amendment shall be relevant to the motion. This amendment is relevant to the motion. That is the only requirement.
– Not only is it relevant, Mr Speaker; it will achieve the same purpose. Therefore it is not a proper amendment.
-It is not the purpose of the Chair to interpret the meaning of the amendment. The purpose of the Chair is to see that the amendment complies with the Standing Orders. I rule that it does.
– Mr Speaker, surely the substance of this discussion is that we either accept or reject the report of the distribution commissioners. What is happening in effect is that the Leader of the Opposition is asking the House to accept an amendment which seeks to change the report. As I understand the Commonwealth Electoral Act, this Parliament can only accept or reject the report.
– It has been the practice and custom of this House to accept amendments of this kind. The relevant standing order is standing order 173, which states:
Every amendment must be relevant to the question which it is proposed to amend.
I have already ruled that this amendment is relevant to the motion. It is not the duty of the Chair to interpret the effect of a particular amendment or motion. It is the duty of the Chair to rule whether the amendment is within the custom and practice of the House, or in accordance with the Standing Orders, and I have ruled accordingly.
– Mr Speaker, I am not rising to a point of order; I am merely asking your interpretation of what will happen as a result of the ruling you have given. We have before us an amendment which will be put to the House. The amendment calls for the adoption of the report of the distribution Commissioners with other persiflage added. Should the House vote against the amendment, would you then regard that vote as being a vote against the adoption of the distribution commissioners’ report or would you then put the original motion? It is vital for us to know this.
– If the amendment is defeated, then the original motion naturally must be put.
- Mr Speaker, I understand you have settled the issue relating to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). We have listened to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) speaking for about 10 minutes in praise of the redistribution proposals. There is no doubt that the proposals suit the Government. They suit the Liberal Party and they suit the Australian Country Party. As the proposals suit the Country Party, which was instrumental in having the right honourable gentleman elected as Prime Minister, it is quite natural that he should support them in this House. I believe that the proposals relating to New South Wales are a complete gerrymander. Many seats have been made safe for the Government parties at the expense of the Australian Labor Party. Whilst the status quo has been held for the Country Party, there is no doubt that the voting power in city areas has been reduced.
For support of what I have just said one has only to look at the report of the distribution commissioners and to study the proposals submitted for New South Wales by the Liberal Party. The Liberal Party had research officers moving about the State for 12 months. They worked out redistribution proposals and then submitted them on behalf of the Party. There is no doubt that, the distribution commissioners, without going into any of the other effects of the proposals, realised that they were the submissions of the Liberal Party - in other words, the submissions of the Government - and accepted them as they stood. I do not care what anybody says; I think that the distribution commissioners were under instructions from the Government. They accepted those instructions and presented proposals which would be acceptable to the Government.
The Government realises that, so far as a change of government is concerned, New South Wales is the key State. Therefore, what it has done has been to make sure that it will retain seats which were held by the Labor Party prior to the election of 1961. It has set out to ensure that it would be virtually impossible for the Labor Party to regain those seats. The commissioners have placed all the votes, or eggs if you so like to describe them, for the Labor Party in one basket. They have virtually said: ‘You can bave those seats. But as for the swinging seats which you held previously, you will have to catch us.’ The commissioners have done this by manipulating sub-divisions. Sub-divisions have been transferred to swinging electorates to make those electorates virtually safe for the sitting members.
Let us consider the division of Lowe, which is now held by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon). The distribution commissioners took into that division an area across the river. They included another subdivision to make that seat safe for the Treasurer because be got a hell of a shock at the 1961 election. He does not want to have in face a similar shock again. Probably the greatest shock he ever received was when he lost the Prime Ministership earlier this year. Let us look at the electorate of Phillip, which is held by you, Mr Speaker. Another 800 voters have been included in that electorate because apparently you did not think that the 2,500 voters added under the first proposal were sufficient. You wrote to the Commissioners and they decided to give you more. If one also looks at the electorates of Evans and St George one sees that subdivisions have been included to make those seats safe for the LiberalAustralian Country Party Government.
The Government realises that New South Wales is the vital State. It has acted to ensure that it will not lose any seats in New South Wales. It has done so at the expense of the Labor Party, not at the expense of the Liberal and Country parties. The Prime Minister came into this Parliament and defended the redistribution proposals. Quite naturally he agrees with them. He agrees with them because he wants to retain the Prime Ministership and he realises that he can do so if these proposals are accepted. The Government may lose a few seats but it may not. I want to read part of one proposal that was submitted by Mr Malcolm Mackerras, who was on the staff of the Prime Minister when the right honourable gentleman was a member of another place across Kings Hall. Mr Mackerras, in the first few lines of his submission to the distribution commissioners, said:
First, may 1 congratulate you upon your excellent redistribution of New South Wales. I have, however, two objections to offer.
This man now works as a research officer for the Liberal Party. If this is not enough to indicate that the proposals submitted by the Liberal Party have been accepted and that everybody within the Party is happy, then I do not know what is. I think the proposals represent a con act, although probably our gaols are full of better con men than those who are out of gaol.
I repeat that 1 believe the distribution commissioners have been riding under instructions and have presented these proposals to suit the Government. The situation is developing in Australia where government will not depend on votes. We have two houses of Parliament; we have the House of Representatives and the Senate. We find thai votes which elect members to the House of Representatives are not equal in value. For Senate elections, every vote in every State is of equal value. But that does not apply to the House of Representatives. Votes should, as near as practicable, be equal in value. Irrespective of the interjections that are now coming from those honourable members who represent the sheep and the goats, a situation will develop in Australia which will suit certain people. We, as a Parliament, should not accept the view of those persons. To my mind the proposals are unconstitutional. The value of the votes of people who live in city areas is being affected to benefit those people who represent country areas. I do not accept the claim that members of Parliament representing country areas are adversely affected by inadequate communications and other problems. In my opinion most members representing country electorates reside in the cities. They visit their electorates only when it suits them - perhaps once a month. If being a member of Parliament is such a bad job, why do they not resign? If their job takes so much of their time why do they not resign? They cry about the distances which they have to cover in order to get around their electorates and they bemoan the inadequacy of transport facilities, but I do not see any of them resigning from the Parliament because the job is too hard. I refuse to accept that the vote of a city dweller is not equal to that of a country dweller. The quotas for the Labor held seats in Sydney differ from the quotas for the country seats in
New South Wales. The city area has only one electorate more than the country area and you cannot tell me that this is fair representation.
In determining the boundaries for the proposed electorate of Sydney the Commissioners have erred. They have not given full consideration to population figures. There are 126,000 people living in the electorate of Grayndler, 60,000 of whom are on the roll. The Parliament has always said that Australia wants more migrants. We arc constantly encouraging people to settle in this country. The majority of newcomers take up residence in the city areas. They do not go to the country areas because they cannot get decent wages there. The cockies will not pay a decent living wage. They want their employees to work from sun-up to sundown and to live on the smell of an oily rag. So migrants settle in the cities, where working conditions are better due to the activities of the trade union movement. Some of these migrants are not naturalised and others do not qualify for naturalisation. But notwithstanding that these people are not enrolled as electors, the member for the electorate in which they live must still act as their representative. He cannot treat them as second class citizens. If these people have problems they take them to their member, and he must deal with those problems. What regard did the Commissioners pay to migrants falling into that category? I submit none. The seats in the near city areas, where the majority of migrants live, are the ones most affected by the redistribution proposals. We treat some migrants in these areas as second class citizens. We do not recognise them as members of the community. The report of the Constitutional Review Committee has been set aside by the Commissioners. Why was this done? Perhaps the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) will give an explanation. I would like to know whether the Commissioners paid any regard to the report of the Constitutional Review Committee.
I have said that as far as New South Wales is concerned the proposals amount to nothing more than a gerrymander. The Country Party Minister for the Interior and the Country Party Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) may treat this matter as a great joke, because their attitude is that the fewer people there are in country electorates the fewer people they have to look after. This will mean that they do not have to spend too much time in their electorates. Their view is that city seats should be enlarged, making it easier for the Government to win more seats in country areas. Some country electorates contain so few people that two should have been amalgamated into one or perhaps three divided into two electorates. But because of the power which the Country Party holds over the Government, the Government has had to back down and agree to the Country Parly’s proposals. This Parliament has regularly bestowed on country people benefits in the form of taxation concessions and subsidies for inefficient industries, and under these proposals the Country Party will benefit and city electorates will suffer. The majority of the concessions and benefits which country people enjoy are paid for by city dwellers. The Commissioners paid no regard to slum clearance programmes currently proceeding in inner city areas. Within the next few months a further 2,000 people will take up residence in the proposed electorate of Sydney, but the Commissioners have paid no regard to this fact. The fact that three or four migrant families live in one home has not been considered by the Commissioners. I believe in the principle of one vote one value. Until the Parliament accepts that principle we will never have a distribution of electorates that is fair to any Party.
The proposals are designed only for the benefit of the Government. The Government knows that it must retain control of the treasury bench because if Labor is returned to office it will expose to the people this Government’s maladministration in many spheres. So the Government has set about the task of ensuring that it is returned to office. The only way to do this is by manipulating electorates. The Commissioners have submitted minority reports in respect of Queensland and New South Wales. The minority report in respect of New South Wales is hardly worth mentioning. If we do not do something now about the redistribution proposals a most unsatisfactory situation will exist for a long time. Rather than have redistribution proposals presented as they are now it may be better for a committee of this Parliament, under the chairmanship of the Speaker and comprising members from both sides of the Parliament, to examine the matter and submit proposals. At least it would then be possible to have discussions around the conference table and to put submissions to the committee. If we leave redistribution to commissioners there is no doubt that they will do as they are requested by the government of the day.
The matters to which I have referred are important. There is no doubt that as far as New South Wales is concerned the proposals amount to nothing more than a gerrymander. The Leader of the Opposition has moved an amendment, pointing out that the proposals fail to provide, as nearly as practicable, that one man’s vote shall be worth as much as another man’s vote. This is a principle which should be emphasised in the Parliament. Every vote should be equal, irrespective of where the voter lives. Until this principle is accepted we will not get electoral justice in New South Wales.
– I have listened for some moments to the rather rash and wild statements and accusations made by the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine), but in the circumstances I. do not take them seriously. I feel a little sorry for the honourable member because he is one of the unfortunate casualties of the redistribution proposals. We all suffer when there is a redistribution. We all are affected to varying degrees - some to the extent of having their electorates eliminated. I rose to my feet to speak on behalf of the Australian Country Party and to state its point of view on the redistribution. The Country Party believes that the redistribution has been fairly and justly carried out in accordance with the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Some members of the Australian Country Party are not happy because they have been affected personally. As a Party we have lost completely the opportunity to represent one rural seat in New South Wales. We have suffered quite severely. But we believe that a redistribution was long overdue. It is regrettable that it has taken so long to have one; if it had been delayed any longer, it would have been a national disgrace. The imbalance of representation between electorates at the moment is of such magnitude that it cannot be permitted to continue any longer. This redistribution has been carried out by commissioners who have acted independently and honourably and have done their job to the letter of the law. Fewer aspersions or doubts have been cast on the commissioners in this redistribution than in any previous redistribution in the Commonwealth. This is mainly because of amendments that were introduced to the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
I listened patiently to the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) this afternoon, and 1 was somewhat amazed by the attitude he adopted when he interpreted the diminution of rural seats as being an elimination of Country Party seats. He continued on this line; he harped persistently on the fact that this was being done to Country Party seats. I suppose .one may be allowed a little latitude in thinking this way. I can understand the Labor Party’s reason for suggesting that all the seats affected are Country Party seats, because in New South Wales the Labor Party receives such poor support from the rural areas that it holds only two rural seats. Of the 15 rural seats 9 are held by the Country Party, but that does not give the Country Party a greater monopoly over particular seats than it gives to any other party in Australia.
Over the last 3 or 4 years I have seen and heard accusations made, particularly in articles by columnists in the newspapers, that it was the Country Party which rejected the last redistribution proposal’s that came before this House. That is not strictly correct. The Country Party alone could not have rejected the proposals. The Country Party together with the Labor Party rejected the previous proposals. My leader, the Minister for Trade and Industry (Mr McEwen), stated at that time ‘ the reasons why he did not agree with the proposals. He contended that the numbers in this House would have been reduced from 122 to 120 and that the big States of New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia would have lost a seat and Victoria would have gained one. He also pointed out that there would be a loss of rural representation because the three seats to be eliminated were all in rural areas. He said that the commissioners had not given sufficient consideration to the provisions in the Act relating to tolerance. He stated that in certain of the proposals there was not the community of interest that there should have been.
The Leader of the Opposition at the time, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), made some statements that were supported by my leader. The right honourable member for Melbourne suggested that a redistribution should be carried out in New South Wales because of the wide difference in enrolments and because sufficient attention had not been given to population movements and trends. He said that the number of seats should not be reduced and that the Representation Act should be amended to avoid the toss of seats. Both the Minister for Trade and Industry and the then Leader of the Opposition criticised the composition of the electorate of Capricornia in Queensland, which had an electoral population of 56,000, 8,000 above the quota. Capricornia had one of the highest quotas in Australia but it was a very large rural electorate. The right honourable member for Melbourne said that this was outrageous.
The Country Party accepts the proposals put forward by the electoral commissioners in all States, but it does suggest that continual diminution of rural representation is a tragedy. In a country which depends so heavily upon rural industries for its development, standard of living and progress, it is a tragedy that rural representation should be declining. This is one of the unfortunate circumstances of the day. We suggested that clearer guide lines should be laid down for the electoral commissioners in determining the degree of tolerance, and this was duly carried out. There was no alteration of or departure from the existing procedure but it was more clearly defined under section 19 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. Provision was made in the Act for the following matters to be taken into consideration: Community of interests, including economic, social and regional interests; means of communication and travel, with special reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance; the trend of population changes within the State; the density or sparsity of population; the area, physical features and existing boundaries of divisions. These provisions made it clearer to the commissioners how the Act was to be applied.
As a result of those amendments this present redistribution has been carried out more appropriately.
The amendments I have mentioned were not the only ones made. An amendment to the Representation Act has enabled Queensland and Western Australia to retain a . seat. Unfortunately New South Wales lost a seat because it did not have the same proportional growth of population as had some of the other States. One of the other major significant alterations that was made and which caused less doubt to be cast on a redistribution provided that all evidence was to be presented in writing. The evidence was to be made public to give an opportunity for anybody to submit evidence in rebuttal. Everything was to be done in the full light of day. It was quite pleasing to hear the Leader of the Opposition say this afternoon that the redistribution was not a gerrymander. That is the first such admission we have had from him. He said that any variations from the quotas are not the result of a gerrymander. Of course, he did use a new word that he thought would damage the integrity and veracity of the proposition that has been put forward. It was a nice descriptive word. He saidthat a malapportionment had been made. This is typical of the Leader of the Opposition. A gerrymander is a manipulation of boundaries, an underhanded action to benefit one party or a group of people by rigging electorates. The Act docs not allow for any political party to be favoured. It does provide for a weighting in favour of voters in country areas, but country electorates are held by all parties.
-Is that not a gerrymander?
– It does not give the Country Party an advantage over any other party. All parties’ have an opportunity to contest these seats. Apparently, the Labor Party is prepared to admit that its policies are not sufficiently well blended to win the support of country voters. Is that what the honourable member is implying? If it is, I am interested to hear him make this admission. The Act insists that a redistribution shall be carried out at every stage in the full light of the facts. The tolerance provision has been in the Act since Federation. It ‘ has not been changed. The Act provides that the population of a division shall not be more than 20% above or below the quota. This provision was in the Act 20 years before the Country Party came into existence, so the accusation should not be made that it is designed to benefit the Country Party. Its purpose is to give those people who live outside the great metropolitan areas of this country some chance of having a voice in this House that is comparable with the voices from metropolitan areas.
– Why do you not put your office in your electorate?
– Is that the only criterion that the honourable member has? He is really getting on to frail ground when that is the only criterion he has by which to accuse a Minister.
– When you were a private member you had your office in Martin Place.
– Order! The honourable member for Newcastle should cease interjecting.
– Surely the criterion is how a member can best represent his electorate. 1 know how I can best represent my electorate. I think I have proved this over the years by the support that I have received from my electorate. The Labor Party has expounded high sounding theories about the democratic ideal of representation. Its spokesmen use the phrase ‘one vote one value’. I have no complaint about that, but the Labor Party seems to interpret it as meaning one man one vote. The Labor Party wants what is known in America as SIN, which means the same in numbers in all electorates. This, of course, is purely academic and theoretical. If this were to be the criterion used for redistributions there would have to be a redistribution every year to make up for the population changes that take place. Obviously this would be impossible. Real democratic representation, real equality of representation or real equality in the value of votes are achieved by ensuring that all honourable members in this House have an equal opportunity to represent the people in their electorates. The size of some electorates makes adequate representation very difficult. Surely it cannot be said that an honourable member who represents a city electorate, who can look out his office window and see over the whole of his electorate, who can walk to meet any of his electors or whose electors can walk to see him, has as difficult a task as does the member for an enormous electorate like Kalgoorlie, which is 1,500 miles long by about 1,000 miles wide, or Mallee, which is about 300 miles long by 200 miles wide. Is that equal opportunity of representation? Of course it is not. Circumstances differ from electorate to electorate across the nation.
If there is to be any equality of representation factors such as size of electorates must be taken into consideration. They are taken into consideration under the Act. That is why there is a tolerance of 20% above or below the quota. The Constitution was not framed so as to enforce equality of numbers in electorates. Why, the Constitution lays down that in Tasmania, irrespective of the number of electors, there shall be a minimum of five electorates. The numbers of electors in Tasmania electorates have never come up to the quota.
I heard the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine) say that we should have the Senate type of representation in the House of Representatives. Surely that type of argument cannot be used. In NSW one senator represents 600,000 people compared to 17,000 in Tasmania. There must be variations because of circumstances. If there were no variations it would be, I believe, a flagrant violation of what the Act is trying to achieve in the way of one vote one value. In this Parliament we try to represent more than just numbers. We try to represent the problems, needs and opinions of people. I notice that in his Budget speech this year the Leader of the Opposition concentrated almost entirely on looking after the interests of the people in metropolitan areas, the people with whom he is concerned. I have no quarrel with that. Of course, the Labor Party’s policies are blended to suit the people in metropolitan areas whereas the Country Party’s policies are blended to look after the interests of people in country areas and it will fight to see that people in country areas are given fair representation in this Parliament.
Tha Country Party wants equality of representation - equality in the measure of representation that can be given to the constituents. This cannot be achieved under the practical realities of the situation in which electorates are of different sizes. To cling to the theory or the high sounding phrase that there should be equal numbers in each electorate is to ignore the circumstances that apply. The Labor Party takes an attitude of self-interest and selfishness, lt thinks only about the people it represents, lt ignores the fact that people in country areas are going through difficult times. If ever there was a need for more rural representation in this Parliament it is today. All primary industries have enormous problems to cope with and costs are going up, yet if the Labor Party’s proposition is accepted by this Parliament it will mean that fewer people will represent the vital industries that help to keep Australia on its present overall economic basis.
Mr BRYANT (Wills) 5.8]- The Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) has spent 20 minutes explaining why he and his Party, the Australian Country Party, have for the first time in the political history of Australia taken definite steps to ensure that the wiK of the majority of the Australian people is subverted. He has admitted by his demonstration here that the incapacity of the members of his own Party is the reason why more Country Party members are needed to represent the same number of people. I have never heard such nonsense as we heard from him today. If this sort of thing were to happen in a trade union election the police would be called in and certain people would go to gaol. Only one principle should prevail here and that is that the will of the majority shall prevail.
The only way the will of the majority shall prevail is by giving the people an equal chance to elect a representative to this House. Then the House can divide and reach a majority decision. Any trespass upon that principle is a trespass upon the development of Australia’s political democracy. There is only one way that democracy can work in Australia and that is that each one of us shall be considered equal. The Minister for Primary Industry and the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) know that they do not rate a row of beans amongst those whom I represent and that whilst the Labor
Party can obtain 25% of the votes in their electorates they would not save their deposits in my electorate. The Minister for Primary Industry is concerned only with his own peculiar sectional interest. He talks about the light of day, but he made sure that this mat:er would be debated when the proceedings of the House were not being broadcast. The light of day? Why, the Government put the last amendments to the Electoral Act 3 years ago through this House in the dead of night.
The last thing that the Minister would want to do is to take this matter out into the light of clay and hold a referendum on it. The only time the people of Australia had a chance to vote on this was in the 1952 State election in Victoria and the Country Party and Liberal Party were almost liquidated. In a House of sixty-six members the Country Party ended up with 9 seats and the Liberal Party with 13. The issue that faced the’ people of Victoria from Cape Howe to the South Australian border was whether everybody’s vote should have the same value. Let us go out and face the electorate on this issue. 1 have never heard such nonsense. What we are doing here is building the doctrine of the Country Party interest in this House into law. What we want is equality of opportunity for all the people of Australia to speak here and to be heard. If the Minister cannot represent his electorate properly, if he cannot represent 58,000 voters, . which is the same number as I have, or 111,000 people, which is the number I am supposed to represent under this proposal, why does he not leave the House and let somebody who is capable of doing it represent his electorate? In the history of the Australian Parliament many members have been able to represent an electorate such as his.
This is an act of stealth. It will permit the continuation of the conservative interests which presently govern the country. The Minister asked: ‘Could we have equal electorates?’ Of course we could have equal electorates. This is ohe of the best administered countries in the world. I am careful to say ‘administered’ and not ‘governed’. We have an infinite capacity to administer and to find the people to do so. I rang the electoral officer and 1 asked him: ‘How many people are there between street A and street B in my new electorate?’ lt will be my new electorate if I am endorsed for it. as I presume I will be. He looked up the cards and within a few moments was able to say: ‘1,600’. It is surely possible to draw a boundary so that the number of electors will be within 100 of the quota. In fact in 1 955, the distribution commissioners’ report shows that of the 33 electorates in Victoria 21 were within 1,000 of the quota, 11 in the country and 10 in the city. There is no difficulty whatsoever in doing this. If the distribution commissioners were fold that there had to be 51.236 voters in each electorate, give or take 100, there would be no physical, geographical or statistical difficulty in meeting the requirement and the Minister knows this full well.
Of course he says we would need a redistribution every year. How long is it since he was an advocate of annual elections? He is a latter day Chartist. Of course there would be no difficulty in having a redistribution every 3 years if this were necessary. This is a piece of administrative nonsense, and he knows it. -He knows that every argument he used this afternoon is invalid and irrelevant to a - democratic community. He said that country members have to represent large spaces and therefore there should be some gradation iti the size of electorates. Wills is 10 square miles. It does not matter if it has 111,000 people. Personally I do not care how many voters I have in my electorate, so long as they vote Labor, and I have no doubt they will continue to do so.
– What about the people the honourable member represents?
– I represent them adequately. They are very pleased about it. Some other electorates are 10,000 square miles. Therefore, this man is one; another is three-quarters and someone else two-thirds. Why not have ten seats in Kalgoorlie to meet the argument used here this afternoon? But that is different. It has Labor representation and a long history of Labor representation. Why not do it in Grey? For a long time it has been represented by Labor and it will be after the next election. The Government is very careful, but of course the fact is that, if we tinker with the electoral system in Australia, we tinker with the integrity of this Parliament. Since 1910 the electors have voted pretty equally for Labor and non-Labor. There has been a swing of 5% or 6% one way or the other. But a swing of 5% or 6% makes a difference between a party being in government or not and it has done for the last 67 years. Any person who tinkers with the machinery of elections in any way is subverting the will of the Australian people and is tinkering with the machinery of Australian democracy.
It is true that in the country areas of Queensland the Labor Party gets a large vote. We hold as much of the country areas as other parties do and traditionally a good deal of the time we have done better in country areas than our political opponents have. This has applied in Tasmania and also to Western Australia. But most of the people of Australia live in Victoria and New South Wales. There are 3 million people in Victoria and 4 million in New South Wales. If the electoral system and the electoral boundaries are altered so that the votes of the country people of New South Wales and Victoria, particularly along the Murray Valley in Victoria, are weighted, they are weighted in favour of the Country Party.
I have been in politics long enough to have some respect for people who can organise good electoral activity, and I pay > this compliment to the members of the Country Party. Their organisation, as I see it, in those areas that they hold is first class. But that does not alter the fact that the area along the Murray River in Victoria is a Country Party voting area. Along Sydney Road in Melbourne it is a Labor voting area. If more electorates are formed along Sydney Road, Labor is given the advantage. Tf more electorates are formed along the Murray River, the Country Party is given the advantage. The only way that redistribution can be made fair in a community that has always said that fairness is one of its permanent inbuilt standards is to ensure that each electorate is of the same size, and then let the electorate decide. I believe that here today we are subverting Australian political democracy.
Let us look at the history of political representation. It has been a long history of parliamentary struggle to get equality of representation. We know of the ancient rotten boroughs of England, the inbuilt ones that could be bought, the trading of seats in Parliament and so on. For centuries the struggle went on to give the people an equal sa”. In 1832 there was a major change, but still we did not have manhood sufferage. It was a long battle to give people equality as men on the electoral lists; then to have women admitted as equals on the electoral lists; and then to get equality in numbers on the electoral lists, in England they are arriving gradually, though not completely, at the point of equality of numbers. In Australia that has long been accepted as the ideal. When I turn to the records I find that even as far back as 1912 Mr Chanter moved an amendment similar to the resolution that is now before the House. Amongst other things he said:
We are departing today from the traditional way in which we have carried out redistributions, but of course we are doing it in the tradition of the political contemporaries, I suppose you would say, of the people opposite. South Africa has always had an inbuilt system to favour the farmers. The Limitation Commission gave special weight to the rural voter by an involved method of determining the quota for each constituency. Of course, in South Australia that honourable and knightly gentleman, Sir Thomas Playford, would not have lasted very long if the electoral system of South Australia had not been a disgrace to the nation, as an article in the March issue of the ‘Bulletin’ said. It is such an outrageous racket that any sensible person should recognise he is endangered in making such nonsense of representative government. That is the situation in South Africa and South Australia. Where do the members of the Country Party and the Liberal Party here, the people who talk about democracy around the world, who want to act against Rhodesia and who want to send young men to fight in South Vietnam, stand on this issue? Of course they will give their imprimatur to it.
This proposal is an insult to the people whom I represent. There are 58,000 voters in the new electorate of Wills. There are 45,000 or thereabouts in the new electorate of Mallee. That means that we are saying this afternoon that the persons in Brunswick and in Coburg are entitled to only threequarters of the representation value of the people of Mallee. And to the people of Brunswick and Coburg, that is just a plain insult. Apart from any questions of morality, ethics or political validity, it is an insult to one Australian to say that when his spokesman speaks in the House of Representatives he is worth only three-quarters of the spokesman for a person from Walepup. Timbuktu, Patchewollock and Innamincka or somewhere else. I think it is time honourable members opposite spoke up on this argument. If they believe in majority judgment they believe in equal electorates.
The largest disparity in Victoria, of course, is between the electorate of Wills which has 58,213 voters, 12.65% over the quota, and the electorate of Mallee which has 45.218 voters, 12.5% below the quota. 1 can sympathise with the electoral commissioners because they had to look only at the representation. It was valid enough for them to say: ‘That man can represent only 45,000 voters, but this one can represent 58,000 voters.’ This might be a good sound judgment of people’s political energies but it is not a sound judgment of Australian democracy.
– How many do you represent now?
– 1 have no objection to the redistribution of electorates. 1 am not challenging that at all. 1 say they should be all the same size and that we should have had a redistribution 8 or 0 years ago. The facts are that the electorate of Wills is made up of 116,000 people and the electorate of Mallee is made up of about 8,600 people. What the Minister for the Interior - by interjection - and the Minister for Primary Industry have said this afternoon is that the sandhills of the Mallee, the 3,000 square miles of national park, the big desert and the sunset country, are harder to represent .than Brunswick and Coburg with their 16,900 Italians and 6,700 Greeks. This is an insult not only to these Italians and Greeks;, it is an insult to the system, lt well may be true that the present honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) finds great difficulty in representing his sandhills. But this is not good democracy.
The facts are that 10% of the Greeks and 14% or 159o of the Italians in Victoria live in the electorate of Wills. Honourable members are flying in the face of political reality if they think that these people do not have as many problems as people in the Mallee sandhills. Of course, it is for such people as these that we do our constituency work.
All the arguments from the honourable members opposite are invalid. They say, for instance, that the Mallee is difficult to represent. At the last census there were 20,000 houses in the Maltee electorate and 34,623 houses in Brunswick and Coburg. What kind of production is undertaken in the Mallee electorate? What is the productive capacity of the area? Can the honourable member tell us that?
– Yes, I can.
– We will be interested to hear it. I wonder whether the Mallee electorate has any greater production than that of the 2,000 productive factories in Brunswick and Coburg, where there are great hosiery factories that produce five-sevenths of Australia’s hosiery, and where there is one of the world’s largest photographic equipment manufacturing establishments.. Does the electorate of Mallee produce more than these enterprises? Has it more people? . Do the people have more problems? There is one thing they have not got; they have not got more sense because if they did they would not have sent the honourable member here. Nearly everything that the honourable member for Mallee wears or uses, everything from which his income flows, everything that makes life comfortable in . the Mallee, benighted political place that it is, is manufactured in electorates like mine, by Australians quite as good as the people from Patchewollock, Mittyack, Torrita, Quambatook, Wycheproof and Manangatang. These things are manufactured by new Australians who have problems that need to be looked after as carefully as anything the honourable member undertakes for his wheat farmers - and he is not doing too well for them.
This is the question that this Parliament’ has to answer this afternoon: Is it people that Parliament and politics are about? So I challenge in this place this afternoon the basis on which these decisions have been made. I believe the arguments to be quite specious. I do not believe that the distribution commissioners have abided by the principles of the Act which, of course, mentions density and sparsity of population. The population of Brunswick and Coburg is now about 10,900 to the square mile. Why is this density not as important as open spaces? What is so very terribly difficult about the Mallee? Straight roads run from one end of the electorate to the other. The electorate has good highways which have been paid for by the productive capacity of the people I represent, and have been constructed by people who have been trained with taxes paid by the people I represent. The Mallee electorate can be covered in 3 hours in a good motor car. It has airfields, railways and telephones everywhere. It is only half as big as the electorate of Wimmera was 18 or 20 years ago. But now apparently it is so difficult for the honourable member to represent that it is to be made smaller still. For the first time in Australian political history we have chosen to widen the disparity between the smallest and largest electorates.
I have little to say about the position of other States. There may well be certain difficulties in other States that are not found elsewhere. I do not agree that there are, and I am sure that the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) does not agree either. But in Victoria an area of 88,000 square miles has been divided into thirtyfour electorates having a total of 3 million people. There would be no difficulty whatsoever in dividing “the State into equal electorates or in representing the people properly if we had the wit and will to do it. But of course honourable members opposite do not care about people. What they care abou: is the continued preservation of their political mastery of this Government. They did not say so explicitly when this Act was passed 3 years ago, but it was implied.
I believe this is another act of national immorality. Implicit in the whole system is an attempt to subvert the principle of majority democratic rule. I only hope that we are able to keep our hands to the plough long enough to plough honourable members opposite out of this place, not for the way they have pursued their politics but for their subversion of Australian political democracy.
– At the outset 1 want to say that I do not oppose this redistribution at all. As a matter of fact we all admit it has been very long overdue, and I think it is a sign of political immaturity that we have allowed the position to continue for so long that we presently stand on quotas that were evolved from the 1954 census, despite our constitutional responsibility to have a redistribution after each census. I think honourable members will all agree, too, that due to the tremendous intake of migrants, the position is much worse than it otherwise would have been. Of course, in any decision on any matter, whether of greater or lesser importance than the one now before us, which is the decision of the commissioners appointed in each State to make a redistribution, there must be of necessity pluses and minuses. But most of the minuses -let us face facts - affect only a relatively small number of individuals. But when they do, and when this hits home with a few of us, it should not take anything away from the fact that the redistribution proposals will certainly provide a great improvement on the present imbalance of the electorate population.
Having said that, I feel that I will not be inconsistent in drawing attention to what I consider to be an inconsistency on the part of the distribution commissioners for Victoria. Section 19 of the original Electoral Act set out five matters for consideration. These were:
The original Act was amended by Act No. 48 of 1965. In fact, a number of sections of Part III of the Act were repealed and new sections inserted. Among them was section 19 dealing with factors to bc considered by the commissioners in making their proposals. In the new section 19 were included two new matters to be considered by the commissioners. They were in subsection (2.):
To my mind the fact that these matters were specifically included in the amendment gives them perhaps a greater importance than those matters that had been included in the original Act and retained in the amending legislation. However, I feel that in dealing with the electorate of Maribyrnong in Victoria the commissioners did not take these two particular matters into consideration, lt is true that in the present division of Maribyrnong the enrolled population has remained reasonably static since 1958.
In November 1958 it had an enrolment of 44,565, but in June 1968 the enrolment was 45,333. The enrolled population did not diminish. Of the 45,333 electors, 14,000-odd are to be transferred to the division of Wills and in their place about 17,000 will come from the subdivisions of Niddrie and part of Sunshine North. In the subdivision of Niddrie 13,763 persons are enrolled and it is interesting to note that in the 1963 House of Representatives . election 7,490 voted and in the 1966 election, 10,714 voted. The present enrolment of 13,763 represents an increase of almost 100% in tho enrolment population in less than 5 years. In addition in the new subdivisions to ba included in the proposed division of Maribyrnong there are at, least 5,000 allotments of land available for sale. These will attract a greatly increased p’opulation. I made inquiries from the Government Statistician and discovered that there are 5,000 adult non-British aliens living in the area. Further, in the more settled areas of Essendon, Essendon North, Moonee Ponds and Essendon West there ‘ is a great incidence of ‘own your own flats’ being built. Many hundreds df these units are being constructed. Ten family units are being provided on land which previously was occupied by one family. There is a great potential for growth in the proposed division of Maribyrnong and I pointed this out to the commissioners. Despite this, the commissioners recommended increasing the enrolment in the proposed division of Maribyrnong by 2,000, or 4% above the quota. They did not take any notice of the population trend. They did not take any notice of the density of population in the area.
On the other hand in the division of Melbourne the enrolment figures have decreased from 38,161 in November 1958 to 30,755 in June 1968- a decline of 7,500 or 25% in 10 years. This represents a wastage of about 21% per annum. The proposed division of Melbourne will get electors from the subdivisions of Carlton, Carlton North, Collingwood North and Fitzroy in the present division of Scullin, and Abbotsford, Burnley, Collingwood, Richmond and Richmond South in the present electorates of Yarra. The enrolment in those subdivisions declined from 41,958 in November 1958 to 32,138 in June 1968. There has been a consistent decline in population in those areas, even with the building of high rise flats by the State Housing Commission to replace slums. There is not much room for residential development in those areas but industrial development will occur and further denude the population. Although Melbourne is faced with a wastage of at least 21% per annum, or 121% in 5 years, the commissioners have increased the total enrolment of Melbourne by only 5,600 or about 10%. I maintain that the commissioners should have increased the enrolment for Melbourne by a greater extent. This could have been done by transferring a few thousand from the proposed division of Maribyrnong to Melbourne. Melbourne would have been within the maximum allowable quota and Maribyrnong would have been on the quota. Melbourne would then better be able to meet the enrolment wastage.
I have mentioned the huge potential growth of the proposed division of Maribyrnong. The commissioners have not been consistent and they have not taken account of population trends and density of population within the proposed division. In their submission to the Governor-General the commissioners referred to suggestions and objections lodged pursuant to section 21 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. An objec-tion concerning the matters I have mentioned, with many others that I will not deal with at this moment, was lodged by me with the commissioners, but the commissioners, in their report, said:
The remaining suggestions, which were in the main related to the interests of one Division only, were not adopted because of the adverse effects which they would have had on other equally important considerations in a number of other proposed Electoral Divisions.
I cannot understand this comment. It is completely inconsistent and completely wrong actually. My proposal concerned only two electorates. The commissioners could take from Maribyrnong sufficient electors to bring Maribyrnong down to the quota, which would be paying some observance to the potential growth of the division, and place them in Melbourne, which would keep Melbourne within the maximum allowable quota and would cater for the wastage that has been shown definitely to exist in those parts of the present divisions of Melbourne, Scullin and Yarra, now included in the proposed division of Melbourne. 1 have made the point that in my opinion the commissioners in this particular instance have not taken those two important matters into consideration, otherwise, they would not have done what they did in the proposed division of Burke. Because of the potential growth of this area they have got the number of electors down to about 8% below the quota. The funny part about it is that the great majority of electors in the proposed division of Burke come from Lalor and the area about which I am speaking, the subdivisions of Niddrie and Sunshine North also from Lalor, have the same potential- growth. One third of the enrolments for Maribyrnong come from the same category of growth potential which is in the proposed division of Burke, which is down, I think, to 47,000.
It seems to me that the commissioners have acted on the premise that one division is an inner metropolitan area, when they drop another division with a similar category of electors, the migrant population, to between 4,000 and 5,000 below the quota and, at the same time, load the former electorate. In fact, in the proposed division of Maribyrnong there- is now quite a lot of green belt area, so the division will cater for growth. I cannot understand how the commissioners could have been so blind. Having been presented with what I thought was a reasonable objection, which was based on the Electoral Act and its operation, they did nothing about it on the ground that it would upset other divisions, although, in fact, it involved only a straight transfer between the proposed division of Maribyrnong and the proposed division of Melbourne. However, I : think that right throughout Australia we will be better off because these redistribution proposals have been introduced. Some of us may be hurt. Some of us may not. Some may be squealing before they are hurt. Whatever happens, lbc proposals will be a good thing for the future.
In conclusion I refer to the recent referendum in which the Australian public rejected the proposal to break the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives. This will mean that despite future re-distributions, electoral populations will grow. We can, perhaps, create one or two new seats. We would have to get a great number of additional seats, under quota, in this place before we could move to enlarge this House to a sufficient size to justify a consequential increase in the Senate. So in the future honourable members will be faced with the position that electorates which now have, on the average, approximately 52,000 electors will be increased to 100,000 and even, perhaps, to a population of 250,000. An honourable member does not look after only those people who have voted for him or who are enrolled. Large families in many electorates, particularly those in the migrant population, give work to the member. The time is fast approaching when the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) and his Department will have to consider the position of members of this Parliament, particularly those in this House, who require a great deal more assistance in administering their electorates. Greater provision will have to be made in the way of staff. For about 20 years we have been allowed to have one secretary. The facilities are not good. People who are retiring at an early age from the Public Service and who are skilled in the work of the Departments of Social Services, Repatriation and Immigration, would be of invaluable assistance to a member in the carrying out of his duties. The salaries of these people would not be a great burden on the Commonwealth.
I believe that if we do not look at this question soon we will find a falling off in the quality of people who come to this Parliament, and we will find that present members will not be able to carry out research or prepare speeches or give attention to legislation. We will not be able to do these things because we will be tied up with constituency work. Until such time as the Government looks far enough ahead to see that the population in electorates must rise, despite many re-distributions, the nexus between the Senate and the House of Representatives will create a situation which will gradually worsen from year to year. I would say that within the next 10, 15 or 20 years we will encounter a great deal of trouble and a great deal of distress in this House, unless something is done very early to provide greater assistance to members.
– I am glad that the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) has remained in the Chamber after making his speech. I was interested to hear him refer to the role of the Australian Country Party. He said that the redistribution is quite fair, that it gives equal opportunity to represent the people in electorates and that the problems differ from one electorate to another. I have in front of me a map showing the electorate of Richmond - the electorate of the Minister for Primary Industry. When I look at that map and at the map showing the electorate of Macquarie I wonder how genuine is the Minister. This is the first occasion on which I have doubted his genuineness. 1 invite him to read in Hansard what he said this afternoon because he stands condemned out of his own mouth when he talks about the equality of representation in country districts as compared with metropolitan electorates. Let us have a look at his own seat. Under this redistribution it will have 49,460 electors, which is 6.33% below the quota, lt has an area of 2,600 square miles. It contains 89,560 people.
– I spoke for the Party.
– The Minister has made his speech. Now let us have a look at the electorate of Macquarie, lt does not cover only primary industries, such as banana growing, and it is not compact. It is not tied together, as is the electorate of Richmond. Macquarie contains 99.580 people, lt has an area of 5,600 square miles. Under this redistribution it will have 56,055 electors, which will be 6.15% above the quota. When the Minister comes into this chamber and talks about country represenation in the way he did this afternoon he stands condemned, as the would-be Leader of the Australian Country Party, for what he is - a hypocrite in the eyes of democracy in this country.
Let us have a look at the map showing the electorate of Richmond to see where the Minister stands. There is less distance between Richmond. Cowper and Lyne, joining these three together, and their interests are all identical-
– You are making his argument for him.
– The Minister made his speech earlier. He should shut up and we will get something on the record. These three electorates cover identical types of industry. The three of them could be joined together and they would cover a distance similar to that making up the length of New England. I lived in these areas and I know them. I was reared in them. I have lived in metropolitan areas and have worked in country seats. I tell our friends from the Country Party that when it comes to the question of representation in the National Parliament, as the honourable member’ for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes) said, there is a tremendous difference between representing aliens who do not understand our way of life and representing banana growers at Murwillumbah. The Country Party Whip, the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), and others talk much about areas. If we have reached a stage where gum trees are more important than New Australians, then we have reached a pretty low level. Speaking quite frankly, as one who has represented a closely compacted area for 19 years, I say that more work falls to a Federal member for such an area from people who are not yet on the roll than would fall to any Country Party member from the whole of his electorate.
– What rot!
– I have been :in the country. I have worked hard in country seats and I know what it means. 1 have had experience in city electorates and country electorates. When honourable members talk about the size of electorates, which electorates do they mean? Do they mean an electorate of the size of Richmond? If they do, then it would be interesting to look at the figures. If we consider the electorates of Lyne, Cowper and Richmond we find that they all have the same kind of interests - bananas, butter, milk and the like. One voice could speak for the entire area. Let us take the electorates of Grayndler and Evans. The two areas are almost alike in terms of population; the ratio is 3 to 2. In Evans and Grayndler are ail the features necessary for the future progress of Australia. These areas take in secondary industry arid the problem of the assimilation of migrants - in fact, all those things lhat will go to make Australia a great nation in the future. If those things are not much more important than the gum trees on the north coast of New South Wales, where I was reared, then I have yet. to learn what representation means.
The present proposals remind one of a line drawing exercise. I do not blame the distribution commissioners; they feel they are bound by the Commonwealth Electoral Act to observe the requirement to remain within 20% of the quota. They listen to the kind of argument that we heard tonight from the Minister for Primary Industry. He is an important mouthpiece in Australia. But now let us consider my own electorate, in which subdivisions have been cut in half. Half a subdivision has been transferred to the’ division of Reid and half a subdivision has remained in the division of Blaxland. Under this proposal 19,000 people are to be transferred from Blaxland into Reid and 19,000 are to be left in Blaxland. Half a subdivision is to be transferred from Lang into Blaxland and half a subdivision is to be left in Lang. Are these the kinds of boundaries that we need to have community of interest? What community of interest is there between the half subdivision at the bottom of the Blaxland electorate and the new area of Bass Hill? This proposal, involves four State electorates. Some of the new Federal divisions involve five State electorates. All have different sets of interests. This is the kind of line drawing that has been adopted for the new boundaries in the metropolitan area of Sydney. If the Minister for Primary Industry were to sit down quietly and look at the proposed electorates of Blaxland, Richmond and Macquarie, he would agree with me that this was nothing more nor less than a line drawing exercise based on numbers.
I doubt whether we can bring great efficiency into the work of this Parliament until we give the commissioners direct instructions on the principle of one person one vote. The .honourable member for Maribyrnong, who preceded me in this debate, spoke about additional needs. I wonder sometimes just what the life of a Federal member should be. I wonder whether the Minister for Primary Industry, who represents the division of Richmond, has different national views to those of the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson). There might be a difference in thinking because the honourable member for Cowper, like myself, came here from a State House of Parliament < and thought he should receive preference for ministerial appointment. But 1 am talking about electoral responsibility. What is the difference between the electoral responsibility of the honourable member for Cowper and that of the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock)? The difference is nil. Their areas have the same industries and the same opportunities of advancement. If one considers the entire north coast of New South Wales there is not one-tenth difference in the needs of the electorates which have to be represented in this Parliament.
The nation is the poorer because this Parliament is being told that it is the size of electorates that counts. We have heard this three or four times during this debate. Is it the size of the electorate of Richmond or the size of the electorate of New England which counts? Which is it? Is this the proper formula? The divisions of Richmond and New England adjoin each other but Richmond is one-fifth the size of New England. Which electorate counts? Is Richmond more important than Cowper because it has a few people in it, including those living at Murwillumbah, portion of the Gold Coast, Casino and Lismore? Or is Cowper more important because it runs rabbits right to the border?
Is this the kind of analysis we want when determining the kind of government we are to have at a national level1? If we are to decide these things by a process of line drawing, then God help the future of this country. 1 think it is time that the question of one man one vote and the function of this National Parliament were directed to the courts to which we look for determination of other national matters. I have very set views on the fixing of electoral boundaries. Because I have set views, and because I want to state them clearly, I suggest, Mr Deputy Speaker, that this would be an appropriate time to suspend the sitting.
Sitting suspended from 5.57 to 8 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting I had referred to the futility of the kind of argument that had been introduced into this debate by the Minister for Primary Industry. I had analysed the weakness in his argument by referring to the differential between his electorate, of Richmond and the electorate of Blaxland. 1 referred to the disparity in the numbers in the two electorates and I described the present boundary legislation in New South Wales as the mere drawing of lines. 1 pointed out that the heart was taken out of the electorate of Blaxland and joined with the electorate of Reid; that 19,000 votes were taken from Reid and put into the new electorate of Blaxland while 19,000 votes from the old electorate of Blaxland were put into the new electorate of Reid. That is the kind of Nne drawing that went on to produce this new boundaries scheme. I am opposed implacably to our present approach to the formation of electorates in New South Wales. 1 am unreservedly opposed to what has been done in New South Wales. Examine the two electorates of Richmond and Macquarie. You will see that the protected interests of the Country Party are well served in Richmond and the unprotected interests of the Labor Party are destroyed, wherever possible, in Macquarie. I stated earl’ier that in my opinion one alien in Blaxland deserved a lot more attention by a Federal member than did one gum tree in a country electorate in New South Wales. In my opinion there is no difference between what has been done in Brisbane and what has been done in Lyne or Cowper. The honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) is now in the chamber. He is a good member. With his knowledge of the north coast of New South Wales he could ably represent the combined electorates of Lyne and Richmond. His would still be an easier job than representing Blaxland. 1 support wholeheartedly the third segment of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), which states that the proposals ignore the Constitution’s plain objective of making equal representation for equal numbers of people the fundamental goal of the House of Representatives.
I know the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) well. He could ably represent the interests of all country districts in Victoria, because he knows them so well. Would we noi be acting contrary to the principles of the Constitution if we were to follow the line advocated in this House by the Minister for Primary Industry? He said that every member should have equal opportunities to represent the people living in his electorate. This is a matter that has worried me ever since I entered the Parliament. Before coming here I thought that this was a national1 Parliament - that it was a Parliament where we decided national policy. 1 thought that here both sides could get together with an understanding of the requirements of the nation. But what do we have? Federal members are merely a pipeline - this has been said here - to handle the complaints of individual electors; they act as channels of information between heads of departments of between departments and Ministers. If we continue to act in this way we will destroy completely the idea of a national Parliament in Australia. Once a member is elected to this Parliament his views should be on a national level. I have always done my best for Blaxland, but 90% of my time in this House has been devoted to industrial and transport matters at the national level.
Is personal representation of an electorate more important than the things we are elected to do? The correct attitude for every member to adopt is to ask what is best for Australia, not what is best for Mallee or Blaxland. Until this Parliament settles down to act as a national parliament, representative of all the people on an equal basis, we will not discharge the responsibility which the Constitution rightly places upon our shoulders. J have listened to many debates in this place. I have often listened to the honourable member for Mallee. Whenever he speaks he tries to attract the attention of the electors of Mallee. This is wrong. When a man enters this Parliament he should adopt a national outlook and apply himself to matters that affect Australia. If he cannot do these things he does not deserve to be here. If members of Parliament continue to regard themselves purely as the elected representatives of a group of people, concerned only with that group of people, finally this Parliament will lose the respect of the entire community.
Not long ago the then Prime Minister thought that the membership of this place should be increased. Although the leaders of the three major parties recommended an increase in the membership of the House of Representatives, the people of Australia flatly rejected the idea. Why did they do that? They did it because we are not doing our work as members of a national Parliament. We are not looking at problems at the national level. If the problem is of an industrial nature it should not be examined only by one or two honourable members from this side of the House. If the problem is of a rural nature it should not be examined only by someone from the banana country. If the problem affects the meat industry as the industry is affected now every member of this House should be concerned because the problem affects Australia. Until such time as the Parliament settles down to recognise the principle of one vote one value and begins to function as it should without regard to individuals in any particular part of Australia, we will be neglecting the work that the Constitution requires us to do. Until we do the things that we are supposed to do I will be opposed to the line drawing that we have in these redistribution proposals; I will be opposed to the splitting of sub-divisions, with one half of a sub-division going to Blaxland and the other half to Lang, and one half of another sub-division taken out of Reid and put into Blaxland. The new areas added to Blaxland have no relationship to the present electorate, but I do not worry much about this because J will be anxious to see what -happens to the people of New South Wales,’ not merely the people of Blaxland. This is why I have always taken the national outlook on transport and industrial matters. What happens in New South Wales industrially is not as important as what happens industrially at the national level, because what happens at the Commonwealth level sets the pattern. What happens in transport in New South Wales today must be related to what is happening in transport in Western Australia if we are to develop as a nation. As a representative from New South Wales I should be as much- concerned with what is happening anywhere in the State as I am in what is happening in my electorate. This is the basis upon which membership of the House should be elected. We must adhere to the principle of one vote one value. We should not come here merely to represent Blaxland or Swan but to represent Australia in the national Parliament, working and acting in the national interests - working together as a team for the future of Australia and not merely to preserve ourselves in the electorate which we represent.
Debate (on motion by Mr Kevin Cairns) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Malcolm Fraser, and read a first time.
Mr MALCOLM FRASER (WannonMinister for Education and Science) 18.10]-I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bill is to give effect to one of the new measures in education announced by the Treasurer (Mr McMahon) in his Budget Speech and explained in more detail in my statement to the House on 14th August - that is, to provide unmatched grants totalling $2.5m over this and the two subsequent financial years for the construction and equipping of colleges for the training of pre-school teachers throughout Australia. As I pointed out in my statement, the Government’s decision in this matter was made after investigations into the needs of this level of education to see what assistance from the Commonwealth would be of most benefit to pre-school children. Consultations took place with the various authorities responsible for preschools and the pre-school teacher training colleges and with State education departments. As a result of these investigations and consultations it has emerged quite clearly that the most important help the Commonwealth could give to pre-school education would be to provide facilities which would help to ensure an adequate supply of trained kindergarten teachers. The Government proposes that its contributions should be made by way of grants to the States and it has sought the co-operation of the States in paying to the authorities responsible for the colleges grants approved by the Commonwealth Minister.
At this pointI draw the attention of the House to the Schedule to the Bill, which gives the best present estimate of how the amount of $2.5m is to be distributed among the various colleges. The Schedule has been prepared following further consultations with the colleges after the announcement of the Government’s intentions. However, the Bill gives the Minister the authority to vary the amounts between the individual colleges. This is done to provide the flexibility which is necessary to ensure that the total sum proposed will be used to the best advantage. The Bill does not specify that particular amounts shall be spent in particular years. The nature of the projects, which will include substantial buildings, will determine the rate of spending and I would expect that during the remainder of this financial year, which will be taken up mainly with detailed planning, about $350,000 will be spent. Honourable members will note that the Bill requires the Minister to table in the Parliament each year a statement showing the amounts he authorised for all projects in the previous years.
As I have previously announced, the Government’s object is to enable the colleges to expand their capacity so as to double their present output of trained preschool teachers. The projects to be assisted are those proposed by the authorities responsible for the various colleges to enable this aim to be met. In deciding the allocations, special care has been taken to ensure that for each college a substantial sum will be available for the purchase of necessary furniture and equipment.
I shall now give the House a brief statement of the projects that are to be developed with these grants in each State. The present capacity of the Nursery School Teachers College in Sydney is about 100 students, but to increase its capacity to 200 it will be necessary for a new college to be built. For this reason, a grant of $650,000 for the construction and equipping of a new college is proposed. To increase the capacity of the Sydney Kindergarten Teachers College from 125 to 250, the authorities responsible for the college consider that a further teaching block would be necessary at an estimated cost of $225,000 for building and equipment. As a result of a building grant of $425,000 from the Victorian Government the capacity of the Melbourne Kindergarten Teachers College is at present being increased. To ensure that adequate facilities are available so that its capacity of 200 before the present building was commenced may be doubled to 400, further building and equipment are required. A sum of $210,000 has been set aside to meet these needs. In addition to the existing facilities of the Brisbane Kindergarten Teachers College, a further teaching block is necessary to increase its capacity from 150 to 300 students. For the construction and equipping of this further block a grant of $350,000 is proposed.
As with the Nursery School Teachers College in Sydney, the Kindergarten Teachers College in Adelaide requires a new college to increase its capacity from 100 to 200 students. A grant of $670,000 has been set aside for this college. At Meerilinga Kindergarten Teachers College in Perth, provision has been made for a further storey to be added to the recently constructed teaching block. To enable the further storey to be added, additional extensions to be built and the necessary furniture and equipment to be purchased, a total1 grant of $175,000 has been requested and this is provided for in the Bill. This further building is expected to increase the capacity of the college from 75 to 150 students.
In Tasmania pre-schools are staffed by teachers employed by the Education Department after teacher training within the Department. After agreement in principle had been reached in consultation with the Tasmanian Minister and his officers, it was agreed that the appropriate capital facilities for increasing the capacity for the training of these teachers in Tasmania would be the addition of an art-craft block at the new Launceston Teachers College, which at present is being constructed with a grant of $1.5m from the Commonwealth under the teachers colleges scheme. This additional block at Launceston will significantly increase the capacity of the college and will enable courses for the training of teachers for pre-schools to be. introduced at Launceston in addition to existing courses at Hobart. The Tasmanian Education Department has undertaken to provide these courses when the additional block is completed. An amount of $220,000 has been provided for the construction and equipping of the art-craft block at the Launceston Teachers College. 1 emphasise that the Government’s decision to support pre-school teachers colleges was not taken lightly, and that this support was decided upon as an effective way of assisting from a very early age the full educational development of Australian children, including those who may be at some disadvantage as a result of home environment. Kindergartens have been and are being provided in the more needy areas of capita] cities. In an examination, dividing as best one can the various cities like Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide or Perth into the richer areas and the poorer areas, one will find that a majority of the older preschool centres are in the poorer areas, and if one looks at pre-schools that have been built within the last 5 years it will be found that the greater proportion have been built in the more needy areas. In the investigations and consultations he I’d in all States it was emphasised time and again that one thing inhibiting further expansion of preschools was the lack of a sufficient supply of trained teachers. We therefore believe, as do the kindergarten authorities, that the grants proposed in the Bill are most important to the development of this area of education.
Finally, I should like to express the Government’s respect and admiration of the work of the voluntary organisations in the pre-school field. There is a tradition throughout Australia of community involvement in this area of education, not only of parents interested in having a kindergarten available for their own children but also of many men and women giving freely time and money so that kindergartens are available in areas where need is great. From the former arises a most useful awareness in the minds of parents of many aspects of their children’s education, an awareness which may be maintained throughout the years of schooling. The latter is a most useful form of community service. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
Bill - by leave - presented by Mr Malcolm Fraser, and read a first time.
– I move:
This Bill will introduce a programme for the provision of $27m over 3 years commencing on 1st January 1969 for approved capital projects for the development of school libraries in government and independent secondary schools throughout Australia. Grants will be available for the erection, alteration or extension of .library buildings and for the provision of furniture, equipment and the basic stock of books and instructional materials for a secondary school library. Projects on which construction commenced on or after 14th August 1968 will be eligible for consideration. Honourable members will recall that the Treasurer (Mr McMahon), in introducing the 1968-69 Budget, referred to a number of new Commonwealth measures in education, among them the new libraries programme, and that subsequently, on 14th August, 1 made a statement to the House outlining the manner in which this programme was to be administered. The Government hopes that the scheme will assist secondary schools to develop a modern school library - a centre of learning in which an extensive collection of various forms of instructional materials, including books, newspapers, periodicals, film strips, records, and tape recordings, is available for use in the learning stage. The intention is that schools will be able to obtain a good basic stock of these materials to be used in new libraries or in existing libraries where these are of acceptable standard.
Administrative arrangements for handling the new programme are proceeding so that we can be in a position to make payments when funds become available in January 1969. Honourable members will see from the definition of ‘secondary school’ in the Bill that even the smaller consolidated schools catering for primary and secondary pupils will be eligible for Commonwealth assistance. The extent of assistance will, of course, be dependent on the number of pupils in secondary forms requiring library facilities. This is a matter on which I shall have expert advice. Honourable members will also observe that the limit of grants for each State over the 3-year period 1969 to 1971 appears in the schedule to the Bill. The S9m available for each year of the triennium will be allocated between government and independent schools in each of the States in the same manner as the original allocation of money under the secondary science facilities scheme. Honourable members will recall from my earlier statement that schools in the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory will also receive assistance with library facilities, but that the needs of these schools will be met outside the S27m programme.
The method of allocating amounts is first to divide the total available in proportion to the Commonwealth Statistician’s total numbers of secondary school pupils enrolled in government and independent schools respectively throughout all six States, as at August 1967. The two figures thus arrived at are then divided separately among States in proportion to the populations of the States as reported by the Statistician as at 30th June 1967. The resulting nongovernment school allocation for each State is then divided between Roman Catholic and other non-government secondary schools in accordance with the respective enrolments in these schools. Splitting the funds available on the formula I have given will yield for each calendar year, commencing 1st January 1969, the amounts shown in a table which, with the concurrence of honourable members I incorporate in Hansard:
A sum of $3m has been provided in the Estimates for 1968-69 to cover expenditure in the second half of the current financial year. In my statement to this House on 14th August 1968, I announced that I would be appointing a committee to advise me on the conditions and standards necessary for the effective development of the new programme. 1 am pleased to be able to announce that Dr T. R. McKenzie, who is at present headmaster of Knox Grammar School in Sydney, has accepted the Chairmanship of this committee. Other members of the committee are:
Miss D. M. Goodman, Senior Lecturer (Library), Bedford Park Teachers College, Adelaide;
Mr B. Hone, Headmaster, Melbourne Grammar School;
Mr A. Housden, Officer in Charge, School Library Service, Victoria;
Mr H. E. Hughes, Department of Education and Science, Canberra, who will be an executive member of the committee;
Mr P. W. Hughes, Deputy DirectorGeneral of Education, Tasmania;
Mr W. Louden, Acting Superintendent, School Library Service, Western Australia;
Rev. Father E. J. Mulvihill, Director of Catholic Education, Adelaide;
Mrs M. Trask, Lecturer, School of Librarianship, University of New South Wales;
Brother C. Vance, Marist Brothers’ College, Rosalie, Brisbane.
As well as advising me on desirable standards and the assessment of deficiencies, members of this committee will visit independent schools seeking Commonwealth assistance and advise on their library needs. The committee will also assist these schools in developing plans for buildings and in selecting materials and equipment. I would hope, too that this committee’s advice will also be of benefit to the State Education departments. As far as independent schools are concerned I will have the assistance of two advisory committees in each State, one representative of Roman Catholic secondary schools and another of other non-government secondary schools. These committees will determine the order of priority among applicants and the amounts of individual grants from the total available for each group of independent schools. Grants will be paid to schools on the recommendations of these committees, provided the proposals for library development put forward by the schools meet the standards to be laid down by Dr McKenzie’s committee.
As far as government schools are concerned, the State departments of Education will determine priorities and allocations. There is no intention . on the part of the Commonwealth to exercise supervision over the States in these matters. The procedure here will involve agreement between the Commonwealth and each State as to the purpose for which expenditure is to take place and notification by the State within that general agreement of the particular projects to be undertaken. The Government also recognises the urgent . need for additional trained school librarians to staff the new and existing libraries in secondary schools. As a contribution towards the provision of fully trained staff, a small sum has been allocated in this year’s Budget in the hope that the Commonwealth, in cooperation with State Education departments and library authorities, will be able to sponsor a number of short, specialist courses in school librarianship for teachers. To ensure future opportunities for adequate training of teacher librarians, the Commonwealth will encourage Colleges of Advanced Education to conduct suitable courses, and scholarships for the special purpose of undertaking these courses will be made available under the existing Commonwealth scholarship programme.
I hope that, as part of the impetus to be given to the development of libraries in secondary schools, it will be possible for the States to develop central library services to assist schools with their libraries. I am confident that the new libraries programme, in developing library facilities of a high standard in secondary schools throughout Australia, will equal the outstanding success of the secondary science facilities scheme. The considerable interest in the programme stimulated by the initial announcement of Commonwealth assistance in the field of school libraries is sufficient evidence that this is an area of real need in Australian education. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
Mr BOWEN (Parramatta - Attorney-
General) - by leave - I wish to inform the House that I have appointed a committee to consider and report to me whether any alterations should be made to the Judiciary Act 1903-1965. The Chairman of the Committee will be the Solicitor-General of the Commonwealth, Mr A. F. Mason, Q.C., and the members of the Committee will be Professor Richardson and Professor Zines, both of the Australian National University, and Mr C. Comans, the First Assistant Parliamentary Draftsman in my Department. The terms of reference of the Committee are as follows:
The Judiciary Act is the basic federal law regulating the Commonwealth Judiciary and providing for the exercise of jurisdiction by the High Court and federal jurisdiction by the State courts. The original Act was drafted in 1903 and has served the Commonwealth well with a minimum of amendments over the years. But it has been apparent for some time that the Act is in need of a thorough review, which will be undertaken by the Committee. The Act covers a wide range of matters which require examination. These matters include a variety of important procedural provisions, the Commonwealth’s liability to be sued, the law to be applied in the exercise of federal jurisdiction and the exercise of both civil and criminal invested jurisdiction by State courts. The Committee will not concern itself with Part II of the Act which relates to the constitution of the High Court.
The Committee expects to commence its work next week. It will not sit in public but will invite reports from each of the law associations within the Commonwealth and will welcome any other suggestions regarding the Judiciary Act which may be put before it. Any suggestions should be addressed to the Chairman of the Committee. Mr A. F. Mason, Q.C.. SolicitorGeneral of the Commonwealth, Administration Building, Parkes, Australian Capital Territory 2600.
Debate resumed (vide page 1477).
– The matter before the House is a motion to approve of the division of the State of New South Wales into electoral divisions under the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1965, to which the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has moved an amendment, which accepts the recommendations put forward by the commissioners, but accepts them with reluctance. I address my remarks to the amendment put forward by the Leader of the Opposition. The latter part of the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition accepts the proposed division with reluctance. The Leader of the Opposition refers to three provisions with which he qualifies a proposed distribution.
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston)Order! Is the honourable member speaking to the amendment?
– Yes. The proposed amendment contains the following words:
That amendment is to be rejected on several grounds, the most important of which are two. The matter of one man one vote within the context of the Australian electoral system has never been attained, never will be attained and could never be attained under a single-member. electoral system. The second ground on which. the proposed amendment should be rejected relates to the importation of the Constitution into the argument of the Leader of the Opposition. The Constitution nowhere makes the case that there is to be equal representation for equal numbers, but rather it refers to the representation from States and to the proportion of representation as between States but not within a State. I refer to section 24 of the Constitution, the second paragraph of which reads:
The number of members chosen in the several States shall be in proportion to the respective numbers of their people, and shall, until the Parliament otherwise provides, be determined, whenever necessary . . .
The provision then sets out the method to be followed. That section of the Constitution, the only one to which the Leader of the Opposition could be referring, does not apply to proportional’ representation, to equal representation for equal numbers, but only to the matter of apportioning of members as between the States and the Commonwealth. Consequently if is quite inappropriate to the amendment put forward by the Leader of the Opposition. I do not intend to support that amendment but if it is defeated according to the usual forms of the House, I propose to move the following amendment:
That the following words be added to the motion: ‘But the House regrets that the report did not have better regard to the trend of population changes in the State which were not applied in a uniform manner in relation to all the other factors required to be taken into account’.
That will be moved at the appropriate time. We are concerned in this matter with the application of the Electoral Act of 1965 as to apportionment of electorates.
– Mr Speaker, 1 take a point of order. I am very fond of the honourable member but does he realise this is New South Wales and his amended-
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order. The honourable member for Lilley is speaking on the motion before the House.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. One is concerned with the application of the Act so far as it relates to New South Wales. We know that the swing of the pendulum can account for many members being in this House. Most of us are here because at various times the swing of the pendulum politically has been avoided by us. There are many members in the House on the Opposition side who have retained their positions in this House because they have avoided the down swing. There are rather more members on this side of the House who have retained their position in the Parliament because we have been blessed with an upswing in recent years. But the question in relation to a redistribution is not: ‘Should one’s view depend upon the political composition of one’s electorate?’ Rather it is: ‘Should redistribution be supported or rejected on the answer to the great questions concerning national representation?’ To state this question may be trite, but its answer obviously has influenced the Opposition in framing its amendment. An economic or a political climate can require political insurance, and it is in an endeavour to obtain that political insurance that the Opposition has proposed most of its argument. It is not always easily attained. One is reminded very clearly of Disraeli, who suffered a number of misfortunes. After his defeat in 1880, he said that six bad harvests in succession, each one worse than the former, had been the cause of his overthrow. He added that, like Napoleon,, he had been beaten by the elements. It is only some electoral divisions that have this kind of insurance and have an inbuilt cushion. My attitude to the redistribution, and the reasons for removing the amendment contain nothing of the approach of electoral advantage.
I return to section 19 of the Act, according to which judgment is to be made. When section 19 of the present Act was amended in 1965, the then Minister for the Interior, referring to proposed amendments, had this to say, and I refer to his statement of 12th May 1965:
While the trend of population changes, the density or sparsity of population and the areas of proposed divisions are new elements which are now expressly stated for the first time, they will not result in any significant change in the procedure followed by Distribution Commissioners since they are factors in respect of which some allowance has invariably been made by Commissioners at past distributions. The amendments do, however, give specific expression to these factors and, in a sense, will thereby provide a legal basis for what has been normal practice. Accordingly, all Commissioners will in future be working to the same ground rules.
So except for the factor of population trends, not much was changed in the Act of 1965. I well remember the Minister making that statement. I now apply the provisions of that section of the Act to the re-distribution as it has been proposed for New South Wales. I ask: Has there been a pattern of a lack of uniformity in the application of these principles? Has there been a pattern of unwarranted discrimination by the distribution commissioners? I do not intend to make exaggerated statements or talk about rotten boroughs. We would not consider anything before the reform Acts of the 19th century. But the application of the principles deserves to be examined. 1 refer to New South Wales and immediately divide electorates according to trends of population movements. Immediately we find we have two kinds of electorates, the quickly growing electorates and the slowly growing ones. Within each of these categories we have rural and non-rural seats. It is my intention tonight to examine the slowly growing electorates in terms of the application of the principle of population trends to rural and non-rural seats, and to examine the pattern in New South Wales according to those principles.
The Constitution is not involved in the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam); what is involved is the application of the 1965 Act. Immediately one looks at the slowly growing electorates in New South Wales, the ones which followed the 1955 redistribution, the last one accepted by this House, and the one from which, according to the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon), there has been little variation. The slowly growing electorates can be divided into the compact electorates, the city electorates and the rural electorates. The compact electorates I intend to look at are Barton, Blaxland, Evans, Kingsford-Smith, Lowe, Newcastle, North Sydney, Paterson and Phillip. Each of these electorates, due to its configuration, was expected to be awarded a number of votes above the quota. This was due to density of population and so on. So in 1955, when population trends were not so important, each of these electorates was awarded an average 4% abovequota figure. We ask ourselves: As the principles have not changed greatly, in 1968 what variations ought these electorates to have in relation to the quota compared to the situation 13 years earlier? Obviously, since they were slowly growing electorates, they should be rather more above the quota in 1968 than they were in 1955. Most of us would immediately agree with that principle. In fact, the principle has been followed. These electorates were awarded an average margin above the quota of 8% to 9% in 1968. This was obviously due to population trends.
Let us now have a look at the other category of the slowly growing electorates in New South Wales, the rural electorates. We will look at the slowly growing rural electorates of Calare, Cowper, Darling, Hume, New England, Paterson, Riverina, Richmond, Gwydir, Eden-Monaro and Lyne. In 1955, due to the nature of those electorates, they were awarded a margin below the quota. They were awarded 7% to 8% below the quota. We would not disagree with this. But in 1968 what ought to be the re. distribution? The factor of population trends requires that these electorates be increased slightly in relation to the quota because of their slow population growth as compared to the city electorates. Perhaps they should be brought to a marginal average of 3% or 4% below the quota. This is the direction in which we suggest the distribution should have been made. Instead, the ‘ distribution was made in the other direction. They were not increased above the quota; they regressed further from it. The pattern of these electorates is simply this: On the average they have been placed 11%’ below the quota.
The dilemma I face in the redistribution of these electorates is this: I find it extremely difficult to support at one time the application of the principle to the urban seats and at the same ‘time to place a negative sign in front of that principle as it applies to the other than urban seats. I will’ not mention the Australian Country Party in this. I am not one to denigrate the Country Party and I think several of my friends will pay me respect for this attitude.
One cannot at the same time support a yes’ proposition and a ‘no’ proposition, and this double proposition has certainly been applied to the New South Wales distribution. What will be the ultimate result of this? There is a margin qf 20% above or below the quota beyond’ which the electorates ought not to go. , We. all agree with this. What will happen in the case of the eleven rural electorates in New South Wales that T mentioned? Because of their greater margins below the quota, within a short period of 7 years - and that is the shortest period there has ever been between redistributions in the history of this country - Calare would be 22% below the quota, Cowper 23%, Darling 29%, Gwydir well over 15%, Hume over 19%, Lyne 184% and Paterson 22% below the quota. 1 think the pattern is obvious. A decision ought not to be made on a State with respect to one or two electorates or with respect to changes in community of interest.
– What quota?
– Whatever the quota is at the time. So the pattern is perfectly clear. I do not think that a distribution can be criticised because areas of community of interest have not been complied with. It is such an indefinable concept thai it is almost impossible to judge whether something ought to be done or ought not to be done. Most communities of interest are contrived in order to help a political situation. So I make no argument with respect to division of areas on the basis of community of interest. After all, in a State such as New South Wales there could be 200 or 300 changes, and redistribution should not be criticised or rejected because 30 or 40 of these changes do not fit in as we believe they should. But when I see a basic pattern of the division of electorates of a State which is difficult to justify in two basic directions, I find it impossible to support the redistribution without at least adding the amendment that I have proposed. Consequently, it is my intention to move the amendment which I have foreshadowed if the oportunity presents itself.
There are other States in which trends of this nature have appeared. They have appeared to a lesser extent in Victoria and to a certain extent in Queensland. But obviously it is not appropriate to talk about those matters at this stage. We come to a further matter for judgment. This concerns the 20% margin. Is the 20% margin to mean that an electorate could commence at the time of redistribution at 19.9% above the quota and go over the margin a day or so after the redistribution and remain valid? I hardly accept that that is a commonsense interpretation of the provision for the 20% margin. Yet it has been applied in respect of one electorate in New South Wales. It is for these reasons that one has to have grave doubts about this proposed redistribution. I well realise that discussion on electoral divisions can bc like a series of arguments about water holes. Every member in every party wants to protect his if it is full of enough of the right voters. Alternatively, they might want to jump into one a little less affected by the vagaries of electoral droughts that isit us from time to time. These matters are not appropriate to the consideration of a redistribution. But I would suggest sincerely that a pattern has crept into judgments of electoral divisions in this State to which attention ought at least to be given so that in future the correct principles will be followed. If aggravations continue to occur in electoral distributions and attention is not given, I do not think we will be ensuring electoral justice and the proper apportionment of electorates in any State of the Commonwealth.
– In supporting the amendment I wish firstly to refer to the remarks of the Minister for Primary Industry (Mr Anthony) who said that the Labor Party’s desire to have one vote one value is impractical because it would require redistributions every year. The Minister should realise that we have not asked for this exact representation. We have asked that the margin of tolerance be reduced to 10% and that it should be reviewed every 5 years. Several members opposite have referred to the numbers in the Senate as a proof that we cannot have one vote one value. I point out that the Senate numbers are no criterion of what we should be doing in the House of Representatives which, as its name indicates, represents population and not States. State boundaries cannot be gerrymandered and, while this holds, the argument of one vote one value is not so vital in the Senate, especially as the Senate is less of a legislative chamber and more of a reviewing and corrective chamber.
– You have a queer sense of democracy.
– Our policy is lo abolish the Senate. The Senate has some features whereby it is more equitable insofar as Party representation goes. I refer to its proportional representation basis which also makes it less open to a gerrymander. The principle enshrined in our Constitution that as nearly as practicable each vote shall be of equal value must morally and legally take precedence over all the terms of reference given to the commissioners, and they should have been so instructed. They have not so performed. To make vo’.es equal it will not suffice to make electorates of equal population, though this is a worthy aim. Even with electorates of equal population a minimum of voters can return a party majority just as blatantly as with unequal electorates. The only real answer is legislation to give the parties seats in proportion to the votes they obtain, to the nearest whole number of seats. This can be done simply by removing from the over-represented parties the excess number of seats where their majority is least and adding to the under-represented parties the deficiency of seats where they most nearly attain a majority of votes. This can be done according to a formula much more simple than the system of counting votes for the Senate elections.
The theme of the Act, of the Country Party and of that Party’s Ministers, including the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) who supervises the administration of the Act, is that big electorates need more representing. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr E. James Harrison) has told how his experience in city and country has shown that difficulty in representation is in proportion to people, including new Australians with no vote, rather than in proportion to gum trees and square miles. I find the same thing in my electorate. It covers thousands of square miles and hundreds of miles of outback roads as well as a city nearly half the size of Canberra. But more of my time and energy is asked for and taken up by city dwellers than country people. This factor has been neglected by the commissioners and should have been taken note of, according to the terms of reference.
It is high time that a survey of representation difficulties was undertaken and special provision made for the needs of various electorates, such as a quota of aerial taxi vouchers for the members for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard), the Northern Territory (Mr Calder) and Kennedy (Mr Katter) and other electorates. Once a pattern emerged from their needs it might be possible to have one of the smaller planes of the VIP flight centred in the north for their use. Once all the special needs are studied and correlated it should be possible to fix boundaries rationally according to administrative efficiency for the member, community of interest and ease of communications. We could discard all the other considerations which cause distrust in and between parties by simply adopting percentage representation as I have proposed. This would eliminate, in one blow, all means, motives and methods of gerrymander and leave the way open for eventual regional administration of the country to replace the more parochial functions of State and local governments.
With regard to Queensland we have an example which proves the confusion and cleavage of opinion among the commissioners. I have no wish to criticise or canvass the majority and minority opinions beyond pointing out the balanced, cogent and unanswerable case of the Chairman of the Commission, Queensland’s senior electoral officer, Mr Weise. I commend his recommendations to the House for the reasons he has indicated. I declare, as my Party declares, that they are the only reasonable proposals and that the motion should be amended accordingly.
(8.57] - One of the questions that concern most of us as members is just what are the duties mat fall to our lot during our term, ls it the duty of representing the people who vote for us initially? Is it the duty- we have, once we are members of the chamber, to the chamber itself? lt is perhaps a third role - in an area where we stand in between the Public Service and the individual constituent? For all of us on this side of the House there is no. doubt that we are, because of our freedom from contractual relations with the party- to which we belong, individually able basically to represent our constituents. One of the things that has fascinated me a little during the debate tonight and this afternoon - particularly a few minutes ago when the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) was speaking - was that it was not until today that we were sure just what- members opposite were going to do. The Opposition was in the somewhat embarrassing situation of having to wait for an organisation that lies quite outside the immediate responsibility to the electorate to find out just what it had to do, say or think about electoral redistribution. For this reason it has been with bated breath that those of us who have been in a position of being able responsibly to represent our electorate have waited to find out just what members of the Labor Party . were going to be instructed to do. Once they have been instructed there is, of course, one other complication that besets them. I was interested this evening to sec in a television programme that their Executive had directed them up to the point of giving them the licence to determine within the Parliament just how they were able to carry out the instruction. So they were given a little bit of licence. They were able to determine their tactics within the chamber. I thought that in their circumstances they must have been grateful for small mercies.
But having come into this House, because of their own processes of election they necessarily have had to subordinate themselves to the overall direction of caucus. One of the problems, as I see it, within caucus, is that a few years ago, when there was, regrettably, a Labor Party go’vernment in New South Wales, you could have the circumstance where, while the Labor Party had a majority in government, the majority in caucus, which represented only approximately one-quarter of the members in the chamber, could virtually decide policy. This is the sort of situation that must have developed, as I see it, when members of the Labor Party here were determining just what sort of tactics they were going to use in the area that was left to them, that is, in deciding what their political tactics were going to be within the chamber.
So it is from the Australian Labor ‘Party that we have had a motion which suggests that there should be a rejection of the principles which are enunciated within the Commonwealth Electoral Act and which, although varied slightly, have been, in substance, in existence since federation. One of the reasons why the principles were introduced was that federation itself was a compromise amongst a number of people, all of whom felt very strongly about their own State rights, about their own communities and about the causes which up to that point of time they had progressively been advocating on their own behalf. In federation each one of the States necessarily had to subordinate something of their lot for the sake of the whole. In subordinating, in order that Western Australia and Tasmania could take a fair part in the affairs of the Commonwealth the more populous States, particularly New r South Wales and Victoria, were prepared to give to these less populous States an opportunity to play an equal part within the other chamber. As they had smaller populations, they were to be given, within the formula laid down at the time in the Constitution, an opportunity for representation which did not require them to have exactly the same number of voters. within each electorate, as far as the members of this chamber were concerned, and which gave to them within, the Senate exactly the same number of senators as each of, the. other States.
It is with this .background that we look at the provisions’ of the Electoral Act. If we look at the provisions of the Electoral Act and at the present proposed redistribution of boundaries, which is presently before this chamber, I think we have to say that basically the commissioners have done a good job. There are areas within which each one of us would feel that there is more that we would have had them do. For my part, and speaking for my colleagues within the Country Party, we feel very strongly that, in the case of New South Wales, the elimination of the seat of Lawson is another trend resulting in the diversion of population growth around the metropolitan areas instead of in the outback country areas. Of course, decentralisation of itself cannot take place without there being economic viability on the part of those who are going to establish industries there or without there being some particular purpose for the establishment of new industries so that new people can come to these areas and population growth can take place. At the same time it is regrettable that this particular redistribution reflects again these population trends.
It is regrettable because in the circumstances, what is happening is that the areas of Australia which are predominantly producing the export income, which are facilitating the establishment of a wider industrial base, which are enabling the maintenance of our immigration programmes and which are providing for the future broader horizons for Australians, are less able effectively to exercise their electoral voice. As 1 have explained, within the amendment that has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), he has suggested that the reason why he feels there are some problems in the redistribution is that there is not equality of voice within the proposed new constituencies, and hence, among the members who ultimately will represent those constituencies in this Parliament. But as I have explained, if we are to look at this cry of one vote, one value, I think it is very necessary that we recognise that each vote should represent adequately and equally the people within the electorate, who are the people who appoint a member for that electorate. I would suggest that without the application of the formula which is specified within section 19 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act and which is expressly denied by the amendment moved to the motion by the Leader of the Opposition, there would be no chance whatsoever of there ever being in Australia any adequate opportunity for an expression of an electoral voice by the large outback areas of Australia. This would not be possible until such time as we had been able effectively to decentralise and develop inland areas in order to ensure an equal population growth.
If we look at some of the figures for New South Wales and allow for the margin which is permitted by section 19, it is interesting to see how there has been something of a variation which relates not just to the number of electorates but also to the size of electorates. It lakes into account the population density and I think it enables, more effectively, the people from each of the recommended electorates to express, more adequately, a voice which is equal to others in this chamber. This is, apparently, the alleged objective of the Opposition, and it is certainly the objective of members of the Country Party and myself. If we look at a few of the electorates we see that so far as Grayndler is concerned, there is an approximate area of 8.4 square miles and an approximate density of population per square mile of 14,894. In these circumstances there has been a percentage enrolment above the quota allowed of 14.01%. If we look at the electorate of Darling - which again is an electorate held by an honourable member opposite - we see that there, by comparison, there is an area of approximately 132,700 square miles, as compared with 8.4 square miles in Grayndler. We see that the approximate density of population per square mile is 0.64, compared with 14,894 in Grayndler. We see that in the result there has been a percentage enrolment below the quota allowed of 18.65%. To me, that in itself identifies the necessary equality of opportunity to vote and to represent the people which has been provided as a result of the adoption of the formula which has been included in the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
I think that, very necessarily, every member of this chamber has three roles, about which I spoke when 1 commenced my speech. I think that he necessarily has a role in this Parliament. I think that he necessarily has a role to exercise in a sort of ombudsman manner between the Public Service and his constituents. But I think he also has a very important role to play, on behalf of his constituents, within his electorate. If he is going to do that, surely it is absolutely essential that the area of community of interest and the type of criterion that is laid down within the Commonwealth Electoral Act arc, in fact, followed by the electoral commissioners. I think that the result is very effectively portrayed in the comparison I made in the two electorates of Darling and Grayndler. Having said that, I want to say it is a matter of great regret to mc that again in this redistribution, as a result of a formula laid down at the lime the Constitution was drawn up and as a result of population trends in New South Wales, there is to be one less seat for New South Wales. Overall this will mean a reduction in the voice from the country areas.
There is one other particular problem I want to mention in regard to my own electorate. This again reflects the difficulties relating to community of interest. Honourable members will be aware that commissioner F. L. Ley brought out a statement giving his reasons for dissenting from the proposals as they relate to the divisions of Lyne and New England. The people of the community of Walcha live in a primary producing area on the northern tablelands of New South Wales. Over the years this area has progressively developed until it has become a very highly pasture improved region which produces quite substantial numbers of livestock for both wool and meat. This region has had an affinity of interest with the New England region. This affinity of interest was set out - very effectively, I think - in submissions made to the distribution commissioners by seventeen different people. In principle they complained about the extent to which the proposed redistribution will adversely affect them. I think commissioner Ley has adequately seen these things and has explained them in the report he has made to the Parliament. This is what he said:
My reasons for dissent from the proposals of the majority of the Distribution Commissioners are as follows:
I might add that the roadway runs over a mountain area in which there is very high rainfall. Quite often communications are extremely difficult. On frequent occasions this will make it almost impossible for the member for Lyne to service this part of his intended electorate. The commissioner’s statement continues:
Without commenting any further, it is obvious from the volume of complaints received from people in this region that they feel they are to be completely severed from that part of New South Wales with which they have a community of interest. Community of interest is one of the criteria expressly specified within the Commonwealth Electoral Act which the commissioners are required to take into account in determining proposed boundaries. I feel that, irrespective of the fact that this area is to be excluded from the electorate of New England, if I am re-elected it would be necessary for me - indeed, I would regard myself as being under an obligation - to continue to represent these people because it is a region which so obviously has an affinity of interest with the area of New England west of the range and not with the area east of the range.
This fact very effectively illustrates some of the problems that occur in country areas. It is because these problems are so real, and because they are apparent not only in this electorate but in every other electorate in Australia, that it is very necessary that the distribution commissioners have prescribed for them criteria which enable them to determine not just the number of people who are to be in an electorate but also such things as the community of interest, the area generally, the means of communication and the ease and ability with which a member would be able to service those constituents. I regard these things as being absolutely essential if an electorate is to be effectively serviced by any member. Accordingly, I regret that this redistribution has. perhaps, in some ways not gone as far as 1 would like it to have gone in recognising these specific criteria to ensure that all the people in all parts of Australia are effectively represented.
The Leader of the Opposition moved an amendment to the motion before the House. He regards three things in the proposed redistribution as being objectionable. The first is that the distribution permits a greater inequality of population in the proposed divisions than has occurred in any previous distribution. However, the inequality is substantially below the percentage that has existed in the Commonwealth Electoral Act since federation. It is substantially below the percentage of variation from the norm that is now required to be taken into account by the commissioners. Surely the Leader of the Opposition cannot seriously put this matter forward as being a basic objection to this redistribution. The Leader of the Opposition then said that the distribution fails to provide that as nearly as is practicable one man’s vote is to be worth as much as another’s. Surely if one man’s vote is to be worth as much as another’s it is necessary for each member in this chamber to represent the people of his constituency as effectively as the others. 1 deny the claim of the Leader of the Opposition that it is possible, by relying purely on numerical representation, for such equality of representation to be effected.
Thirdly, the Leader of the Opposition claimed that the redistribution ignores the Constitution’s plain objective of making equal representation for equal numbers of people the fundamental goal for the House of Representatives. Surely with a Constitution which provides for equal Senate representation for all the States of the Commonwealth, irrespective of their population, and which provides a formula that will permit a different number of electors within the constituencies of the different States, it is ludicrous to propound seriously this third point put forward by the Leader of the Opposition.
Accordingly, whilst there are aspects of the proposed redistribution which I regret and, whilst I think that the electors of Lawson and those who live within my own electorate but are now to be within the proposed electorate of Lyne - particularly in the subdivision of Walcha - will be denied natural justice, I am prepared to accept that this redistribution does take into account all1 the factors which the distribution commissioners are required to take into account. lt is a redistribution which this House should accept.
– 1 address myself to the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). In his amendment to the motion we are dealing with, the Leader of the Opposition regretted that the proposed redistribution ‘permits a greater inequality of population in the proposed divisions than has occurred in any previous distribution’. He asserted the desirability of the principle of one vote one value. He then went on to say that the plain objective of the Constitution was to provide equal representation for equal numbers of people as the fundamental goal for the House of Representatives. I find I am unable to agree with the Leader of the Opposition because unhappily - I repeat, unhappily - the Constitution does not make any provision of this kind. I associate myself, therefore, with the amendment foreshadowed by my friend the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns), which I believe comes closer to the mark.
Unfortunately, we are not debating the Commonwealth Electoral Act. The Act has been amended and the distribution commissioners have had to carry out their task under its terms. 1 would much prefer to be debating the Act and an amendment that would achieve more closely what the Leader of the Opposition has in mind. Unfortunately, this is not what we are doing.
I would like to make some comments on what was said by the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair), who has just concluded his speech. This puts me in great difficulty because my rural friends are amongst the best types of Australians one would wish to meet. They carry loyalty almost to a fault. They are people of immense integrity, according to their own lights. The only trouble is that the bright light that leads to the material well-being of their constituents completely obliterates the rather dimmer light of the national interest. As I understood the Minister, he was suggesting that it was highly desirable that all Australian citizens should be equal but that rural citizens should be more equal than others. May I say a few words on these matters, since he has raised them. He told us about the difficulties of servicing constituents in far flung electorates. The answer would be to have more members of Parliament. A bigger Parliament, working through committees, would be a more efficient Parliament, lt may be that the defect to which the Minister referred could be remedied if rural members had more adequate travelling allowances to enable them to use aircraft more than they do now. So there are remedies for this problem.
The Minister spoke about the great variety of rural interests that have to be represented by members from far flung electorates. I suppose the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson) and the honourable member for Lyne (Mr
Lucock) represent a great variety of interests. I should think that you could enumerate them as cows, cows, cows. But in urban electorates, such as my electorate of Bradfield, one has to represent people as various as manufacturers, importers, people with commercial interests and people with financial interests. Plainly, the Minister’s argument will not hold water.
On the subject of national interest the Minister referred to the great contribution made by rural, electorates to exports and therefore to the overseas exchange that we must have. I wonder whether the price that we pay for exchange in the case of dairy products, for example, is worth while. For every $1 of exchange we must pay about $2 by way of subsidy and a high price for butter. I wonder whether the price we pay is a little too high. We are about to pay a very high price for our wheat exports. I do not want, to labour this matter but I point out that the Financial Editor of the Sydney Morning Herald’ in the issue of 15th August 1968 said that he did not regard the last Budget as the third McMahon budget or the first Gorton budget but rather as the tenth McEwen budget. He pointed - I know that my rural friends will take this as a compliment - to the success of the Country Party in extracting about $180m in subsidies of one kind or another for rural industries, not to mention taxation concessions. ° My friends of the Country Party may sit back smiling and say: ‘See what we have done for our constituents.’ This may please them. Perhaps I flatter them: This is the kind of thing they like.
I believe that to strengthen the voice of the rural interests in this Parliament is contrary to the interests of the nation - quite the reverse of what has been argued by the Minister for Shipping and Transport and others representing the rural interests. The rural interests exercise power far beyond their numbers in the community because they have limited, material and realistic objectives. They do not worry about the rest of the community as long as their particular interest is sound. They could not care less about the rest of the country or anybody else. This is the noble principle upon which they stand. Residentially and socially they are homogenous people. The wheat growers and the dairy farmers live in the same areas and so they are a very cohesive force. They hold the balance of power. This is germane to my argument. Let me make this perfectly clear. What this redistribution does is strengthen the rural voice. When do you strengthen a voice? When it is weak. But is the rural voice weak? On the contrary it is extremely powerful for reasons I have given and it has been used, in my opinion, to the disadvantage of the nation. So this is entirely germane to the issue: Does the rural voice need to be strengthened? We are paying increasing subsidies for dairy products. The European Economic Community is dumping dairy products around the world. If the British enter the European Common Market we shall find that we are producing something that nobody will buy and that we are paying a heavy subsidy to those who produce it. We know that markets for wheat all over the world are glutted. We know that China cannot absorb all the wheat that we produce. We know that in any case so far as Asia is concerned a new variety of wheat has been developed which will make it more difficult to sell our product. We are aware of the problems associated with the export of cotton and sugar, and even the export to the United States of meat. It is plain to me that in the future we will have difficulty in finding markets for exports of this nature. Our markets will narrow and we shall have to replace many of our imports with locally produced goods. We shall have to manufacture many of those things which at present we import by using the foreign exchange that our rural products now provide. In other words, to be perfectly positive, we should be moving towards the development of technology in secondary industry and not continuing to sustain primary products. This is the direction in which we should be moving. I am not talking about this happening today or tomorrow, but this is the direction in which we should be moving. But what do we do? We introduce redistribution proposals into this House to strengthen a voice that should be reduced. We are acting . in precisely the opposite way to the way we should act in the nation’s interest. lt is good fun to scoff, as my friends of the Country Party do, but I am prepared to stand by the judgment of history. I move from those few comments on the observations of the Minister and the remarks which members of the Country Party have made. It is very amusing for my friends. You hold the balance of power. You can use it to the advantage of your constituents, whose interests are contrary to the interests of the nation. I do not find the situation as funny as you find it.
Let us look at the Act under which this redistribution has been carried out. Section 19 of the old Commonwealth Electoral Act directed that certain matters should be taken into consideration by the commissioners. I want to compare section 19 of the old Act with section 19 as amended by the Act of 1965. It is this amendment that is the villain of the piece: Let there be no mistake about that. Under the old Act paragraph (a) of section19read:
Community or diversity of interest.
Paragraph (a) of sub-section (2.) of the 1965 amendment reads: community of interests within the Division, including economic, social and regional interests.
Paragraph (b) of section 19 of the old Act read:
Means of communication.
The corresponding paragraph in the amendment reads: means of communication and travel within the Division, with special reference to disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance.
Yes, motor cars are fast. We have aircraft that we did not have before. Nevertheless the problems are greater than they ever were, and so country electorates should be smaller, it is said. Paragraph (c) of the old section reads:
The corresponding paragraph in the new Act - paragraph (f) - reads: the physical features of the Division.
Paragraph (d) of the old Act read:
Existing boundaries of Divisions and Subdivisions.
Paragraph (g) under the new Act reads: existing boundaries of Divisions and Subdivisions.
Paragraph (e) under the old Act read:
State Electoral boundaries.
This paragraph has been deleted from the new Act. There was no provision in the old Act corresponding with paragraph (c) under the new Act, which reads: the trend of population changes within the Stale.
That is a matter about which the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) spoke a moment ago. There was nothing in the old Act corresponding with paragraph (d) under the new Act, which reads: the density or sparsity of population of the Division.
There was nothing in the old Act corresponding with paragraph (e) under the new Act, which reads: the area of the Division.
How far have the commissioners been able to reconcile these criteria, some of which are conflicting? How far have they been able to reconcile the criteria relating to the size of the electorate where those criteria conflict with population trends? My friend, the honourable member for Lilley has given a masterly exposition in his usual style. With his computer brain he has been able to work this out. His speech should be read with very great interest by everybody who seeks a real understanding of this matter.
In the proposed redistribution the divergence from the quota ranges from.035% below for the division of Mitchell to 18.14% above the quota for the division of Darling. Both of these figures are within the tolerance of 20% . A tolerance of 20% . above and 20% below the quota means a range of 40% which, to say the least, is fairly considerable. I. am not interested in what the position might be at the moment, because these figures are just within the tolerance; but I am interested in what the position will be at the time of the next redistribution. When is the next redistribution to be? One may make a pretty good guess. Ideally it should follow upon a census. A census should be held every 10 years but one is now held every 5 years. Therefore, the years appointed for a census would be 1961, 1966, 1971 and 1976. So the next redistribution should be in 1976. The Constitutional Review Committee recommended that there should be a redistribution at least every 10 years. Let us assume that the next redistribution will be in 1976. Of course, there could be another blockage by the Australian Country Party, as happened the last time redistribution proposals were brought forward. It would be in the interest of Country Party members to block it, and their interest is all that matters to them. The next redistribution could not be before 1976 but it could be another 5 years after that. We do not know when it will he. Meanwhile, as each year goes by, the divergence from the quota becomes greater and greater. 1 remind honourable members that the total area of tolerance is 40%. 1 have before me some figures which show what the divergence is calculated to be by 1976 on the basis of the trend between 1961 and 1966. The figures are far beyond the tolerance. 1 refer firstly to the new electorate of Blacktown. I think it has been given another name in the last few hours. On the trends that have taken place over the past few years, in 1976 Blacktown will be above the quota by 27.41%, which is also well above the tolerance. Blacktown is an urban electorate. The rural electorate of Cowper will be 22.08% below the quota and therefore below the tolerance. Darling, a rural electorate, will be 28.59% below the quota in 1976 and will be below the tolerance.
– What quota?
– If the honourable member does not understand, I am talking about the quota in 1976.
– What is the figure of the quota?
– lt is approximately 60,000. I cannot waste time on the honourable member for McMillan. If he cannot understand, let him go and read the speech of the honourable member for Lilley. In 1976 the urban electorate of Hornsby will be 21.04% above the quota and above the tolerance as well. The rural electorate of Hume will be 22.05% below the quota, and below the tolerance. The urban electorate of Parramatta will be 21.59% above the quota. The outer suburban electorate of Prospect will be 43.16% above the quota. The urban electorate of Werriwa will be 78.75% above the quota and far above the tolerance. What does the tolerance mean? The number of electors in each electorate can be 20% above or 20% below the quota, but when? Is it to be at the time of the redistribution, or two days afterwards? Is it to be at the time of the next redistribution?
Insufficient regard has been had to population trends with the result that, bad as the position may look now, it will look ridiculously wrong by the time we get round to the next redistribution, even supposing it is in 1976. If the honourable member for Lilley has an opportunity to move the amendment that has been foreshadowed I will support it. My greatest regret is that we are debating only a redistribution that has to be carried out in accordance with an amendment to the Commonwealth Electoral Act that should never have been passed. We should be dealing with the Commonwealth Electoral Act. The day will come when rural interests will take their proper place in this Parliament. The small voice of these few people has been so loud in the ears of authority that it has completely stifled the voices of the more numerous members representing the urban seats.
– The comments made by the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) illustrate the love-hate relationship between the two parties that form the relatively dissident coalition Government. The honourable member for Bradfield referred to the computer brain of the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns). There was quite an interesting photograph in the ‘Sydney Morning Herald’ a few days ago which showed the Minister for Social Services (Mr Wentworth) chortling because a computer had rejected a request fed into it for a cheque for Sim for Sir Henry Bolte. If the details of this redistribution were fed into a computer the answer that would come out would be that this is the most scientific statutory gerrymander in the history of Australia since federation.
The question that really needs to be asked is this: Who rules Australia? It is the Australian Country Party. The Country Party tail is wagging the Liberal’ Party dog. The Liberal Party hates the Country Party for it. Although it despises the Country Party it cannot do without that Party. The words of advice given by Sir Robert Menzies on his retirement to the late Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, are still ringing in the ears of members of the Liberal Party. The words of Sir Robert Menzies have more direct application today than ever before. The Country Party is fighting a rearguard action against history, demography and economics. It is fighting against a world-wide trend. The country population as compared with the total population is decreasing.
The whole purpose and the whole result of this redistribution is to preserve the grip of the Country Party on this Government. The Country Party is to be congratulated on what it has achieved. I will give it a left-handed compliment, because it deserves one. The Country Party has had the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) come in here today and run through his act like a well trained performing lion. He jumped through the hoops held by the Country Party. He is the Prime Minister by virtue of the veto of the Country Party. That is the measure of its power. The Country Party chose to oppose the probable choice of its allies. This is the extent of its power in Australia today. We have a Prime Minister who is in office by virtue of a veto. The measure of the Country Party’s influence is further illustrated by the fact that although it receives only 9% of the total votes in Australia it holds 20% of the seats in New South Wales, and it seeks to preserve that situation. It goes without saying that the Country Party receives the major proportion of the financial loot and as a result it earns the bitter hatred of its Liberal Party colleague. The Country Party is beautifully organised. It is an utterly ruthless rural pressure group. If the honourable member for Bradfield had chosen to use the good Australian vernacular he could have described the members of the Country Party as being completely one-eyed. Its members have no vision beyond their own selfish, parochial interests.
It goes without saying that its members seek and always obtain the Interior portfolio, the key portfolio for electoral manipulation purposes. At one time the Country Party was favoured with the portfolio of Postmaster-General but it has wrung that one well and truly dry. By virtue of its manipulations the Country Party has control of the portfolio of Trade and Industry. Of course, it is entitled to the portfolio of Primary Industry. The Country Party is a government within a government and functions as suits it best in its own particular interests. Senior members of the Liberal Party must accept the Country Party’s dictates or function at their peril.
The Government as a whole has been literally dragged by the ear into this redistribution. Even with the last House of Representatives election there could have been a constitutional challenge because at that stage New South Wales should have been deprived of one seat and Victoria should have received one. The Government took the risk and it got away with it on that occasion. But it could not do so on this occasion. Therefore, there had to be a redistribution. It is worth noting, of course, that the Government makes a virtue of necessity. With the exception of the interregnum between 1922 and 1937, this is the longest period between redistributions. The greater the delay the greater the problem. Section 24 of the Constitution made this redistribution imperative. It is very interesting to note the bitter opposition that there has been to the amendment moved by my leader. It is a long time since I have heard in this House as much canvassing of the ruling of the Speaker as there was this afternoon. Of course, the honourable gentleman who attempted to change the ruling knew its legal implications.
The honourable member for Bradfield correctly referred to rural pressure groups throughout the world. One of the most notorious is the rural farm block in the central west of the United States of America. Balance of power tactics are characteristic of these rural pressure groups in all parts of the world. As the honourable member for Bradfield also pointed out Australia is experiencing problems today with over-production of primary produce. The European Economic Community is a classical example of countries where rural pressure groups are overplaying their hand. Even the Prime Minister has stood up and tried to justify a redistribution in South Australia where trees, fence posts and sheep count for more than human beings. Some of the finest minds of the 18th century have spoken on behalf of the Government tonight.
I wish to refer the House to the 1959 report of the Joint Committee on Constitutional Review and to quote in particular paragraph 326 at page 47. 1 remind honourable members that this report was prepared by some leading members of the
Liberal Party and the Country Party, but not a word has been said about it. Paragraph 326 states:
Since Federation, there has been a marked increase in the authority of governments throughout the world and there have been constant threats in different parts of the world to individual freedoms, including freedoms of person, speech and assembly. In some cases, personal freedom has never been realised and in others there has been mass suppression of individual rights frequently in association with the overthrow of parliamentary institutions. In fact, the major armed conflicts of the present century have largely revolved around the liberties of the individual . . . The freedom of individual expression is much sought after by men and a prized possession of the countries in which it can be realised.
At paragraph 316 of the same report this comment was made:
The Committee feels constrained to say, however, that the one-fifth margin on either side or the quota for a State which the Act allows may disturb quite seriously a principle which the Committee believes to be beyond question in the election of members of the national Parliament of a Federation, namely, that the votes of the electors should, as far as possible, be accorded equal value. The full application of the margin each way to two divisions in a State could result in the number of electors in one division totalling 50% more than the number of electors in the other division. Such a possible disparity in the value of votes is inconsistent with the full realisation of democracy.
What is the Government’s reply to that? This report was prepared by a joint committee on which the Government had a majority, ls the Government going to ignore that report? Does the Government treat that report with contempt? The honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles), who is interjecting, of all honourable members in this House should be prepared to button his lips. He comes from a State where 54% of the people cannot elect a government. This is the most scandalous and the most outrageous gerrymander in Australia today, yet the honourable member comes into this House to smear and to interrupt. He ought to examine his own conscience and be ashamed of himself.
As the honourable member for Bradfield rightly pointed out, we start off here with an initial loading and a heavy one. 1 shudder to contemplate the end result. If one examines former redistributions one will see that in 1937 six divisions did not conform to a tolerance of up to 20% either way.
Of course, at that time there were only 75 seats in the House of Representatives. In 1948 there were 15 and in 1955 there were 8. Today we start off with 31. This is 31 out of 123. With the present rate of urban growth, what will the position be in the future? The present redistribution is literally a conspiracy against the coastal cities of Australia. As I said earlier, a rearguard action is being fought and there is clear territorial discrimination. The Electoral Act has been loaded.
The Prime Minister came into the House this afternoon and asked us to accept the umpire’s verdict. Who appointed the umpire? Who decided the rules on which the umpire would base his decision? Who planned the course? Who allotted the handicaps? Who was the clerk of the course? The riding instructions are implicit in the Act. There was no need for the Government to give the riding instructions to the commissioners. They are written into the legislation. It was necessary for the commissioners to comply with the terms of the Act. These terms were loaded most disgracefully in 1965. The Opposition’s worst fears and predictions when debating the amending legislation in 1965 have been more than realised on this occasion.
In the time left to me I wish to quote two parts of a judgment given in the United States Supreme Court. In the case of Reynolds v Sims in 1964 at pages 523 and 524 the following passage is set out:
And history has seen a continuing expansion of the scope of lbc right of suffrage- in the country. The right to vote freely for the candidate of one’s choice is of the essence of a democratic society, and any restrictions on that right strike at the heart of representative government. And the right of suffrage can be denied by a debasement or dilution of the weight of a citizen’s vote just as effectively as by wholly prohibiting the free exercise of the franchise.
That is precisely what is happening as a result of this proposed redistribution. Again 1 quote from pages 537 and 538 of the same judgment, where one of the presiding Justices said:
Whatever the means of accomplishment, the overriding objective must be substantial equality of population among the various districts, so that the vote of any citizen is approximately equal in weight to that of any other citizen in the State.
But neither history alone, nor economic or other sorts of group interests, are permissible factors in attempting to justify disparities from populationbased representation. Citizens, not history or economic interests, cast votes. Considerations of area alone provide an insufficient justification for deviations from the equal-population principle. Again, people, not land or trees or pastures, vote. Modern developments and improvements in transportation and communications make rather hollow, in the mid-1960’s, most claims that deviations from population-based representation can validly be based solely on geographical considerations. Arguments for allowing such deviations in order to insure effective representation for sparsely settled areas and to prevent legislative districts from becoming so large that the availability of access of citizens to their representatives is impaired are today, for the most part, unconvincing.
That is a complete answer to the rationale behind this resolution, lt is a standing disgrace to the Parliament of any sovereign nation, and it is a disgrace to this Parliament, that such actions could be perpetrated in the name of parliamentary democracy. Democracy has been put back a generation by this redistribution.
– Why vote for it?
– We will be dealing with it in the proper way. One of the first things that should be done, if this Government is worth the name of being a government, is to put this question to the people by way of a referendum. The Government stalled its redistribution in 1962 for the best of reasons. It would have been faced with a referendum on that occasion and it did not want one. A referendum is the answer to honourable members on the other side, with their sneers and gibes. They can abuse their parliamentary majority as much as they like, but in the final analysis they will answer to the people of Australia by a proper referendum and with proper issues stated. A referendum was recommended by the Constitutional Review Committee but the Government chooses to deny it and to ignore it.
Mr KILLEN (Moreton) [9.541- Mr Deputy Speaker, I. will try to start on a note of agreement because there is a faint suspicion in my mind that I will not finish on a note of agreement. On the matter of redistribution I suppose that every person in this House is an expert. We all speak with a massive sense of detachment on what should be done, and after having listened to the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) we all speak with the authentic note of armed neutrality. Nevertheless we remain experts, experts in terms of our own existence, but whether in the ultimate that will be so remains to be seen. I will come back to the honourable gentleman. I do not want to disappoint him by ignoring him. I will come back to him here and there as I go through what will be, I hope, a very short speech. I am glad to have confirmation from the honourable gentleman on the right who interjects ‘Hear, hear’, for a change.
I listened to my friend from Cunningham with great interest. He thundered, I thought, with an almost stirring indignation: ‘This is a conspiracy against the coastal cities of Australia’. I thought this word ‘conspiracy’ was rather a harsh term to use. The honourable member said: ‘Democracy has been put back a generation’. Even I in my state of acute simplicity understood that. I do not want to disturb the large frame of my friend but I want to remind him that this afternoon his leader, the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), said: ‘I do not allege, I cannot prove that there has been any gerrymander in this redistribution’. How does the honourable gentleman line up against that assertion of his leader. His leader makes the plain statement, and with respect I thought he spoke with admirable frankness: ‘1 cannot allege, 1 cannot prove that there has been any gerrymander in this redistribution’. But the honourable member for Cunningham says it is a conspiracy and democracy has been put back a generation.
– What is the difference between a conspiracy and a gerrymander?
– I know my honourable friend’s seat has been disrupted and I have a sneaking suspicion that its incumbent in turn has been disturbed, but I want to deal with the matters now before us and I am sure the honourable member will be so kind as to allow me to do that in a moment or two.
My friend, the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) spoke, and as everybody knows I have an unfeigned affection and admiration for him. But why he turned such heat on this gathering over here, my colleagues in the Australian Country Party, who sit there in a state of docility for the most part, was quite beyond me. But then I was persuaded to remember that the honourable member for Bradfield spoke as one who has earned, and well earned, the description of being the boss musterer from Bradfield. I can understand my honourable friend’s dilemma. He charged the Government on the issue one vote one value. This, as I understand the argument in this debate, is the centre of it. In point of fact, it is the centre argument of the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition. 1 sat here and listened to the honourable gentleman this afternoon with attention. I thought he made an absolutely first rate speech, even if I disagree with it. He spoke with vigour and with great clarity, and I hope I will not be regarded as being impertinent for saying that. But I thought that he moved a very curious amendment. First of all he set out to say: ‘We accepted the proposed redistribution, but we accepted it with reluctance’. My mind ran back to the occasion when a character was before a court in western Queensland charged with cattle stealing. The jury was out for a long time and eventually came back. The judge’s associate said: ‘Gentlemen of the jury, have you reached a verdict? Do you find the prisoner guilty or not guilty?’ The foreman of the jury said: ‘Not guilty, provided he hands the cattle back’. The judge was a bit put out about this. He said: ‘You cannot return a verdict like that. Go back and reconsider it.’ So they went out and came back and were asked the question ‘Have you reached a verdict?’ ‘Oh yes’, the foreman said, ‘not guilty, and he need not hand the cattle back’.
I thought after I listened to my honourable friend that this was the kind of position he was in. He accepted the redistribution but accepted it with reluctance. Where does the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) stand? He intends to support the amendment. What does this amount to? The honourable gentleman has been put in the curious position of supporting this curious amendment and voting for it. In doing so he will be voting for a conspiracy. He will be voting for a proposal which, to use his own language, will put back democracy by a generation. This is a strange position for Her Majesty’s Opposition to be put in. Indeed, it is a strange position for the honourable member for Cunningham to be put in. The honourable gentleman is far too intelligent, if I may say so, to support this state of affairs. How can he possibly support a resolution on the one hand, with reluctance admittedly, and yet at the same time describe it as a conspiracy. This baffles me. Possibly the honourable gentleman at a later hour this day or tomorrow or even over a cup of tea may explain his point of view to me.
As I understand the Opposition’s argument, it is all against one vote one value. This is the age of slogans. People live by them and many perish by them. We are told we must have one vote one value and that as long as we have that all will be well. I hope I may be excused if I remind the House that since 1902 there has been a provision in the Commonwealth Electoral Act - this will interest the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), if I may say so in his absence - providing for a margin of allowance. The simple truth is that this is a very large continent. The electorate of the honourable member for Bradfield covers 25,600 acres. Half a dozen of us could probably clean up a muster on that area before lunch time. But people talk about large areas as though they do not represent difficulties for those who represent them. Sir, this is nonsense. Take the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter)-
– You take him.
– I do. He comes from a very fine and remarkable family and will hold his seat despite the honourable member’s threats. I would not represent the honourable member’s electorate if I were paid $40,000 a year because of the sheer physical difficulty of getting around the area.
– If the honourable member for Wills were out there he would be regarded as a clucky emu. These are large areas for people to look after. I will come back to the honourable member for Wills later. These are large areas and they pose tremendous problems and difficulties for the men who have to work them. I hope with the indulgence of the Whip to say something about the Queensland redistribution when it is made. But the point is that the difficulties of large electorates have been recognised since 1902. 1 would like to illustrate my point. Honourable members may think this quaint. Some years ago I had lunch in Canberra with a Fulbright scholar from America. He was a lecturer in journalism at an American university.
– An anthropologist, I suppose.
– By jove, he would have a special study with you. He told me he was in Australia to study the circulation methods of Australian daily newspapers. I asked him what on earth we could teach him in Australia about this. He looked at me as though I were something out of the ark and said that we could teach him a lot. 1 said: ‘Please tell me.’ He said that the distance between Brisbane and Townsville was about 1.200 miles. In the United States of America to travel over that distance a person would have to go through four or possibly five different States. He said he was amazed that a Brisbane newspaper could be delivered in Port Moresby in a matter of a few hours. This is the simple truth. That story, I hope, is a revelation of the nature of the problem that this country faces. This is a great land mass. Not only must people be represented; interests must also be represented.
– They threw this out in 1932.
– Oh yes, here is the avant garde. This is the great genius. Consider the electorate of Kennedy.
– What about Kalgoorlie?
– Or even Kalgoorlie. I think the honourable member for Dawson who interjects would agree that the representation of an electorate of the nature of Kalgoorlie poses immense physical problems. Are we to get to the stage of saying that we will take the electorate of Kalgoorlie right into the inner suburbs of Perth? Are we to say that we will take the electorate of Kennedy into the inner suburbs of Brisbane? These things have only to be mentioned to be seen as absurd. But the honourable gentleman lives on slogans. I suspect he may well perish, politically, not physically, on a slogan. It should be noted that 56% or 57% of our people live in 6 cities. This is a significant fact and one that will, I hope, arouse every person in this Parliament.
Let us take a look at the proposition of one vote one value. Is there any honourable member in the House who would seriously argue that the other place - it is not supposed to be called the Senate by honourable members - now is a State’s house? Of course it is not. It is a Party House in the very real sense of the word. Tasmania has a population of 370,000 and an electoral population of 203,000. From that State ten senators represent 20,300 people each. New South Wales has a population of 4.2m and has 2.3m electors. A senator from New South Wales represents 237,000 people. Is this one vote one value?
– lt should be.
– Of course it should. But it is an illusion to imagine that this is so. The fact remains, as I point out to my honourable friend with all the sense of gentleness of a meeting with the vicar after choir practice, that it is not possible, lt is a snare and an utter delusion to imagine that this goal today, in terms of practical application, can be achieved. When it comes to representation of the States in the House of Representatives, it is absurd that the New South Wales quota is of the order of 52,000 for each member and for Tasmania it is of the order of 40,000. Honourable members can see the difference-
– Are you attacking the Constitution?
– I am not attacking the Constitution. I am pointing to the difficulties that exist and I implore the honourable member for Brisbane to contribute his undoubted sense to the corporate sense of this place and help us to face the problems that devolve from the existing situation. But let me come closer to home - to my great friend the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam). He made this powerful speech, supported ably by the members who sit with him. When the Commission’s report came out in New South Wales, Grayndler, represented by the honourable gentleman who is shielding the light from his eyes at the moment but who, I am glad to see, is listening, was to contain about 60,000 voters.
– It has a good member.
– Oh, superb, but Grayndler is to be 14% above the quota in New South Wales.
– The commissioners know that ‘ I am a good man.
– Yes, all right, I am not going to argue that. Darling is to have 42,900 voters, or 18.65% below the quota. According to what 1 may describe as the Whitlam submission there is a difference of 32.65% one against the other.
– Let me accept the honourable gentleman’s description, but how did the Leader of the Opposition approach it? With a sense of outrage? Not at all! He wrote a letter to the Commission.
– He wrote five letters.
– Let me refer to the letter in which he dealt with the electorate of Prospect. I do not know whether Prospect offers any prospect at all one way or the other, although my friends opposite may know. But the Leader of the Opposition wrote pointing out that Prospect had 50,000- odd on the roll and Reid 57,000. We wanted to take 4,000 from the electorate of Prospect and add them to Reid. What would have been the effect of this? It would have brought Reid up to 61,000-odd or 16.8% above the quota. As a consequence it would have headed Grayndler. This was not to improve the position; it was to worsen it. I hope that my friend the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) will agree. He spoke in terms of riding instructions. I do not want to be as Bert Bryant says in Melbourne: ‘If you can’t back them on form you’ll finish up with a sandshoe on one foot and a sardine tin on the other’. Mr Speaker (Hon. W. J. Aston) represents an electorate of 3 to 4 square miles; the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) represents an electorate of 890,000 square miles. I ask honourable gentlemen, before they are encouraged to move in swiftly to condemn, to look earnestly and, I hope, honestly at the problems that are faced by a member representing an electorate of nearly 900,000 square miles. 1 understand that the redistribution proposals for Queensland are to be under challenge by the Opposition in another place.
Possibly the Government marginally is advantaged in Queensland, but I hope my friends opposite will not ignore the fact that the Government is disadvantaged in South Australia. If they are going to succumb to the temptation of approving of only those things that suit them and disapproving of those things that do not suit them, it may well be that the Government may be compelled to reject the submissions in respect of South Australia. The Opposition rejects the submission for Queensland; the Government accepts it and accepts the disadvantage in South Australia. I hope that tomorrow I will have the opportunity of talking in detail upon the Queensland proposals, but I say that the slogan of one vote one value is a slogan which, upon close analysis in terms of the realities of the Australian political situation, is a slogan that simply cannot stand up. It is a slogan which, if adopted, would disadvantage this country in one sense not marginally but in a very real and very massive way.
– I will speak principally of New South Wales and I do this because my electorate of Lawson is the only electorate in Australia which, to my mind, is marked down for absolute abolition. There may be other electorates which are recommended for abolition but my electorate is rather exceptional in that there is no other electorate in the country areas that could possibly be contested by a’ man who has been representing country electorates for a number of years. This comes about through the circumstance of the number of electors allotted to New South Wales. However, first I. should like to deal with the history of the electorate of Lawson.
In 1948 a major change took place in parliamentary representation. The House of Representatives was increased from a membership of 74 to 121. The number of members from New South Wales was increased from 28 to 47. Preferential voting was maintained. The Senate was increased from 36 to 60 members and a change was made from preferential voting to proportional voting. In the House of Representatives it was proposed that a division of Bligh should be formed from portions of Calare, Gwydir and Darling in the main. While the original recommendation was to call the division Bligh the name was changed to Lawson when the proposals were adopted on 2nd December 1948. In the 1955 redistribution Lawson lost the subdivisions of Coonamble and Merriwa but gained the subdivisions of Trundle, Clandulla, Glen Davis and Kandos. The redistribution of 1962 was not continued, as honourable members will remember, but the division of Gwydir was recommended for abolition. This brings us up to the present day and now Lawson is recommended for abolition in place of Gwydir.
The commissioners are men of integrity. They are not people who are chosen off hand; they are people selected for this most important job. It is a difficult task and the new conditions regarding factors to be considered in departing from the electoral quota, and the invitation of comments and suggestions, and other details of procedure, have altered their work somewhat. Any difference thai I may express with their proposals is purely a matter of opinion. After all the commissioners have expressed differences of opinion among themselves in dissenting reports.
According to the first page of their report the commissioners were informed by the Chief Electoral Officer that in New South Wales there were to be 45 instead of 46 divisions; that the number of electors in New South Wales was 2,376,220; that the quota tor New South Wales was to be 52,805; that the permissible maximum number of electors in a division was to be 63,365 and that the permissible minimum number was to be 42,244. This provided for a tolerance of 20% above or below the quota. 1 should mention here that in no division was that 20% tolerance achieved. In fact the biggest departure from the quota was a little over 18% in the electorate of Darling.
The duties of the commissioners are set out very well in the report which has been presented. The commissioners point out that they were required to invite suggestions and comments for their consideration before they actually commenced to carry out their main task. The suggestions and comments having been considered, the commissioners went on to consider the factors set out in paragraphs (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f) and (g) of paragraph 4 of their report. They are as follows:
These are important. Whilst the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) said that the big issue was one vote, one value, 1 believe that the factors which are listed in the report would have had a very considerable bearing on the recommendations which have been submitted. The commissioners also had to take into account the question of the tolerances allowed to enable these factors to be applied, where necessary. The next duty of the commissioners was to prepare a map, have it published and invite comments on it. They did this very effectively and very assiduously. In paragraph 8 they refer to the matters which affected the decision to recommend the abolition of the division of Lawson. They state:
Pursuant to Sections 18a and 21 of the Act, 205 suggestions, comments and objections relating to the proposed redistribution were lodged with your Distribution Commissioners. A number of these concerned the proposed abolition of a rural electorate.
There has been a lot of discussion today about Country Party electorates’, lt has been said that the abolition of Country Party electorates was a result of a deal with the Liberal Party, lt has been said that the Country Party wanted to retain Country Party electorates. In 1962 it was said that the Country Party objected to the loss of a Country Party electorate. Never have the words ‘Country Party’ been used in association with the loss of a rural electorate. In fact, on one occasion, after a meeting in my electorate I specifically wrote out and signed a Press statement, in which it was pointed out that the Country Party objected to the elimination of rural electorates. The Press altered the word ‘rural’ to ‘Country Party’. 1 want to emphasise here that the Country Party does not object to the abolition of Country Party electorates. It objects to the abolition of rural electorates, whether they be held by the Country Party the Labor Party or the Liberal Party. As I am reminded, the seat still has to be won. If you eliminate a Country Party electorate someone still has to win a seat covering the area. The commissioners went on to say, after making a correct interpretation with reference to rural electorates, as I would have expected them to:
However, after a thorough analysis of the dispersal of the population throughout the State and having regard to the trend of population changes, your Commissioners concluded that the abolition of a Division in New South Wales, as required under the determination made by the Chief Electoral Officer, must inevitably be outside the metropolitan area.
I emphasise that the commissioners concluded that the abolition of a division in New South Wales ‘must inevitably be outside the metropolitan area’. Frankly, I regret that that is not very convincing to me, and certainly not at all convincing to people in my electorate. They cannot believe that sufficient justification has been shown for not using the tolerances granted by the Electoral Act in order to prevent the loss of what we consider to be a vital country electorate.
Some 20 years after the original formation of the division of Lawson we have before us a proposal, not to abolish the division of Gwydir, as was proposed in 1 962, but to abolish the division of Lawson and to return the subdivisions to the adjacent electorates of Gwydir, Calare and Darling. So the wheel has now turned in two decades. Towns have become cities. Gravel roads are now bitumen. Landing strips are aerodromes taking large modern aircraft. Communications of all types - even the humble party telephone - have been replaced by automatic equipment to serve the rapidly developing primary industries. Amongst all this progress there is a proposal to reduce country representation in the Parliament of Australia.
Regard should be had to the limitations of the outcome of this debate. It can result in an acceptance or rejection of the commissioners’ proposals, - but not an amendment. If rejected I understand that, in terms that are not unfamiliar, the commissioners may be asked to have another look at the matter. To achieve what country people f.re asking for, that is, the retention of all current country divisions, would now require a completely new rearrangement of the proposals which have only been achieved after months of labour. This seems to me unreal at this time. The alternative is to leave the present boundaries undisturbed, as was done in 1962. However, since then such massive changes have taken place in the metropolitan area, as between adjacent divisions, that this seems equally unreal.
So I find myself looking back with some nostalgia to the original Lawson of 1949 - to the battle to establish this as a Country Party seat for country people, as was done with a majority of 4,000 votes, increasing to an absolute majority of double that number in 1966. So, as with so many other things with country people - with drought, with flood, with fires - the battle has been won but the victory has been taken from us. One country electoral division will be abolished. One country representative in the Commonwealth Parliament, regardless of party - and I emphasise that - will be surrendered by the two major parties on this submission.
Those of us who believe that the people living in the square miles of Australia should have access to political representation comparable within reason to their cousins living in the square feet of populated areas are bitterly disappointed. We had examples of this given to us tonight where in Darling the area is 132,000 square miles and the approximate density of population is 0.64 people per square mile and where in an inner city seat there are some 100,000 people living in just a few square miles. We are bitterly disappointed that the tolerances provided in the Electoral Act to make this possible have been so sparsely used by the commissioners and are aghast at the indifference of other parties to the great debt owed by all Australians to those who have contributed and are contributing so magnificently to this country’s welfare. If these proposals are not adopted at this time I believe that chaos will result, and I will not be a party to such a situation. I find myself impelled to support the motion, even though it means contributing to the destruction of my own electorate.
– lt is not my intention to challenge the effort of the commissioners, for having had an electorate of 85,000 voters I am more than delighted to know that this number will now be brought down to a more reasonable 5 1 ,000. I have been amused, however, to see the pantomime that has occurred over the last several days as to whether the Federal Executive of the Labor Party or the Federal caucus of the Labor Party is to have the power to approve or disapprove of these matters before the House.
– They are not much of a bargain, are they?
– Perhaps the bargain is not much as between the two bodies I have mentioned. I want to comment briefly upon the principles that are followed or should be followed by distribution commissioners in allocating names to proposed divisions. I appreciate that the naming of divisions is not one of the commissioners’ official functions. However they do, in fact, select names which come forward to the Houses of Parliament as firm recommendations which, in turn, have required legislative adjustment to alter - a difficult task if there is no Executive support.
However, upon reading through a list of electoral names that have been used, discarded, or freshly adopted, it is difficult to see what principles have been followed when Executive decisions have been made. It would seem to have been generally agreed that the name of an electorate should follow the sitting member, and this has been done in Victoria for the honourable members for Bruce and La Trobe. Yet it has not been done for the present member for Hughes despite objections lodged. Geographical names seem to have fallen into disfavour despite the selection of Ku-ring-gai in the State of New South Wales, and even this name covers an area included in another electorate. Names of eminent Federal politicians have been favoured by the Executive, if not the distribution commissioners, and one welcomes the use of Holt and Casey in Victoria and the retention of the names of Bruce and Isaacs in that State. Yet, at the same time, we see the equally eminent names of Watson and Parkes removed from the records.
– What about Chifley?
– I agree with the honourable member for Bendigo that it is a shame that the name Chifley has not been used. Poets seem to have had their day in the naming exercise in 1949, while botanists, explorers and engineers have all had their moments of popularity at some time or another. The sum total of this has amounted to thorough confusion among constituents as to the area of responsibility of their local Federal member. It causes a bewilderment as to why one electorate should bc named after a poetess who neither came from nor even wrote about the area now bearing her name and why another electorate should bear the name of the explorer and botanist called Cunningham, who had no connection whatsoever with the division named after him, while other electorates should bear the names of eminent federalists who had little to do with the areas that so honour their memories. These names may bring satisfaction to honourable members of this House but I can assure them that the average man in the street, should he bother to care, is confused.
In general principle, I believe that electorates should be named so as to permit easy identification. Generally speaking, this can best be done by the use of district names such as Eden-Monaro, Riverina and North Sydney. But even so, the use of famous names with strong local association, such as Kingsford-Smith, Wentworth and now Cook, can achieve the same degree of identification.
In the case of Cook, as suggested by the proposal before the House, there has been strong local support for this name. It is particularly appropriate that Captain Cook’s name should be given to the very area where he landed nearly 200 years ago and where we shall be celebrating the bicentenary of this historical event in 1970. At this point, may I invite all honourable members to go and see the fine exhibition at the National Library which has been specially mounted to celebrate the approaching bi-centenary of Cook’s landing within the electorate which shall now bear his name.
But, Mr Deputy Speaker, I mention the subject of naming electorates not with the hope of having any change made in the names before the House now but rather with the suggestion that a consistent policy be followed throughout Australia in future redistributions. Undoubtedly, there wiM be a large increase in the number of electorates and we will have to establish a long term plan so that due recognition will be given to those who have played an important part in Australia’s history, whether political, cultural or adventurous, while at the same time ensuring that electorate identification is not merely the private game of politicians and political scientists.
Accordingly, I was glad to hear the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) tell1 the House that he proposes to establish a joint party committee so that there will be some form of guidance in the future. T would prefer that such a committee be non-political and that its membership not be drawn from the parties in this House. It would therefore be more able to consider objectively the many suggestions put forward regarding divisional names so that a proper balance in the choice could be made and so that a consistent long term policy could , be achieved. It is important that the naming of electorates should be separated from the function of distribution commissioners in determining divisional boundaries. I would prefer that such a naming committee be established along the same lines as the National Memorials Committee or the various nomenclature boards in the several Slates.
In conclusion, I would like to express my parochial pleasure at the decision of the commissioners to include the townships of Bundeena and Maianbar and the suburb of Gray’s Point in the electorate to bc called Cook and, in so doing, to congratulate the three distribution commissioners appointed in New South Wales for having carried out their function of establishing new boundaries in that State, having regard to the physical’ features and existing boundaries of divisions and subdivisions, with what I regard as rare skill.
– At the outset I want to say that I support the decision of the distribution commissioners as it applies to the electorate of Eden-Monaro. Although I cannot even pretend to have made a thorough study of the decisions made elsewhere throughout Australia, from what I have seen and from what I understand of them I certainly support them also. Under the proposals before us the electorate of Eden-Monaro will gain approximately 27S square miles. This will lift the total area to 15,600 square miles - a large area, but by no means of the order of that of the divisions of Kalgoorlie and Darling.
There has been a lot of talk during this debate about the basic principle of one vote one value and about the difficulties of representing large areas of country. Personally, I believe that the over-riding principle - the one that must win the day in any long argument - is the principle of one vote one value. This should not be regarded as a slogan but as a basic part of democracy. Since federation we have noted that from the moment a distribution is determined the march of time and the movement of population have created a difference in electorates. It is just not practicable at this stage - I believe this point is recognised by the Opposition - to have a completely even or a very close numerical distribution of electors throughout Australia. If I understood the honourable member for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) correctly, he .said that the Labor Party would advocate a 10% margin each way rather than the present margin of 20%. That sounds like a reasonable proposition.
As the honourable member tor Moreton (Mr Killen) pointed out in relation to the present variation in New South Wales, if we add the number of electors below the quota for the division of Darling to the number of electors above the quota for the division of Grayndler we get a total of 32.66%. I think this is a little too high. What we must not forget but what my friend the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) forgets - and thereby spoils the basis of a good argument - is that the electors in Bradfield would scarcely survive without the contributions of the people in the country areas. He tends to forget that not only members of the Country Party support country interests but that Liberal Party members from country areas do so also.
I point out to the honourable member for Bradfield and other honourable members who share his point of view that representation of country areas has led to a great deal of development in those areas and is resulting in people being put into them. I know that the present obvious tendency to mechanisation and the adoption of modern farming methods mean that some people who formerly contributed to production from the land now work in city factories producing machinery. But at the same time it is country representation which is effectively helping to develop our timber resources, for example. This will put a lot of people back into country areas. Country representation has led to the development of industry in country areas. Basically, it is country representation that will ensure that the so-called dead heart of Australia will eventually be very productive. It is only with crass hypocrisy or perhaps, to be kinder, self delusion that members of the Opposition claim, as the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) did, that these redistribution proposals are a conspiracy against democracy in Australia, having regard to the fact that honourable members opposite are prepared to support the proposals. The honourable member is either completely incapable of following his argument through to conclusion or is deliberately trying to mislead the House. I understand - I sympathise with him in his predicament - that he is operating under a Labor Party rule which restricts him to the decisions of an outside organisation, so he comes into this place with very little liberty. But he has been a member of the Labor Party for some time and if he proposes to make accusations in the House of the kind he made tonight he should seek to justify them. He should explain why he speaks in this place in one way and proposes to vote in another way. We will watch with interest to see which way he does in fact vote.
I welcome the 2,213 additional electors who will be added to Eden-Monaro in the subdivision of Crookwell. I would like to have them in my electorate now, because this area would be at least one small corner of my electorate which is not completely stricken by drought. Equally I welcome to my electorate the 320 electors from around Sussex Inlet. Unlike the changes that have been made in some electorates, these two additions to my electorate will fit in with Eden-Monaro both from the point of view of location and community of interest.
– I do not want to traverse a great deal of the ground that has been covered by other speakers in this debate. I rise principally to speak about the electorate of Lyne. I regret that the commissioners did not accept the minority report presented by Mr Ley. In his report Mr Ley sets out with a great degree of clarity the reasons why he thinks the area around Walcha should have been left in the electorate of New England. I have a full appreciation of the complexity of the problems that confronted the commissioners as they set about their task of redistribution, particularly in New South Wales, which had to lose one seat and therefore will have one fewer members in the future Parliament. This matter was referred to by the honourable member for Lawson (Mr Failes). The arguments advanced by Mr Ley in his minority report were reasonable and understandable. The Walcha subdivision has all its association with the New England area. Having regard to the work that has been done for the electorate of New England by the people of the Walcha area I repeat that I regret that Walcha has not been retained in New England.
I will be only too happy to work in close collaboration with my colleague, the Minister for Shipping and Transport (Mr Sinclair), who is the honourable member for New England. I know something of New England, having had an association with the area some years ago. 1 have an appreciation of its problems and difficulties. While the subdivision of Walcha is in my electorate 1 shall do my best to help the people of the area.
I regret also that I am losing from my electorate the area of the Macleay River. I have had the privilege of representing this area since I entered the Parliament in 1952. I place on record my appreciation of the courtesy, kindness and hospitality shown to me by the people of the Macleay River area during the time I have represented them here. As for other areas now incorporated into the electorate of Lyne, I had the privilege of representing the people of
Gloucester prior to the redistribution of 1955. I look forward to representing them again in this Parliament, as I look forward to representing the people of Dungog and surrounding areas.
I would like to make a few brief comments about the arguments that have been advanced in support of the principle of one vote one value. Many of my colleagues on this side of the chamber have shown the fallacy of the arguments that have been advanced by the Labor Party. The honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine) said that if honourable members found their task as members of Parliament too difficult, they should resign. The honourable member for Blaxland (Mr E. James Harrison) said that the three New South Wales north coast electorates of Cowper, Lyne and Richmond could be represented by the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson). This many be so, because of the undoubted ability of my colleague from Cowper. I have the utmost confidence that the honourable member for Cowper, who will now represent the people of the Macleay River area, will bring to bear in his activities on their behalf the same ability and consideration as he has displayed in representing Cowper and as he displayed in representing Casino in the New South Wales Parliament. I have no fears about the continuing representation at the highest level of the people of the Macleay River area now that they are in the electorate of Cowper.
What most members have failed to appreciate when they have advanced the argument of one .vote one value is the physical impossibility of being able to cover a large area in a limited time. It is not a matter of extra work; it is just the impossibility of being able to get around your electorate. So, if an electorate is made larger the only result will be that the area will have fewer visits from its member because of the physical impossibility of being able to pay attention to the area in the days and hours at the member’s disposal. That is why we submit that area should be considered. It is logical and sensible to consider area as well as population.
I am sure that those who are engaged in the great primary industries will have been interested to hear some of the remarks made by members of the Labor Party, who said that primary producers are not important to the economy or the progress and development of Australia. I suggest that views such as that are reasons why the Opposition represents so few rural seats in the Commonwealth. The people in the rural areas realise that basically the Opposition in this Parliament is not interested in our great primary industries.
As I have said, I regret that Mr Lee’s minority report was not accepted. However, I support the proposals for redistribution as submitted to the House and reject the amendment moved by the Leader of the Opposition.
– I had not intended entering the debate until I heard the speeches made by the honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) and the honourable member for Eden-Monaro (Mr Munro). I cannot let them get away with the blue murder that they attempted to commit tonight in their statements about the Australian Labor Party and its representation of country areas. The honourable member for Eden-Monaro and other honourable members have accused members of the Opposition of being bound in their attitude towards the redistribution proposals by the decision of an outside body, namely the Federal Executive of the Labor Party. I understand that the Federal Executive of the Liberal Party met to discuss the proposed Federal divisions of Australia, and I know that the Democratic Labor Party outlined its decision at its Federal conference. If the truth were known, the federal executive of the Country Party has also made some sort of decision on this matter.
– It has not met.
– If it has not met I will be very surprised. I just want to put the record straight. The Labor Party is not different from the Liberal Party when it comes to the making of a decision by the federal executive. The Country Party sits in this Parliament as if it were the custodian of every farmer in this country. That is the greatest lie that was ever put over the Federal Parliament. I would like to give some facts about this right now. The honourable member for Lyne (Mr Lucock) said that the Labor Party is not interested in the primary producer. That, too, is an outrageous untruth, as will be seen from our record in the days of the Chifley Government and the work our committees have done since that time. If honourable members want the facts, I point out thirteen of the forty-two electorates represented by the Labor Party in this Parliament are rural electorates. This side of the House represents 30% of Australian farmers. I have listened to the skiting and boasting of honourable members opposite for so long that I am sick and tired of it. Let us have a look at the facts; they are what I talk about. Members on the other side of the Parliament, including the Country Party, do not have a monopoly over the representation of the interests of our primary producers. Government members represent twenty-nine rural seats out of a total of eighty. In other words, 30% of the members of the Government parties represent country electorates and 30% of the Labor Opposition represents country electorates. Let us not have any more of these lies that are told to the country inside this House and outside about the Country Party being the only custodian of the farmers.
– Name the electorates.
– I have them marked off.
– Have them incorporated in Hansard.
– Would honourable members like to hear them?
– The Labor Party represents the country electorates of Bendigo, Bass, Darling, Kalgoorlie, Braddon, Wilmot, Capricornia, the country districts of the electorate of the Australian Capital Territory, Wide Bay, Macquarie, Leichhardt and Dawson. Let us get the story quite straight. I do not mind the Country Party representing country seats but I do mind its members standing up here and making out that they are the be all and end all of representation and that the Labor Party and the Liberal Party do not represent any country seat. This side of the Parliament has a creditable performance despite all that has been said against it. The Labor Party represents many thousands of farmers of all types. My own view is that the number of representatives in this Parliament of the country parts of Australia must never be reduced. I do not go along with this talk about representing acres, gum trees and fences. That is what the country is made up of. There is nothing clever in making statements like that.
– Members of your Party make statements like that.
– I know. I am against that type of statement because the country represents the productive capacity of Australia. There are thousands of acres with only a few farmers living on them. You cannot avoid that. The country is made up of acres and the people on those acres are the people who are represented in this Parliament. I am opposed to any reduction in the number of country electorates in Australia or to any curtailment of the voice of the rural section of our community. The cities of this country run Australia. Sydney and Melbourne practically run all the business in Australia and have a great influence on this Parliament. I do not know how many seats there are in Melbourne or Sydney but there are too many in comparison with the number of country seats. I do not care who knows it. That is my view on the matter. We must not let this get out of balance. Centralisation will increase the voice of the cities in this Parliament and decrease the voice of the country. That is bad. The Labor Party has a decentralisation committee. The chairman of that committee, the honourable member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton), is sitting at the table now. We are trying to straighten out this crazy pattern of the exodus of people from the country to the city and the denuding of our country districts of people. This has to be stopped, and I am one of those who support the movement of people back from the cities to the country and not from the country to the cities.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mr Whitlam’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . 29
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move the amendment that I foreshadowed earlier in the following terms:
That the following words be added to the motion: but regrets that the Report did not have better regard to the trend of population changes in the State, which were not applied in a uniform manner in relation to all the other factors required to be taken into account’.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
That the words proposed to be added (Mr Kevin Cairns’ amendment) be added.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 22
Question so resolved inthe negative.
Original question, as amended, resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– Tonight I want to take the opportunity to raise the case of a constituent of mine. This is a repatriation matter and I am pleased to see that the Minister for Civil Aviation (Mr Swartz), who represents the Minister for Repatriation (Senator McKellar), is present in the House. I trust that after I have made some points tonight in relation to this case he will be able to indicate perhaps that the Minister and the Department will take a more favourable attitude towards this case.
Naturally I am not prepared to mention the name of the constituent. Although he is only in his early middle age, he has been suddenly afllicted by a distressing condition known as presenile dementia. This man has had to undergo treatment in a mental institution and he is now unemployable because of his mental and physical condition. Although he is only in his early middle age, he spends most of his days at the Senior Citizens’ Club. He has become a vegetable. Despite this his repeated requests for a repatriation pension and his appeals for a total and permanent incapacity pension have been rejected. I draw the attention of the Minister and of the House to the relevant sections of the Repatriation Act concerning the granting of pensions. Section 24(1.) states:
Upon the death or incapacity-
of any person, to. whom paragraph (a) or (b) of the definition of ‘Member of the Forces’ applies, whose death or incapacity -
results or has resulted from any occurrence that happened during his war service:
does not arise from intentionally selfinflicted injuries, and
does not arise from, or from any occurrence that happened during the commission of, any serious breach of discipline by that person, . . .
The other relevant part of this section is sub-section (2.) which states:
Notwithstanding that the origin of the cause of the death or incapacity of a member of the Forces, who, after enlistment with those Forces, served in camp in Australia for at least six months or embarked for active service with those Forces overseas, existed prior to his enlistment, where, in the opinion of a Board -
the incapacity from which the member is suffering or from which he has died has been contributed to in any material degree, or has been aggravated, by the conditions of his war service; and
neither the death or incapacity, nor the origin of the cause of the death or incapacity, was due to the serious default or wilful act of the member, . . .
I submit to the Minister and to the House that this case involving my constituent is covered by the relevant sections of the Act to the extent that he does have an entitlement for a pension. Certainly his present condition did not arise as a result of any breach of discipline or any wilful act on his part.
I stress that there is evidence that in fact the condition from which this man is suffering has been contributed to in a marked and material degree and has been aggravated by the conditions of his war service. He went away to the war in New Guinea and while serving there under stressful conditions of conflict suffered a serious nervous condition and a -breakdown resulting in his being hospitalised and sent away from a forward area for some time. In the first instance there is evidence that this man, as a result of the stress to which he was subjected, had to be placed in a hospital. He had failed to handle successfully the situation in which he had been placed. There is no doubt from the evidence available to me that this man’s personality was such that he was unable effectively to handle this sort of stressful situation that confronted him during his military service, but this is not a fault of his. He went into the Army; he was accepted by the Army; he was sent to a forward area; and because of his experience in that forward area and deficiencies in his personality, whatever they might have been, he suffered this collapse. In fact his present condition was contributed to by the aggravating experiences that he had during his war service. As I have said, ite suffers from presenile dementia.
I have made a number of representations to the Repatriation Department, but I have never had from the Department a comprehensive explanation explicitly stating the reasons why this man’s applications for a pension have been rejected. He has appealed to the appeal tribunals and to the Repatriation Commission - in fact he has gone through all the usual procedures - but without success. Section 47 of the Act states very clearly that an applicant or appellant must be given the benefit of any reasonable doubt which can be raised in the minds of members of the tribunal who are hearing an appeal. The Department makes some play of the expression that the doubt must be in the minds of members of the tribunal. As a matter of fact, in one letter to me the Department stressed quite strongly that the doubt must be in the minds of the determining authorities and not in the mind of the claimant, appellant or some other person. This is a fair enough assertion on the part of the Department. Nevertheless, the fact is that a reasonable doubt is one that would be in the minds of all reasonable persons.
From my experience of appeal tribunals I have grave doubt whether reasonable doubts are always entertained by members of the tribunals. We even had the spectacle in recent times of senior officials of the Returned Services League going to the extent of stating that pressure had been applied to members of a tribunal to ensure that favourable decisions were kept to a minimum. If there is any truth in these statements then quite obviously reasonable doubt is not a determining factor and is not an influencing force in the decisions of the members of these tribunals. Rather, the pressure of the Government has been the deciding factor. Is there cause for the entertainment of reasonable doubt on the part of the members of a tribunal? I have copies of two medical certificates from qualified psychiatrists who staff the special hospital, which is the term used in Queensland for mental institutions, in which this constituent of mine was a patient for some time. One is from a ward medical officer and states:
This man was admitted to Brisbane Special Hospital on October 4th 1966 as a regulated patient suffering from presenile dementia. He was discharged after a period of leave on 20th May, 1967.
His illness began about 4 years prior to admission to this hospital and his social behaviour, personality and intellectual capacity progressively deteriorated until the time of his admission.
Though it is not conceivable that his dementia is caused by his war service, this type of illness would caricature his previous personality, and so would exaggerate any psychological abnormality caused by his war service-
I stress these words - would exaggerate any psychological abnormality caused by his war service. To this extent his war service would have contributed to the extent of his present disability.
This is a clear dogmatic statement by a qualified medical authority who is much more experienced than any member of the repatriation tribunal. I dare say that he would have a deal more experience than probably some of the specialists to whom these cases are referred. The doctor went on to state:
I feel that this possible aggravation of his disability by his war service and its consequent traumata warrants a reconsideration of his case.
The letter by the medical superintendent, in part, stated:
However, this illness would aggravate any psychological abnormality caused by his war service to the extent that such aggravation of a disorder caused by his war service would seriously detract from an adequate adjustment to his early dementia. 1 feel therefore that his war service has contributed to his disability and that on these grounds his case should be reconsidered.
Two highly qualified practical medical specialists gave opinions from which it is clear that a reasonable doubt should be entertained by the tribunal. Section 47 of the Act clearly states that the benefit of any reasonable doubt should be given to the appellant. Surely this is a case for reasonable doubt. I would like to know the grounds on which this reasonable doubt was not entertained by the tribunal. 1 suggest that some sort of inquiry should be conducted on an official level, through the Minister, to establish just why this reasonable doubt has been rejected, especially in the face of this qualified opinion.
– I rise mainly to correct some impressions which have been given in the Press and over television and radio in recent days, concerning the proposed movement of the honourable member for Yarra (Or J. F. Cairns) into the electorate of Lalor. I see that the honourable member is not in the chamber to hear what I have to say. I also want to speak on the credibility of the Australian Labor Party following the great fight that occurred for the seat of Melbourne and which culminated in the towel being thrown in from the challenger’s corner in the fifteenth round.
– Who wrote this?
– I wrote it. The Labor Party has questioned the credibility of my Party, the Liberal Party, in recent years, and I would like to question the credibility of the Labor Party for a few moments. As honourable members know, there has been a big confrontation between the two leading members of the Labor Party concerning the new electorate of Melbourne. One of the parties to this dispute has made some bold statements and has been made to retreat from the stand he took. This man was the honourable member for Yarra, a front bench member of the Labor Party, who recently confronted the Leader of the Opposition in a close fight for the leadership. Now he has decided to stand for the seat of Lalor the seat that I now represent.
First of all, I want to correct an impression that he gave in a Melbourne television interview on Sunday night, when he indicated quite clearly that he could do a lot more for the seat of Lalor than had been done for some time. He may not have meant that as a reflection on me and my representation of the area. He also may not have meant it as a reflection on my predecessor. But that was the impression that viewers would have received as they watched their television sets late on Sunday night. Perhaps he was tired. I think that would be so, because he bad had a very heavy week. The wrong words may have slipped out. But I believe that he should clarify what he meant during the television interview. I suggest that he should wait and see whether he wins the seat. He certainly has not won the seat of Yarra by large margins in recent years. If he does win the seat of Lalor the people will make up their own minds about his representation. 1 claim to have done my very best to represent this very large electorate. I have been moving about quite considerably since I moved into the area. I have been visiting the various larger centres quite often and have been trying to keep in close contact with the people in the area. I am going out to Sunshine and Altona next week to make sure that the people do not believe that the honourable member for Yarra has already taken up residence in the new electorate of Lalor. I must mention another difference of opinion. The honourable member for Yarra claimed that the electorate of Lalor was not a traditional Labor seat. I ask him: ‘Why not?’ A seat that Labor held for 18 years after its inception must surely be regarded as a traditional Labor seat. The distribution commissioners must have thought it had some connection with the Labor Party, because no sooner had the Liberal Party won it than they decided that the better end of it - the new seat of Lalor - should be named Lalor. Apparently they considered that Peter Lalor was more akin to fellows such as the honourable member for Yarra than to people such as myself. 1 would like to dispute that fact at a later time.
Another misunderstanding that developed towards the end of the pantomime last week was the implication that I was deserting my present seat because the honourable member for Yarra was moving in. Nothing could be further from the truth because at the time he was denying any interest in the seat my Party was declaring me as the member for the new seat of Diamond Valley, which has appeared on the north eastern fringe of Melbourne and which will take in part of my present seat of Lalor. What a great story has appeared in the Press over recent weeks! The sad part about it for the Labor Party was that the basic facts were true.
It is true that the redistribution proposals presented a considerable problem for the Labor Party, and the Party has my sympathy. Two leading members were available and there was only one seat near the centre of the city for them to contest. I think the honourable member for Yarra decided as soon as the redistribution proposals were published that he would seek the seat of Melbourne. After all, I suppose that he had a strong claim to it, provided the sitting member did not object. But apparently there was some objection - and a considerable objection. One could not imagine the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) contesting the seat of Lalor, for instance. I do not think any of us could picture him out on the periphery of Melbourne. So pressure had to be exerted, lt was intense pressure, but it failed. 1 ask honourable members to listen to some of the headlines that appeared in the newspapers. I will read only a few of them. There were many others. On 26th August the ‘Australian Financial Review’ indicated that the scramble for seats was warming up. An ‘Age’ editorial on 5th September suggested that it was time for the right honourable member for Melbourne to bow out. On 7th September it was reported that the Victorian Central Executive of the Australian Labor Party had issued an order to prevent a preselection clash between the right honourable member for Melbourne and the honourable member for Yarra. There were many conferences behind the scenes and many meetings of the Victorian Central Executive. On 12th September the Age’ announced that Labor Party officers would meet in Melbourne on the 13th to avert a light. These are the events that led up to the great Eltham meeting which was held the week-end before last behind closed doors. The Victorian State Secretary of the Party moved out from the centre of Melbourne, wearing tinted glasses, for the home of Mr Hartley in Eltham. Quite clearly the Party tried io shake off all newspaper reporters.
The honourable member for Yarra made the decision to surrender finally on Thursday afternoon last. This was after some last minute attempt to patch up the argument. The Party decided to hold a dinner at Kew. Perhaps the officers thought that they would get the honourable member for Yarra in the right mood by having dinner together and being chummy. But later in the evening it was indicated clearly to the honourable member for Yarra that it would be Lalor or nothing. So towards the end of the week the honourable member for Yarra bad to climb down and make the announcement that he would stand for the electorate of Lalor, ls it any wonder that on a television programme on Sunday night the honourable member for Yarra was asked whether he now considered that the Labor Party could be regarded by the people as an alternative choice to the present Government?
Although I have disagreed with much of his philosophy I have, in the past, admired the consistency of the honourable member for Yarra in sticking to his beliefs despite great pressures against him. Even now he appears to have been the victim of the Party machine, but I believe that his own prestige and the prestige of his Party have suffered greatly. He admitted on television that he himself had made mistakes. I was greatly surprised that the honourable member would admit this. Perhaps the honourable member should have sweated it out and been rejected by the Party. No doubt he would have returned with added prestige, perhaps even to lead the Parly in future days. But the big question is this: Can the Australian people rely on a Party such as this for the stable government which it wants - a Party which is seething with bitterness and disharmony between its leaders; a Party which is firmly controlled by people who do not have to answer to the constituents? I leave it to the people of Australia to make up their own minds.
– 1 would not normally bother about replying in a situation like this and would not do so had it not been for two conversations that the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Lee) had with me prior to his speech tonight. This evening he has become extremely political. We have hardly heard anything of him during his term in the House but tonight, at the end of his service in the national Parliament, he has seen fit deliberately to use politically loaded terms. He spoke of my surrender, my climbing down. Because the honourable member has taken a position like this there are one or two things that I want to say about him. This evening’s speech has been an attempt by him to get publicity. Last Friday afternoon he rang me at my home and told me that he badly needed publicity. He asked whether I would mind if he challenged me to stand for Burke or Diamond Valley, and T said: ‘No, certainly not.’ So the honourable member, having admitted on the telephone on Friday afternoon that he badly needed publicity, has seen fit to use the adjournment debate tonight to try to get it.
Yesterday, 1 think, he said that he heard me say on television that under the new distribution I thought that Lalor would have better service than in the past. I said that I did say that, but that I meant that under the new distribution Lalor would have 48,000 electors and not 115,000 electors. He did not see fit to mention that in his publicity seeking speech this evening. Since yesterday I have made some inquiries. Now I am prepared to say that should 1 represent Lalor after the next election it will get much better service than it has from the honourable member who has represented it since the last election. I have made inquiries in Sunshine, Brooklyn and Altona and I have found that he has not been heard of in those places. Having made these inquiries ‘ 1 now make the considered statement that I feel sure that whoever represents Lalor after the next election, it will be represented better than it has been by the present member. In his attempt to get publicity tonight he has quoted headlines.
I think it will be a long time before the honourable member can make a headline for himself. If he gets publicity it will be as a result of using other people’s headlines.
I want to say only one more thing about the honourable member. He said that the Australian Labor Party had to use a lot of influence to get me to stand for Lalor. I wonder how much influence the Liberal Party of Australia would have to use to get him to stand for Lalor at the next election. I wonder what methods the Liberal Party would have to use to get the honourable member to stand for Lalor. I am sure it would take that Party much longer th.m
I I hours to get him to do that. Perhaps the honourable member will succeed in withstanding the opposition of the branches of the Liberal Party in Diamond Valley to his being foisted on them. I should imagine that if he succeeds and if he is re-elected he will be a little more careful in using politically loaded terms about people against whom he will find himself quite vulnerable in the future.
I want to use the remainder of my time to say a word or two to the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall). He is responsible in the House for the consequences of the unfortunate decision to purchase the Fill aircraft. The significant feature of the aircraft is that it has a variable wing. This distinguishes it from most other aircraft. From the United States of America evidence is accumulating that the whole concept and practice of the swing wing has come under suspicion so much that the large American companies, except General Dynamics Corporation, will not go ahead with the design for any type of aircraft. This morning the Minister was asked a question by the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). In reply he gave the impression that the Boeing company may not have made this decision. I ask him to clear up the matter. He is the Minister responsible for the expenditure of perhaps S300m. Although he did not sign the original contract - if there is a contract - he is responsible for the expenditure. We have a right to expect something better than some uncertainty about what Boeing has done. The evidence that 1 and other honourable members on this side of the House have been able to collect indicates that Boeing has changed the SST from a swing wing to a fixed wing.
– No decision has been made yet.
– If any honourable member opposite can give us any other information I shall be very happy to hear it. Also, the evidence is that the Boeing company has cut down its research on the swing wing aircraft to 3% of its total research. What is more, the Minister for Defence said that this may be the case with the SST, a large passenger aircraft, but that it does not necessarily apply to the Fill. If the Minister said this and if this is so I want to know whether there is any technical foundation for it or whether it is just the Minister’s own idea. It may be sound for the large commercial aircraft but it still might not apply to the Fill which is a different type of aircraft. I want to know whether this is the technical advice, and if so, whose technical advice, or whether it is just the Minister’s opinion.
There are a number of other questions to which I think this House is entitled to an answer. I understand that eleven F1 1 1 aircraft have crashed. Is it not a fact lhat a very large proportion of the Fill aircraft which have actually flown have crashed? How many, in addition to the eleven which have crashed, have in fact flown successfully and for how long? In other words, is there any record whatever of successful flight tests by any Fill aircraft? I think that sooner or later the Minister must be prepared to inform the House - paying due regard but not overdue regard to security - of the sort of task, in the defence of Australia, which the Fill is expected to perform. It would seem to me that in answering this question the Minister must sooner or later say, assuming the aircraft, is based in Australia on some airstrip that can carry it, how far it can fly away from Australia and return? Is it limited to a flight of less than 1,000 miles? Is that the maximum range which the Fill aircraft based in Australia can reach? What sort of payload could it carry under these circumstances? Would this be possible only with a nuclear payload, or would it be possible with a conventional one? I think the position has been reached that, without any further delay, we must expect the presentation of some papers and documents about this aircraft. So far the Government has completely refused to present any papers or documents, despite a Senate motion which requested that they should be produced. How long have we to wait? How long have the people of Australia to wait for some satisfactory answer about an aircraft that has been a failure from the time it first left the ground?
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes, I do. The reason why I spoke tonight was that the honourable member for Yarra clearly said on television on Sunday night - and I was not there to refute what he said - that he could do a lot more for the seat of Lalor than has been done for some time. I wanted to clearly deny that statement tonight.
– The voters of Lalor will be able to make their decision in due course. Actually, I was quite excited when I heard that the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Lee) was going to attempt to become the member for Diamond Valley, I would be a constituent of his, in a sort of way, as my home is in that area. I am not prepared to say at this moment that he would be an improvement on the present incumbent of the electorate for Lalor because honourable members opposite seem to get hurt when you say that sort of thing. So we welcome him with open arms and with full and vigorous opposition.
I want to arouse the interest of the House in another question which has to deal with a matter contained in the report of the National Capital Development Commission. In the report which was issued yesterday it is shown that the ring road is still on the agenda. I speak now, regarding us all as colleagues together, because in this issue we have crossed all sorts of Party and other boundaries. The fact is that the ring road around Capital Hill inside State Circle will reduce by 45 acres the area inside State Circle available for a new parliament house. I believe that in the face of the decision of the Senate and what is probably a pending decision of this House the National Capital Development Commission, with a proper respect for this institution and its possible decisions, ought to be prevented from carrying out any operations whatsoever inside that area. If one looks at the Holford report of about 9 or 10 years ago one will find that the recommendation was that the ring road should be constructed because it would take traffic away from Parkes Place if the parliament house were placed there.
-Order! I think the honourable member will be transgressing Standing Orders if on the motion for the adjournment he relates this road to any great extent to the proposed new parliament house, because this would be to anticipate a debate on the notice paper.
– I apologise. I would not do a thing like that. It was simply a report of the National Capital Development Commission which contained this dreadful information.
– in reply - The honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns) has been engaged over recent weeks in matters which have engaged the attention and, as he says, the headlines of the national Press and, indeed, the attention of all other media of communication. There have been gyrations and there have been gymnastics. There has been hunting. There has been a favourite. There has been an overturning of the favourite and now we all know the result. What did happen in the course of that small contretemps was that the problems of the Australian Labor Party were exposed for all of the people to see.
– I raise a point of order. The Minister moved the adjournment of the House. In speaking now. is he placing a gag on any other member?
– There is no point of order, but for the information of the House let me say that the Minister is closing the debate on the adjournment.
– Putting a gag on. in other words.
– Order! I call the Minister.
– The honourable member for Yarra said that headlines had been made, and I agree. He said words to the effect that the honourable member for Lalor (Mr Lee) was seeking to obtain headlines; with that I do not agree. I think that what has happened is this: The honourable member for Yarra had his tail twisted considerably over the last few weeks and he regretted that his tail was twisted by the honourable member for Lalor tonight. I can understand his being unhappy about that andI do not want to engage in any tail twisting.
– Did you not get your tail twisted?
– Order! The honourable member for Reid will cease interjecting.
– How many votes did the Minister get for the leadership?
– Order! I warn the honourable member for Reid.
– What I do want to say is that the honourable member for Yarra unfortunately, in naturally defending himself, said things about the honourable member for Lalor which I am sure the honourable member for Yarra. if he gave a few more minutes thought to them, would wish that he had not said. I want to identify those things said, which I am sure the honourable member for Yarra - knowing him as we do in this House over a period of years - would not wish to be remembered for having said. By the nature of the language which the honourable member for Lalor used, he elicited a response which in the thrust and parry of debate is to be expected, but I want to make it perfectly clear that the response of the honourable member for Yarra is not shared by anybody on this side of the House and. I am sure, in fact is not shared by members on the other side of the House. The fact isthat the honourable member for Lalor has been assiduous in his work in the Parliament. There are few honourable members in this House who have been in attendance in the chamber as regularly and as constantly as he has. He has been engaged in work on Government member’s committees. Those who serve on those committees are well aware of what he has done. From my own personal knowledge, Mr Speaker, he has been equally assiduous and attentive to his electorate. For myself J hope that he, unlike certain honourable members on the other side of the House, will remain in the service of this Parliament for a great deal of time in the future.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
House adjourned at 11.51. p.m.
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry, upon notice:
What was the total cost of sending the Australian delegation to Geneva for the recently completed Sugar Conference?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The Department of External Affairs, which is responsible for the administrative arrangements associated with the Sugar Conference, has incurred expenditure with respect to the meetings held in April-June, 1968, totalling $A39,533. The costs of industry advisers attached to the delegation were borne by their respective organisations.
Royal Australian Air Force (Question No. 462)
asked the Minister for Air, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
RAAF. It is mandatory for the Directorate of Flying Safety to investigate accidents which:
are likely to result in more than usual public interest.
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Some offsets could be allowed against these costs in respect of people of pensionable age who are mental hospital patients or who are already in receipt of, for example, service pensions from the Repatriation Department or widows’ pensions from the Social Services Department. The extent of the offsets would depend on the extent of the limitation placed on the receipt of dual pensions from the Commonwealth.
As indicated in the answer to part 1. of the question some offsets could be allowed against these costs. If payments were restricted to those persons who earned not more than the amount of the age pension the costs would be reduced but it is not possible to estimate the effect of such a qualification.
asked the Minister for Labour and National Service, upon notice:
On what dates have he- and his predecessors tabled statements relating to the instruments adopted at sessions of the International Labour Conference?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The practice of tabling statements in relation to the instruments adopted at Sessions of the International Labour Conference commenced with the 34th (1951) Session. Statements were tabled as follows: 34th Session - House of Representatives, 15th October 1953; Senate, 16th October 1953. 35th, 36th and 37th Sessions- House of Representatives, 30th October 1956; Senate, 31st October 1956. 38th and 39th Sessions - House of Representatives and Senate, 1st October 1958. 40th Session - House of Representatives, 7th December 1960; Senate, 8th December 1960. 42nd Session - House of Representatives and Senate, 12th April 1962. 43rd Session - House of Representatives, 1st November 1967: Senate, 2nd November 1967. 44th Session - House of Representatives, 22nd September 1966; Senate, 27th September 1966. 45th Session - House of Representatives and Senate, 28th September 1965. 46th Session - House of Representatives and Senate, 2nd November 1967. 47th Session - House of Representatives, 4th June 1968: Senate, 5th June 1968.
asked the Minister for Immi gration, upon notice:
– The answers to the honour able member’s questions are as follows:
Section 14 of the Migration Act 1958-1966 is the only provision for deportation contained in the legislation which provides for the potential deportee to be given notice in writing by the Minister for Immigration of the grounds upon which it is proposed to order his deportation.
Section 14 provides that the potential deportee may within 30 days of the receipt of the notice request that his case be considered by a Commissioner. If he so elects, a hearing is arranged and the Commissioner investigates whether or not [he ground specified in the notice has been established.
Section 14 (8.) of the Migration Act provides:
Where a notice has been served on a person under sub-section (3.) of this section, the Minister shall not order the deportation of that person under this section unless -
that person does not request in accordance with the notice, that his case be considered by a Commissioner;
that person, having been summoned under this section to appear before a Commissioner, fails so to appear at the lime and place specified in the summons; or
a Commissioner reports under this section in relation to that person that he considers that the ground specified in the notice has been established.’
On this basis, the following information is given in answer to the specific points raised:
Nine. One of these was not proceeded with and a second was withdrawn following a serious offence being committed by the person subsequent to the serving of the notice and an alternative deportation provision of the Migration Act was used.
Two. A third person departed voluntarily.
Three. In the remaining case the Commissioner found that the ground as stated in the notice given to the person had nol been established to his satisfaction. Accordingly the Minister was precluded from making the order for deportation.
The Hon. Fred Russel Beauchamp Martin, a former Judge of the Supreme Court of Victoria; the Hon. Sir Edward James Ranembe Morgan, South Australia, a former. Judge of the Commonwealth Industrial Court; Mr Francis Theodore Page Burt, Q.C., Western Australia.
asked the Minister for Social Services, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for External Territories, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Air, upon notice:
On what dates has he inspected the Royal Australian Air Force facilities at Learmonth, Darwin, Tindal and Townsville?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Other ministerial duties have precluded me from personally inspecting these RAAF strips since my appointment as Minister for Air on 28th February 1968. From previous visits, except as to Tindal, I am generally familiar with the nature of the airstrips and have constantly available reliable technical advice concerning their operation.
– On 24th September the honourable member for Lang (Mr Stewart) asked the following questions without notice concerning the Navy’s Skyhawk aircraft:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
What have been the weight and length of the rails used for the railways constructed or reconstructed wholly or partly with Commonwealth moneys in the last 20 years?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
Does he agree with his predecessor (Hansard, 23 August 1967, page 331) that the construction of a railway between Whyalla and Port Augusta will not be undertaken before the standard gauge railway is extended from Port Pirie to Adelaide?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Previous studies of the economies of a railway between Port Augusta and Whyalla indicated that successful operation would depend on the availability of a standard gauge connection to Adelaide. Recent developments in the steel traffic from Whyalla, particularly the decision by the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd to transport steel to New South Wales by rail from Whyalla, instead of by ship, have indicated the need to re-assess the position. This review is being carried out at the present time, and a report will be submitted to the Government in due course.
asked the Minister for Shipping and Transport, upon notice:
What stage has been reached in the plans to establish an Australian shipping register?
– The answer to honourable member’s question is as follows:
The form. and content of Australian legislation, on this subject has been considered by representatives of the various departments concerned. Some important legal issues remain to be resolved. Discussions arc continuing between officers of the Attorney-General’s Department and my Department.
asked the Minister for Civil Aviation, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 25 September 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19680925_reps_26_hor60/>.