26th Parliament · 2nd Session
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston) took the chair at 10.30 a.m., and read prayers.
Mr COSTA presented a petition from 4,315 electors in the Division of Banks praying that this House will take suitable action to provide increased financial assistance towards the operating costs of independent schools.
Petition received and read.
Sir JOHN CRAMER presented a petition from certain citizens of Australia praying that this House take action to restore some of the tribal lands to the Gurindji tribesmen and other Aboriginals so that their culture may bc appreciated and the process of assimilation gradually achieved.
Petition received and read.
Mr WEBB 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.
Similar petitions were presented by Mr Clyde Cameron, Mr Crean and Mr Cross.
Petitions severally received.
– I ask the Minister for Health a question. As the daily hospital fees in New South Wales hospitals have risen in the last 10 years from $3 to $10 for beds in public wards, from $5.40 to $13.50 for beds in intermediate wards, and from $7.20 to $16.20 for beds in private wards, 1 ask the Minister whether consideration has been given to raising the Commonwealth hospital benefits, which have remained unchanged throughout those 10 years.
– The honourable gentleman was accurate in stating that New South Wales had increased its hospital charges. This has brought them roughly into line with charges in all other States except Queensland. Hospital fees in New South Wales are now comparable with the fees that have existed in Victoria for 2 years. These new charges no doubt reflect the increased cost of running hospitals, this being a world wide phenomenon and not an Australian one. Tables already existing und;r the health insurance scheme in New South Wales will cover the new public ward and intermediate ward charges. The amount of benefit payable under the highest table is very close to the new private ward charges.
No doubt the hospital benefit funds will introduce new tables to cover the new higher private ward charge and. as is the usual situation, people will be able to transfer to the new tables without having to observe the normal waiting period. The Commonwealth Government has from time to lime given consideration to the appropriate level of Commonwealth hospital benefits. At present the Nimmo committee, an independent committee, is inquiring into the whole question of the coverage of the hospital and medical benefits scheme in Australia, and 1 believe it would be appropriate for the Government to leave consideration of questions of this sort until it has the benefit of the report in depth of the Nimmo committee. Consideration of this and other approaches to the problem will be undertaken by the Government, as stated in the Governor-General’s Speech, when we have received that report.
– 1 address my question to the Minister for External Territories. Has the Minister’s attention been directed to the final examination paper in law set this year for patrol officers by the Administrative College in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea? Is he aware that the first question on this paper deals with a hypothetical drunken sex orgy held in Port Moresby between a group of nurses and patrol officers and that the question describes this orgy with words which, within the limitations of accepted standards of parliamentary language; I can only describe as foul and disgusting words? Is it correct that many of the lads sitting for this examination are in the 19 to 20 years age group?
I can inform the Minister that it was the father of a 20-year-old lad who sat for this examination who brought the matter to my notice. Will the Minister give an undertaking that an investigation will be made as soon as possible to ascertain the person responsible for placing this question on the examination paper, and that action will be taken against this person to ensure that such an occurrence will not be repeated?
– This matter has been brought to my attention: I am grateful to the honourable member for bringing it up. I point out, first of all, that the young men to whom the honourable member refers are cadet patrol officers most of whom will eventually become magistrates. Obviously they will have to deal with hypothetical questions such as the one referred to by the honourable member. But 1 think the terms of the question on the examination paper are exceedingly objectionable. I will certainly make inquiries and take steps to ensure that this sort of thing does not occur again.
– My question, which is directed to the Minister for Shipping and Transport, follows previous questions asked in this House about Russian proposals to enter the shipping trade between Australia and other countries. I refer the honourable gentleman to an article in the English journal the ‘Economist’ of 14th September entitled ‘Container Nationalism’. The article states that the Australia-United Kingdom shipping conference will admit the Russians and allow them to sail from Australia, initially, every 6 weeks. The article also states that the Russian ships will deliver arms and material to North Vietnam on their south bound journey to Australia. I ask the Minister: Is this report correct? Would the Government condone an arrangement of this sort? If so, would this be another example of the Government’s double standards where trade with the Communist world is involved?
– I am not aware of the article to which the honourable member has referred. In one part of his question he mention * ( the proposed acceptance of these vessels ;thin the European-Australian shipping conference. It is true that a discussion was to take place between members of the conference and the Russian shipping lines in Moscow about a fortnight ago. In fact this conference did not take place and as I understand it there is no present prospect of the Russian lines being accepted as members of the conference, lt is true that there are suggestions that in the future a number of Russian vessels - perhaps 24, although there is no certainty as to this definitive number - may come into the trade.
As to the nature of these vessels and the routes on which they will ply, there is again no certain information. It appears that the vessels will probably be conventional ships. Many of them arc fairly slow by comparison with other vessels on the routes involved and it is not certain in just what way they will seek to improve the economics of their own services by engaging in this trade. As I mentioned in answer to a question yesterday some five or six United Kingdom and European wool buyers have negotiated 12 months contracts with these shippers, but apart from those buyers we have no knowledge of any other trade which the Russian vessels would be able to secure from Australian ports.
At the same time I might add that the Government does view with concern any suggestion that vessels of this nature might be used on a triangular trade service to North Vietnam, thence to Australia and return to European ports. The present routes served by these vessels suggest that, while it is true that some of them, particular)’ Polish vessels, have called at North Vietnam ports, this has been rather in the course of a pattern of trade and is not by way of establishing a regular triangular pattern of trade. However, this is another aspect of the development of shipping services to this part of the world that the Government will need to keep under very close scrutiny.
– My question is directed to the Attorney-General and I ask: ls he aware of Lenin’s statement that the Communist revolution would never succeed until the myth of God was removed from the mind of man? Would he agree that one of the most effective ways of destroying religious faith could be through the activities of members of the clergy? Has he seen widespread reports of the resignation of a clergyman from Melbourne, the Reverend David Pope, who declares the concept of God to be meaningless? Is this the same Reverend David Pope who was once arrested for selling in Melbourne streets pamphlets based on false information alleging American atrocities in Vietnam? Was he chief speaker at a Communist led conference in Sydney in January 1967-
– 1 rise to order. I desire to stop slander under the cloak of parliamentary privilege, even by former members of the clergy.
-Order! The honourable member will not debate the question. 1 ask him to put his point of order.
– 1 submit that this question is out of order because this subject is not part of the responsibility of the Minister. It is a hypothetical question based on presupposition and therefore is out of order.
– There is no substance in the point of order. The honourable member is entitled to mention a person’s name if this is necessary to make his question intelligible and the question is not critical of the person. The honourable member may ask his question.
– Was he chief speaker at this conference in Sydney in January 1967 at which a blueprint was laid down for the subversion of Australian schoolchildren-
– Mr Speaker, on the point of order: I submit that the question is out of order because it contains imputations. You have ruled it in order because the person’s name has been mentioned only insofar as it is strictly necessary to render the question intelligible and can be authenticated. There are other grounds upon which questions with or without notice are not admissible. One of them is that questions shall not contain imputations. This is the grossest of imputations.
– The honourable member may make his point of order but he is not at liberty to debate it. I remind the Leader of the Opposition that standing order 153 says:
Questions shall not be asked which reflect on or are critical of the character or conduct of those persons whose conduct may only be challenged on a substantive motion, and notice must be given of questions critical of the character or conduct of any persons.
– ‘of other persons’.
– Finally, was the Reverend David Pope leader of the Vietnam Action Committee?
– Mr Speaker, I submit you have not given sufficient consideration to the second half of standing order 153, which states:
I do not challenge your ruling that questions may not be asked concerning persons in the chamber, for instance, or in the judiciary about whom a substantive motion has to be moved, and that questions which are critical of the conduct of other persons may not be asked without notice. The question which the honourable and reverend gentleman puts would be permissible if put on notice; it is not permissible without notice.
– There is no substance in the point of order. I have given my ruling.
– I rise to order.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat while the Chair is making a statement in response to a point of order. I have already given my ruling in relation to this question. Unfortunately I am not in a position to ascertain whether it is critical of the character of the man. The Chair is not required to judge the imputations in this question.
– Mr Speaker, are you still on your feet?
-Order! The honourable member for Hindmarsh will refrain from reflecting on the Chair. I have already ruled that the honourable member for Evans is in order and I have not had sufficient viewpoints put to me to cause me to change that ruling.
- Mr Speaker, I move:
That the ruling be dissented from. (Mr Whitlam having submitted in writing his objection to the ruling.)
– Is the motion seconded? Mr Barnard - I second the motion.
That the ruling be dissented from.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 30
– Order! There is no substance in the point of order. A vote is being taken and a decision of the House is being made.
Question so resolved in the negative.
– The honourable member for Evans will complete his question.
– A point of order. I refer to standing order 142 which says–
– Order! A decision has been made by the House in relation to this particular point of order, and there will be no further point of order raised on the ruling.
– I ask the AttorneyGeneral whether this man was chief speaker at the Communist led conference
-Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to the fact that questions should not contain (a)–
– Order! Is the honourable member canvassing the ruling of the Chair in relation to the last point of order?
– It is a completely different point altogether.
– There is nothing before the Chair at the present time on which to raise a point of order. ,
– I am dealing with the question–
– What is the point of order?
– My point of order is that the honourable member for Evans has no proof and cannot authenticate–
– Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member for Newcastle will resume his seat.
– Mr Speaker, with reference to your statement–
– Order! The honourable gentleman will resume his seat.
– With proper respect, I am not canvassing your ruling, Mr Speaker, which I understand related to the interpretation of standing order 153. But standing order 142 provides that ‘questions may be put to a Minister relating to public affairs with which he is officially connected’. The honourable member for Evans has raised the question of Lenin and God. Which one is answerable to the Attorney-General?
-Order! There is no point of order. The honourable member for Evans will complete his question.
– Finally, was or is the Rev. David Pope leader of the Vietnam Action Committee, which organisation sponsored the distribution throughout Australia of the seditious and scurrilous pamphlet How not to Join the Army’?
– A point of order, Mr Speaker, I submit that the question is giving information and not seeking information.
-I call the AttorneyGeneral.
-I hesitate to ask the honourable member to repeat his question. Recalling it as best I can, I would confine myself to the questions he has put to me relating to what might be called objective facts. It is my understanding that the Reverend David Pope did resign and that he is identical with the person who was quite openly - I do not think he would object to this being staled - selling pamphlets in Melbourne which alleged American atrocities. I believe him to be identical with the Reverend David Pope who is referred to in the public report of the conference held in January 1967 to which the honourable member referred.
– Is that the same fellow who put the ban on the pill?
– Mr Speaker, the honourable member has thrown me out of my rhythm. I remind the House that in May I tabled the report of this January 1967 conference. Therefore honourable members will be able to confirm that at one of the seminars at that conference there was a recommendation that action be taken to reach the minds of children in secondary schools. I think the only other aspect of the matter to which I should refer is that T read in the Press this morning that a man who appears to be identical with the Reverend David Pope is seeking preselection for the seat of Batman.
- Mr Speaker, I want to deal with a more earthly matter. I ask a question of the Acting Minister for Trade and Industry relating to the export of Australian wheat. Have representatives of the Australian Wheat Board recently returned from China without making a sale? Were they offered a price which was 3c a bushel below the minimum price set under the International Grains Arrangement? What are the chances of maintaining the present agreed price under that Arrangement? Will the Minister ensure that Australia will not be the first to break the Arrangement? What is the latest estimate of Australia’s 1968-69 crop and what carry-over from last season’s crop is still available in Australia?
– The honourable member’s question is directed basically to the possibility of maintaining the International Grains Arrangement and whether or not there is any probability of sales being negotiated at the present minimum price. The discussions last week concluded on a basis which established the determination of each of the exporters to maintain the minimum price agreed to. It is hoped that this agreement will carry on in the future and that there will be a possibility of negotiating sales from this year’s crop and from the prospective bumper crop throughout Australia in this coming season, at least on the basis of the minimum price agreed to.
I understand that a deputation from the Australian Wheat Board did visit several Asian countries recently. I am not aware of any sales being negotiated as a result of that visit. I assure the honourable member that visits are continuing to be made by representatives of the Wheat Board to many prospective markets. This is part of a continuing commercial operation. Naturally it is intended to negotiate contracts at the best possible price. It is the determination of the Australian Government to maintain the minimum price set under the International Grains Arrangement. I feel confident that, in the result, the returns to Australian producers will be very much better. Prospects for this year’s harvest are exceptionally good. While there are a number of estimates,
I am not in a position at this stage to give a firm figure of just what the total harvest might be. But both in eastern Australia and in western Australia it would appear that the harvest may well be a record one and, in the result, there could be possibly some carry-over of wheat into the following season.
– My question is addressed to the Prime Minister. 1 refer to representations that I have received from Mr Roy Dadanya, the Reverend Gordon Symons and other interested people to have the name Nhulumbuy used in preference to Gove for the new Nabalco mining township in east Arnhem Land. Will the Prime Minister use his influence and also hold discussions with the Minister for the Interior to make sure that this Aboriginal dreamtime name is retained for them when the new town is built?
- Mr Speaker, I myself spoke in Gove to one of the gentlemen to whom the honourable member refers and he raised this question with me. I understand that there is under the Northern Territory Ordinance a Place Names Committee. This Place Names Committee makes recommendations to the Administrator who can accept or reject them, but there is at this moment, as I understand it, no authority in the Government or this Parliament to override the action taken by that Place Names Committee under the Northern Territory Ordinance. The Place Names Committee recommended to the Administrator that the name Gove should be retained. The reasons are its own. That recommendation has not been accepted by the Administrator. I understand that the Minister for the Interior has referred it back to the Place Names Committee for further consideration. ] would strongly express the hope that those who now have the legal authority to make recommendations on this matter would take fully into consideration the desirability of retaining the original Australian name which, apart from being more mellifluous, is the name that the Aboriginal people in the area want retained.
– My question is directed to the Prime Minister. 1 remind the right honourable gentleman that in answer to a question on Tuesday last asked by the Leader of the Opposition he indicated that he hoped to be in a position to table the papers on the F111 aircraft before the Parliament went into recess for a week. I now ask the right honourable gentleman: Since there is no indication on the daily programme sheet that the papers will be tabled today, is he in a position to advise me whether the papers in point of fact will be tabled some time today?
- Mr Speaker, efforts are being made towards that end and I believe they will be.
– Has the attention of the Minister for Immigration been drawn to a statement in the Hobart ‘Mercury’ of the 25th of this month giving prominence to the answer to a question asked in the State Parliament of Tasmania? The statement is headed: ‘Red Tape Thwarts Bid to Practise in Tasmania’. This statement goes on to blame the Department of Immigration for the delay occasioned a doctor from Hong Kong who wished to practise in Tasmania. Is the honourable gentleman in a position to make a statement to the House concerning this allegation?
– I did see the report to which the honourable gentleman refers. There was a delay. The fact of the delay had nothing to do with recognition of professional qualifications or anything of this kind. The particular person qualified for entry into Australia under our policy as a man possessing the capacity to integrate into our community and possessed of a skill of positive value to the community. He can come in as a settler. But us a settler he needs to fulfil the requirements concerning health and other attributes which we need. So far as health was concerned, there was some doubt as to his capacity to fulfil that requirement. It meant therefore some considerable examination of the state of his health before he could come in. The reason for this was that we would not want a settler to come here only to find shortly after his arrival that his health broke down and he was unable to maintain himself and his family. After a period of time had elapsed that doubt was resolved. He will now be able to come in as a Fettler, and I hope that he will arrive very shortly.
– I ask the Minister for the Army a question. I refer to the mounting casualty list in Vietnam, which is, or should be, causing increasing national concern. I presume that this is one of the reasons why the Minister received apparently derisory applause last weekend at Puckapunyal. As our losses in Vietnam are producing no apparent military advantage - there is no evidence that they are contributing to the final victory - I ask: Are Australian troops being used to cover up the mistakes made by our allies? How does the Minister justify this continual wastage of young Australian lives?
– My first inclination is not to dignify with a reply the question posed by the honourable gentleman. 1 assure him that there is no substance in his allegations. Australian troops are certainly not being used to cover up mistakes made by allied forces. We work in this theatre of the world as a team. We are working well. Our record in Vietnam is exceedingly good, as is the record of our allies.
– by leave - I. wish to inform the House that the Commonwealth Government will control the export of certain forest products, such as wood chips, suitable for the manufacture of paper pulp. As most of the nation’s productive forest areas are held by the States, the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) has advised State Premiers of the intention to impose the control.
The Commonwealth is anxious that the national resources of Australia should be put to work, but it is equally anxious that the benefits flowing from the utilisation of these natural resources should be in the national interest. Modern technology has made the natural hardwood forests of Australia a valuable source of raw material for paper making. Even trees which would be unsuitable for milling can be readily used in the production of pulp from which paper can ultimately be made. The aim of the control is to ensure that an adequate price is received for the wood chips and that a reasonable degree of processing will be undertaken in Australia. Details of the proposed controls are still being worked out, and in the meantime any firm interested in the export of wood chips, etc. should write to the Secretary of my Department.
I lay on the table of the House the following paper:
Control of the Export of Certain Forest Products - Ministerial Statement, 26 September 196S. and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Beaton) adjourned.
– by leave - I wish to announce firstly that Mr Walter Bazeley Wilson and Mr Edward George Deverall have been appointed as commissioners under the Conciliation and Arbitration Act. Mr Wilson and Mr Deverall have been serving as conciliators. Their appointment as commissioners takes effect on 30th September. Secondly, Mr Oscar Owen O’Reilly, a commissioner, has been authorised under the Public Service Arbitration Act to assist the Public Service Arbitrator. Formal representations have been made by the High Council of the Commonwealth Public Service Associations and informal approaches have been made by the Australian Council of Trade Unions and individual unions concerning the heavy pleasures on the Arbitrator and the effect these have had on the processing of claims The new appointments and Mr O’Reilly’s authorisation flow from the Government’s decision that additional assistance for the Arbitrator is warranted. Sir Richard Kirby, the President of the Commonwealth Conciliation and Arbitration Commission, has agreed to make two commissioners available to work in the Public Service Arbitrator’s jurisdiction and the appointments of the additional commissioners have made this possible. The assistance to the Public Service Arbitrator to be provided by Mr O’Reilly will be additional to that already provided by Mr Wilson. The appointment of Mr Deverall to take the place of Mr O’Reilly means that the number of commissioners serving with the Commission will be maintained.
The doubling of the assistance available to the Public Service Arbitrator should accelerate the finalisation of claims and so materially contribute to the maintenance of good industrial relations in the Public Service area.
I expect to be able to announce shortly the appointment of two Conciliators to take the places of Mr Wilson and Mr Deverall.
I present the following paper:
Conciliation and Arbitration Act - Appointment of Commissioners - Ministerial Statement, 26th September 1968- and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Mr Webb) adjourned.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to:
That the House, at its rising, adjourn until Tuesday, 8th October, at 2.30 p.m.
– In accordance with the provisions of the Public Works Committee Act 1913-1966, I present the report relating to the following proposed works:
Higher Primary School, Gove, Northern Territory.
Ordered that the report be printed.
Bill presented by Mr Hulme, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The prime purpose of this Bill is to amend the Overseas Telecommunications Act to make way for the introduction of new international telecommunications arrangements between Commonwealth countries. At the end of the last century the Commonwealth partnership arrangements began when the Governments of Britain, Canada, New Zealand and some of the Australian States took the then radical step of agreeing to construct a submarine telegraph cable across the Pacific Ocean. The partnership has developed over the years and now covers the operation of telecommunications cable and radio links used by virtually all of the Commonwealth countries. At present the partnership operates under the Commonwealth Telegraphs Agreement of 1948, as amended to date, and is advised by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Board, a standing body made up of representatives of the partner countries which meets fortnightly in London.
These arrangements have worked well in the past, but with the increasing complexity and size of the Commonwealth network, coupled with rapid technological change and other factors, it has been found necessary to review the situation. As a result, the partner countries have agreed that the Commonwealth Telegraphs Agreement should be terminated and the Commonwealth Telecommunications Board dissolved. At a conference held in 1966 a new body, the Commonwealth Telecommunications Council, was born to replace the old arrangements. A constitution for the new body was drawn up, as was a new financial agreement, and the Australian Government has given its concurrence to these documents. The Council, which will meet annually and will have a permanent secretariat stationed in London, is at present gradually taking over the functions of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Board. The new body is so constituted that it will more adequately meet the requirements of present day international communications and it is planned that it will take over completely when the Board’s affairs are finally wound up on 31st March 1969. This date is dependent on all partner countries having given their concurrence to the new financial agreement by that time.
Mr Speaker, the Bill repeals the preamble to the Act and the schedules. The preamble relates specifically to the setting up ofthe existing organisation, while the schedules contain the Commonwealth Telegraphs Agreement as amended to date. Neither the constitution of the new body nor the new financial agreement is included in the Act. Nevertheless, as it is desirable that Parliament should have knowledge of the constitution and the financial agreement, copies will be tabled after signature by the partner governments. The Bill also makes consequential changes to remove specific references to the existing organisation and arrangements.
I turn now to another matter. The existing Act limits entrance into the service of the Overseas Telecommunications Commission to those persons who have passed examinations for appointment to a position or who have passed appropriate public examinations in the States of the Commonwealth. From time to time persons become available, particularly persons from overseas, who would be valuable to the Commission but who cannot be appointed under the existing conditions.In order to open up this additional source of recruitment, the Bill amends section 18 of the Act to provide that a person may be appointed to a position where, in the opinion of the Commission, he holds qualifications appropriate to that position.
Finally, Mr Speaker, the Bill makes certain changes in the conditions applying to alterations in the routing of international traffic and alterations and extensions to the overseas telecommunications system operated by the Commission. At present, any change in route or any extension or alteration to the Commission’s network must have the prior approval of the Minister. In the present day context of international communications the provision in regard to routing is unworkable because with semiautomatic and automatic operation the path followed by a call is not always known and, in any case, route changes are purely operational matters.
Insofar as alterations and extensions to the Commission’s network are concerned, the Bill provides that only significant changes must have the prior approval of the Minister, thus placing the responsibility for day to day minor changes where it properly belongs - with the Commission itself. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Webb) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Freeth, and read a first time.
– I move:
This bill seeks the approval of parliament to the guarantee by the commonwealth of a $US7m, which is $A6.2m, borrowing by the Administration of the Territory of Papua and New Guinea from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. The proceeds of the loan will assist in the financing of a major telecommunications project in the Territory.In March 1967 a mission from the International Bank visited the Territory to examine economic developments there and to study projects that might qualify for loans from the International Bank or its affiliate, the International Development Association. The telecommunications project was among those discussed with the Bank mission at the time. Further discussions led to the development of this project to the stage where the Bank was prepared to assist in the financing of it and an agreement was signed between the Bank and the Territory Administration of 28th June last.
The loan agreement, which is shown as the Second Schedule to the Bill, has been approved by the Territory House of Assembly. The loan carries an interest rate of 6i% per annum and has a life of 20 years, with repayments commencing after 5 years. It will cover most of the foreign exchange costs of the telecommunications project. The project will take 4 years to complete and will provide a modern telephone and telegraph network with widespread links to the SEACOM cable. Facilities will be installed for about 10,000 additional lines on’ local automatic exchanges and for extension of long distance radio links between the main centres in the Territory. The total cost will be about $A14m.
This is the first loan to be obtained from the Bank for the Territory of Papua and Guinea and represents a significant supplement to Australia’s financial contributions for Territory development. Borrowings by the Territory Administration would carry a Commonwealth guarantee by virtue of the operation of section 75a of the Papua and New Guinea Act 1949-1968. However, in this instance the Commonwealth was required to enter into a guarantee agreement, a copy of which is set out in the First Schedule to the Bill.
The Bill provides for parliamentary approval of the guarantee agreement. It makes consequential provision to ensure the effectiveness of undertakings iri the guarantee and loan agreements regarding freedom of payments from Australian taxation or restrictions imposed by Australian law. It also includes an appropriation of moneys required for the Commonwealth to make any payments under the guarantee. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Whitlam) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Freeth, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
The purpose of this Bil] is to amend the Income Tax Assessment Act in order to discontinue the present 10c in the dollar income tax rebate on Commonwealth loan interest. The rebate will, of course, continue to apply, in accordance with the terms of the relevant prospectuses, to all securities now on issue. Under the terms of the Bill, however, the rebate will not be carried by Commonwealth securities issued on or after 1st November 1968. The income tax rebate of 10c in the dollar, or 2s in the pound, as it used to be, on income derived from Commonwealth loan interest was introduced in 1942 to retain the benefit which exemption of Commonwealth bond interest from State taxes had previously conferred on taxpaying investors. Since that time it has applied to all newly issued Commonwealth securities, apart from treasury notes since February 1966.
The rebate has outlived its original purpose: wilh minor exceptions of no importance here, no taxable securities issued before 1942 are still held by members of the public. The rebate has for some time now come to be regarded by investors generally as an inducement to invest in Commonwealth securities and acts as a method of subsidising Commonwealth loan interest by lowering the rate which has to be offered. It does not, however, perform these functions in an effective and equitable manner, since it benefits only investors who are taxpayers and is of no value to taxexempt investors. Even between taxpaying investors, the incidence of the rebate is uneven, as it may give greater than normal benefits to traders in Commonwealth loans and it gives reduced benefits to financial institutions whose taxable income is less than their income from Commonwealth loan interest. This is because the rebate is only, available to the extent that Commonwealth loan interest is included in taxable income. Thus, the bond rate, generally regarded as the key interest rate in the economy, has varying effects for different investors and has no certain relationship to other yields in the market. This is an unnecessary complication in the loan and interest field and in monetary management.
In addition, it has become increasingly apparent in recent months that market dealings in short term Commonwealth bonds, running into many millions of dollars each year, are being arranged solely to obtain substantial benefits from the rebate. It is estimated that approximately one-third of all large bond transactions are now associated, directly or indirectly, wilh what has come to be known as ‘rebate washing’. The practice was associated with short term securities which were being acquired in cash loans until steps were taken to discourage this in the February 1967 loan. With the approval of the Australian Loan Council, the Commonwealth changed some of the procedures for making the first interest payment on, and for instalment purchase of short term securities issued in Commonwealth loans.
While these changes reduced the opportunities for making ‘rebate profits’ on loan subscriptions they have had no effect on similar transactions in securities already trading on the market. In particular, there has been a tendency for ‘rebate washing’ operations to concentrate on securities about to mature, where there is no risk of capital loss on re-sale. To the extent that maturing securities are purchased solely to obtain the benefit of the rebate, redemptions will be higher than they would otherwise be, since the purchasers are interested only in recouping their outlay by redeeming the bonds. This was the case in both the February and May conversion loans in which there were total redemptions of $174m of which some $60m to S65m appears to have been redeemed by ‘rebate washers’. In other circumstances, most of these securities would have been converted on maturity.
I have emphasised this particular feature of the rebate, because of the impact it has been having on Commonwealth taxation receipts. However, there are other features of the rebate which led the Commonwealth to raise the question of its abolition with the Australian Loan Council some time ago. I have already mentioned that it does not operate evenly as between taxpaying and non-taxpaying investors, because the rebate varies in its incidence as between different investors, depending on their tax status. It has complicating and distorting effects on the capital market and on institutions and investors in the market. The rebate makes it difficult to determine the relative value of bond yields. In these ways, it runs counter to the Commonwealth’s efforts to encourage and sustain a wider market in Commonwealth bonds.
The rebate does, of course, represent a direct deduction from Commonwealth income tax collections. The cost of the rebate to the Commonwealth is at present about $15 to $16m each year. The cost to revenue has increased by an estimated one-quarter over the past 5 years.
As for the likely effect on Commonwealth bond rates, we have concluded after considering the question carefully that any adjustment in interest rates on Commonwealth securities needed to maintain their relative attractiveness over all would be quite small. There would be changes in the sources of subscriptions. Some institutions which have been regular subscribers to Commonwealth loans, because they are able to take advantage of the rebate, would almost certainly reduce their subscriptions. Other non-taxable institutions, or institutions which are not able to take full advantage of the rebate, would find any increase in bond rates attractive, and could be expected to increase their subscriptions.
There is, in our opinion, no reason why abolition of the rebate, and any consequent small adjustment in bond rates that might follow, should lead to any disturbance in semi-government interest rates. All existing issues will, of course, continue to carry the rebate until maturity in accordance with the terms of the loan prospectus at the time of issue. At the present time, there are some securities on issue which would still be eligible for the rebate until the year 2004.
The Commonwealth recognises that any increase in bond rates on future issues would have to be met mainly by the States on their works programmes and on housing advances from the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has therefore given an undertaking to the States that the cost will be one of the factors to be taken into account when the financial assistance grants arrangements are reviewed in 1970. For the intervening period, the Commonwealth has offered to reimburse the cost to the States on the basis of mutually acceptable estimates.
The Commonwealth regards this measure as one which has become increasingly desirable in recent years with the development and growth of the Australian capital market. As I have said, the rebate is a confusing and complicating factor in the operations of the market, and is affording scope for tax avoidance on a growing scale. Its original purpose has been served, and there is therefore no reason for retaining it any longer. I commend the Bill to honourable members.
Debate (on motion by Mr Crean) adjourned.
Bill presented by Mr Swartz, and read a first time.
– I move:
That the Bill be now read a second time.
This is a Bill for an Act to amend the Air Navigation (Charges) Act 1952-1967. The main purpose of the Bill is to increase the rates of charges payable by the operators of aircraft for the use of Commonwealth aerodromes and air navigation facilities. The Bill also provides that regulations made under the Act may prescribe penalties for offences against those regulations, and exempts from air navigation charges any charter flights conducted for defence purposes by civil aircraft.
Although the revenue contributed by the users of civil aviation facilities continues to rise at a more rapid rate than the annual cost of maintaining and operating those facilities, the deficit incurred by the Commonwealth in this sphere is still considerable. Clearly, positive measures must be adopted to increase revenues if reasonable progress is to be made towards the full recovery of costs properly attributable to commercial aviation, particularly if one bears in mind the heavy capital expenditure to which the Commonwealth is committed in developing some of our major airports.
One obvious method of improving the revenue position is to increase air navigation charges, and the Government has concluded that the air transport industry is economically sound enough to absorb a further general increase of 10% in these charges. The Government has also decided that the operators of large jet aircraft should be called upon to make a greater contribution towards the substantial expenditure on the facilities needed for their operation, and it proposes to do this by introducing a higher rate of air navigation charge for aircraft whose maximum all up weight exceeds 200,000 lb. The aircraft so affected are the large jets now used on international services, and consideration will be given during the current year to the question of whether a further modification of the scale of charges should be made to cater for the jumbo jets and supersonic transports which will be introduced on the international routes to Australia in the 1970s. The Bill therefore provides for a general 10% increase in charges payable by the operators of all airline and general aviation aircraft. and this is expected to bring in additional revenue of $460,000 in 1968-69 and $1,010,000 in a full year. The additional increase for the large jets is of the order of 10%, making a total of 20%, and the resulting gain in revenue will be about $200,000 in 1968-69 and $425,000 in a full year.
During the past 12 months, a study has been made of ways and means of speeding up the assessment and collection of air navigation charges from the airlines, and a new system has been developed which is designed to obtain payment of the charges within 1 month of the end of the period for which they are due. This represents a reduction of about 2 months in the delay in collection which was inevitable under the former system. The airlines are co-operating well in complying voluntarily with the new procedure, but it is proposed, in due course, to make regulations establishing the scheme as a legal requirement under the Act. Enforcement of the regulations will require some penalties for non-compliance, and the Bill inserts authority in the Act to specify such penalties.
As the Act now stands, aircraft of the Australian and foreign defence forces are not subject to Australian air navigation charges for any operations in this country. From time to time, civil aircraft are chartered for defence purposes, and it appears to the Government that such operations also should be exempt from charges. The Bill makes appropriate amendments to the Act to clarify the position in this respect. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Charles Jones) adjourned.
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 Victoria into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs C. J. A. Lack, C. E. Middleton and R. Dowell, 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 ‘La Trobe’ be substituted for Maroondah’ and the name ‘Casey’ be substituted for ‘La Trobe’ and the name ‘Bruce’ be substituted for ‘Waverley’ and the name ‘Holt’ be substituted for ‘Bruce’ and the name ‘Isaacs’ be substituted for ‘Beaumaris’.
– On behalf of the Opposition I desire to move an amendment which is similar in purport to the one moved in regard to the proposals for New South Wales. Of course, the amendment for Victoria has the necessary alterations both to the name of the State and the names of the distribution commissioners. I move:
Representatives accepts the redistribution of the State of Victoria into electoral divisions as proposed by Messrs C. J. A. Lack, C. E. Middleton and R. Dowell, the commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said Stale into divisions, in their report laid before the Mouse of Representatives on the 18th day of September 1968, but does so with reluctance since the distribution:
In due course, Mr Deputy Speaker, a colleague will second the amendment. In this debate there has been considerable discussion, as there ought to be, of the question of parliamentary representation. I am rather reminded of an opinion expressed many years ago by the late Sir John Medley who at one time was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne. He was a popular speaker throughout the country on the subject of education and its reform. He used to say that one of the resistances to educational reform was that people who did not want to reform education argued that there could not be too much wrong with an education system that had educated them. I am afraid that equally we take the attitude that there cannot be too much wrong with a distribution system that allows us to be representatives in the Parliament. We tend to be rather personal about the subject and sometimes to forget that after all representation is parliamentary representation and that beneath it are certain assumptions about something that is rather vaguely described as democracy. A lot of people who talk about democracy are not, in essence, democrats. Their views of democracy are tinctured by practical personal effects rather than by any theory which should underline democracy. This kind of thinking is evident in the discussions that take place in this House.
Whilst theoretically one would not expect any objection to the proposal that one person’s vote should count approximately the same as anybody else’s vote, nevertheless it is objected to on the basis that somehow or other numbers and geography must bc combined. However, there are very few areas in Australia, the main exceptions being the back parts of Queensland and the electorate of Kalgoorlie in Western Australia, where distance is a great impediment. Distance has been bridged by better roads, improved methods of communication, motor cars, telephone systems and aeroplanes. The facilities that the Commonwealth gives to a member when he is elected enable him to traverse his electorate much more easily than he could have many years ago. 1 have not heard anybody, except in an historical sense - and sometimes almost in an hysterical sense too - talk, as 1 used to hear people talk in Victoria 23 or 24 years ago when I was a member of the State Parliament, about getting around an electorate on a bicycle. I certainly do not think that any honourable member would have to do that, including the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull), even if he were competent to do so. Sometimes 1 think that the attitudes of Country Party members to representation belong more to the bicycle age than they do to the macadam, motor and aeroplanised age in which we live.
Since we are discussing Victoria, I draw attention to the figures relating to population and enrolments as given in the documents that have been circulated to honourable members. As an example 1 take the seat in which I have some direct personal interest, namely, Melbourne Ports. I regret, in many respects, that under the proposed distribution Melbourne Ports will be similar in name rather than in content to the existing electorate of that name, lt still will be called Melbourne Ports but one of the ports, Williamstown, will be taken from it. It will be Melbourne Port plus the environs of Toorak, South. Yarra, Prahran, St Kilda and so on. It is to be a very much different seat in political complexion from what it is now. Where it now can be described as in the blue ribbon Labor class it will be, according to recent figures, in what might be called the marginal class. I am confident that with the sort of attributes that I have, and which have been recognised over the years, I will retain it, but certainly not with the same ease as I have done in former times. The enrolment for Melbourne Ports after the redistribution will be 56,770 as compared with the 1966 population of 111,000. I contrast this with the seat of Flinders, the enrolment of which will be 48,826 compared with a 1966 population of 72,950. In other words the population of Melbourne Ports is 50% greater than the population of Flinders but the enrolment for Flinders will be 8,000 or about 16% below the enrolment of Melbourne Ports. I would classify Flinders these days as definitely a metropolitan seat. I find it hard to understand the differences in the metropolitan area. Beaumaris is to be another of the newer seats and it will have a proposed enrolment of 51,500 or . about 5,000 fewer than the enrolment for Melbourne Ports.
I certainly agree that there is need for a redistribution of electorates in Victoria. Nobody is arguing about that. I have found it very pleasant in more recent years to represent about 32,000 or 33,000 people, but I sympathise with the difficulties of people like the honourable member for Bruce (Mr Snedden) who is representing about 130,000 people. There was no doubt that there was need for adjustment of the boundaries to overcome that great disparity. But again I do not accuse the commissioners of acting outside the terms of their franchise. What I do object to is the franchise that was given to them, namely, that they were allowed to have a tolerance or margin upward or downward as high as 20% which, in essence, can make a difference as high as 40% to 50% in the potential enrolment of some seats. I am rather disturbed about the fact that some honourable members in this House are still prepared to justify that kind of difference. 1 find it hard to justify it on any kind of democratic count. As I suggested when I began my speech, I can understand that people - and I think that the Government, underneath, subscribes to this view - do not want greatly to disturb the system which enables them to have a very handsome majority in this Parliament at the moment; a majority that at the moment is much greater proportionately than is their ascendancy in votes.
One of the difficulties in Australia at the present time is that no single political party attains 50% of the total number of votes cast. The Government Parties have a kind of amalgamation after the election, but not an amalgamation before the election. Often, after an amalgamation of the Country Party and Liberal Party votes they have not got 50% of the total number of votes in the Commonwealth, but nevertheless they have a very healthy ascendancy as regards the total number of seats. On the other hand - and to some extent the distribution of population is a factor in the exercise - it would be certainly difficult for the Labor Party to govern unless it received 54% to 55% of the total number of votes in the Commonwealth.
– You prejudiced yourself in your own redistribution in 1948.
– I am not arguing about previous redistributions. I am not one of those people who. want to relive history. I want to look forward to the next 20 years rather than to look back at the past 20 years. I criticised somebody for having a bicycle type of mind in an air age, and 1 hope that the honourable- member for Lilley cannot be so characterised. But whatever the faults may have been in 1948, there is no reason why they should be perpetuated in 1968. Last night the honourable member for Lilley himself spoke quite feelingly about this question. I can understand his voting for the amendment that he moved, but 1 cannot understand why he would not vote for the Labor Party amendment, because it seems to me only to underline the principle with, which I would hope the honourable member agrees, namely, that in 1968, in any kind of democratic thesis, we ought to represent people, not geography. It seems to me that occasionally you can make some concessions to geography because I do not think you can ever get mathematical exactness - and I think that one of the faults of a democratic system is to mistake mathematics for politics. I think that is the curious dilemma into which people who support proportional representation get themselves on occasions. Because some people claim to have 5% or 10% of the total number of votes is no reason why they should get 5% or 10% of the total representation, when there are dozens of other issues involved.
Oddly enough, I agreed with something which the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) said the other evening, that a government should be able to govern. I believe that if a party receives slightly more than 50% of the total number of votes it should have a somewhat proportionately higher percentage of seats than any other party in the Parliament and should not be dependent on chance majorities. I certainly do not think it is a healthy feature in the Australian situation at the present time that the Government can be held to ransom, in the processes of governing, by four people in another place. I suggest that people who claim to believe in democracy should take some cognisance of this.
If the people elect a government, that government ought to be able to govern. But 1 do not believe that a party should be elected to government without having a majority of popular support, which is certainly the case in South Australia at the present time. It still mainly is the case in the House of Representatives. You do not govern with 50% of popular support behind you, but you come to some sort of contrivance either during the election or after it, or even by the method in which the votes are counted. For instance, I can never see any sort of logic in a preferential system of voting. People vote 1 for a candidate, but if that candidate is unsuccessful their No. 2 vote has as much force as if it were a No. 1 vote. I cannot see that that is justifiable on democratic grounds, although some people justify it on mathematical grounds. I would suggest that the first past the post system is preferable to the preferential system. I cannot see that there is anything wrong in electing a candidate, even though he receives only 43% of the votes cast. Many members are in the House of Representatives today although they secured less than 40% of the total number of primary votes. But apparently on the ground of mathematics, under the preferential system, they arc satisfied that they ought to be here. I suggest that all of these matters should be taken into account.
I believe that having the individual electorate provides the most satisfactory form of representation because at least a member is identified with an area as well as with a party, and where there are a certain number of marginal seats this allows a government to be judged on its performance. Nevertheless, I believe also that in Australia, if there are individual electorates those electorates should contain, as nearly as is practicable, the same number of constituents. This is not the case at the moment, and it certainly will not be the case if the proposed redistribution for Victoria is accepted. At the moment the seat with the lowest number of electors - that of Mallee - will have 45,218 enrolments, and the seat with the highest number of electors - that of my colleague the honourable member tor Wills - will have 58,213 enrolments, which is a difference of approximately 13,000. Related to a base of 45,000, 13,000 represents a differential of 20% to 25%. I think that is too great a differentia] to justify in Victoria. There are no difficulties as regards geography in Victoria great enough to warrant one seat having a disparity of more than 25%. That is why we have drawn attention to this factor in our amendment
Surely we all subscribe to the principles of parliamentary democracy. We have seen the overthrow of parliamentary democracy in some countries. We have seen authoritarian systems masquerading as parliaments and so on, but at least we should have some broad consensus in Australia that democracy means a representative assembly. I am one who believes that this House should have absolute ascendancy so far as money bills are concerned. That is a question of regulating the relations between the two Houses. But a popularly elected House should, as nearly as is practicable, not allow one person’s vote to be less important or more important than another person’s vote. That is why we have chosen to move an amendment which is similar in construction to the one which was moved in regard to New South Wales. We draw attention to the fact that the principle of one vote, one value must apply.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired. Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak later.
– I would like to canvass some of the arguments propounded by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) because this would help rae with some of the arguments I propose to put to the House. However, time does not permit me to do this. I do not propose to support the amendment because I do not want to delay the passage of the redistribution proposals. The sooner both Houses of Parliament agree to them the better. The redistribution of Commonwealth electorates has been delayed far too long. It is important for the Parliament to approve these recommendations and to allow members to get on with the job of representing their new areas and to get to know the people they will have to represent in the future. Lopsided representation has existed for too long and the quality of electoral representation has suffered as a result. The two Houses of Parliament should not impede the passage of this legislation and thereby delay electoral justice a day longer than is necessary.
Nevertheless, 1 would like to make a relatively brief contribution to this debate. I will not get another opportunity to do so. 1 hope the Government will take note of what I have to say and will ensure that the distribution commissioners will not again be allowed to thwart the wishes of the Parliament. I propose to concentrate my remarks on the electorate of Isaacs, which I know better than any other. What has happened in this division could happen in other divisions; therefore it does not matter that I refer to it in particular. I feel that I can make objective remarks about the work of the commissioners and can do so in a most dispassionate way because I have already announced that it is not my intention to try to return to this House at the next election. Therefore my remarks can be said to be free from self interest.
I hope that some of the mistakes revealed in the report of the commissioners will not occur again. As the honourable member for Melbourne Ports said a little while ago, we are talking about the future and we hope that these mistakes will not occur again. I recollect that in 1965 legislation was brought before this House to amend the Commonwealth Electoral Act. I refer to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1965, which was Act No. 48 of that year. One of the reasons for introducing that legislation was to set out in precise language the matters to be considered by the commissioners when making a redistribution of seats. Section 19 (2.) (a) states: the Distribution Commissioners shall give due consideration, in relation to each proposed Division, to-
At least half a dozen other considerations are listed but this matter was the first of the directions given to the distribution commissioners. Surely this was not just an accident. The idea of having electorates socially homogeneous was in the forefront of the Parliament’s mind at the time and, as most of the present members were members when that legislation was drafted and approved, they can testify to this.
Let us see what has happened in practice. In the electorate of Isaacs there are strong ethnic groups who work together, play together, pray together - 1 do not mean to be disrespectful - and live together. I know of no other electorate where grouping is as strong as it is in this electorate. But the distribution commissioners have disregarded the clear and explicit direction given in the Act and have divided these people, placing a number of them in the division of Balaclava and a number of them in the division of Melbourne Ports. I referred to the action of the distribution commissioners, but perhaps it would be more precise to refer to the chairman of the commissioners, Mr C. J. A. Lack. His colleagues would hardly be as familiar with the wording of this legislation and the electorate of Isaacs and its peculiarities. I understand also that both Mr Lack’s colleagues were acting for the first time in a Federal redistribution. At least, they were not Commonwealth distribution commissioners when the previous distribution took place. The point I want to make is that one man bad more knowledge than the other two.
To give some idea, of how familiar Mr Lack would be with this section of the Act and the community of interest that exists in this part of the electorate of Isaacs, the St Kilda council in Victoria, by unanimous resolution, wrote to him and pointed out with very great precision and in very great detail the importance of preserving the community of interest of the people in this area and particularly of preserving the name Isaacs’ in memory of a great Australian Jew who was the first Australian GovernorGeneral of Australia. This was done because there were certain peculiarities about the district. In 1949 the Labor Party, which was then in office, recognised this fact. However this memory is now to be destroyed. Sir Robert Menzies, when Prime Minister, saw the wisdom of this proposal. He referred to the importance of retaining the name ‘Isaacs’ in reply to a question I asked of him in this place in August 1962. He again referred to it in his policy speech in 1963, and I understand that that speech was brought closely to the attention of the commissioners. On that occasion, Sir Robert
Menzies said: ‘We will make it clear that the Commissioners shall specially take account of the community of economic, social and regional interests’. So, there are three occasions on which this matter has been raised. The first was by the St Kilda City Council, the second by myself and the third by Sir Robert Menzies in his policy speech in 1963. We have all made reference to that important part which appears as section 19 (2.) (a) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act.
I would think that that is a very clear message from the people to the redistribution commissioners that they would like to have this done. Surely it does not have to be repeated every time that a redistribution takes place. Apparently the specific directions of the Act to which I have referred and the statements by the local Council, myself and Sir Robert Menzies are not sufficient for Mr Lack if he wishes to disregard authority. Mr Lack, apparently, on the other hand, sees the same virtue in retaining the name Melbourne Ports when the electorate no longer resembles ports. As the honourable member for Melbourne Ports himself said a few moments ago, it is no longer plural ‘ports’ but it is singular port’. His new electorate of Melbourne Ports is a conglomerate of all kinds of interests. These include shipping interests, factories, churches and educational interests. So large are the educational interests that the greatest of all schools in the Commonwealth are cheek to jowl in this electorate with all the variety of other interests.
There are great sporting areas as well as the most diverse collection of residential areas in this peculiar division. It is so hard to conceive that this is a community of interests or, to use the words used by Mr R. L. Reid, who is senior lecturer at the Adelaide University, as shown in one of the reports regarding one electorate in South Australia: ‘It does violence to one of (he clear manifestations of consideration’. He is referring to section 19 (2.) (a) of the Act t.o which I have just made reference.
Perhaps we can even forgive the distribution commissioners for lapses, even when engaged on such important tasks as the redistribution of the electoral boundaries of Victoria. But what is the reason for this blatant disregard of the Act and of the wishes of the people? I believe that tas reason for this wild collection of ill-sorted communities in the proposed division of Melbourne Ports comes about because of the unwillingness of the commissioners to break up large - and I emphasise large - subdivisions. In this area of Isaacs that I am speaking about, there is one subdivision of 12,000 electors. In this subdivision there are over 20,000 people. This is half the size of one of the Port Phillip State electorates in Victoria. It has not been divided to my knowledge for a quarter of a century. It has been left there because it is easy to do. One naturally asks the reason for this. I give the answer that to do this the rolls of this subdivision would need to be dissected and completely reprinted.
I am surprised that the Chief Electoral Officer, Mr Ley, does not see that these subdivisions are brought up to date on occasions of redistribution such as we have just experienced. We have had several redistributions during the last 20 years but this work has not been done. Perhaps he was too busy in other States. I would have thought that the Chief Electoral Officer would advise his State deputies who are the chairmen of the State commissions before they carried out their duty that this should be done. He should say to them: ‘Here is an Act of Parliament. See that you carry out its direction. It is your Bible, see you carry out what it requires’. Perhaps he did do this. I do not know. But at least his officers anyway just did not carry out these directions. I believe that the Parliament should insist that when it lays down guidelines for redistributions those guidelines should be observed, lt is not right that the electors should be bundled together in this ill-sorted way in order to suit easy administration and provide less work.
The next question that I wish to raise is the naming of electorates. Why is it that the distribution commissioners will not use the power that they have? Why do they drop the name of an historical figure and pass the buck to the Parliament to select a new name? If they have to give a name, surely it is wise to follow a precedent and the popular wish of this House that historical names be preserved. In the case of Isaacs, there is no significance between, say, the proposed electorate of Beaumaris in Victoria and the present electorate of Isaacs. This is the suggestion now proposed. There are very few - at least I do not know of them - ethnic groups in this new area of Beaumaris. But there it is. lt has been called Isaacs. This trouble could have been avoided by the commissioners if they had used the power that was vested in them by an Act of Parliament.
Finally, it might be said that I have made no personal recommendations to the distribution commissioners; neither did I comment on the work at the completion of their proposed plan. True it is. lt is quite true that this is the case. Members of the local St Kilda City Council did approach and suggest that they make recommendations along these lines in 1962. Surely, 1 would say, the local City Council and its members are closer to the people than any State or Federal Parliament or the members of the commission and would know the wishes and the desires of the electors? Previous suggestions by the Council were made to the distribution commissioners on some other occasions in regard to certain alterations. But they, too, were disregarded completely. That is the explanation as to why I felt that the same treatment would again be meted out if 1 made any suggestions.
A Mr Mogg wrote a letter to the commissioners. lt appears at page 66 of Volume II of the document titled ‘Redistribution of the State of Victoria into Electoral Divisions’. This letter was written after the distribution commissioners had brought down their proposed plan. Mr Deputy Speaker, Mr Mogg rang me and told me that he was going to do this. 1 think that his criticism is quite correct except that Sir Isaac Isaacs was the first Australian born Governor-General and not the ‘first Governor-General of this country’ as Mr Mogg has said in his letter.
Even the honourable member for Melbourne Ports objected to a piece of South Yarra and the Government House area being added to the electorate of Melbourne Ports. This objection seems to me to have substance. I think it has great substance on the grounds of lack of community interest and because of the need to cross the widest and the busiest arterial road in the State, St Kilda Road, which completely isolates the people in that area from the division which has been known as Melbourne Ports. How there would be any association or any community of interest between that part and the part known as Melbourne Ports is beyond the imagination of anybody. But it was so easy to do. The point about it is that it did not create very much work. It was just a question of snipping off a small part of a subdivision; it would not have to be reprinted and dissected. Was this done for ease of work? There is no community of interest whatsoever with the original area of Melbourne Ports. If one were to examine the redistribution in many other electorates one would see thai the legislation which was passed by this House has been disregarded in so many ways. The Government must take a stand on this matter. This is why I. submit that in future we must ensure that the commissioners pay full regard to the legislation.
Notwithstanding my remarks, I support the redistribution. I believe that it will give a wider and more just distribution of electors than exists at present. Perhaps the redistribution is not the best that we could have, but at least it is better than what we have now. despite the manner in which it was carried out. I conclude my remarks with the thought that I expressed earlier: I believe that neither House of Parliament should impede this proposal and in so doing delay electoral justice for a day longer than is absolutely necessary.
– Some years ago an election was being conducted in Milan in northern Italy. At the time, Mussolini and some of his tough boys were in Milan. They walked into the polling place and Mussolini kicked the ballot box to smithereens, thus effectively stopping the election. Mussolini did not like ballot boxes, because they are the symbols of democracy. They are more than that: They are the weapons of democracy. Since that time, those who do not like ballot boxes or democracy have dealt with the effectiveness of the ballot box in different ways. In some totalitarian countries these people have decided that only one type of candidate shall be entitled to present himself to the people. The Country Party probably believes that this would be an ideal state of affairs, as long as the only people entitled to submit themselves to the poll were members of the Country Party.
Another way to destroy the effectiveness of the ballot box is to weight the votes that go into it; to see that each vote does not have the same value: to see that although you allow representatives of all parties to stand for election, you so weight the value of votes that you give a better chance of election to a certain section of the people or to a certain party, thus enabling it to gain control of the treasury bench. That is what has happened under the legislation passed by this House allowing a variation of 20% above or below the quota as between votes in country areas and votes in city areas. A vote in the Mallee is worth one and a half votes in the city of Melbourne. This is undemocratic. But the worst feature of the manipulation of votes is that the people who are responsible have endeavoured to blame our founding fathers - those who established this democracy of Australia - for the actions that are being taken. To paraphrase the words of Abraham Lincoln: Three score and 8 years ago our fathers brought forth upon this continent a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition not only that all men are equal but also that even women are equal to men’. But while that was their obvious intention they also inserted into the Constitution a section which stated that a variation of 20% above or below the quota for electorates shall be permitted in order to alleviate the difficulties that exist as between electorate and electorate because of vast areas or because of physical disabilities in some areas.
What was the intention behind that provision? The founding fathers intended that an electorate like Kalgoorlie, comprising 890,000 square miles, should have the advantage of the 20% variation in the quota. But if they considered that this should be done, and that an electorate like Darling, which covers 75% of the area of New South Wales, should have the advantage of the 20% variation, what advantage did they consider an electorate like Mallee should have? Mallee comprises 20,000 square miles. It is about one-fortieth the size of the Kalgoorlie electorate. It suffers from only a fraction of the disabilities of transport that are suffered by electorates like Kalgoorlie and Darling. So, if Kalgoorlie and Darling are to enjoy a variation in the quota of 20%, Mallee should enjoy a variation of only 1 % or less. That was the intention of our founding fathers, who believed in democracy - who conceived our nation in liberty and dedicated it to the proposition that all men and women are created equal.
I deal now with the history of recent redistributions in this country. There was a redistribution in 1954. At the time I was the honourable member for Burke. Burke was abolished under the redistribution. There was another redistribution in 1962. I was then the honourable member for Scullin, lt was proposed under that redistribution that Scullin be abolished. We are now considering another redistribution proposal and Scullin is still abolished! The commissioners had a difficult job to do. They had to give Victoria an extra seat. What did they do? They created four new seats and abolished three. They had to reduce the number of seats in New South Wales by one, so they created four new seats and abolished five others. Does that process not remind you of the man who, in counting sheep, counts the legs and divides by four? Of course it does. The legislation which is designed to guide the commissioners directs that they shall take into consideration existing boundaries and existing divisions.
In 1962, when 1 saw that the division of Scullin had not been taken into consideration and was to be abolished, I sat down and created an extra division without destroying any existing division. I based my redistribution on the existing divisions, as the commissioners were directed to do. There is no necessity to abolish one division to add an additional division to Victoria. An additional one can be added to the existing ones, as I submitted to the distribution commissioners. The Commonwealth Electoral Act suggests that that should be done.
Other directions that were not in the original Act were given to the commissioners recently. When the Act was amended in 1965 the number of matters to be considered by the commissioners in determining divisions was increased. Additional matters to be considered by the commissioners include the trend of population changes within the State, the density or sparsity of population of the division, and the area of the division. Why were those provisions put in the Act? What does the Act now mean? It means that an electorate in which the population is increasing slowly and is expected to continue to increase slowly should receive the maximum number of electors in the redistribution. And an electorate in which the population has1 been increasing at a rapid rate and in which there is every reason to believe that it will continue to increase at a rapid rate should receive the minimum number possible. Otherwise soon after the redistribution there would again be electorates with vast numbers and electorates with small numbers of votes.
If that principle were applied to the electorate of Mallee, it would receive the maximum possible number of voters. On the other hand, the electorate of Melbourne or the electorate of Wills would be given the minimum number possible. Thousands of new Australians come into the electorates of Scullin and Melbourne each year whereas the population of the electorate of Mallee remains almost stationary. Has the principle been applied? Of course it has not. It should be applied if we are to have an intelligent redistribution of seats and if we are to maintain a semblance of democracy for a reasonable period. The principle of democracy would be rapidly upset if 100,000 electors in electorates like Lalor and Bruce returned one’ member and 40,000 people in the electorate of Mallee returned one member. That position will occur again within very few years under the existing system even though provisions to be observed by the commissioners to prevent it were inserted in the Act when it was amended in 1965.
Sitting suspended from 1.45 to 2.15 p.m.
– Before the suspension of the sitting 1 pointed out that section 19 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act, as amended in 1965, provides in subsection (1.):
In making any proposed distribution of a State into Divisions, the Distribution Commissioners shall so determine the proposed Divisions that each Division contains a number of electors not exceeding, or falling short of, the quota of electors by more than one-fifth of the quota.
I pointed out that this provision was inserted to meet very exceptional conditions. It was inserted for the purpose of giving maximum benefit to an electorate like Kalgoorlie which has an area of 890,000 square miles. The intention was that the relief granted in the case of electorates with the greatest disabilities should be progressively reduced for other electorates as their disabilities decreased. If an electorate covering 890,000 square miles gets a 20% benefit, then 1 suggest that the Mallee electorate, with an area of only 20,000 square miles should get considerably less benefit. Mallee is less than one-fortieth the size of Kalgoorlie and only one-sixth that of Darling, it is however, the largest electorate in Victoria, and therefore I contend that other country electorates in Victoria should get even less benefit than that given to Mallee. If Mallee should get only about one-fortieth of the benefit given to Kalgoorlie, then other Victorian country electorates with, say, areas of 10,000 square miles, should get only a small fraction of 1% of the benefit extended to Kalgoorlie.
This was the intention of those who framed the Commonwealth Constitution and the Commonwealth Electoral Act, and apparently it was also the intention of those who amended the Electoral Act in 1965, because they increased the range of matters which the distribution commissioners are required to consider. It was provided in the 1965 amendment that the distribution commissioners should consider density or sparsity of population of the division, the area of the division, disabilities arising out of remoteness or distance and disabilities arising from travel. What are the disabilities in connection with travel in the Mallee electorate as compared with the disabilities connected with travel in Kalgoorlie, the representative of which has to traverse almost the whole of the western coast of Western Australia from south to north, in many areas without the benefit of railways or roads? Very few disabilities are encountered in any of the rural electorates in Victoria which can compare with the exceptional disabilities in Kalgoorlie. Those are the disabilities which were in the minds of those who framed the Commonwealth Electoral Act and those who amended it in 1965. But these matters are not being given the consideration that they deserve.
Section 19(2.) also requires the distribution commissioners to give due consideration to the trend of population changes. Mallee has 45,000 electors. A perusal of the documents that we have been given to assist us in considering these redistribution proposals shows that the population of Mallee and the number of electors there have hardly changed during the last 10 years. Contrast this with the changes that have occurred in the electorates of Melbourne and Wills, where the populations have been multiplying. If this provision of the 1965 amendment were complied with we would have to increase the number of electors in Mallee to the maximum because in that electorate there has not been, nor will there be in the foreseeable future, any appreciable increase in either population or number of electors. On the other hand, in Wills and other metropolitan electorates the population and generally the number of electors will continue to multiply. This, of course, is a valid argument for defining electoral boundaries that give the highest possible numbers of electors to country electorates and keep the numbers in metropolitan electorates as low as possible, taking other matters into consideration. This should be obvious to anybody, but this is not what is being done.
My time is going. I said before that those who brought our Constitution into being conceived it in liberty and desired that it should be founded on the principles of democracy so that all men ‘ should be equal and, further, that all women should be equal to all men.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Failes)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I hope the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters) was not correct when he said his time was going, because 1 am sure that all of us on this side of the House wish him luck in his attempt to gain his Party’s pre-selection for the seat of Batman, which I understand he intends to seek. We will sadly miss him if he is not returned at the next election. In listening to this debate on the redistribution proposals one cannot help feeling that the fervour that has been evident in every speech has been due largely to the effect that the redistribution has had not only on the seats held by individual members but also perhaps to the effect that it will have on the future of those members. This is, of course, understandable. But I also think that all members would say, if they were honest with themselves: ‘Thank God the redistribution was left to the distribution commissioners’. I hale to think what sort of plan would be whipped into this House if we were each given a free rein and were made the final arbiters. It is difficult enough now to discern electoral boundaries and to be sure where a particular electorate starts and finishes. We would have a jig-saw puzzle of much greater complexity if each of us was allowed to say what his electorate should comprise.
In listening to this debate it is most interesting to remind oneself that although members of the Opposition may protest loudly in this House and may contend vehemently that they stand for certain principles, when we come to the ultimate vote not one of them will be out of his place. Each one will be sitting just where he has sat throughout this Parliament and earlier ones. Opposition members have never voted against the authority of the outside executive of their Party. I must admit that some of them in this debate have made very good speeches and some very telling points. There is indeed, some truth somewhere in every speech that has been made. Not all of every speech has been true, but there has been a point of truth in all of them. It should be realised by this House and by the people of Australia, however, that when we do have an election it would be more effective if people voting Labor cast their votes for the Australian Labor Party executive rather than for the Labor members of this Parliament. The Labor Party would be more honest if it nominated the faceless or witless men - the description depending on which faction of the Labor Party one belongs to - for seats in this Parliament, because in the long run they are the people who decide what the Labor Party will do as an Opposition.
We read in the newspaper this morning that the Federal Executive of the Labor Party met in special conference yesterday to tell the parliamentary Labor Party what it coul’d do about the redistribution proposals. The members of the Federal Executive are not the elected representatives of the people or of the Labor voters. This is the federal rump executive that meets somewhere. It comprises some very mixed people with whom the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has had trouble consistently. They say: ‘You may oppose the redistribution in Queensland but you will not oppose anything else’. 1 think this is a most important point indeed when we talk of the power of Parliament, of the effectiveness of politicians, and of the effectiveness of the Government. I as a Government supporter think that the worst thing in this country at this time is that we have no Opposition; that the Opposition comprises members of Parliament who are only front men for an organisation which now blatantly and openly makes the decisions. Therefore, when we hear of an amendment which decries the redistribution plan being introduced we know that it is not that honourable members opposite think strongly enough to oppose the redistribution, but that this is ali they are allowed to do, that this is what the heads of their organisation have instructed them to do. I think this is a most dangerous practice in this country at this time. I think it will have dire effects on the government of this country for a long time to come.
We listened to the honourable member for Scullin talk about one vote one value. 1 know he bel’ieves it. 1 know most of us believe it. But in fact I do not yet see that it is as easy to bring about as has ben suggested. This is a principle we must examine further before we cao hope to obtain a reasonable solution. Again, what is the policy of the Labor Party in respect to this? The honourable member for Scullin and others have made a big issue of it, but the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) pointed out yesterday that the Leader of the Opposition - the man who leads this Party, we are told; the man who moved the original amendment, we are told, that the principle of one vote one value should be adopted - was the one man in New South Wales who put in a request to the commissioners that a certain electorate should be increased to the largest electorate in that State so that it would give, I understand, advantage to an adjoining electorate. I would not be rude enough to hazard a guess as to his purpose. However, when the Leader of the Opposition does this, how he can have the temerity to stand in this House and to preen and preach to the people of Australia as to what he believes? I find this quite incredible.
Let us now think of what we are doing here. We are passing, we hope, the redistribution plans as set down by the distribution commissioners. I for one think they have done an honest and fair job. It is not an easy job, and every man would probably have done it differently. I do not think it is possible to take into account all the factors laid down in the Bill in each electorate and come up with a satisfactory con clusion. Therefore, I compliment the commissioners on having done a satisfactory job, to the best of their abilities, as I see it. I have no doubt that when they started they must have looked at the seats that are held by Labor and the seats that are held by the Government Parties. It would be completely wrong if a redistribution could be concocted so that all of a sudden there was no Opposition, whether the Labor Party or the Liberal Party be in office.
I often think redistribution commissioners may be like many real estate valuers, who think of the figure first and then put down the arguments that justify the figure they had already decided on. I am not putting that as a criticism. I think the commissioners have a responsibility to endeavour to bring about an even distribution so that there will be both a government and an opposition; and no Party will have ari advantage. The Country Party has problems. I admit that it does gain benefit from being a corner party, and indeed this will happen with the Democratic Labor Party. Perhaps the system is wrong. There is nothing against it and the people have a perfect right to vote for corner parties that have the power and can dictate the way things will be done - a power out of proportion to their membership. But that is not the fault of the corner parties. As I say, they are quite entitled to stand for election.
Let me come back to the Opposition. We have the extraordinary situation of hearing the Leader of the Opposition complaining that the redistribution is wrong; that it is a put up job and that it is unfair to the Labor Party. He wants his legal committee to attack it in the High Court of Australia. He wants to prevent it from going through. But we heard the honourable member for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), whom we all remember as being the closest runner to the present Leader of the Opposition for his position, say at the time it was announced that it is a most fair redistribution and he could not ask for any more. He said that it is fair to all parties. So we again wonder, as Government supporters - and I think the Australian people should wonder - what is behind the arguments propounded by the Opposition at this particular time. Perhaps it could be that the Leader of the Opposition feels that the redistribution in Victoria may lose him some votes in the caucus. It may be that the honourable member for Yarra believes that the redistribution suits him, because those who could be lost to Labor would be right wing members and he would get here the Popes and others of the same ilk who come from the Tammany Hall - Richmond area and who gather together with the honourable member for Yarra and the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant). This is a possibility that I think the people of Australia should consider.
I understand that in another place this morning the Democratic Labor Party supported the Austraiian Labor Party and had the debate on New South Wales adjourned until the House resumes after the recess next week. This suits certain members of the Labor Party who do not want an election and who wish to impede any such action until they gain strength. This proposal does not necessarily encourage the Leader of the Opposition (Senator Murphy), the Deputy Leader of the Opposition (Senator Cohen) and the other left wing members of the Labor Party in the Senate who want this redistribution through as fast as they can, because they know once it is through and there is an election Labor could lose seats and the power of the present Leader of the Opposition would bc gone, and the honourable member for Yarra or whoever is the current runner at that time would be the Leader of the Opposition. I have always thought that two policies were adopted by the Labor Party in respect of redistribution and in respect to politics. There is the short term policy, which was followed by the former Leader of the Opposition, who said: No socialism for 3 years; certainly we will not nationalise anything; we will give you this; we will give you that’. In other words, he adopted the old theory of get into government and when you are in you can do anything. This policy is adopted by the present Leader of the Opposition, who argues: ‘Give everything. Do not worry, I will agree with it. If you want itI have got it.’ But he has enough brains to realise he must get into government. The honourable member for Yarra and the left wing members, asI term them anyway, look at the long term project and that is to get rid of the right wing.
– I rise to order. Could I suggest, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the honour able member be directed to get back to the Bill we are discussing.
-Order! The Chair will look after that.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I was speaking of the redistribution and the outlook of members and parties. I consider that this is relevant.I can understand the disquiet and the uncomfortable feeling of the honourable member for Kingsford-Smith (Mr Curtin). He is not likely to be here much longer, and we will miss him as we will miss the honourable member for Scullin. We have the situation where the left wing says: ‘We will not deviate from our socialistic aims. We will go in a straight line, and ultimately something will occur and we will be swept into office’. I think this is again a danger to the people of Australia, and this fact should be realised by them and the members of this Parliament.I think the redistribution is quite fair, though I would not have conducted a redistribution in respect of the seat of La Trobe in the way it has been done.I make this point quite frankly. If I had drawn up the plansI would have had different boundaries entirely. I agree with what the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Haworth) has said in respect of the naming of the proposed seat of Beaumaris.I agree that this seat should be renamed Isaacs. I think it is indeed a pity that the old name could not have been kept for the area to which it now applies. The present seat takes its name from Sir Isaac Isaacs, the distinguished Jewish Australian who was Governor-General.
I believe this business of choosing suitable names is another thing we should think of as a parliament. A committee representative of both sides of the Parliament should be established, after the new Parliament has assembled, to consider the naming of electorates.I do not think that any one side of the House should determine the names of electorates. Also, I do not think that electorates should necessarily take geographical names, Aboriginal names or historic names. I think that we as a parliament should have a policy on the naming of electorates. I do not agree that it is the right of the distribution commissioners to choose the names. I think it is the right of the Parliament. As a Federal member,
I feel it is much better to have historic names because this avoids the confusion caused by locality names as in the case of the electorates of Perth, Ringwood or whatever it may be. Locality names for. Federal electorates frequently conflict with similar names for State electorates.
I would like to say to the Minister that I welcome his suggestion, which I understand he thought of voluntarily, that the name of the proposed seat of Maroondah be changed to ‘La Trobe’. I think this is a most forward looking move and one which is appreciated by the people in the area affected. It seemed extraordinary to me that although the proposed seat of Maroondah as named by the commissioners was to have the greater part of both the area and the population of the old seat of La Trobe, the commissioners had decided to scrap the name ‘La Trobe’ and call the proposed electorate ‘Maroondah’, giving the name ‘La Trobe’ to the proposed division which was to have the smaller part of the area and population of the present seat of La Trobe. It takes a good Minister, with a courageous mind, to come forward and rectify this, as the Minister has done. The proposed seat of La Trobe is now to be named ‘Casey’. The people of the area are most grateful for and delighted at this. They appreciate the decision the Government and the Minister have made. Whether one regards the seat as Labor or Liberal, the electors sympathetic to either Party appreciate the work that was done by the former right honourable member for La Trobe, now our Governor-General. They all welcome the fact that the electorate is to be named after him.
I had to make a decision - perhaps not the same as that required of the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters), the honourable member for Fawkner (Mr Howson) and others - about which electorate I would seek to represent, because my electorate is to be divided in half. Both parts will be good seats. Both have wonderful people and effective Party branches and municipal councils. It is not only an honour but also a pleasure to help the people in these proposed new electorates. I would like to say that it fills me with a great deal of regret that I have been forced to make this decision. It would have suited me much better to have continued to represent the whole electorate. I know that support for the Labor Party is not very strong in my electorate. But I find the Labor supporters delightful people and feel that they can come and talk to me more readily than they can talk to those who represent Labor interests. I wrote a letter for publication in my local paper expressing the hope that those Labor supporters who had heckled me over the years, and who had come to be most affectionately regarded by me, would not forget that Maroondah was just on the other side of the railway and that they follow me across.
I think this debate will go on for some time. I only hope that no-one proposes a motion or an amendment that will allow this House to draw up the boundaries in this or any future redistribution. I compliment the commissioners and believe that they have done their job well and effectively.
– 1 wish to make a personal explanation.
-Does the honourable member claim that he has been misrepresented?
– I do. I have been misrepresented by the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess). The honourable member-
-Is this an explanation about a matter mentioned in this debate or about another matter?
– It is a personal explanation on a matter that has been mentioned in this debate. I have been misrepresented and I can-
-The honourable member has not spoken in this debate, as the Chair understands the situation.
– That is true.
-The honourable member may explain a matter of a personal nature.
– May I do that, Sir. The honourable member for La Trobe referred to one of the five letters which I sent to the Chairman of the New South Wales distribution commissioners. All those letters and a considerable number of letters sent by members of this House and their political parties were tabled and ordered to be printed on Wednesday evening of last week.
For a week, these letters have been public property. One of the newspapers, 1 observe today, referred to the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton)-
– I rise to order. I do not know that the Leader of the Opposition is in order. With great respect to the Chair, I believe that he is taking advantage of the opportunity to make a personal explanation. Surely it would be better for him to place his name on the list of speakers and to make these remarks during the debate. He is referring to newspaper articles which have nothing whatsoever to do with this debate.
-The Leader of the Opposition is referring to the remarks of the honourable member for La Trobe.
– I am making only passing reference to the fact that in one of the newspapers today it was-
– I rise to order. In the 22i years for which 1 have been in this place I have tried on a few occasions to make personal explanations in these circumstances, but as I had not spoken in the debate in question permission has always been refused.
– May I ask under what standing order this privilege is granted to the Leader of the Opposition?
-The Chair is not required to point out the standing order.
– One of the newspapers, in reporting the Prime Minister’s speech yesterday, referred to his having revealed what 1. had said in a letter. In fact, my five letters and the hundreds of other letters have been public documents for a week. The honourable member for La Trobe particularly referred to the letter I wrote concerning the borders between the proposed electorates of Reid and Prospect. Two letters were written on this subject. One was written by the honourable member for Reid (Mr Uren) and the other was written by myself. 1 am the representative of threefifths of the proposed electorate of Prospect. The burden of both these letters was that the honourable member for Reid lives in the proposed electorate of Prospect. Both he and I suggested that the boundary should be adjusted so that he could live in the proposed electorate of Reid. The burden of the other four letters I have written is that there should be more electorates in this region under the principles I have set out in the letters. But to give the precise-
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition must not debate this matter. He has the opportunity to explain his position but he must not debate the subject matter of bis personal explanation.
– I am not wanting to debate it or to take up the time of the House by making a speech on this particular motion, but I am entitled to explain something to which the honourable member for La Trobe referred.
– I rise to a point of order. If I withdrew the accusation or amended it, would that suit the Leader of the Opposition and avoid this speech-making?
– Mr Deputy Speaker, it will be observed from the first letter which I wrote on 6th March, and which has been before the House for a week, that I pointed out in regard to the two neighbouring electorates that between the 1961 census and the 1966 census the present division of Reid increased its population by 3,613 whereas the present division of Werriwa, incorporating most of the proposed division of Prospect-
-Order! The Leader of the Opposition has already referred to these figures in a previous debate.
– I have not, Sir.
-Order! I ask the Leader of the Opposition to confine his remarks to his personal explanation.
– I shall, Sir. The present electorate of Reid increased its population by 3,613 between the census of 1961 and the census of 1966. The present division of Werriwa increased its population by 68,848. These figures are in a document which I did not quote but which-
– I submit with great respect to the Chair that my experience, like the experience of the honourable member for Mallee, has been that at no time have I heard an honourable member who is making a personal explanation develop it into a speech. The forms of the House will permit the Leader of the Opposition to join in the debate.
– The New South Wates redistribution has been debated already.
– If the Leader of the Opposition missed his opportunity through his lack of knowledge of the forms of the House, then that was his own fault. He should have known better. I submit, with great respect, that the Leader of the Opposition is abusing his position and is abusing the forms of the House in making an explanation of this nature.
-Order! I must agree that the Leader of the Opposition is taking a considerable time, but the Chair has no intention of restricting htm in making a personal explanation. However, I ask him to limit his remarks as much as possible.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I take a point of order. I ask that you be a little kind to and tolerant of the Leader of the Opposition. He is in a difficult position. One knows that the left wing of his party is trying to unseat him. 1 ask you to give him a full opportunity to express himself.
– May I also quote from the first of the documents sent by the Liberal Party on 15th March and published in the parliamentary document from which I am quoting? The honourable member for La Trobe will see that between the distribution of 1955 and the present distribution the number of electors in the area covered by the new electorate of Reid rose by 43% while the number of electors in the area covered by the new division of Prospect rose by 133%. Accordingly I point out that the statistics from which the honourable member for La Trobe purported to draw a conclusion are refuted by documents which have for a week been before the House and before the public. I regret that I have had to intervene in this debate. This was a matter that was appropriate to yesterday’s debate, in which I participated.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, may I also make a personal explanation? The remarks I made were based on reports in the Press and in Hansard and if they were incorrect I apologise to the Leader of the Opposition. I merely thought that they were important enough to be brought to the notice of the people of Australia.
– I am grateful for the opportunity to straighten out the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess). In his final remarks he admitted that he came from the wrong side of the track. This is something that some time back I had learned to believe was a possibility. He said he did not understand what was behind the present proposal. I will tell him what is behind it. It is part of a long history of struggle by ordinary people to become a government when they have the majority support of the people in the country and in the electorates. There has been a long history of legislation designed to put into government minority sections.
– The Australian Labor Party-
– You stick to your spinifex and sandhills.
-Order! The honourable member for Wills will address the Chair.
– The honourable member for La Trobe has told us how pleased he is with his electorate. I wonder why his electors are not so pleased with him. If honourable members look at the 1967 Senate election figures in respect of all parts of his electorate they will see that he got 39.9% of the vote in Maroondah. I hope that that name is to be retained because I rather like the sound of it. In La Trobe itself he got 40.7% of the vote. These were the figures for the 1967 Senate election - the vote for the Liberal Party candidates.
– I did not stand for the Senate.
– That is right, but even when the honourable member did stand he did not do too well.
– I rise to order, Mr Deputy Speaker. The honourable member for Wills has referred to the honourable member for La Trobe getting a certain number of votes in a Senate election. He did not do so. I ask that Hansard be corrected accordingly.
-Order! There is no substance in the point of order.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I suggest that if the honourable member for Mitchell wants to raise a point of order he ought to have the courtesy to speak from his own seat.
-Order! There is no point of order.
– It is a point of order.
– I think that the honourable member for Mitchell (Mr Irwin) should be congratulated for coming to the help of the helpless. When the honourable member for La Trobe stood on his own account he could not get the majority of the people to support him most of the time. I do not know how the existing boundaries of La Trobe will be altered but in the 1966 election, when he was campaigning to send a lot of other young Australians to the war in Vietnam while young Liberals stayed at home, he received–
-Order! 1 must ask the honourable member for Wills to come back to the motion before the Chair. The motion is that the proposals be adopted.
– 1 am grateful to you for your guidance, Sir. In the La Trobe subdivision he gained 47.3% of the vote and in the Maroondah subdivision, 47.5%. He got somewhere near but not quite an absolute majority. An absolute majority of the people had the common sense not to want him. He is here representing the minority principle in Australian politics, as indeed are the Liberal Party and the Country Party. They are both in the continuing system of rigging ballots, gerrymandering electorates and altering the system so that minorities will prevail and majorities will be subverted. This is the long history of Australian politics. On a number of occasions the Liberal Party has managed to carry a majority of the votes of the people of Australia.
– I rise to a point of order. As Whip of the Country Party and on behalf of that Party I object to the honourable member for Wills saying that the Country Party has engaged in rigging ballots. 1 ask that that remark be withdrawn.
-Order! Did the honourable member foi’ Wills use those words?
– 1 did not say they were rigging ballots. What I am saying is that they-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I have asked that the words be withdrawn.
-Order! The honourable member for Wills says that he did not use those words.
– What I am saying is that they are sanctifying, by legislative practices, actions which in any other field would be called ballot rigging, I refer honourable members to the reports of the Commonwealth arbitration courts and, in particular, to a case which took place about 20 years ago in respect of a,n ironworkers election. Honourable members may find there the things with which the ironworkers were charged and the names of the people who conducted the ballots. Ballot papers were not forwarded to every financial member of the organisation. Ballot papers were not received by numbers of members of the organisation. Now of course we don’t do that here.
– OlA, you admit you do? You are not going to tlo that.
-Order! The honourable member for Wills will address the Chair.
– -You are simply going to say that in thi/s case you will take 60,000 people and they will send one representative to this place 3<ad th.it in another place you will take 45,000 people and they will send one representative h,;re. While it is not identical with the burning of 15,000 ballot papers or with not sending ballot papers to members, the final result in this House is the same. In my view, there is no difference between the morality of the people who ran that ballot for the ironworkers 20 years ago and the people who are going to stand here and support this proposition today.
The honourable member for La Trobe, the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stoker) and the good solid sound Christians like the honourable member for Evans (Dr Mackay) may well talk as long as they like, but in fact every action they take when it con.fs to this question is an act of immorality and it is a perpetuation of all of the practices that democrats in every parliamentary democracy have attempted to change. Fancy the honourable member for Angas (Mr Giles) - the old boy of the Legislative Council of South Australia - daring toraise his head in a democratic institution. So the long struggle continues and it will not stop today because the honourable member for La Trobe spent most of his time abusing my Party, its leader and the operations behind it.
It is a fact that large numbers of Labor voters are not represented in this Parliament. In fact, approximately three-quarters of them are not represented here. For instance, in Victoria at the last Federal election some 180,000 Labor voters were able to return members to this House, but approximately 320.000 were not able to return members here. The apparatus and the machinery of the Labor Party represents them, while the apparatus and the machinery of the Parliament is being used to prevent them from being properly represented, by the false drawing of electorates and everything else. Let us examine the position regarding Melbourne and Sydney. The facts are that the great proportion of people in Australia are concentrated in urban areas. 1 do not think this makes them any different from other people. I do not think that a person in my electorate - say an Italian who has settled there and becomes naturalised - should be of any less value than an Italian who lives in Mildura, has the same type of job and becomes naturalised. But of course his vote will be worth only three-quarters as much.
There is great significance in population trends and densities in Australia. One does not represent only voters. In the logic of it, I agree that only voters ought to be counted when you are drawing electoral boundaries, but some consideration should be given to populations. Melbourne and Sydney, which are the great productive, administrative, commercial and industrial centres of this continent, are being sold down the river under the present system. The most populous division in New South Wales has 126,430 people. The least populous division, Robertson, has 73,280, which is a difference of 72.5%. But this situation is magnified in Victoria. The most populous electorate, Melbourne, has 137,390 voters and the less populous electorate has 72,950, which is a difference of 88.3%. It is sig nificant that the greatest differences are between Melbourne and its outer State areas and Sydney and its outer State areas. The difference between the most populous and the less populous electorates in the other States is 22.9% in Queensland, 28.1% in South Australia, 24.4% in Western Australia and 16.5% in Tasmania.
The disabilities of representation are not being visited upon country areas; they are being visited upon the urban populations of Victoria and New South Wales, because, in the logic of Australia’s social development, economic development and everything else, it is in those areas that the largest populations reside. With the passage of these proposals and the carrying out of an election under them, Melbourne and Sydney will be underrepresented in this place. I do not care on what logic you care to base this disparity. You cannot justify it in a proper Australian democratic system. The disparity that has always existed is being magnified at a time when communications throughout the country are greater than they ever were.
I have listened with interest to the arguments which have been presented in this chamber. The honourable member for Mallee said that space is important. The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) - quoting, I think, Edmund Burke and other great theoreticians of the past who did their best to subvert democracy in their time as well - said that interests were important. The honourable member for La Trobe tried to justify the unjustifiable. If we were to simplify this matter to this extent, that only questions of space and the difficulties of members getting around their electorates were important, what ought we to do? There is a simple solution, and I am surprised that no honourable member opposite has thought of it or has advocated it yet. Victoria has thirty-four electorates. It has an area of 88,000 square miles. On the logic of the arguments that have been advanced, we all must have the same difficulties relating to space and manoeuvre. So we should grid Victoria into thirty-four equal electorates, each of about 2,500 square miles being about 50 miles long and about 50 miles wide. It is as simple as that. You would not even need electoral commissioners. Of course, it would not matter then if there were 2 million people in Melbourne and nobody in the sandhills of the Mallee between the railway line that runs to Morkalla and the one that runs to Underbool. I am sure that the honourable member for Mallee could represent those areas adequately. Is not that the logical extension of everything which honourable members opposite have said? If it is a question of difficulty of geography, movement and space, we should all represent the same physical area. Is not that the logical deduction from it? I am sure that you, Mr Deputy Speaker, would agree with me on that. If you carry the proposition to its logical conclusion you can see how nonsensical it is.
In the consideration of that proposition you might take this point into account: 1 understand that Lord Howe Island is part of the electorate of West Sydney. How many thousands of square miles of sea are there between Sydney Heads and Lord Howe Island? Ought not that space to be represented too, in the same way as is the open space in the backblocks of Queensland? What is the difference between open water with nobody on it and open land with nobody on it? There is no difference whatsoever. But, of course, honourable members opposite do not consider these things. They continue to perpetrate principles upon which the rotten borough of England operated, upon which the gerrymanders of the United Stales operated, upon which the South Australian system has operated, upon which the Vorsters and the Verwoerds in South Africa have managed to subvert their systems and upon which Ian Smith operates In one instance honourable members opposite say that people cannot get the same voting value because they live in metropolitan areas and in another instance they say - they support this andI have no doubt that their antecedents did also - that people cannot be represented because they happen to be female or because, up until a few years ago, they happened to be an Aboriginal in Queensland, or that they cannot be represented in Rhodesia because they are Africans. What is the difference, if you carry on any sort of discrimination or differentiation? I am not surprised that the honourable member for McMillan (Mr Buchanan) cannot see the difference.
Our friend the honourable member for Moreton, who has an infinite capacity for introducing nonsense into debates in this House, raised the question of the representation of interests. What exactly did he mean by that? What are the differences in interests between people? When we are debating, say. national service legislation, we all have an interest as people. But what are the interests of Mallee?
– Leave Mallee alone.
– You have been the greatest advocate of space. We will take the electorate of Flinders. Flinders has 72,950 people and Wills, according to the last census, has 116,980 people. Obviously the commissioners consider that there must be more interests down in the Flinders area on the Mornington Peninsula than there are in Wills. But what are they? Let us take the seat of Gippsland, which is represented by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon). They would not be interests. They would be simply bad habits. Gippsland has 88,860 people as compared with 116,980 people in Wills. What are these interests of which the learned honourable member for Moreton and other honourable members speak?
– Your people are disappearing fast, you know that. The numbers have gone down.
– They are certainly not living in Gippsland. The facts are that thousands of people, who are conscious of the need to be adequately represented in this House are moving into Wills. The population of Wills will not go down. We only have to consider the ethnic structure of the electorate to learn that. The Minister for the Interior may look up that term in the dictionary. In my electorate there are 1 16,000 people. They include 6,198 Greeks, 16,945 Italians and 15,970 people who were born in other countries. Of course, the voting strength did go down in the past. Australians moved out of the electorate; Italians, Greeks and other migrants moved in. Those migrants, as time passes, are being naturalised at a rate, I would think, of 200 or 300 every two or three months. I would not be so presumptuous as to prophesy what would happen but I reckon that the actual population and voting strength of Brunswick and Coburg will not go down.
But what are all these interests that have been referred to? What interests are there in Mornington that are not apparent in the Brunswick and Coburg divisions? What interests are there among the professional and technical workers of my electorate that are different from those of the professional and technical workers in the Flinders area, or in the Mallee area for that matter? What interests are there in those areas that are more important than the interests in my electorate? What interests can honourable members find in any one of their electorates that are not duplicated or complemented in mine? What interests have the people who process the food that are not also the interests of the people who produce the wheat and the wool? What interests do the producers have that are different from the interests of the people in my electorate who work in the knitting, spinning and hosiery factories, which include some of the largest in Australia? Some of the factories in m.y electorate are among the largest in the world. Some of the people who work in them are the most competent in the world. Nobody can deny this; indeed, this is the case with most Australian industry, both primary and secondary.
All the arguments that have been used are specious. Honourable members know full well that there is only one objective behind the fixing of these boundaries and behind the definition set out in the Commonwealth Electoral Act. That objective is to preserve the present Government, the conservative interests of Australia, in office. Any system that tinkers. with the Australian electoral system is designed to do just that. I said yesterday, and I say again, that for 67 years-
– Will1 you vote for this motion?
– I will vote for the amendment. The Minister may do so also if he wishes. For 67 years the Government parties have been supporting this system. Of course, it is part of a long tradition. People had to fight for centuries for this system in Britain, and we are returning to it slowly. This is a reversion to type. A report I have before me, which deals with equality and growth of representative government, states:
By 1793, when rotten boroughism was at its height. 157 members were relumed directly by 84 individuals -
That would be the ultimate ideal: of the honourable member for Mallee - and a majority of the members of the House were chosen by fewer than 15,000 voters. Boroughs were so commonly bought, sold, and inherited that the demands of the reformers were denounced by the boroughmongers. . …
The traditions, attitudes and ideals of one vote one value of which we are speaking are not so new. I want to refer to the history of the United States of America. This paper states:
The Fundamental Orders of 1638-1639 in Connecticut, for example, after assuring equal representation to the three original towns, provided that new towns should send deputies in a reasonable proportion to the number of Freemen that are in the said towns. . . .’
What we are doing now is to attempt to specify as part of the process the continuing ideal of the equality of free men and free women. I do not care what honourable members say. They may turn back the clock. I say that they are diverting the electoral system from its original intention of representing Australians equally. This was the ideal that was often nearly written into the Electoral Act, but not quite. Let honourable members take the report of the electoral commissioners in 1934. The commissioners said then:
Our first proposals provided for the representation of electors as nearly as practicable in proportion to their number wherever located.
That did not satisfy the members of the House at the time. The report was sent back and, with regret, the commissioners had to report that they had attended to that matter. Honourable members will find in the report that, in the tactful way in which highly placed public servants can say these things, they deeply regretted it.
If we turn to the redistribution proposals of 1955 and 1962 we find that nothing like the present malapportionment, as the Leader of the Opposition described it, took place. We think this is a challenge to the whole Australian electoral system. I know full well what is happening. If you tinker with the boundaries so that the seats of Corangamite, Wannon, Wimmera, Mallee, Corio and Indi added together equal the sum of the voters from the electorates of Wills, Gellibrand, Melbourne, Melbourne Ports and Darebin, this gives the Government parties one additional seat. If that is done in Victoria and also in New South Wales the Government parties can preserve victory as they did in 1961. I do not care what honourable members opposite say - they can send all the troops they like to
Vietnam; they can go to all the prayer meetings they like; they can run up all the flags of liberty they like; they may salute the flag on Monday or on United Nations day - 1 say that this proposal is a subversion of the democratic principle. No decent, dinkum Australian ought to stand for it.
– I was not listed to speak in this debate but was moved to do so by the speech of the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) and by the following speech of the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam), although his speech was supposedly a personal explanation. It turned out to be a speech on the redistribution proposals now before us. lt will be recalled that the honourable member for La Trobe referred to a Press article today in which the objective of, or the submission made by, the Leader of the Opposition was discussed. This article referred to the submission by the Leader of the Opposition in which he proposed that about 4,000 electors of the division of Prospect should be transferred to the division of Reid. The number of electors in the division of Reid, if one analyses the figures - as I have had some people do for me - was 9.25% above the quota.
-Order! The debate is confined to Victoria.
– 1 would not have known that, Mr Deputy Speaker, but 1 appreciate the information.
– In respect of that point of order, Mr Deputy Speaker, I think you will recall that yesterday the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden), made the specific point that the debate should range over a much wider field than the State of New South Wales. He did this because about twenty-one speakers were listed to speak in that debate. Several honourable members asked whether they could speak in several debates, and it was agreed by the Leader of the House, in spirit, that if honourable members did not want to speak about New South Wales in particular they could have freedom to speak during the debates relating to other States. I think that was the position, and I think that tolerance ought to be granted at this time.
-Order! The Chair is not aware of any agreement.
– I refer you to Hansard, Mr Deputy Speaker.
-The understanding was that there would be no discussion on New South Wales today.
– Mr Deputy Speaker. I refer you to the Hansard report of 25th September, which reads:
– 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. 1 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.
-The Chair still maintains that that related to the debate on the proposals for New South Wales. We are now debating the proposals for Victoria.
– Following your ruling, Mr Deputy Speaker, I submit that from the way the debate was conducted last night it is obvious that a number of honourable members who wanted to speak on the general debate last night were curtailed in their opportunity to do so. The debate last night related to New South Wales. Honourable members lost their opportunity to speak because of the understanding. I submit they ought to be given the opportunity to speak now.
– That is not the understanding of the Chair. The understanding is that a cognate debate was permitted in relation to New South Wales proposals but that the debate in relation to Victoria should be restricted. The Chair has no knowledge of any other arrangement. The honourable member for Kooyong must confine his remarks to Victoria.
– I am grateful for those words, Mr Deputy Speaker. I admit 1 was a trifle confused because the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) referred to Lord Howe Island. I could not hope to cover such a wide range but I was encouraged by the reference to Lord Howe Island. I will refer to the redistribution in
Victoria and will only refer to that of New South Wales by way of explanation, as some other speakers have done. I want to refer to the remarks by the Leader of the Opposition and engage in debate with him. That is the purpose of the discussion this afternoon - to debate these proposals. My references to New South Wales will be purely and simply to rebut certain propositions - one in particular - made by the Leader of the Opposition before I turn to the Victorian redistribution. I will mention the points raised by the honourable member for La Trobe and the Leader of the Opposition. After the honourable member for La Trobe had pointed out the great differential that would have occurred in the electorate of Reid had the proposals of the Leader of the Opposition-
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a further point of order. The honourable gentleman is flouting your ruling. Yesterday, the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden) suggested that, on the resolution then being adopted, reference might be made to the position in other States. His concluding sentence was this:
By permitting the House this indulgence all speakers would be enabled to make any general point they wished on the first matter before the House, that is, the redistribution of New South Wales.
The Hansard report continues:
– There being no objection, I will permit that course to be followed.
Today, neither the Leader of the House nor any other Minister has asked for a similar indulgence in respect of the resolution concerning Victoria. The honourable gentleman already has mentioned two New South Wales divisions upon which the House has determined its attitude already. The honourable gentleman is going straight to these divisions. He is not making any explanation concerning the Victorian proposals. In the light of that fact, I submit that he is out of order.
– The Chair has ruled already that this debate is confined to the proposed redistribution in Victoria.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I seek the indulgence of the Chair to widen the ambit of the debate to give the opportunity to honourable members to speak to the broad principles on other States as well as Victoria. This is the opportunity that they were given when discussing the proposals concerning New South Wales. I ask for leave to follow a course along the lines of the motion moved yesterday by the Leader of the House concerning the debate on the proposals for New South Wales.
– Is leave granted?
– Leave is not granted.
– Speaking to the point of order–
– No point of order is before the Chair.
– As the honourable member for La Trobe was able to canvass without fear or trepidation and in the wisdom of the Chair in his remarks certain matters relating to the New South Wales seat of Prospect, I ask you to grant the same privilege to any member.
– Order! I call the honourable member for Kooyong.
– I will return to the redistribution proposals in Victoria. May ( couch my remarks along these lines? Can we suppose that a letter relating to the redistribution in Victoria had been written to the commissioners along the lines of the letter written by the Leader of the Opposition on the proposals for New South Wales? Just assume that situation had occurred. Suppose there was a mythical electorate in Victoria named Prospect and the–
– Order! I think that the honourable member is canvassing the ruling of the Chair.
– Might I put it on this basis? Previous speakers in this debate have discussed the question of one vote one value. I will not refer specifically to an electorate in Victoria or to an electorate in New South Wales. I will discuss, if I may, in genera] terms within the confines of this debate this concept which the Leader of the Opposition himself has described as the fundamental goal for the House of Representatives, namely, equal numbers of people represented in various electorates. That is one vote one value. It would seem that if this was the ideal and the basic approach by the Leader of the Opposition to the redistribution it would be strange if he were to put in a submission such as we can assume he may have put in on one of these sorts of electorates that I have mentioned before. What is more important, bearing in mind that this great divergence could occur on such a submission between the concept of one vote one value and the actual or net result of the transfer of votes from this presumed electorate to another, is that when this point was raised by the Leader of the Opposition to justify his submission he stated that a number of other letters had been written. Honourable members will recall that in so putting forward this-
– I rise to a point of order. The honourable member is referring now to a phrase which I used in a personal explanation. He is not referring to any letters sent lo the commissioners in Victoria, in New South Wales or in any other State. He is referring to a matter on which the House allowed me to make a personal explanation. He is noi referring to any matter that is relevant to the motion before the House.
-The honourable member for Kooyong is debating the motion moved by the Minister for the Interior regarding the redistribution proposals in Victoria. I ask the honourable member to come to that motion and to speak to it. He is speaking on generalities. The Chair asks the honourable member to come to the point.
– I take a point of order. 1 do suggest that the debate is wider than the Victorian submission presented by the Minister for the Interior. It also includes all the matters raised in the amendment moved by the Opposition. Therefore, the honourable member for Kooyong is quite in order.
-The Chair has made a ruling on the point of order that was raised previously. If the House does not agree with that ruling, it has methods available to it by which it can deal with the ruling. I call the honourable member for Kooyong.
- Mr Deputy Speaker, I missed your ruling. I presume you agreed wilh the point of order?
– If I must refer to the proposed redistribution in Victoria, a copy of which I do not have in front of me, I can recall nevertheless that there was a letter which appeared in the proposals concerning Victoria as submitted to the Parliament. It was a peculiar letter. It was written by a gentleman in Victoria who was objecting to the fact that if the redistribution proposals are agreed to he will be placed in the electorate of Wills.
– There would be nobody like that.
– Well, this person said that although he was a Labor Party supporter he did not think that his votes counted for anything in Wills. This letter almost mentioned the question of one vote one value. That of course was the point raised by the Leader of the Opposition in his personal explanation. You will recall, Mr Speaker, that in his personal explanation the Leader of (he Opposition did refer to a letter written by the honourable member for Reid. He said that the honourable member for Reid wanted to take parts of the electorate of-
– Suspect? No, it was the electorate of Prospect, and this again is the sort of proposition that he put forward-
– Mr Speaker, before you resumed the Chair, your Deputy had ruled that the honourable member for Kooyong had to confine his remarks on this resolution to the subject matter of the resolution.
– Which he is doing.
– He had pointed out that it was not permissible in speaking to the motion concerning Victoria to refer to any matters relating to the redistribution in New South Wales. On about half a dozen occasions, your Deputy had to call the honourable member for Kooyong to order because he was transgressing this ruling. The honourable member has taken advantage of the fact that you have returned to the Chair now to come back to that line of address.
– Mr Speaker-
Mr SPEAKER (Hon. W. J. Aston)Order! 1 will hear the Leader of the Opposition.
– The honourable member has referred to the electorate of Reid and the electorate of Suspect or Prospect. This is contrary to the ruling given from the Chair in the last 10 minutes on about half a dozen occasions. 1 submit that you should reiterate this ruling.
– On the point of order-
-Order! 1 will take into consideration the points raised by the Leader of the Opposition.
– For the assistance of the-
– Just a moment. I have been in the Chair for only the last minute or so but 1 will listen with great interest to what the honourable member for Kooyong says.
– May I point out, with great respect, Mr Speaker, that the previous occupant of the chair allowed other honourable members participating in the debate to range very widely in discussing the redistribution proposals for Victoria. The previous occupant of the chair allowed the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) to refer to the proposed electorate of Prospect, in New South Wales. This caused the Leader of the Opposition-
-Order! The Minister will resume his seat. I am fully aware of what has transpired in the debate before I re-entered the chamber. I have been listening to the debate from outside the chamber. I do not want any reflection to be cast on the Deputy Speaker now that he is not in the chamber.
– None at all.
-I have told the Leader of the Opposition that I will listen very closely to what is said, lt should be borne in mind that yesterday the House agreed that there should be a free-ranging debate on the redistribution proposals for New South Wales. There is now a specific motion before the Chair. The Chair will permit discussion, taking due cognisance of the motion before the House.
– I appreciate your ruling, Mr Speaker. I have been labouring under some difficulty because in referring to the redistribution proposals before the House, namely the proposals for Victoria, 1 have been trying to illustrate my remarks by drawing analogies with certain situations elsewhere. In particular, in referring to the amendment which mentions the principle of one vote one value, I wanted to draw attention to the remark by the Leader of the Opposition, during the debate on the Victorian proposals, that he supported the letters that had been written-
-Order! The matter raised by the Opposition has no relevance to this debate, lt was raised in another debate in which the Leader of the Opposition took part.
– I must draw your attention, Mr Speaker, to the fact that when the honourable member for La Trobe was speaking the Leader of the Opposition made a personal explanation.
-I understand that this was in respect of a . claim to have been misrepresented.
– I return to the letter written by the honourable member for Reid. The honourable member was supposed to have supported .a certain submission made by the Leader of the Opposition. But that submission-
-Order! If the honourable member for Kooyong continues to refer to redistribution proposals for New South Wales I will have to take action under the Standing Orders.
– I. was talking about Wills. In the letter which some people have been desperately trying to stop me from mentioning the honourable member for Reid proposed that 3,100 electors be taken out of Reid and that 3,100 electors be put into Prospect. This would make no difference to either seat.
-Order! The comment made by the honourable member for Kooyong has nothing to do with the motion before the House, and the honourable member is therefore out of order. If he does not keep within the Standing Orders I will have to deal with him.
– My time has almost expired. I conclude my remarks on the Victorian proposals by saying that I am disappointed that Kooyong is said to have an excess over the quota of about 12%. This seems rather strange in view of the fact that the electorate has been increasing in size over the last 12 years. I am disappointed also that I have not been able to develop the point that the honourable member for Reid proposed, that the concept of one vote one value apply in Prospect and Reid in contrast to the proposition of the Leader of the Opposition.
-Order! The honourable member will resume his seat.
– The purpose of any electoral system should properly be to reflect in the votes in this Parliament the wishes of those people who are, in theory at least, supposed to govern the country. Anything which denies to the people who elect representatives to this Parliament a full expression in this Parliament of their views is something less than democratic. It is reasonable - most likely proper - to say that nobody has yet devised a perfect system whereby the principles of government of the people by the people for the people enunciated at Gettysburg might be put into practice. It is also reasonable to say that any member of this House represents not more than 60% of the point of view of his electorate - in some cases members may represent a little more. But within the limits of practicability any electoral system or redistribution should strive to place in the divisions of this House the views of all groups in the Australian community. A few minutes ago somebody said: What about the Australian Democratic Labor Party?’ If the DLP can get sufficient votes to be entitled to representation in this Parliament it is as much entitled to a seat here as is the Country Party or any other party. In fact, the DLP gets sufficient votes in Victoria - more than does the Country Party - to have representation in this place. But under our present system it is impossible for the DLP to win a seat in this House. To that extent the system is wrong. It is equally wrong that the votes of DLP supporters should be able to send to this Parliament people who do not represent a majority of voters in the electorates. On the basis of assessments which the various political parties have made, the redistribution proposals in Victoria will mean the election for that State of about five members of the Country Party, depending on how well their Liberal Party colleagues treat them at the next election; between nine and twelve members of the Labor Party, again depending on results in marginal seats, including Corio; and eighteen or nineteen - perhaps twenty - members of the Liberal Party. No member of any other party will be returned unless something completely unforeseen occurs.
– What about Batman?
– Something different could happen there.
– And in Corio.
– It is possible. If the electors of Corio wish to be represented by a member of the Democratic Labor Party their judgment is not what I think it is. The honourable member for Batman (Mr Benson) sits in this place as an Independent. On the figures for the last election he must be rated as having some chance of being returned at the next election, but if any electorate other than Batman returns a member other than a member of one of the three major parties, I will be greatly surprised. How closely do the figures to which I have referred reflect the actual wishes of the people of Victoria? Five Country Party members would comprise about one-seventh of the total membership from Victoria. But the voting strength of the Country Party in Victoria runs at close to one-tenth of the total. Let us concede that the Labor Party will win eleven seats in Victoria, slightly fewer than one-third of the seats in that State. I know that the honourable member for Maribyrnong (Mr Stokes) will not concede that we may win even eleven seats in Victoria. But the Labor Party polls about 40% of votes in Victoria. The Labor Party’s representation in this Parliament will be 7% less than the percentage of votes it would receive in Victoria. The Liberal Party has eighteen seats in Victoria; it represents about 50% of the seats of that State. The Liberal Party receives almost the same percentage of votes* - it may vary by 1% or 2% - as the Labor Party. The Liberal Party holds 50% of the seats in Victoria but receives about 40% of the votes. Hence, when a division is held in this House the will of the people in the State of Victoria is seriously distorted. The Country Party can cast two more votes in this place than it is entitled to by the percentage of votes it receives in that State. The Liberal Party has about five more votes than it is entitled to and the Labor Party has about three fewer.
– What about the Democratic Labor Party?
– The supporters of the DLP are completely denied representation because of the system.
– Do you agree with the system?
– I do not agree with the system. I do not agree with a system that does not reflect fairly accurately the will of the people. This system does not do that. I can talk impartially about the redistribution in Victoria because the number of voters in my electorate has been reduced to within 500 or 600 of the quota. I am one of those members who are very close to having the correct number of electors. In the Victorian redistribution there seems to be little rhyme or reason in the way the seats have been allocated. I quote as an example the seat of Higinbotham, which is not a Labor seat. According to the figures issued by the Commonwealth Electoral Office the number of voters in this electorate rose by 900 between the last House of Representatives election and the Senate election. The seat of Higinbotham has been built up in the redistribution to close to the maximum number of voters. Other electorates that have a declining population have almost the same number of voters. Electorates which will obviously grow fairly rapidly have been placed on or about the quota. Others are below the quota. Other electorates in which the number of voters will continue to decline are below the quota. So the discrepancies in the electorates that existed prior to these proposals will continue to exist for a very short period after these proposals have been adopted.
It will be of no good building up numbers in the inner metropolitan electorates because by loading them up the representation of the people in those areas is reduced. People in those areas are not as well represented in this Parliament as are the people in other areas, particularly country areas. I agree with honourable members from the Country Party that there is some degree of difficulty in representing large areas. I do not believe that in a democratic system the difficulty of representation should affect the rights of people. If I agree with the honourable members from the Country Party when they say the farmers produce all our exports, I would have to agree that the farmers be given two votes. I presume this is the way out. What is the difference between a shopkeeper in the electorate of Wills and a shopkeeper in Mildura? What is the difference between a hotel housemaid in the electorate of Wills and a housemaid in Mildura? Is there any difference at all?
– The cost of living is different:
– If members of the Country Party were as keen on their jobs as they say they are they would be trying to do something about equalising the cost of living throughout the community. If that is their only argument, it is a political matter which they can deal with politically in this Parliament or in the State parliament, especially those they control, lt does not take gerrymandered electorates to fix that up.
– An auctioneer in the electorate of Mallee has no. more right to increased representation than has an auctioneer in the electorate of Wills.
-Order! I remind all honourable members .that interjections are out of order.
– I want to draw the attention of the House to another seriously disadvantaged section of the community. I refer to the people who live in provincial cities. They have as many problems as people who live in the capital cities and more problems than farmers, because they have to find jobs in areas where it is difficult to attract industry: They need representation just as much as anyone else does.
Let us have a look at the distribution in Victoria. The honourable member for Ballaarat (Mr Erwin) whose electorate adjoins raine, the member for Bendigo (Mr Beaton), whose electorate adjoins the electorate of Ballaarat, and I represent the three major provincial cities in Victoria. Each of these electorates has 3,000 to 4,000 more voters than adjoining electorates. More than two Melbourne metropolitan seats have a lower number of voters than the provincial centres. If community of interest and need for representation is the basis of redistribution why have the Victorian provincial cities been treated as they have? lt has not been done in other States, I notice, other than in the electorate of Macquarie, where the sitting member (Mr Luchetti) is a member of the Labor Party and obviously can represent more people than can Country Party members.
– He can represent them better.
– Apparently he can represent more. Why have 2,000 or 3,000 fewer people in the electorates of Corangamite, Burke and Lalor, which surround seats held by the honourable member for Ballaarat and I than in the electorates of Ballaarat, Corio and Bendigo? The electorate of Bendigo is bigger than some of the so called country electorates, and the honourable member for Bendigo has to represent all classes of interests. The interests in provincial areas, especially major provincial areas, are different from the interests in farming areas. Members who represent both types of areas would agree with that. I want to put one other proposition to the House in relation to the argument that difficulty of representation is a reason for having fewer people in certain electorates. If it is considered by the Government or, more importantly, by the people that we should have in this House a system of voting in divisions that will clearly reflect the will of the majority of the people, it is appropriate that when each member casts his vote he should vote on behalf of the number of people he represents in this place at the time he is elected. This would solve the problems of the Country Party. The Country Party would then have smaller electorates and fewer people to represent and the honourable member for Mallee (Mr Turnbull) could cast his vote on behalf of his 58,000 voters and the honourable member for Wimmera (Mr King) could vote on behalf of his 48,000. Everyone would be represented in a division. There would be complications, and if is quite easy even for mc to think up arguments against this proposition, but it would be more real and more democratic than having members standing up in this House and casting votes of equal value on behalf of vastly different numbers of people. Members from Tasmania would most likely find themselves with voting power equivalent to that of four votes for five seats. This would be unfortunate. Until now Tasmania has been protected by the number of electorates originally provided for that State under the terms of the Constitution but I see no reason why even Tas- manian members should have voting powers greater than those of other members. There is one final question I would like to put seriously to members of the Country Party: How many sheep are equal to a new Australian?
– I rise to support the motion that the House approves of the proposed redistribution of the State of Victoria into electoral divisions. In my humble opinion the distribution commissioners have done a very satisfactory job. Originally I had no intention of speaking in this debate, but many views expressed in this chamber in the last 2 days have been completely different from my beliefs. There has been a great deal of talk about the principle of one vote one value. I was interested to hear the references to the Tasmanian situation by the honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes). The honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) referred earlier this week to the fact that a Tasmanian senator represents about 20,000 people while a New South Wales senator represents more than 200,000. This is certainly not one vote one value, even in the minds of those who support that principle. Yet we hear very little criticism of this apparently anomalous situation in the Senate from those members of the Opposition who claim to support the principle of one vote one value. It is true that the Senate situation results from a constitutional provision, but it cannot be contended that the Constitution is right as far as the Senate is concerned but wrong in respect of the House of Representatives.
– Does the honourable member want to abolish the Senate?
– If the right honourable member for Melbourne wants to abolish the Senate that is all right with me. I am not interested in discussing the abolition of the Senate at this stage. I am talking about the redistribution proposals for Victoria, and, as I said at the beginning, I believe the commissioners have done a very satisfactory job. There is one point that is completely disregarded by those who profess to believe in the principle of one vote one value. I refer to the practical effects of this principle on the electors themselves. All of us in this place represent different numbers of people. This will always be the position. It would be absolutely impossible to define electoral boundaries so that each electorate contained exactly the same number of people, no matter how efficient and accurate the distribution commissioners were. The most important point to keep in mind is that each and every elector throughout the Commonwealth has certain rights. One of these rights is that of being able to have his voice heard in this place. An elector has the right to approach his member, irrespective of the Party to which he belongs and irrespective of whether that member represents 50,000 electors or 100,000. He has a right to ask his member to put forward his views on particular subjects.
Electorates such as Melbourne, Wills and Bradfield are of pocket handkerchief size when compared with the electorates of Maranoa, Kennedy, Mallee or even my own electorate of Wimmera. Just consider the problems of the large electorates as compared with those of the smaller ones. It is easy for a member to represent 50,000 electors if he has a small area to cover and he lives in the middle of it. Any of his constituents can get in touch with him by means of a 5c telephone call. They can see him personally at the cost of a tram fare. But consider my electorate of Wimmera, the debate now being confined to the Victorian redistribution. What chance have my constituents of contacting their member at the cost of a local telephone call? I venture to say that fewer than 10% of my constituents could reach me with a local call, and I am sure that this applies to most of the rural electorates. When a person wants to interview his member or the member wants to interview certain constituents, journeys of 100 miles or more may be involved. I regularly travel 100 miles or so in order to meet one or two particular constituents. Naturally one meets more of the voters after arriving at the destination, but it is nothing unusual for me to travel 100 miles each way in order to meet a particular constituent. Do the representatives of these pocket handkerchief electorates have to make such journeys? Of course they do not. We are talking about equal representation and the principle of one vote one value. It is my belief that we should give constituents the opportunity to contact their member whenever they so desire.
Consider the sizes of some of the electorates in Victoria. Mallee has an area of about 19,000 square miles. The next largest is Gippsland with about 14,500 square miles. Wimmera is third on the list with an area of 1 1,292.28 square miles. The very fact that the size of an electorate can be given so precisely proves my point about the efficiency of the commissioners. 1 could appreciate their measuring accurately an electorate with an area of 9 or 10 square miles, but when it comes to these large electorates the fact that they can give areas in such precise detail proves my point about their accuracy. Then 1 move to some of the smallest electorates. First on the list would be Higgins with 9.26 square miles. The next smallest, I think, is Wills with 10.95 square miles. One can readily appreciate the enormous differences between the sizes of electorates.
One honourable member said in the debate yesterday:
I believe that to strengthen the voice of the rural interests in this Parliament is contrary to the interests of the nation.
How ridiculous can one get! He went on to say:
We introduce redistribution proposals into this House to strengthen a voice that should be reduced.
He referred to the voice of the rural people - not necessarily the voice of the Australian Country Party but the voice of the rural people. These remarks were made by one of our colleagues on the Government side, the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner), a man who represents a very small electorate in the heart of Sydney. I am sure that if he happened to be my only opponent at the next election and went about the electorate making comments such as these, my job of having myself returned to this House would be considerably easier. The remarks that he has repeatedly made have been contrary to the general beliefs of the Party that I represent at this stage, but to suggest that the voice should be taken away from the rural people, in view of the problems that are associated with country electorates, is, to my mind, completely unreal and unacceptable to the people in those areas.
I told the Whip thatI would speak for a few minutes and that is what I intend to do. I support the proposals put forward by the redistribution commissioners for Victoria because I believe that, generally speaking, they are about as good as we could possibly get when all those factors set out in the Electoral Act are considered. I could quite easily bring to the attention of the House what I believe are anomalies in the boundaries of my own electorate, but these anomalies are very minor. The commissioners had to take into consideration many issues, such as community of interest, travel, State boundaries and so forth and I believe that they have done a magnificent job. lt was rather interesting to note the final proposition put to this House by the Minister. Only one alteration has been made to the original proposal. I commend the commissioners for their consideration of this submission. The alteration will make very little difference to the seat of Wimmera. The commissioners took into consideration the views of a number of constituents who happen to be residing in this area. 1 compliment the organisers who put forward the proposal. I understand it was brought forward by one counsellor who was desirous of retaining that area in the electorate of Corangamite, an electorate in which these people had been residing for many, many years. He himself as an individual went around and collected the signatures of some 250 of the constituents. The commissioners accepted the proposal and altered the boundaries accordingly. I mention this because 1 believe these are the sort of factors the commissioners did consider. If it was left to the individual, as the honourable member for La Trobe (Mr Jess) said earlier this afternoon, I wonder what sort of boundaries we would finish up with. If we all had a go at redistribution and if we all decided what we wanted as individuals, there would be chaos. I compliment the commissioners and I compliment the Government for introducing these redistribution proposals. We all agree that a redistribution is overdue. I certainly reject the amendment moved by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean).
– I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) on behalf of the Opposition. This redistribution scheme in Victoria is probably the best that we could get under the given circumstances, but it is not a perfect one. lt is so full of imperfections that I have been stirred to make some observa tions because of the clamant voices that have arisen from the benches of the Australian Country Party in support of a principle other than that of one vote one value. What better right has an auctioneer in Mallee to more representation in this Parliament than an auctioneer in Melbourne? What better right has a public servant, a trade unionist, a policeman or a school teacher in Mallee to more representation in this Parliament than people of the same calling living in the metropolitan area of Victoria? The battle for one vote one value was won long ago in the British Parliament, and ever)’ redistribution that takes place is under the presidency of a judge and is based on the principle of one vote one value. 1 am speaking of England, not Scotland or Wales or somewhere else.
– They allow a margin there too.
– No, not to the same extent as we have here. Be that as it may, perhaps I am a little in error in that regard. 1 am prepared to admit that. The fact is that the Electoral Act originally provided for a 20% variation one way or the other, and that is still the provision in the Act for all States. The Constitutional Review Committee recommended a 10% variation. But that does not suit the members of the Australian Country Party in Victoria. They want the variation even greater again.
I am indebted to the Chief Electoral Officer for some figures concerning the redistribution scheme in Victoria. There are thirteen divisions which are above the quota. The quota is 56,074. The percentage above the quota is 8.51. Members of the Country Party will probably say, as their speeches suggest, that that is not high enough. There are 21 divisions out of 34 which are below quota, and the quota in these areas is 48,951. That is 5.27 below the quota. The new electorate of Melbourne will comprise 16,000 voters from the electorate of Scullin. That contribution has not been mentioned in recent Press discussions on the question of the new Melbourne electorate. There are 21,000 voters from the old Melbourne electorate; 9,000 others have gone into Maribyrnong and 18,000 have come from Yarra. This makes an electorate of 57,000 voters. The quota for Melbourne is one of the highest in the Commonwealth. In Melbourne there will be 137,000 people and that is the highest in the Commonwealth. This situation arose from the fact that there are so many migrants living there.
– Is it increasing or decreasing?
– The number of people is increasing. The number of migrants is increasing. The honourable members for Yarra (Dr J. F. Cairns), Scullin (Mr Peters) and Melbourne today put in more time working on the problems of migrants than they do on the problems of the natural born Australians. That is true of other electorates in Victoria because Victoria has taken a greater number of migrants than any other State has.
– What about Queensland?
– I am giving the honourable member the facts. Due allowance was not made in Victoria for the number of migrants that are settled there. No attempt has ever been made to ascertain the number of prospective naturalisations and allowance made for it No attempt has ever been made to assess the destruction of the inner city of Melbourne, and the same applies to the electorate of Melbourne Ports. We have reached the stage where the exodus of people is finished and where the rebuilding of the inner area with flats and multistorey buildings is beginning to increase. This was given no consideration at all by the Chief Electoral Officer in Victoria or by his predecessor in the office. I make reference to the facts so that the Act might at some time be amended, as we are still a migrant reception country. We must have regard to persons as well as voters. After all, we are all human beings and more worthy of consideration than trees and sheep and that sort of thing.
I do not believe that this system of having five or six different distribution commissions handling matters of this sort should be perpetuated. It has been in existence since federation. 1 believe that a redistribution should be made periodically by a commission consisting of a High Court judge with the Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth as a member, and a representative of each State, whether he be from the Department of Lands or from some other part of the State Public Service. In that way we can get a uniform distribution. We are not getting uniform redis tributions today. We never have had them. It is idle for people to think that the commissioners make the decisions. Governments make the decisions as to what variations shall apply. I was a member of the Chifley Government when the tip went out that the permissible variation was to be 5% each way. That worked out admirably enough. But it was not the Chifley Government that initiated the idea. This has been the idea since federation. I think the government of the day has to have some say in the matter. If it does not, we should give the whole matter over to a High Court judge presiding over a commission, with automatic application of its recommendations once a decision has been made.
I know that in the past arrangements have been made between honourable members whose interests were affected. Let me digress for one moment to record two historical events. The former member for Hunter and a member of the Australian Country Party who represented the adjoining electorate made a deal. They swapped electorates and the commissioners agreed. In Western Australia, John Curtin and Walter Nairn made an arrangement about which each was satisfied, and each party was satisfied. These things have happened. They may not happen again.
– I hope not.
– It worked out all right. However, I do not believe that the present system is as satisfactory as it ought to be.
– The honourable member is talking about gerrymander.
– No, I am not. This arrangement made it possible for two members to represent adequately the electorates concerned. There was a switch of voters and the Liberal Party member went over to the other electorate. It is of no use to argue about these trends, because they cannot be stopped. Centralisation is on the way and by the year 2000, 80% of the people in Victoria will be living in Melbourne. Today 66% of the State’s people live in Melbourne. The same position applies to New South Wales. In the future, 80% of the people in New South Wales will be living in Sydney. Today, this city comprises 60% of the population of the State.
The Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth does a very good job and I have a high respect for him. But 1 never can see why, in a redistribution for New South Wales, the Chief Electoral Officer should preside over the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for New South Wales, who is a commissioner. The Chief Electoral Officer for the Commonwealth does not preside over the redistribution in the other States. I cannot understand this dissimilarity of treatment. There may be arguments for it, but I doubt it.
I have no desire to detain the House very long. I believe in the principle of one vote one value. I have always believed in this principle. I think that once we depart from it we get into all sorts of difficulties. 1 am not interested in academic arguments about whether the Australian Country Party in Victoria, which has the same percentage of votes as the Australian Democratic Labor Party, should be represented in this Parliament and the DLP should not. The natural conclusion of such an argument is that we ought to introduce proportional representation. I certainly do not want this and 1 suggest that the Country Party should not want it either, because with proportionate representation that Party would not have as many Victorian representatives in this Parliament as it has today. I do not believe in proportional representation in the House of Representatives, firstly because the Constitution does not allow it - and that is a good enough argument - and secondly because it would lead to fragmentation of politics in Australia and the development of a situation similar to that which exists in Europe. If this were to happen we would probably have the sort of chaos that occurs periodically in France, Italy and other countries, and ultimately such a situation could lead to a dictatorship.
– What is wrong with first past the post voting?
– I am in favour of it. We did not introduce it. It was introduced at the behest of the Country Party. But that is another story.
Another observation I wish to make before I conclude is that nomenclature should not be the prerogative of the distribution commissioners; it should be the responsibility of the Government. I had more to do than anyone else had with the naming of the electorates under the redistribution made in 1949. 1 made various sug gestions and they were all adopted. I find that under the current redistribution proposals that the name ‘Scullin’ is to disappear and the name ‘Holt’ is to be adopted. I am very much in favour of memorialising the late Prime Minister. But I think the name of Scullin should be on the electoral map, too. I think the name ‘Hoddle’ should be on it also, because Hoddle did more for Victoria than did any other man who came from the New South Wales Department of Public Works in the early days. He laid out Melbourne in 183S. We now find mat the name ‘Hotham’ is to be substituted for Higinbotham’. George Higinbotham was one of the greatest figures in the history of the colony of Victoria towards the end of the last century. His name is to go in favour of that of Hotham. Who was he? Sir Charles Hotham was the man who presided over the events that lead to the tragedy of the Eureka Stockade. Australia owes more to Higinbotham than it does to Hotham. I hope that the Government, when these proposals are before the Senate, will change more of the proposed names than it has already decided to change. As the name of Bruce was put on the electoral map while he was living in London, I see no reason at all why the name of Menzies should not be adopted.
– What about ‘Evatt’?
– I see no reason why the name of Evatt should not be used. The name of Chifley has never been used for a New South Wales electorate. But that, too, is beside the point.
– What about ‘Calwell’?
-I am sure that the right honourable gentleman does not want any assistance in that direction.
– Hear, hear, Sir. I shall leave the question of my immortality to other times and other men. With these few remarks I support the proposition. I have made what I hope is a constructive criticism of the weaknesses of the Commonwealth Electoral Act. I hope that when the next redistribution .takes place it will more approximate the principle of one vote one value.
– I do not think I have ever listened to so much twaddle as I have heard this afternoon from the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant), even though I acknowledge him to be an expert in that field. I am sick to death of listening to protestations and accusations about gerrymandering, ballot rigging and standover tactics that we heaT from a party whose industrial wing has- an unenviable record in this regard. I want to refer to this question of the espousal of the principle of one vote one value and perhaps shed a ray ot light on matters other than the squeal about country electorates having fewer voters than city or inner metropolitan electorates. Ten years ago, four electorates about Melbourne - namely, Melbourne, Melbourne Ports, Yarra and Scullin - each had an average of 30,000 electors. On the other hand, in the electorate of Bruce the number of electors was nearly four times that average. The electorate of Lalor, which was then held by the Opposition, had between 113,000 and 117,000 electors. This again was almost four times the size of any one of the four inner Melbourne electorates that 1 mentioned. Yet, never at any time in the last 10 years have I heard one voice from the Opposition raised to point out that four members of this Parliament represented four electorates that had the same total voting strength, in terms of voters, as each of two other electorates, one held by a Liberal member and the other by a Labor member. Despite this situation, members opposite cry out for one vote one value. When the 1962 redistribution proposals were before the House and the opportunity arose to redress this imbalance within the inner electorates the Opposition stood against and opposed that redistribution.
The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) has espoused quite a novel idea. He said that the voting strength of each member in this House should be proportionate to the number of voters in his electorate. It would have been quite strange a few years ago to see the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) as Leader of the Opposition having one vote and the new Liberal Party back bench member for Lalor (Mr Lee) having four votes. However, this is what the honourable member for Corio espoused. It is not so strange after all, because how does the Labor Party vote at its State Executive meetings in Victoria? The branch delegates have single votes and representatives of trade unions have votes in proportion to the member ship of their organisations. Is this one vote one value? Yet these are the people who cry out for one vote one value. But that system cuts both ways. So what do they want? If they want equal representation, let them provide for it in their own set-up.
From the inner suburban electorates four members can come here representing 120,000 people as against one member representing 120,000 people. But we hear no cries from the Opposition about that. There is no clamour for one vote one value there. Yet every elector in the electorates of Melbourne, Melbourne Ports, Yarra and Scullin has a vote worth four times that of an elector in Bruce. And the right honourable member for Melbourne speaks about the auctioneer in the Mallee as compared with the auctioneer in Melbourne. At the time he was speaking every elector in Melbourne had four times the value of representation here as did any person in the electorate of Bruce, which is represented by the Leader of the House (Mr Snedden). It is about time that the Opposition came down to taws, looked at the situation in a proper light and decided that what has been done has been done in the interests of the future of Australia.
– I have been asked to make my speech as short as possible and as 1 am a great co-operator I certainly will do that. I shall comment on a few salient matters. I hope that honourable members will agree with what I say, but I am sure that they will not agree with all that I say. The Mallee is despised by the Opposition, which regards the honourable member for Mallee as being not too clever. But how is it that when I speak I get probably as much or more attention than does any other honourable member? I have not said anything yet to provoke the uproar that is already commencing. It is my intention to speak very calmly and to try not to raise the ire of the Opposition, for I want my views to be put on record. First of all, I hold in high regard the member of the Opposition who sits closest to me in this House - the honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters). He is a great sentimentalist. He can quote poetry all day. I know that he quotes correctly the poems that I know; so I take it that his other quotations are correct too. He also quotes great men like Abraham
Lincoln. 1 have always been a great admirer of Abraham Lincoln but one can always quote lines to suit one’s case, lt was said on one occasion: ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’? Of course, leading on from that, it has been said of those representing Melbourne seats, including the honourable member for Scullin and the right honourable member for Melbourne, that their view is bounded by the Yu Yangs and the Dandenong Ranges. Their vision is not very wide.
I want to refer to some questions that have been asked during this debate. When the honourable member for Wills (Mr Bryant) was speaking 1 asked him: ‘Why pick on Mallee and its member all the time?’ Straight away he said: ‘Because you have been the greatest advocate of space’. I took it down at the time, so he will not dispute it. I have been the greatest advocate of filling space, lt will be remembered that almost every time during the past 14 years that the estimates of the Department of the Interior have been debated. I have stressed the need to use to the limit the 20% tolerance provided under the Electoral Act. I am very pleased - and 1 compliment the Commissioners for it - that the tolerance has been used so well on this occasion. Even Opposition members have commented that the tolerance provision has not been used so much before as it has been used on this occasion. As I was saying, ) believe in filling space.
– What with?
– With people. Most honourable members have spoken of the drift of population to the cities. This is a problem that 1 have to face as a member of the Parliament. I am trying to cure this anomaly. The Labor Party, the Liberal Party and people all over Australia have not been able to put forward anything reasonable, practical or concrete to stop the drift to the city. 1 claim to have coined the phrase that we must have decentralisation of political representation.
– What does that mean?
– 1 will answer that question, lt means that we must use to the utmost the 20% tolerance that is allowed in the Electoral Aci. The present proposals represent a step in the right direction.
By applying the tolerance we will have more members of Parliament in country areas. However, what has been happening? A tremendous number of people live in the metropolitan areas. Votes count and so the people in the metropolitan areas are provided with concessions, facilities and amenities. People in rural areas get concerned. A man with a family says: ‘I must get down to Melbourne to have my children educated and so they can get jobs. I cun get a job there too.’ So that family leaves the country and moves lo Melbourne. When a census is taken it is discovered that many more people have moved to the city and the electoral quotas are disturbed, so (here is a redistribution. The consequence is that more people are attracted lo the cities where there are more facilities and more amenities. The process snowballs. What can we do about it? If honourable members want me to put the case strongly, the position Ls that the right honourable member for Melbourne has, as they would describe it in boxing terms, thrown in the towel.
– I can assure you 1 have not.
– The honourable gentleman assures me that he has not thrown in the towel, but according to his previous words he has. He said that centralisation is on the way - 1 took it down in writing - and that we cannot stop it.
– That is right.
– He agrees with that. What is going to happen? If this trend continues - and the right honourable gentleman thinks it will - all the people will be in the metropolitan areas and in the rest of (he country there will be only a few farm houses here and there. Then we will be in real trouble. I look at this matter not from the point of view of an auctioneer or clerk or storekeeper living in some place and having the same voting power as somebody else in the city. 1 look at it in a national way, because this nation wants more than anything else to decentralise its population. Not one honourable member opposite would say for one moment that he is in full agreement with the proposition that it is in the best interests of Australia to have so many people in our cities. Honourable members opposite do not believe in that.
But they have no way of overcoming the problem. When I suggest a national way of tackling the problem they immediately take a parochial view and say: ‘This will help the Country Party and affect our Party’.
A number of honourable members have spoken about the drift lo the city. I want to refer to what is provided in the Electoral Aci. lt states that the commissioners have to take into consideration - it does not say how they will do it - the trends of population changes within the States. I believe that redistribution should influence changes in population trends, not that population trends should influence redistribution. This is the real point. Therefore, what 1 am putting forward is in the very best interests of the nation. I believe that the commissioners have done a very good job. Someone said a long time ago - and this is perfectly true - that if you burned down the cities they would be rebuilt as if by magic, but if you burned down the farms the grass would grow in every city in this Commonwealth.
The honourable member for Wills asked: What does the Mallee produce?’ I should like to answer the question. The Mallee produces a tremendous lot of commodities. It produces wheat, wool. 80% of Australia’s production of dried fruits, citrus, dairy produce, more than half Australia’s production of olive oil, fat sheep and lambs and many other products of the soil. Now, the important point about having population in the country areas is that we in the country are able to supply products for export which are able to pay for the goods which come into this country and which are unavailable here - mainly raw materials that are required so that secondary industry can continue to operate satisfactorily. So while the Opposition continues to support a policy that is making more and more people drift to the city, there is not very much hope for this country. I said that the Opposition is supporting that policy. I am opposing it. The honourable member for Corio (Mr Scholes) thought he was being rather facetious when he asked me the question: ‘How many sheep are equal to a new Australian?’ It is a difficult question, but I know that without sheep and the finance that is derived from them we would never have reached the situation in which we have been able to attract new Australians here. This is what is happening all the time. People are saying that minerals are being found in this country. Of course. They are being found in the rural areas, but they will certainly never take the place of primary industry.
I am very pleased with the commissioners’ work so far as the Mallee electorate is concerned. Everybody knows that the Mallee electorate has hundreds of miles of frontage to the Murray River. I have spoken about getting more people to go to the country. If we were able to do this it would be of considerable help to the Mallee electorate and to the other areas of fertile country in the Murray Valley. 1 cannot understand the honourable member for Wills, because as a school teacher he was stationed at Mittyack and also at Wycheproof. Why has he taken such a set on that area since he has left it? Surely he was happy when he was there. He is only playing politics. I think he really has a kindly feeling for the area now. But now it appears that everybody connected with the area is hardly worthy of his consideration. When the stage is reached when a political party gets into the position in which it tries in every possible way to write down great primary producing areas like the Mallee-
-Order! I suggest that the honourable member is getting a little wide of the motion.
– Let me put it this way: The Mallee electorate would be one of the areas which would take more population if we only had enough members of Parliament in the area to support legislation which provided amenities in order to attract people to the area. After 1 had referred to this matter in this House previously a certain member who sits in the opposite corner also referred to it. He said: T cannot understand the honourable member for Mallee. Does he think that if they have more members of Parliament up in the Mallee, more people will go there just because there are more members of Parliament?’ I had a chance to reply, and the answer was: ‘No, of course they would not.’ He said that the reason why people would not go to the Mallee was because the railway freight concessions and all the other things that people can get in the city are not available in the Mallee. Surely to goodness he should have understood - as I explained afterwards- that if we had enough members in the State and Federal Parliaments we could gain a reduction in freight rates. Then we would soon have the facilities and the conditions which would attract people away from the stranglehold of the metropolitan areas.
Finally, I point out that every member of this Parliament realises the danger of so many people congregating in our metropolitan areas. I think honourable members know that if one or two atomic bombs were dropped in our metropolitan areas much of the organisation and administration in Australia today would cease to exist. Therefore I think they all agree with decentralisation. This has become a debate over whose electorate is getting the best deal. It does not make any difference to me if a couple more subdivisions are included in the Mallee electorate. It will not affect Mallee very much because, after all, my vote is very good and I am pleased to see this happen, whether I am the member or whether someone else is elected. It does not make much difference. However, it would make a difference if some better plan could be devised. No other honourable member has made any such suggestion. I support the 20% tolerance principle up to the hilt.
Nobody else has devised a plan that has a chance of attracting people from the metropolitan areas. The Labor Party will not agree with this principle under any consideration. I ask: What is Labor’s plan to bring about what I am aiming at? My aim is to get people out of the metropolitan area and to stop people going there. Will some Labor supporter tell me of any other plan?
– We have our plans.
– If that is so, then why is it kept secret?
– It is not my intention to delay the House with a political speech, although I am tempted to do so having regard to the circumstances of the day. I appreciate the fact that every other honourable member has done so but I will remain a statesman and will answer a few of the inquiries raised in respect of the redistribution of Victoria.
Firstly, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell) raised a point about the principle of one vote one value. He referred to the United Kingdom and stated quite unequivocally that the United Kingdom had adopted the principle of one vote one value. According to the figures 1 have, the seat of Antrim South has 1 05,3 1 5 people and the seat of Orkney and Shetland has 25,48 1 people. If those figures represent the principle of one vote one value then I think Australia has been very modest over the past 60 years. We have retained in the Commonwealth Electoral Act since 1902 the idea that there ought to be a 20% variation above and below the quota. It is interesting to note that Canada has electoral districts of a similar order. There are 139,000 people in York -Scarborough and 22,331 in Malpeque. In some States of the United States of America there is similar heavy disproportion, varying from one district in Texas which has 951,000 people to another in Michigan which has 177,000 people. The principle of one vote one value is the subject of philosophic argument. Either a person is for it or he is against it. It has been demonstrated clearly during the last couple of days since the redistribution proposals were introduced that every member has a view. Of course, every member has an opportunity to express that view. Another interesting point made by the right honourable member for Melbourne was that when the Chifley Government was in power - 1 was staggered by what he said - it influenced the distribution commissioners by letting the word go out that there ought to be only a 5% differential.
– He did not say that.
– This is an exact quotation from his words.
– He said the rumour went out.
– He said that the word used to go out. If I have misquoted the right honourable member then I will apologise personally to him tomorrow. I am positively certain that they were the words he used. Let me lay it on the line now: I am very proud of the fact that not one member has suggested that such a thing has occurred in this redistribution. The commissioners act completely in their own way, without bias and without riding instructions, as was suggested yesterday by the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine) in what was probably the worst speech made in this debate.
The right honourable memberfor Melbourne made another point which I regarded as being quite staggering, seeing that the remark came from a member who has been in this House for a long time. I suggest that the right honourable member’s memory is slipping. He claimed that he believed strongly in the principle of one vote one value. I suggest he ought to look up the speeches he made in 1962 or 1963 when the last redistribution proposals were before the House. On that occasion he said he believed there could be a variation of 10% above or below the quota. The right honourable member also inquired as to why the name ‘Higinbotham’ had been changed to Hotham’. Several other honourable members have mentioned the names of electorates. I think the honourable member for Isaacs (Mr Ha worth) was one of them. The naming of electorates is not a matter for the distribution commissioners. They have no power under the statute to do so. They merely prepare a list of recommendations for examination by the Government. In respect to Higinbotham, or Hotham, all I want to say is that it was thought that the name ought to be changed simply because of the confusion created by the existence of a State seat of Higinbotham. We have been trying to get away from this confusion in other areas. The Government went to a great deal of trouble, particularly in New South Wales, and did not select the name Hornsby’ for one seat because there was a State seat of that name.
I turn now to the drawing of boundaries for redistribution. I think the debate has shown how difficult this job is. Every honourable member who has spoken has held a view, rightly or wrongly, as to how the lines ought to have been drawn, either in his State generally or in respect to his own division. It was interesting to note that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) conceded this morning that there is no mathematical exactness about the drawing of divisions. He agreed that geography had a bearing. The commissioners themselves face the same difficulties. I was very pleased to hear honourable members accept the proposals in the way they have and to pay a tribute to the commissioners for their work. I was also pleased to hear that honourable members have an understanding of the difficulties which faced the commissioners.
The honourable member for Melbourne Ports spoke about the need to uphold the principle of one vote one value and about parliamentary democracy. When he spoke about parliamentary democracy I wondered just how the Opposition does work in view of the fact that we had to wait for some time to find out what the people outside would tell the people inside this House what way they should vote on this matter. I make this point, because the attitude of the Opposition scarcely reflects the truly democratic ideal. I refer particularly to the tub thumping of the honourable member for Melbourne Ports about the need for parliamentary democracy. It is difficult to understand his thinking when he accepts his riding instructions from outside.
– He did not say that.
– Order! The honourable member for Port Adelaide has been continually interjecting in this debate. I ask him to restrain himself.
– I compliment the honourable member for Isaacs for making a thoughtful contribution to the debate in view of the fact that his seat has been abolished and he has announced that he will be retiring from the Parliament. I believe he does not understand that the commissioners are unable to carry out instructions as he believes they ought to carry them out. The Victorian commissioners operate solely and simply under the Act as written. There is no way of conveying instructions to them from the Chief Electoral Officer, as the honourable member for Isaacs had hoped or believed possible. This matter was raised also by the right honourable member for Melbourne. The commissioners in each State operate as individuals. The Chief Electoral Officer has no power to issue instructions to the six sets of commissioners in the six States as to how they should operate. Rather, because of the way the Act is written each set of commissioners individually draws up boundaries for each State. The right honourable member for Melbourne referred to the appointment of the Chief Electoral Officer as a distribution commissioner for New South Wales. It has been traditional for the Chief Electoral Officer, who is the overseer for all the States, to accept an appointment in the No. 1 Stale. I say ‘No. 1 State’ because New South Wales is the oldest State.
The honourable member for Scullin (Mr Peters) made a very political speech and I am very tempted to answer his remarks in like fashion. He said that Kalgoorlie ought to have a 20% variation from the quota and that Mallee ought to have a 1% variation. The founding fathers did not agree with that proposition. The founding fathers purposefully provided that each State would be independent and since 1901 the variation has applied separately to each State.
There is one other point that I wish to make; it has never been raised before. I well remember the Leader of the Opposition making the claim that the honourable member for Kalgoorlie (Mr Collard) had never argued that he ought to have fewer electors than any other member of the Parliament despite the fact that I think he represents in area approximately one-third of Australia. T notice that in his submission to the distribution commissioners in Western Australia the honourable member for Kalgoorlie has pleaded that he be given the minimum number of voters. So that fact rather has taken what we might call the stuffing out of the Leader of the Opposition.
The honourable member for Scullin also talked about the submission that he had made to the distribution commissioners in Victoria. It is interesting to note - I take the case of my own electorate of Gippsland for a moment - that the honourable member suggested here that the sub-division of Lucknow, which is part of the town of Bairnsdale, on the coast of Victoria, ought to go into the Indi electorate which is over the mountain ranges some 100 miles away. Having regard to that argument, I say that if the submissions that he put before the commissioners in Victoria were as inaccurate as that argument I doubt whether the honourable member could expect the commissioners to agree with the proposition that he put forward that the number of electorates in Victoria ought to be maintained and that in fact one new electorate ought to be added rather than accepting the readjustment which is proposed.
The honourable member for Wills complained bitterly about the fact that the value of the vote of electors in his electorate is less than the value of the vote of electors in the Mallee electorate. I want to make the point - I will make it once only during this debate, I trust - that in New South Wales the quota to send a member to the House of Representatives is 52,805. In Tasmania the quota is 40,685. This argument can be extended by recalling the fact that 320,000 people in Tasmania are represented by 10 senators but 3 million people in Victoria are represented by 10 senators also. The point that I made is that the argument concerning one vote one value is a very academic one. This principle is not practised in any democratic country in the world. This is so even in the small country of England, which will fit into Victoria. In the United Kingdom the variation in the quoto is greater than it is in Australia, which does require a great deal of development. I will leave the argument at that point.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Mi Crean’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker - Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 35
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
Original question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed from 19 September (vide page 1258), on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the House of Representatives approves of the redistribution of the State of Queensland into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs I. F. Weise, E. F. Lane and E. Smith, 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.
– I move:
That all words after ‘That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: the House disapproves of the distribution of the State of Queensland into electoral divisions as proposed by the distribution commissioners for the reasons stated in the dissent expressed by the chairman of the commissioners, Mr I. F. Weise, Commonwealth Electoral Officer for Queensland, and requests the Minister to refer back to the commissioners the redistribution of the State of Queensland into electoral divisions for a fresh distribution’.
The principal reason for our amendment is the fact that Mr Weise, one of the three electoral commissioners for Queensland, has presented a minority report significantly different from the majority report of the other two commissioners. In our opinion the views expressed by Mr Weise are more in line with the provisions of section 19 (2.) of the Commonwealth Electoral Act than are the views of the other two commissioners. We have moved an amendment to the motion because we believe that the boundaries as suggested in the majority report - the official report - do not pay due regard to the provisions of section 19(2.).
Mr Weise is no ordinary man; he is not a layman in electoral matters. He is one of the best informed, if not the best informed, authorities on federal electoral boundaries in Queensland. For this reason alone the Parliament should pay particular attention to his conclusions. Having regard to the experience gained in his office and to the advice at bis disposal from his divisional returning officers in Queensland, Mr Weise is undoubtedly better informed on electoral matters in Queensland than are the other two commissioners. In other words, of the three commissioners for Queensland, the one who knows by far the most about federal electorates and federal boundaries in that State is the man who has differed significantly in his views from those expressed by the other two commissioners. For these reasons we should carefully weigh the views expressed by Mr Weise where they conflict with those of the other commissioners.
I think that the Government made a serious mistake in appointing Mr Lane as one of the commissioners. I do not want to cast any reflection on Mr Lane’s integrity, but I do not think that it is right for the Government to appoint as an electoral commissioner the right hand man of a Minister of the Crown who was defeated in the election of 1961 in a Queensland electorate. I do not know Mr Lane personally but I know of his work in Queensland. I have spoken to him on several occasions by telephone. I can say only that I believe him to be scrupulously fair - certainly in dealing with his job as an officer of the Postmaster-General’s Department. So whatI say about him today should not be interpreted in any way as an attack upon his character. But I do stress that it is wrong for the right hand man of a Minister of the Crown to be made an electoral commissioner. Immediately this is done the way is open for doubts to arise. I say no more than that.
– You have said too much now.
– Nothing that I have said about Mr Lane impinges in any way on his character or his integrity. In all my dealings with him he has acted with scrupulous fairness.
The major matters before the House now arc the original motion moved by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) and the Opposition’s amendment. The proposals put forward in the majority report of the commissioners will, if accepted, result in a serious imbalance in certain electorates. For example, there is a difference of 15,000 between the number of people living in the electorate of Capricornia and the number living in Fisher.I am dealing now with only those electorates specifically referred to in the minority report. There will be a difference of 5,000 between the number of persons enrolled for Dawson and the number enrolled for Darling Downs. If the majority report is accepted there will be a difference of 1 1,000 voters between Fisher and Kennedy. Under the recommendations made by Mr Weise the maximum difference between any electorate under consideration would be 9,000. The number of voters as proposed by Mr Weise is closer to the quotas and certainly pays more regard to the principle of one vote, one value than do the proposals advanced in the majority report. As I have said, there are serious imbalances in certain electorates under the proposals contained in the majority report. For example, compare on the one hand Capricornia having 44,900 voters and Dawson having 48,000 voters with Darling Downs having 53,000 voters, Fisher having 53,000 voters and Wide Bay having 51,000 voters. There is no reason for this imbalance. These are closely settled areas. You cannot validly compare these areas with places like Kennedy and Maranoa. There should not be the variation in numbers envisaged in the majority report. Commissioner Weise has recognised that the inland seats of Maranoa and Kennedy have serious problems. He has dealt with those separately. He has made a good job of the electorates stretching from Dawson to Fisher not only with respect to community of interest but also with respect to the quota and the principle of equal representation. 1 would also like to refer to paragraph 13 in the majority report where the commissioners say that one of the justifications for putting the sub-division of Gayndah in the division of Kennedy, which has its headquarters at MountIsa, is that it is a pastoral area. I submit that Gayndah is not a pastoral area. The fact that cattle are run in the area does not mean it is a pastoral area. A pastoral area contains very large holdings, mostly in remote areas; certainly no-one could say that Gayndah was in a remote area. I recognise -I am certain we all recognse - the great difficulties involved in administering electorates such as Maranoa and Kennedy. I spent the best part of 9 years between 1949 and 1959 in both these electorates doing various kinds of work. I know the areas well and I appreciate the problems involved in administering them. But to my mind a person living in Maranoa or Kennedy is not more important in terms of casting his vote to select a representative in Parliament than a person living on the coast of Queensland. To illustrate that, 1 point out that in the majority report Kennedy is shown with fewer voters than Leichhardt. Nobody can tell me that a person living in Monto, which is relatively close to Bundaberg and not far from Brisbane, is entitled to a greater vote and is more important in terms of a vote than a person who lives at Jacky Jacky or Thursday Island. But this is what the majority report says, because Kennedy has a smaller number of voters than Leichhardt. Parts of the division of Leichhardt are certainly remote areas.
One can talk for hours on the philosophy of one vote one value. One of the greatest needs in the electorates of Maranoa, Kennedy, the Northern Territory and Kalgoorlie is for the Government to give the members for those areas better facilities to run the electorates. If it did, many of the problems associated with administering the electorates could be overcome. For example, members are not allowed to use small charter or feeder aircraft, yet there is no limit to the amount they can spend running around in commercial aircraft. Sometimes they travel thousands of miles extra when they could do the same job in a small charter aircraft at less cost. The Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) knows full well, as a result of travelling between his own electorate and Canberra, that what I say is correct. Money could be saved by using small feeder aircraft at times. This should be looked at by the Government. If greater facilities were available to members in those areas a lot of the arguments put up to knock the one vote one value concept would not be so valid.
The proposals put forward in the Weise report in relation to the divisions of Dawson, Capricornia and Wide Bay are reasonably sound. I do not speak because of any personal gain; neither do the honourable members for Capricornia (Dr Everingham) and Wide Bay (Mr Hansen). The proposals for these three electorates are sound, because they adhere to section 19 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act as it relates to community of interest and the tolerance allowed. In the division of Dawson the hinterland of the towns on the coast stretching from Ayr to St Lawrence is represented. The same thing applies to the division of Capricornia. The hinterland of Gladstone and Rockhampton is brought into Capricornia, and the hinterland of Maryborough and Bundaberg is brought into the division of Wide Bay. There is no doubt that Monto, for example, should be in either Wide Bay or Capricornia, lt should not be administered as part of the electorate of Kennedy, because there is little or no community . of interest between Monto and that electorate. If you say it has a community of interest because it runs beef cattle, you might as well say that the people in the Kimberleys have a community of interest with the people in Bairnsdale who also run beef cattle. There is no community of interest based simply on a cattle enterprise.
No matter who made the decisions with regard to the redistributions they would not be agreed to by all people. I can give a few examples in the electorate of Dawson which show serious imperfections, not only in the majority report but also in the Weise report. The inclusion in the Weise report of Carmila as part of the area to be administered from Rockhampton - is quite incorrect. The Carmila area is a sugar area close to Mackay and Sarina. Simply because the subdivision boundary happens to include Carmila there is no reason why that town should be included in the division of Capricornia. The sub-division boundaries should not be perpetuated simply because they happen to be the boundaries of a subdivision or because it is easier for certain divisional returning officers to transpose people from one roll to another. Surely if the local boundary is wrong in terms of the Federal boundary it should be changed. The majority and minority reports include the whole of the Burdekin area in the division of Dawson. To my mind this is quite wrong. The area to the north of the Burdekin River- has little or no community of interest with the electorate of Dawson. It is definitely part of the division of Kennedy or the division of Herbert. The Weise report put the boundaries of the division of Dawson further west than did the majority report. There is certainly logic in this, because that area is the hinterland of the main cities on the coast. The majority report includes an area commencing one mile from the Rockhampton post office in the electorate of Dawson. There is no logic in this. An area one mile from the Rockhampton post office should obviously be part of the electorate of Capricornia.
These are only small imperfections, but to the people who live there they are important. They want to be able to go to a member who understands their interests and problems and who lives’ in close proximity to them. For example Alton Downs, which commences 4 miles from the Rockhampton post office, should be represented by the honourable member for Capricornia and not by the member for Dawson, who administers his electorate from Mackay, which is 250 miles away. Furthermore, in the majority report the electorate of Dawson extends 250 miles north of Mackay. These are small imperfections, as I have said, and I have no doubt that we all could argue about them. If this report were reconsidered by the commissioners they should look very carefully at all these imperfections, because often the small imperfections are magnified to the extent that the overall report suffers. In conclusion, the Opposition believes, as every speaker on this side of the House has stated, that we should come as close as possible to equal distribution in terms of one vote one value.
– Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment.
– I agree with the concluding remark of the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), who said that in effecting a redistribution the electoral boundaries should be so arranged that as nearly as possible one vote one value is achieved. This is a sound principle with which I think no one will disagree. But we have heard a tremendous amount of cant and humbug from the Opposition on this very subject. Honourable members opposite have also been mightily inconsistent. For instance, Mr Weise himself recommends one seat with a voting strength of a little over 41,000. That is on one side of the scale. On the other side he recommends a seat with a voting population of virtually 59,000. This means that a tolerance is allowed - and quite tacitly accepted by the Australian Labor Party - of about one-third of the entire quota, the quota being a little over 50,000. This in itself highlights the inconsistency of the Labor Party in this matter. I could spend a great deal of time on this subject, but my time is limited and there are a number of other matters to which I want to refer.
Throughout this debate the function of a member of Parliament seems to have been largely ignored. The function of a member of Parliament is to represent his electorate in very many ways and to attend to the problems of its people. To be able to attend to the problems of people in a given area a member must be familiar with the area. That is to say, he must visit it regularly, speak to the people and have an understanding of their basic problems. Yet the Labor Party supports a recommendation by Mr Weise for a division, to be called ‘Vickers’, with an area of 357,700 square miles. This is more than three times the area of the whole of the British Isles. The honourable member for Dawson speaks of community of interest in this area, but it is manifestly impossible to achieve community of interest in an area of 350,000 square miles or more. In fact, of course, one would look in vain for community of interest between, say, Roma and Mount lsa, or between Emerald and Windorah. It is quite obvious that we cannot achive community of interest because there is such a wide variation in climate, pursuits, countryside and outloook. It is not an easy matter to achieve community of interest. From the very nature of this country it is impossible to achieve it.
But I will say that the Australian electoral system is second to none in the world, and we should not lose sight of this. Honourable members opposite have spoken about England and the variations in sizes of electorates there. Incidentally, they have given some very misleading information on the subject - as seems to be their wont - and have been ably corrected by the Minisster for the Interior (Mr Nixon). But Opposition members forget that in England the system of voting is first past the post, which enables a substantial majority of seats to be obtained by a bare majority of voters. In fact this system is very undemocratic. It enables a very small majority of people to secure a vast majority of members of parliament, lt is possible under that system to have a majority elected on a minority vote. People should bear this in mind.
There are other methods of voting. There are various proportional representation methods which are advocated by certain people. But the proportional representation system leads to chaos in government. It does not lead to stable government. Moreover, it leads to the possibility of outside and undesirable intervention in elections. There is no doubt in my mind - and I think there would be no doubt in the mind of any fair person who made a thorough study of this matter - that the system of preferential voting that we have adopted in Australia secures the wishes of the majority of the people and at the same time makes for a stable government. Surely if we have any sense of dedication or of devotion to our country, what we want is a stable and good government.
– Ours is the worst system in the world.
– Here we have some cretin from the south saying that we have the worst system in the world. He may think so. The honourable gentleman from Tasmania may believe that our system is worse than the system adopted in Russia, worse than the system in China or worse than the system in any of the absolutist countries. If he likes to think so he is perfectly at liberty to do so, but I know that the majority of the people of Australia will have no patience with that sort of nonsense.
Let us get on to the more specific matter of the redistribution in Queensland. We have this vexed question of country seats in Queensland. Surely this is an inherent problem. I must disagree with the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) and say that some allowance must be made for the size of an electorate which a member must look after. If that allowance is not made, the people in an overly large electorate will suffer because their representation will suffer. Moreover, I would hate to be the poor victim who happened to be the honourable member for Vickers. I do not know how on earth he would carry out his task. He would have to be here 3 days a week, get back to his electorate at the weekend and attend to problems in the far north and the far south of the State. I do not know how he would do it. The extremes of climate, for one thing, would present great problems. He would be a wreck in less than no time and there would be numerous by-elections for the seat of Vickers.
We must consider practicabilities in these matters. I grant that as nearly as possible we should have one vote one value, but allowance must be made for the physical difficulties which confront a member who is trying to look after a large electorate. I will say that all the members in this House do their best to represent their constituents properly, and this involves a great deal of work. Let me digress for a moment and say that I believe, as numerous other members believe, that it is time we had far more help with our work. One secretary is just completely inadequate for the average member who is trying to look after a busy electorate. Electorates nowadays are more sophisticated than they used to be. More demands, and more sophisticated demands, are made upon members.
Let me get back to Queensland. I believe there is much to argue with, not only in the minority report as I briefly refer to it, but also in the majority report. 1 believe that this reflects on the method of choosing commissioners. The Government can in no way be blamed for this. It is the traditional method of choosing. But I maintain that this traditional method is manifestly wrong and it is time we had another look at it. We have the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for Queensland, Mr Weise, with a certain expertise in this matter, but only a certain expertise. There are wide gaps in his capabilities, as has been demonstrated by the fact that he makes the absurd suggestion for the seat of Vickers. Mr Weise is a dedicated man but he has not sufficient expertise. Of the other two commissioners one is a retired State Valuer-General. What possible special knowledge would a retired Valuer-General have of the redistribution of electoral boundaries? I would say he would have none. His knowledge of this subject would merely enable him to assess the values of the land and the property in the various electorates. He would have no knowledge of population changes and the demands made on members.
This applies also to the other commissioner - a worthy citizen and a devoted public servant. 1 do not want anyone to misunderstand me. Public servants are very devoted people and they do their very best for this country but of necessity their specialisations must restrict them and would not give them sufficient expertise in this field. If we want to have a redistribution that will reflect the community of interest, population changes and other trends, surely to goodness it would be elementary to have a demographer included amongst the distribution commissioners. A demographer is the man who understands the significance of these factors. If we do not have one of these fellows as a commissioner we will have trouble and trouble is just what we have bumped into. To complete the trio obviously we must have the Chief Electoral Commissioner. The third person should be one of distinction, a person as far removed from politics as possible and a man trained in the sifting of evidence. No-one is better equipped to do this than a judge of a Supreme Court, provided that he is a dedicated judge. Judges like everyone else vary in their human qualities. But a really dedicated, intelligent and neutral Supreme Court judge would surely be the ideal person to make up the trio for an electoral commission.
I do urge the Government when it next considers the matter - quite clearly this Government will be considering the matter when the next redistribution comes about - to take these matters into consideration. This is really a non-political suggestion. It is a suggestion of an intelligent way to settle problems that have obviously been beyond the ability of the present commissioners acting as a commission to settle. They have just not been able to grapple with these problems with sufficient expertise. I suggest that a commission consisting of an electoral officer, a judge of a Supreme Court - an expert in sifting evidence and able to do this impartially - and a demographer, who understands population trends, would be able to deal with redistribution matters and there would be fewer problems. There might be more problems perhaps for some sitting members of the Parliament who might find themselves out of the Parliament, but the redistribution would be done fairly and expertly. The present redistribution in Queensland may have been done fairly but it has been done inexpertly.
Let me refer to my own seat, a matter which, of course, is rather near and dear to me. I try to do my best in my electorate. I think I work hard. This, I think, is shown by the fact that officers of the PostmasterGeneral’s Department have asked me to allow a third telephone to be installed in my office, and this is under consideration at the present time by the Minister for the Interior. I acceded to this request with much misgiving because the two telephones I already have are enough to play the merry devil with anyone who is trying to work. I shudder to think of what it will be like with a third telephone ringing throughout the day. The installation of this additional telephone results from the volume of work I have to do.
It is quite plain that the members in some electorates are required to do more work than members in other electorates are and the nature of the work differs from electorate to electorate. In my electorate there is a vast volume of social welfare work of various sorts, including social welfare in its broadest sense. This again gives me a tremendous amount of work. Now it is proposed to give me the subdivision of Mount Gravatt, which formerly was in the electorate of the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen). This sub-division in itself is utterly absurd. It is an enormous area itself. There is no community of interest. Indeed there is a great diversity of interest and the population growth is tremendous. I understand this area provides a tremendous amount of social services work for the honourable member for Moreton - and he nods in assent. I am also given a similar area from the Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes). This is the Cleveland subdivision, which also entails a great deal of this type of work. In other words, I have had taken from me areas that gave me only occasional work. All the present sources of my work have been retained, and in addition I have been given areas which will entail an equal amount of work. Even with the best will in the world it will be impossible for me to handle this work.
I might say further that even now my secretary arrives in my office at 7.30 in the morning and she never leaves the office before 4.30 in the afternoon. I hate to think what she will do if the new subdivisions are added to the electorate and the additional telephone is installed. I suppose I will just have to put on another secretary myself. But, of course, a great deal of this work requires one’s own personal attention and I will not be able to attend to it. This is not the worst of it. I have a graph here and I ask for leave to have it incorporated in Hansard.
-Is leave granted?
– There is nothing wrong with this graph, lt is a simple enough graph. If it is possible, 1 would like to have it incorporated in Hansard.
– lt has not been submitted to us for consideration.
– Leave is not granted.
– 1 realise that the honourable member for Melbourne Ports (Mr Crean) is not particularly interested in having the true facts revealed in Hansard nor is the honourable member for Newcastle (Mr Charles Jones). I have very little time to describe the graph.
– I rise to a point of order. It is not a question of whether the honourable member for Melbourne Ports is interested. There is a procedure to be followed in this place. When we want to have matter incorporated in Hansard we invariably ask the Minister for his approval.
– Leave is not granted for the graph to be incorporated.
– This graph shows that the population and the voting strength of my electorate of Bowman, compared with the neighbouring electorate of Griffith, will increase at a very rapid rate. It will increase at an average of well over 4% per annum. I. might say that anyone with a knowledge of these areas - apparently the distribution commissioners have no knowledge of them - will know that this rate will accelerate because they are literally covered with subdivisional sites. Everywhere land subdividers are breaking up the vast vacant areas in the electorate so they can be used for housing. One enormous subdivision, a place called White’s Hill, has just gone under the auctioneer’s hammer. There are numerous similar areas throughout this electorate and this means that the rate of population and the voting strength will increase enormously. In 1971 I will have over 61,000 voters to cater for in this enormous and difficult area. At the same time, even though I have been granted a lower voting strength than Griffith, by 1969 1 will have more voters in my area than there will be in Griffith. This shows the absurdity of the redistribution. There is another point. Obviously it is senseless to have a given parity or a given proportion of voters in any one electorate as compared with another and to ignore the trends for the future. Obviously if trends are ignored it will not be long before many electorates will be out of relationship with other electorates. Future trends have been overlooked in the electorate of Bowman. 1 believe they would not be overlooked if a demographer were to be included amongst the distribution commissioners.
Under the present system the voting strength of Bowman is increasing far more rapidly than the increase in the State average of voters. This means that an intolerable load has been placed upon me by the present redistribution. I will certainly do my best to look after these people if I am returned. I. have been around the proposed electorate and I think I can achieve rapport with the people in it. But it is a physical impossibility to cater for such a huge area as 332 square miles in a supposedly metropolitan seat. So I think on both sides we have absurdity. On the one hand, Mr Weise suggests the tremendous division of Vickers and on the other he condones the rapid growth of an electorate on the urban fringes. I think both of these recommendations show lack of expertise. I trust that the Government in future will find people not only of general good will - as I have no doubt the present commissioners are - and impartiality. We need people with expertise who can really grapple with the fundamental aspects of these problems. If we do not have such people we will have trouble every time there is a redistribution of electoral boundaries.
– I followed the speech of the honourable member for Bowman (Dr Gibbs) with considerable interest. He commenced by telling us that members of the Australian Labor Party were putting a lot of humbug into Hansard in advocating support for the Weise proposals. He pointed out the deficiency in those proposals. 1 agree with the honourable member that there are deficiencies in them as indeed there would be deficiences from someone’s point of view in proposals made by any distribution commissioners. All of us know that there is one set of proposals only before this Parliament in relation to Queensland. This is the set of proposals that might be referred to as the majority report. Members of the Australian Labor Party are exercising their right to point out what they believe are the superior qualities of the Weise proposals compared with the proposals set out in the majority report. In other words, we are saying that the proposals put forward by Mr Weise seem to us to be fairer, more reasonable, more equitable and more in accordance with the Labor Party’s policy of one vote one value than the proposals which the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) has submitted. The reasons for this can be spelt out very clearly. If one takes the proposals of Messrs Lane and Smith and excludes the electorate of Kennedy, which by virtue of its large size is a rather special case-
– The honourable member cannot split Kennedy. He has to take the lot.
– I am arguing on the disparity in numbers. I agree with the Minister, but one should regard Kennedy as a special case because of its size. I put it to the Minister that the electorate of Kennedy is similar to the electorates of Kalgoorlie, Grey and Darling. These electorates are in a special category, distinct from that of electorates such as Wide Bay, Darling Downs and some other seats that are classified as country seats but do not involve such vast areas.
I would like to make a comparison between the majority report and the minority report in regard to the size of electorates. The first seat mentioned in the majority report is Fisher, for which a figure of 53,094 electors is set. For the sixth seat, of Maranoa, the number is 44,788. If one looks at the proposals in the report submitted by Mr Weise, the first seat is Wide Bay with 50,186 voters, and the sixth seat is Moonie, the equivalent of Maranoa with 46,275. So the disparity between the first and the sixth of these divisions can be seen. In the case of the majority report it is 8.306 electors and in the case of the report submitted by Mr Weise it is 3,91 1 electors, which is less than half the disparity recommended in the majority report. This, of course, is why the Labor Party is advocating and supporting the proposals made by M r Weise.
The honourable member for Bowman said that we had the best electoral system in the world. I would think that this observation covered a range of systems.I suppose the principal argument would be that we have the best electoral system in the world because it elects the honourable member and returns to office the Party of his persuasion.
-I did not think the honourable member would fall to that level.
-I am making the point that we all approve of an electoral system that delivers the goods from our own point of view. Indeed, the parties with which the honourable member is associated support a most blatant gerrymander in Queensland because it delivers the goods from their point of view. 1 agree that there are some odd things about the appointment of the distribution commissioners in Queensland. I am not reflecting upon any of these gentlemen. In the past it has been the practice to appoint as distribution commissioners the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State, the Slate Surveyor-General and, more often than not, the Director of Posts and Telegraphs. On this occasion there has been a departure from the usual practice. The distribution commissioners are the Commonwealth Electoral Officer for the State, a retired Queensland Valuer-General and the Director of Posts and Telegraphs. I feel that it was probably unfair to appoint the Director of Posts and Telegraphs, because of the close association between him and the senior Cabinet Minister from Queensland. I am not suggesting that the Director has been guilty of any improper practice in regard to the report that has been brought down. But charges have been made in another place by a senator from Queensland that his actions have been improper and that he has been the subject of improper influence. I personally do not believe this but I think it is unfair to put a public servant in this situation.
There are many ways of arriving at electoral boundaries. It has been pointed out by the honourable member for Bowman that a demographer could have been appointed a distribution commissioner. I have no doubt that the commissioners would have been very much influenced by the information given to them by the Bureau of Census and Statistics. Indeed, if one looks at the proposed boundaries, one sees in many cases that the proposed boundaries are closely aligned with those of the census districts. So it is obvious that if we are to have a fairer distribution of electoral boundaries there will need to be a greater association between the distribution commissioners and officers of the Bureau of Census and Statistics who are the people best able to give accurate information about population and ils distribution.
Honourable members should consider the proposals of Messrs Lane and Smith and the proposals of Mr Weise in regard to the metropolitan seats in Brisbane. There is no difference between them. I think that the members of all parties agree with the inclusion of the seat of Oxley as a metropolitan seat and with the inclusion of the Inala subdivision of the Mcpherson electorate in the electorate of Oxley. One might argue about whether it should be in Oxley. But one could argue that Inala has a much greater affinity wilh the metropolitan area of Brisbane than it has with the seat of Mcpherson of which it has recently been part. I welcome this change. But I would like to say that I believe the inner city seats of Griffith and Brisbane are overloaded. I do not believe that the distribution commissioners have fairly taken into account the population, as distinct from the numbers of electors, in these electorates. These inner city seats, as is the case with similar seats in other capital cities, have substantial numbers of unnaturalised migrants. Also, such seats have substantial migratory populations. I do not purport to speak for the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) but I know that I get an enormous amount of work, especially on social service matters, from people who are not on the Brisbane electoral roll. In fact, I looked through a year’s files and found that only 40% of the people for whom I had made representations in social service matters and who had addresses in the Brisbane division were on the roll for the division. In my submission to the distribution commissioners I emphasised this fact. I do not think that they have taken sufficient account of these factors in the central metropolitan area of Brisbane or, for that matter, in the central metropolitan area in the capital of any other State.
In regard to boundaries in the other metropolitan areas of Brisbane, I would like to say that I found the submissions presented to the commissioners by the Liberal Party quite incredible. I believe that the commissioners are quite right in seeking to include areas of urban spread within the metropolitan area. The Liberal Party proposed to put a substantial area of The Gap - an area where there are about 4,000 people - from the electorate of Ryan into the electorate of Fisher. It proposed all sorts of intricacies which seemed to have the purpose of preserving the electorate of Petrie as a very safe Liberal Party seat. Whatever the purpose might have been - I suppose we all have these political purposes and should be honest enough to admit it - it did not seem to me that the idea of taking people out of the metropolitan area and putting them into the country was in accordance with the principles of the Liberal Party or, in the long run, in the interests of the Liberal Party or of the Party to which I belong.
I have made the point already that I think the two inner city seats in the metropolitan area of Brisbane are too large in population. I would have hoped that something would be done about them in (he subsequent report. All of us would like to clear up the question, which is always tossed around, about the disabilities of members who represent large country seats. I am not denying the difficulties under which they operate, but I rather think that some of the members representing smaller country seats operate under conditions which are just as difficult and just as onerous as the difficulties of some of the members who represent extremely large country seats. In the smaller country seats members are probably closer to the people and they are expected to do more of their work by personal contact, whereas in seats like Kennedy I have no doubt that a great deal of the work is done by correspondence.
I was interested to hear the honourable member for Bowman outline the disabilities under which he operates in his metropolitan seat. He said that the Postmaster-General’s Department was pressing him to put in a third telephone. He said that he was seeking a second secretary in order to cope with his work. It is obvious that it is not only country members who are operating under duress; so, too, are members representing metropolitan seats. The honourable member came up with the right conclusion when he said that we should have more staff and more assistance - not only clerical assistance but research assistance. The Labor Party is nol unsympathetic to members who represent large country electorates. The Labor Party is not unsympathetic to the electors who live there. We believe that we can preserve the principle of one vote one value and make special compensations, perhaps by way of the right to charter light aircraft and other special facilities, to members who represent large country seats in order that they may do their jobs effectively and well. There are other ways of rectifying the imbalances that exist in our system - the difficulties that apply from area to area around our vast Commonwealth - than by having this discrimination in the number of electors in the various electoral districts.
I do not intend to delay the House. I indicate my support for the proposals suggested by Mr Weise. I .have every reason to believe that all the commissioners in Queensland are men of integrity. Mr Weise has had a long association with the Commonwealth Electoral Department in Queensland and has been a returning officer in country electorates. I believe his previous appointment was in Wide Bay.
– In Fisher.
– I thank the honourable member and accept the correction. I have always found Mr Weise to be a fair minded and practical person. 1 commend his proposals, which seem to me to be more fair minded and practical than the proposals of the majority report.
Debate (on motion by Mr Kevin Cairns) adjourned.
– by leave - T recently received representations from the Premiers of New South
Wales and Victoria requesting the continuation of Commonwealth reimbursement of State expenditures on drought relief measures. The Premier of New South Wales asked for a continuation of Commonwealth payments for drought relief measures in the south east corner of the State and in the Cobar district. The Premier of Victoria asked for the continuation of drought assistance for financing employment grants in Victoria.
Honourable members will recall that, in my statement of 20th August 1968 in this House, I pointed out that, contrary to the normal arrangements in relation to natural disaster relief assistance, the Commonwealth has been meeting virtually the whole cost of State expenditure on drought relief measures. These arrangements have undoubtedly been the most generous ever designed to meet such a situation. I also announced that, as the drought which has been affecting most of the eastern half of the Australian continent had virtually ended, certain cut-off dates for this assistance had been set. I added that, if a State felt it necessary to continue any particular measure after the cut-off date for Commonwealth assistance, it would be reasonable for the State to meet the limited expenditure likely to be involved. At the same time, I made it clear that, if drought conditions were to re-emerge on a large scale, the Commonwealth - would be prepared to consult with the States regarding the need for any new- arrangements which might be necessary.
Very favourable seasonal conditions exist in most of eastern Australia and the areas which are still drought affected make up only a small proportion of that area. The drought has not re-emerged generally on a large scale. The Commonwealth therefore does not feel able to continue the existing scheme. We have decided however, that the Commonwealth should make a contribution towards meeting the special problem which exists in New South Wales where the south east corner and Cobar districts are still very seriously affected by continuing drought and which might be regarded as areas of natural disaster. In order to help the State Government alleviate hardship being experienced by the people of these regions, I have therefore informed the Premier of New South
Wales that the Commonwealth will be prepared to meet half the cost in this financial year of relief measures which his Government may find it necessary to continue in these areas, until the drought breaks.
Victoria is not drought stricken and the seasonal outlook in that State is generally very good. There is no doubt that drought conditions have disappeared over virtually the whole of the State. Because this is the situation, I have informed the Premier that we cannot meet his request for the continuation of drought assistance for financing employment grants beyond the end of this month. However,I would remind honourable members that, under existing arrangements, the Commonwealth will be reimbursing the States during the whole of 1968-69 for the cost of certain other relief measures incurred after 30th September. I refer here, in particular, to carry-on loans to farmers who have established a case for such assistance before 30th September and to restocking loans to farmers who establish a case for such assistance before 31st December. In addition, the Commonwealth will be reimbursing the States for freight concessions given prior to the end of December on the transport of stock back from agistment or for restocking purposes. Under these arrangements a further advance of Sim is now being made to Victoria bringing our total payments to that State to $13m including $5m this financial year.
I would repeat that the four States which suffered from the drought have been informed that the Commonwealth will be prepared to consider new arrangements if drought conditions re-emerge on a large scale. I am sure we all hope that this will not be necessary and that the pockets of drought which still remain in New South Wales will be relieved - and that soon - by good general rains in those areas.
I present the following paper:
Drought Assistance- Ministerial Statement, 26th September 1968 - and move:
That the House take note of the paper.
Debate (on motion by Dr Patterson) adjourned.
Sitting suspended from 5.55 to 8 p.m.
– Mr Speaker, I lay on the table certain documents pertaining to the purchase of F111 aircraft and ask leave of the House to make a statement concerning the same.
– There being no objection, leave is granted.
- Mr Speaker, I have told the House that the Government wishes to provide Parliament with as much information as possible concerning the arrangements made for the purchase of F111 aircraft. I have made it clear that we will not disclose any document or part of any document which has a security content, and I have stated that we will not disclose any document which, being confidential between the Government of Australia and the Government of the United States of America, cannot be disclosed without agreement between us; at least, cannot be disclosed without agreement between us without adversely affecting the relations between our two governments.
These limitations stand, and will stand. We have had an examination made of the documents and we have had consultations with representatives of the United States Government who have come from the United States to discuss with us the disclosure of the documents relating to the whole of this transaction. As a result, as I have said, I lay on the table certain documents which I believe satisfy the proper requirements of a House of Parliament to be informed as to the spending of public money. These documents include a Memorandum of Understanding dated 19th October 1963 and signed by the then United States Secretary of Defence and the then Australian Minister for Defence. These documents are laid here except that Annex 1 has been excluded from the documents on security grounds. On examination of the documents it will be clear which Annex has been excluded on these grounds.
The second document is a letter of 23rd October 1963 from the then Minister for Defence to the then United States Secretary of Defence accepting the proposal contained in the Memorandum of Understanding.
The third document is a letter of 2nd November 1963 from the then United
States Secretary of Defence to the then Minister for Defence of Australia confirming these arrangements.
The fourth document is a letter from the then Minister for Defence of Australia to the then United States Secretary of Defence giving reasons for deciding not to pursue the proposal to use B47 aircraft as interim aircraft.
The fifth document is the agreed technical arrangements between the United States and Australia for the purchase of the aircraft concerned.
These technical arrangements provide: (a) for fabrication of our aircraft and equipment to the same documentation and quality standards as those required for the United States aircraft; (b) for the established United States Department of Defence contracting procedures to be used in relation to the purchase of our own aircraft; (c) for production or work on our aircraft to be incorporated in or placed on the same terms as contracts let for the United States Government; (d) for inspection of all supplies for our aircraft to be done to the same extent and in the same manner as is inspection of supplies for United States aircraft; and (e) for an Australian Project Manager to be appointed with direct responsibility in conjunction with the United States Project Manager for initiating and monitoring all implementation of actions under the arrangements.
The remaining documents laid upon the table are minutes of meetings, from which some extractions have been made, and paragraph 4 of the last document reaffirms -andI draw the House’s attention to this - the ceiling price of$5.95m on the basic F111 configuration which has already been announced, subject only to the conditions already announced in this House as to various ways in which escalation may occur.
As to the subject of these documents, the aircraft itself, 1 will at this stage say only two things. If it is agreed that Australia needs a long range strike bomber - and I had gathered it was generally agreed that we did -then the F111 fulfils the requirements of the Australian Air Force staff for such a bomber in all respects.
– Does it now?
– Yes, it does now. It fulfils the requirements of the staff of the
Australian Air Force who are the military advisers and who should know what is required in all respects now just as much as they did then. I know of no other available bomber that does fulfil the requirements of the Australian Air Force staff. If it is agreed - and I would hope it were agreed, but if it is not then let us hear it later - that Australia needs a bomber which will fulfil these requirements of the Australian Air Force staff far into the future, instead of a bomber that only partly fulfils our requirements, and that for a limited time only, then this aircraft meets that need better than any other available aircraft that I know.
– God help us,
– Do you think they will last long enough?
– I am not expressing my own opinion. I am expressing the opinion of the Air Force of Australia who advise the Government and of whom I would have thought the Opposition would take some notice. Let me repeat: If it is agreed - and perhaps it is not, and if it is not then let those honourable members opposite who are interjecting say so - that Australia needs a bomber which will fulfil the requirements of the Royal Australian Air Force staff far into the future instead of a bomber that only partly fulfils those requirements, such as those that the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has mentioned in this place, and that for a limited time only, then this F111 meets that need better than any other aircraft which has been mentioned in this House at any stage of this debate.
Mr Speaker,I believe that the present difficulties into which this aircraft has run, which are no greater than the difficulties of any other aircraft at this stage of its development, will be overcome.
– You have been saying that for 2 years.
– Order! The House will come to order. Interjections are coming from both sides of the House. I again remind honourable members that all interjections are out of order. The honourable member for Wills will restrain himself or I will deal with him.
– Thank you. Mr Speaker. I dare say that the honourable member for Wills might be restrained by the expert opinion of the Royal Australian Air Force, although I suppose this would be a matter that would be subject to debate. I would not be the least surprised if the honourable member for Wills thought he was more militarily competent than the Government’s RAAF advisers, but I would be surprised if many people would agree with him. I believe that the difficulties which this aircraft has encountered, which are no greater at this stage than any other aircraft has encountered, will be overcome. If that is so, Australia will have what I admit is a highly expensive aircraft but an aircraft which will rank among the most effective of any aircraft in any air force in the world. On any criterion the second best is not good enough for any defence requirement that we have, and it is not too expensive for a nation which needs the best in the world. I present the following papers:
Fl 1 1 Aircraft - Documents relating to purchase.
Motion (by Mr Swartz) proposed:
That the House take note of the paper.
– I would hope that there will be an assurance from the Prime Minister that the Opposition, having had the opportunity to study the documents he has tabled tonight, will have the first available opportunity to continue the debate. Can we have that assurance from the Prime Minister?
– Mr Speaker, I have tonight tabled a number of documents which, in my belief, show that the Australian Government entered into a memorandum of understanding and entered into a technical agreement which protects it and the people of Australia in all respects. I could only welcome a debate on this matter, particularly if the case to be put forward by the Opposition is as weak as was the case previously put forward when this was debated. At some stage, of course, the Opposition will have the opportunity to debate this matter. For my own part, and speaking for the Minister for Defence (Mr Fairhall) and honourable members on this side of the House generally, the sooner that can take place the better. I am not going to undertake, however, that the Estimates will be postponed indefinitely so that this can happen.
All I will say is that there is an opportunity for debate; I would like it to take place as soon as is practically possible and I look forward - and I believe my colleagues behind me look forward - to answering any arguments which may be advanced by the Opposition particularly, as I have said, if they are as weak as the arguments which have previously been advanced.
Debate (on motion by Mr Barnard) adjourned.
Debate resumed (vide page 1577)
- Mr Speaker, one is a little intrigued at the nature of the amendment moved by the Opposition in relation to the proposed redistribution of electoral divisions in Queensland. The intriguing aspect of the amendment is the difference between its nature and the nature of the amendments moved in relation to the other States. This amendment states simply:
That the House disapproves of the distribution of the State of Queensland into electoral divisions as proposed by the distribution commissioners for the reasonsstated in the dissent expressed by the Chairman of the Commissioners, MrI. F. Weise
The Opposition moved a different amendment in respect to the other States. The first of the words it sought to insert in the motion illustrate the difference in the nature of the two amendments. Those words were as follows: 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 Opposition moved, in effect, that the House of Representatives accept the proposed redistribution in New South Wales and Victoria. It is prepared to accept the redistribution of New South Wales and Victoria for the simple reason that to do otherwise would be to revert to a situation which was far worse and was far less equal than what was proposed. With respect to Queensland, the Opposition invites a reversion to a situation which would be far more unequal than that proposed by the commissioners. One asks: Why should the Opposition do this? Why the double standard? 1 suggest that the Opposition’s amendment should be rejected for several reasons. As was indicated by the honourable member who moved the amendment on behalf of the Opposition, it is quite clear that the statement by Mr Weise applies to a very circumscribed area in Queensland. The honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson), when commenting upon the proposed redistribution in Queensland, mentioned six or seven electorates only and dismissed the rest. In fact, he was careful not to refer to them in any detail. I put aside the proposition that the honourable member for Dawson would not understand the proposals as they related to the other electorates, and I put forward the proposition that he did not deal with them for a particular reason. It is impossible to consider the redistribution of a State and at the same time a dissenting statement which is circumscribed in nature. Each electorate has a relation to every other electorate. For these reasons I. suggest that the amendment moved by the Opposition is to be rejected.
If it is rejected in the usual way, Mr Speaker, I would foreshadow an amendment designed to add these words to the motion: but regrets that the report did not -
That is the point of distinction.
– Is the honourable member speaking to the amendment?
– Yes, I am speaking to the amendment moved by the Opposition. Why has this amendment been moved? It is perfectly clear that the Commonwealth Electoral Act as amended in 1965 is different from the legislation which governed redistributions of former years. It is perfectly clear that the current legislation imposed different emphases from those which obtained in former years. The principal difference of emphasis relates to population trends. The rate of growth of the Australian electorate in the last decade was the highest since the first decade of the century. Consequently, these trends are not to be ignored. In addition, the differences in population growth in various areas were far greater than ever before in the Australian electorate. Obviously there was a weighting which had to be considered in relation to these matters. It is simply because the report of Commissioner Weise tried to import a measure of equality even if only in a circumscribed area-
– He could have gone on.
– He did not go on; that is obvious.
– He could have;
– Nevertheless, the principles which he applied to a circumscribed area ought to be applied to the whole of the State of Queensland. The failure to apply those principles will cause serious imbalance both at the moment of redistribution and in the years immediately ahead. Let me illustrate the situation that has to be considered. If one considers not the quickly growing electorates inthe first place but the most slowly growing electorates, and if one considers those electorates both as they are non-urban or non-rural electorates and also as they are rural electorates, one comes to very interesting conclusions. It is difficult to explain for example some of the quotas established by the proposed redistribution. The average margin under the quota for the electorate of Leichhardt, Capricornia and Maranoa in 1955 was 10%. Each of those electorates deteriorated further under quota as the years progressed from 1955. So, a decision should have been made to bring those electorates rather closer to the quota in 1968 than they had been in 1955 for the simple reason that the differentials in population growth themselves were greater.
But in 1968 this was not the case. The commissioners rather retreated further from the average enrolment to a margin of nearly 13% under quota. So, this matter is explained and this matter may be excepted. But it is extremely difficult to refer to this kind of judgment and at the same time look at the electorates which were rather more urban electorates and which, of their nature, deserved an above quota margin of electors and to find that these are more above quota at the time of redistribution than ever they have been in a redistribution previously in Queensland.
I refer to a number of electorates in Queensland. I mention Bowman, Brisbane, Fisher, Griffith, Lilley and Oxley. In 1955 those electorates were an average of 41/2% above quota. In 1968 they were 91/2% above quota. It is difficult to explain and to justify a growing imbalance between the nature of the electorates. I find that the matter of population trend has been taken into account but it has not been taken into account in a uniform manner. Discrimination has occurred in the way in which it has been used with electorates of different natures. For these reasons, I find that the amendment which has been moved if agreed to would take care of the situation. It would correct in fact the imbalance which has probably been overlooked - I put it no further - by the commissioners. But if the present redistribution were to proceed and if it were not to be criticised or its deficiencies were not to be pointed out, what would be the situation in the years ahead?
Censuses are taken every 5 years. Another census is due in 1971. It is perfectly clear that we wilt not have another redistribution in 1972. So, it may be presumed that it will be at least 7 or 8 years before another redistribution takes place. I know that the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) would not want to go through this exercise too often. I can sympathise with him. But, presuming that the present situation continues for another 7 years, would the imbalance grow? It would grow drastically. The member for Bowman with his present electorate would have a margin well above one-fifth of quota. The member for Petrie would have a margin nearly 24% above quota. At the other end of the scale, we find that the member for Maranoa would have a margin 23% below quota and the member for Kennedy, if we have a look at the trends of population in the 1960s, would have a margin 32% below quota. The member for Capricornia would have a margin 20% -odd below the quota.
Population trends are important. They cannot be ignored. Sceptics ask: ‘How do you know what is going to happen with respect to the future?’ The long term economic prospects of Australia are posit upon certain population growth. Increasingly expensive migration programmes are directed to the end of obtaining appropriate population growth. So, these matters have become the cornerstone of the Australian economy. If they have become the cornerstone of the Australian economy,I would suggest that in the matter of electoral redistributions they are not to be ignored.
I will illustrate the situation a little further. I refer to the eight electorates in the south eastern corner of Queensland. In 1955, these eight electorates had 8.4 quotas. In 1970 these eight electorates, relatively unchanged in total composition, will have 9.5 quotas. Yet, they will remain as eight electorates. The imbalance is growing. The imbalance itself will be increasing in its rate of growth. So, for these reasons, the amendment moved by the Opposition being too narrow deserves to be rejected. It is because the principles involved in the report of Commissioner Weise are applied only to a circumscribed area that the report itself deserves to be rejected, but its principles should be applied to the whole State.
So we have the situation that the Opposition has ignored these matters and is involved in a rather peculiar attitude that is in contrast with that which it has adopted with respect to other States. I do not want to say anything about the Federal Executive of the Australian Labor Party except that the Opposition, like the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) has become known as the Brontosaurus of Australian politics, never knowing what is going on behind it. Nevertheless, when it tries to make a decision on this basis this fact becomes painfully obvious to those who have the privilege of observing it.
Various other “propositions have been put this afternoon and this evening during the debate on other States. One of the propositions put was that there ought to be a renaming of electorates. It has been suggested that place names are not appropriate and that names such as Darling Downs and Capricornia and those applied to some Sydney electorates are not completely appropriate to the situation. We had an interesting revelation from the former Leader of the Opposition, the right honourable member for Melbourne (Mr Calwell), who it seems, has won a rather significant victory showing that old soldiers have a lot of life in them. One is intrigued by the fact that the present electorate of Lalor had its name suggested by the former Leader of the Opposition. Who would have thought that in these days it would have such a fatal attraction for his friend in an electorate so close nearby.
So, in the matter of the redistribution, we ‘have the trend of population growth, which, I suggest, has not been taken into account as fully as it ought to have been. It had to give weight to the other factors and it had been given only a discriminatory weight so far as the factors of population dispersion, density of population, areas of communication and so on are concerned. It has been suggested that the redistribution proposals for Queensland may not be passed in another place. It has been suggested that this would throw the entire electoral machinery out of gear. Well, it is not proposed that the number of electorates in Queensland should be varied. This may or may not be a blessing. Having regard to the experience with South Australia in 1934, it is obvious that the rejection of the redistribution proposals for Queensland will not throw the entire Commonwealth electoral machinery out of gear. In 1934 it was proposed that redistribution proposals for South Australia, altering the number of electorates, should be rejected. The proposition that the proposals relating to one State could be rejected while retaining the electoral situation in the other States was rejected by the government of the day. In answer to a question the AttorneyGeneral at that time, Sir John Latham, quoting Sir Robert Garran, said:
I am unable to give an unqualified answer to this question in relation to a hypothetical rejection. If, however, either House, having had ample opportunity to approve of a redistribution, abstained from doing so with the object of preventing the alteration of the number of members to be chosen in a State, I think that grave doubts would arise as to the validity of the election.
As I interpret that statement, assuming it is correct, it is perfectly clear that, because the number of electorates is not being altered, Queensland is not as vulnerable in this matter as are some other States, including New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. So, if the amendment moved by the Opposition is rejected, the purpose of the amendment which I have foreshadowed will be clear. My amendment will propose that the redistribution be accepted with certain clear and stringent qualifica- tions. Those qualifications relate to the Weise report, the principles of which are to apply to the whole State. The amendment will require that trends of population be given due weight and uniform weight in the way in which they influence all the other factors to be taken into account in a redistribution.
– We are discussing the report of the distribution commissioners for Queensland, together with a dissenting minority report on certain aspects. Queensland needed a redistribution of seats. It needed a rearrangement of electors in the different electorates. I support the motion that has been moved by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon). Support for the amendment moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) will mean nothing less than the rejection of the report of the commissioners, and for this reason I cannot support the amendment. lt has been interesting to hear comments made on various aspects by members of the Opposition. My understanding of the Commonwealth Electoral Act is that the Queensland Government appoints one of the three commissioners, who will be a surveyorgeneral or somebody with equivalent knowledge and experience. The Queensland Government appointed the Queensland Valuer-General. It is usual to appoint the Chief Electoral Officer for the State as a commissioner. The third commissioner is appointed by the Commonwealth Government. Undoubtedly the Chief Electoral Officer for Queensland, the Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Queensland and the Queensland Valuer-General would know all there is to know about the geography of the State. They all would know the districts with which they are dealing. There can be no foundation for any allegation of unfairness in the redistribution. I know Mr Weise. For many years he was my returning officer in Fisher. He is a man of honour, ability and integrity - a man well worthy of promotion to the position of Chief Electoral Officer. However, I will have more to say later about his recommendations.
If we look at electorates in Queensland we find that all of the Labor held seats are now well below the quota. Labor holds six seats in which the average number of electors is 43,544 compared with the quota of about 50,700. So it is odd in these circumstances to hear honourable members opposite talking about the principle of one vote one value. The Country Party holds four seats in Queensland in which the average number of electors is about 50,944 or about 200 above the quota. The average number of electors in seats held by the Liberal Party is higher than that in seats held by the Country Party, but three Liberal seats are well above the quota. This situation is brought about by shifts in population. These things happen. It is because of shifts in population and other changes in circumstances that we need a redistribution from time to time. Under the proposals as contained in the report, three of the seats, which, for purposes of this debate, we will call Labor seats - they are now held by Labor - will be below the quota and three will be above the quota. The average number of electors in those Labor held seats is about 400 below the quota. Of the four seats held by the Country Party, under the proposals one will be” above the quota and three below it. If we look at the three which will have less than the quota it becomes obvious that the commissioners have taken into consideration the provisions embodied in the Commonwealth Electoral Act. In the case of Mcpherson the number of electors has been reduced from 72,000 to 47,000. This is because the population in the electorate is growing rapidly. The commissioners have had regard to the shift of population and to possible future growth. Maranoa and Kennedy cover such a vast area of Queensland that special consideration has been given to them and it is proposed that they should represent electors numbering respectively 44,788 and 41,609. Mr Weise has recommended that Kennedy should have fewer electors than has been recommended in the majority report.
I say without fear of contradiction that the quota for three seats in Queensland should have been reduced. The seats are Leichhardt, Maranoa and Kennedy. Combined, those electorates account for about 90% of the area of Queensland. In other words, about 90% of Queensland’s total area is represented in this Parliament by three people. Would anyone suggest that a member representing one of those electorates, with all its varied industries - with the many problems that confront country people, with thousands of little towns to visit, with the difficulties of getting postal and telephone facilities for those thousands of outlying areas, with the problems associated with beef roads, main roads, and tourist facilities - would not have more problems than a member such as the honourable member for Bradfield (Mr Turner) who has nothing better to do than continually attack the Country Party?
– That is not nice.
– I simply say, nicely, that the honourable member for Bradfield has nothing better to do than sip tea with the ladies of his electorate. That is my response to the tirade of abuse which he directs at the Country Party whenever he speaks. He can enjoy his cups of tea and I hope he does, but he should leave the backyard of Parramatta and have a look at his own State first and then have a look at the rest of Australia.
– That is not like you.
– Like the AttorneyGeneral (Mr Bowen) I have been put off my rhythm. I have some criticisms of the proposals submitted in the report by the distribution commissioners because while they have taken into consideration the population in the divisions of Petrie, Mcpherson and Moreton as they should have done, they have ignored the population growth in my electorate of Fisher, and at the north coast seaside resorts. But it is not a matter of votes to me; it is a matter of the approach that the commissioners made.
I have one criticism to offer about the proposed division of Wide Bay. When one looks at the position of Wide Bay what does one find? The commissioners have made two separate districts with no direct community of interest and linked only by a few miles of mountain range. They have excluded the subdivision of Kilkivan on the one side and the subdivision of Gayndah on the other side and have pushed them into other electorates. When you have to travel from the district of South Burnett into the Maryborough-Bundaberg district you have to travel through either Kilkivan or Gayndah. The commissioners have not left any district with a community of interest to connect up with the MaryboroughBundaberg end. I think it is foolish to do that sort of thing.
– I agree.
– I know that the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) agrees with that. There is no sense in doing a thing like that. The South Burnett district has never had much community of interest with the Maryborough-Bundaberg district. Let us assume that the commissioners had a problem there and had to get votes to fill up the deficiencies in the northern electorates of Wide Bay, Capricornia and Dawson. I accept the position that, on the figures, the South Burnett area or the Gympie district would have to go north. But then the commissioners took the stupid action of taking the subdivision of Kilkivan from the north and pushing it back into the electorate of Fisher. I wonder where the community of interest is between Gympie and the area right down to Gatton, Laidley and Toowoomba. The commissioners have not given very much thought to community of interest or the communications of the various districts. That is the extent of my criticism of the report. I accept it all, because there are plenty of problems to be faced in coming to a conclusion. 1 violently disagree with Mr Weise’s suggestion that there should be one representative for 531/2% of Queensland. His proposed new division of Kennedy represents 534% of Queensland. If that is what the Opposition wants - I am afraid it is because it has talked so much about reducing the number of country electorates - I certainly violently disagree with the Opposition and with Mr Weise’s suggestion. The second point I object to in Mr Weise’s proposals is the coupling of the South Burnett area with the Darling Downs. These two districts are severed completely by a range of mountains; they have no community of interest and no communications except by an odd road. The South Burnett district’s interests are eastern and the Darling Downs area runs south through Toowoomba. There is no rhyme or reason in that part of Mr Weise’s proposal. He goes along with the rest of the commissioners in practically everything else.
He does not vary the division of Dawson very much and he does not vary the division of Wide Bay very much. He takes some of the inland and puts it into the division of Capricornia to build up the total population. I do not have much quarrel with his proposal to level out the population in those three electorates. The other two commissioners were at fault in taking some of the electorate of Wide Bay and putting it south when it ought to have remained where it was, especially when the South Burnett district was put into the northern area. They had to push some subdivisions north to increase the population in certain electorates.
It is not a matter of improving Country Party seats, Labor Party seats or the seats of any other party, because any Party will have to win them to hold them. The altered circumstances of the different electorates could well result in different representation from time to time. It is because the Country Party looks after so many interests in the country districts that its members hold those seats. I am not very concerned with the talk about the low percentage of votes that the Country Party gets in a general election, because it contests only a low percentage of the total number of seats. If it wants to get a higher percentage it will contest all the seats, but that would not please our coalition friends. We do want to be friends with them and they in turn do not always oppose us. That is the way in which we maintain the Government. The Government’s policy towards industries in these districts has kept it in office; the Government’s policy has been acceptable to the people who live in these districts.
I have had a bit to do with that over the past 9 years and I know what I am talking about. It is very interesting to see that I have had the full support of both Government parties in the proposals I have put forward. Economically this country does need to consider the welfare of primary industries. I have heard some talk about subsidising this industry and that industry in country areas. I wish some people would be a little bit realistic when they talk that way. Those who live in country areas have the same right to an economic livelihood as has anyone in any other centre. If the people in the country are having heaped upon them, by virtue of the rise in economic standards in other sections of the community, costs which they cannot pass on, we have to meet the position somehow. We can do it by introducing stabilised marketing schemes, by subsidising industries or by some other means. The Government does not have a standard practice for stabilisation schemes but it follows a policy which is representative of what it stands for in the community. It keeps the economic standard as high as it possibly can, having regard to the exports that are involved. When we look at the legislation on the statute book, we find that no two industries have the same type of marketing scheme. That is all involved in keeping decentralised industries in the country. Anyone can criticise industries that operate in country areas. People criticise the dairying industry, for instance, and all I say to them is that this industry has aided decentralisation more than any other industry in Australia. It brings people out into the country and keeps them there, and from that point of view it has some merit.
My good friend, the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns), had a proposal for dealing with the population in some more equitable way. To him I say that if we study population movements in country areas we find that the levels of population have been less variable than they have been in the cities. We have found in almost all cities that when the centre becomes industrialised the people move out and the population goes down. That has been the case in the electorates of Brisbane and Griffith, two that readily come to mind, and the same trend has been observed in Sydney and Melbourne. At the same time, of course, the population increases in the suburban areas. But I think it will be found that in most of the country electorates that are given certain consideration because of communication difficulties and other circumstances, the population levels have been much more static. I do not share the fear of the honourable member for Lilley that the number of voters in these electorates will fall to 23i% below the quota. Of course the Commonwealth Electoral Act allows for no more than 20% above or below the quota, but the figure can drift above this between redistributions. In the inner parts of Sydney and Melbourne, seats have been completely eliminated because of the drift of population away from the centre of those cities. This does not happen in the country, where the population is much more static.
I consider that the proposals of the commissioners are realistic enough to deal with the position in Queensland quite adequately, and, friendly as I am with the honourable member for Lilley, I shall not vote for his amendment.
If both Houses of the Parliament pass a resolution approving of any proposed distribution the Governor-General may by proclamation declare the names and boundaries of the Divisions, and such Divisions shall until altered be the Electoral Divisions for the State in which they are situated.
That spells out the law, but then to put into effect the law of the Commonwealth in the matter of electoral distribution a resolution has to be passed. For this purpose the Government has proposed a motion to which the Opposition has moved an amendment. I will say something about that amendment later. In the meantime I want to put a proposition to honourable members opposite.
Yesterday I asked the Attorney-General (Mr Bowen) whether a failure by another place to pass this resolution could be regarded as a failure to pass a law in terms of section 57 of the Constitution. I did not canvass the matter with any sense of hardness. I merely asked whether some person had at some point of time said that a resolution was, in terms of section 57 of the Constitution, a law. If I am wrong and a resolution of this House is not a law, then surely the consequences will not escape the attention of all honourable members. It would mean that the law, as set out in the Commonwealth Electoral Act, could be frustrated indefinitely. There could be a situation in which the House of Representatives faced a hostile Senate. This could come about by the simple arithmetic of politics and by the fall of the political cards. Then this House could, year after year after year, pass resolutions relating to redistribution and they could be rejected by another place, by the simple device of saying: ‘We send back the recommendations of the distribution commissioners’.
The Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) - I do not want to be patronising, for I have no capacity for it - is one of the most receptive members in this place, and I hope that when I put this proposal to him he will exhibit this inbuilt reaction of his and, to use words famous in this place, that he will have a look at the proposition. I earnestly ask the Government and the Minister to look at the proposal. I think redistribution proposals should be handled by way of Bills. Section 24 of the Commonwealth Electoral Act should be amended to provide that there be a schedule to a Bill, and that there be, having in mind the terms of section 57 of the Constitution, plainly identifiable legislation. When I make this proposal I have in mind the venturesome souls who live in a higher estate in another place which at times seems to me to provide living evidence of life after death. If my proposal were accepted, at least those gentlemen would have to look at the realities of the position and say: ‘If this is to be the law we cannot reject it capriciously’. I am sure my honourable friend from Dawson (Dr Patterson) would agree with me that the proposals of distribution commissioners should not be handled lightly or idly or dismissed capriciously, but should be looked at very earnestly. If a proposal of this House made in terms of a resolution is to be rejected by the device to which I referred earlier, then I put it to the House that there could be untold consequences.
Let me point out to my friends opposite the consequences of their amendment. Assume for the purposes of the argument that this House rejects the amendment - I think this is predictable - and that another place accepts it. I think that also is predictable, and I am delighted to find my honourable friend from Dawson nodding vigorously in assent.
– You have reached agreement.
– I thought we would come back to a detente sooner or later. Let me ask my friend: What is to be the position of the Australian Labor Party a week hence? The proposals are referred back to the commissioners in terms of the amendment. I am not going to argue the merits; I may make a glancing blow here and there. The three commissioners meet together to consider again the redistribution in Queensland. Let us assume, Mr Deputy Speaker, that the commissioners are divided, that Mr Lane and his colleague, Mr Smith, agree to the proposals but that Mr Weise for various reasons takes a point of view which is not in agreement. They then come back to the Minister for the Interior, who again presents the Queensland proposals on redistribution to the House of Representatives. Then we have another feverish debate upon the proposals and when we agree to them they go to another place and that other place rejects them. What is the position then? Is the Labor Opposition advantaged in any sense at all? If it is I cannot see how.
If by some quirk of political fate there is to be an election - speaking for myself, when I look back to 1961, I am not frightened of dying politically - what is to be the position then? Let me ask my honourable friends opposite, who spoke, I thought, with simulated hostility on the question of one vote one value: Where is their precious dogma then? Does it rest easily? Let us take the seat of Brisbane. At the moment it has 35,000 votes. The election would be fought on these boundaries and by the terms of their amendment they disapprove of the Queensland proposals. Brisbane has 35,000-odd votes. McPherson, represented by the honourable and gallant Minister for External Territories (Mr Barnes) has 76,000 votes. Is that one vote one value? Would honourable members opposite have easy consciences about this? One would need to have a delver with about 14 draft horses pulling it to push anything into your intellect. I am speaking to the honourable member for Hindmarsh (Mr Clyde Cameron) who is interjecting. Where is the one vote one value in this context? I ask honourable members opposite to think with the expectancy of hopeful youth on this matter because it deserves to be looked at in a very sensible fashion.
I come to the terms of the proposal. Mr Weise is a very distinguished civil servant and I hope he and his colleagues will not think it impertinent of me if I say that I think he is the perfect rule book civil servant. He would do his duty no matter whom he offended, so long as he carried out his duty. He has put forward various proposals, but two of his colleagues on the distribution committee have disagreed with him. I have heard honourable members opposite suggest that the present proposals suit the Government, that the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) is swept to a state of tremendous advantage. Sir, this is not true. If we compare the Weise proposals, as I may call them, with the Lane-Smith proposals, the difference is about 180 votes, or 183 according to some of the experts who have worked it out.
– They are very different areas.
– I will say something about area later, but I am talking about votes now. There would be a majority of 180 votes to the Government candidate, one way or the other, and that is 180 votes in terms of a large electorate. If a candidate had a decent meeting he would be able to swing them, particularly if he had the charm of the honourable member for Dawson. Let us come to the geography of the Weise proposal. The proposal is that the electorate of Vickers - that is Kennedy - sweep from highland plains almost within a day’s ride of the Gulf of Carpentaria down to the New South Wales - South Australian border. This is an extraordinary electorate. This afternoon the honourable member for Bowman (Dr Gibbs) pointed to the fact that the physical management of these electorates is too great for people to put up with. The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns), if I may say so, dealt with the problems of population changes in a classic, detached and brilliantly academic way. If we blend what the honourable member for Bowman, as a practitioner of very considerable experience, said with the detached, academic view of the honourable member for Lilley, in terms of Kennedy or Vickers we arrive at some very startling conclusions, and I hope that these conclusions will not be lost on the House. Despite all this I want to invite the members of the Labor Party to assume their amendment is carried in another place.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Lucock)Order! I point out to the honourable member for Moreton that it has now become accepted that honourable members can refer to the other place as the Senate, so there need be no doubt as to what is meant by the other place’.
– Thank you, Mr Deputy Speaker. I am grateful to the honourable member for Cowper (Mr Robinson), who reminds me of my conservatism in these matters. Well, Sir, I will say the Senate.
– Say it again.
– The Senate. I can see them over there sitting sopping wet with anxiety to get our proposals dealing with the redistribution in Queensland, but I am asking my honourable friends opposite to ponder anew, to use the terms of a well known Anglican hymn.
– Can the honourable member not put on a better stance than that?
– There is the honourable member for Hindmarsh. Not since I saw an old man goanna shinned up a gum tree by a blue cattle dog have I seen the likes of the honourable member for Hindmarsh. 1 am just asking the House to come to grips with the political realities of the Senate accepting this amendment, in a week’s time this place again coming back to it and the Senate again accepting it. What is to be the position? This is a point of high dilemma and I am sure the Minister for the Interior will realise it and will accept it. I hope that the Minister will be persuaded or encouraged in the future to ensure that all legislation dealing with redistribution comes down before the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia in terms of a Bill and not in terms of a resolution.
The debate today, if I may put it with respect, has been a complete shambles simply because we do not have the sense of preciseness of debate associated with a Bill. If we had legislation before us instead of a resolution, my honourable friend from Kooyong (Mr Peacock) would not have found himself placed in the dreadful position he was in. Who wants to face that prospect again? Speaking for myself, I do not. We have in Brisbane a street called Prospect Terrace which is a boundary, of sorts, of one electorate. I understand that an electorate called Prospect is proposed in New South Wales. But I think that if honourable members could discuss all these things quietly and dispassionately and without any heat or political fervour, the Parliament and the Commonwealth would be all the better for it.
– I rise to support the motion moved by the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) and to oppose the amendment moved on behalf of the Opposition. I commend the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) on his address to the House. I believe he has served Queensland, and through Queensland the Commonwealth, very well in the way in which he has put the matters of redistribution behind the humour we have enjoyed during his address. I believe that he has made an excellent exposition of what is required in an analysis of redistribution proposals.
I would like to make a few comments on what was said earlier. Before I do that, however, I might say that there is no doubt at all that the redistribution was overdue. I also want to pay a tribute to the sincerity of purpose exhibited by the distribution commissioners. I would like to draw attention to the fact that I have not preceded this tribute with insinuations that the commissioners have not been all they could have been; nor have I followed it by pious assertions that they have been everything they should have been. My attitude is different from the attitude taken by many speakers on the Opposition side. The Director of Posts and Telegraphs for Queensland was not appointed a distribution commissioner by the Minister administering the department of which he is the senior official in Queensland. We could say that officials of the Department administered by the Minister for the Interior, namely, the Commonwealth Electoral Officers for the States and, indeed, the Chief Electoral Officer of the Commonwealth, have been appointed commissioners. I do not think that we can accept any criticism of these men. They were appointed to do a job and- in my book, at any rate - they have done the job to the best of their ability and in a manner that can be con sidered fair and impartial. The very fact that the distribution commissioners themselves can disagree would indicate that there is room for disagreement, as there always will be in matters concerning redistribution proposals.
There has been some talk about the problems of various honourable members. I noted that the honourable member for Bowman (Dr Gibbs) spoke of the difficulties that he is experiencing. The honourable member for Brisbane (Mr Cross), who followed the honourable member for Bowman, also spoke of the problems that he experiences in making representations on behalf of people not enrolled for his electorate. I am quite prepared to concede that people other than those who represent sparsely populated areas do have their problems, as they have conceded that people representing electorates with large areas have special problems. I particularly want to make one point: I resent very strongly the aspersions that were cast at, and the criticisms, insinuations and the disparaging remarks that were made about, constituents in the larger electorates of Queensland. These people were referred to as trees and sheep. Honourable members representing the larger electorates were asked: ‘What do you represent? Do you represent trees or sheep? How many sheep make a new Australian?’ I feel that every constituent in a rural area will resent these comments very much. The fact is that we represent constituents throughout these areas. We do not represent trees or sheep; we represent a very worthy section of the community. If the Government - and bear in mind that it was the Government that decided this matter and not just the Australian Country Party - decided that it is fair and reasonable to have a 20% variation above and below the quota, why criticise the people who live in the areas where this differentiation is applied? It is a very unfair criticism to make of them and I condemn out of hand these disparaging remarks. 1 feel that a little more consideration should be given to this deserving section of the community. People should not be condemned because they happen to live in an area in which the distribution commissioners, as is their right, have applied some differentiation in area or population.
I would like to move on to the basis of the amendment that was moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) on behalf of the Opposition. Before doing so, I want to say how much 1 regret the absence of the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter), who left the House this evening because of sickness. He would have had a lot to say on this subject. I oppose the Opposition’s amendment. Indeed, I find it very difficult to do otherwise. Opposition members are not really enamoured of the proposals or the statements of distribution commissioner Weise. Rather, they oppose these proposals before us because they are anxious to avoid, if possible, an early election. The Opposition is using its amendment as a means to postpone the election. The Australian Labor Party is not anxious to face the electors, because it is in a very disorganised state at the moment. It is not prepared for an election with the scramble for seats that we have seen in various areas and the divisions that we see in the Party. I believe it is not so much a matter of the Opposition really supporting the proposal embodied in this amendment; Opposition members are seeking to delay the election.
I refer now to the report presented by Mr Weise. The right honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann) has already drawn attention to the fact that under Mr Weise’s proposals the honourable member for Kennedy, or Vickers as it is suggested the electorate should be called, would have about 500 fewer voters than he would have under the proposals in the majority report presented by the distribution commissioners. What about the principle of one vote one value now? The proposals of Mr Weise, which the Opposition accepts, would give the honourable member for Kennedy about 500 fewer voters and would make the disparity even greater than is recommended in the report it rejects. In addition, I think the honourable member for Bowman mentioned that the proposed division of Kennedy - or Vickers, as members of the Opposition would call it - would comprise some 357,700 square miles, or more than 50% of the area of Queensland. This was mentioned by the right honourable member for Fisher also. This is the proposal made in the report that the Labor Party supports.
– Which one does the honourable member support?
– I support the report of the distribution commissioners.
– What is the area of the present electorate of Kennedy?
– The area is some 247,000 square miles. It is approximately 100,000 square miles less than the electorate of Vickers proposed by Mr Weise. Queensland has set an example in the decentralisation of its railway system. The best possible method of redistribution would be to base the western electorates on the railways. For instance, we could use as boundaries the railway lines running from Townsville to Mount Isa, from Rockhampton to Longreach and from Brisbane to Cunnamulla. But because of the sparsity of population it is not possible to do this. So the next best thing is done. The area based on the railway running west from Townsville has been combined with the area based on the railway running west from Rockhampton. These areas have some community of interest. I might mention that the graziers’ association of central and northern Queensland spreads over much of that territory but in the south there are the graziers’ association of south western Queensland, the Warrego Graziers Association and the Maranoa Graziers Association. The primary producer organisations have always accepted the idea, because of the sparsity of population, of having areas based on those two lines. The line of demarcation between the electorate of Maranoa, which it is my privilege to represent, and Kennedy is virtually the line that runs from Brisbane to Charleville and the line running to Rockhampton. Furthermore this line of demarcation between the two electorates follows, in the main, the shire boundaries in the area.
This evening I am in the strong position of not speaking with any personal interest. The proposal put up by the Australian Labor Party would have strengthened my position in my electorate had it been accepted. However, I was not prepared to accept it because it is the policy of the Australian Country Party of Queensland to give fair and reasonable representation to all sections of Queensland. I refute any suggestions or insinuations about any gerrymandering by the Country Party of
Queensland. However, I want to discuss further the practicability and reasonableness of the proposal that the Labor Party supports. It follows, to some degree, the Labor Party’s own proposal. In its submission to the distribution commissioners the Labor Party suggested taking five of the western subdivisions of Maranoa and including them in the electorate of Kennedy. The difference between the Labor Party’s proposal and the proposal made by Mr Weise was that Mr Weise suggested the transfer of another five subdivisions. However, there was a parallel.
One of the factors that the distribution commissioners had to consider, according to their terms of reference, was community of interest. Mr Weise refers to this factor. The honourable member for Dawson in his opening remarks referred to grazing and, in reference to the south eastern portion of the division of Kennedy as proposed by the distribution commissioners, said: ‘You might as well say that the people of the Kimberleys have a community of interest with some other grazing area’. The basis of the submission by Mr Weise was that there was a community of interest because it was a grazing area. So if the honourable member for Dawson was on sound ground in criticising the inclusion of some grazing area in Kennedy because, as he said, there would be no more community of interest than with a grazing area in Western Australia, then to regard the grazing industry as providing a community of interest is a proposal that does not hold water.
– I did not say that.
– I took it down. I took down that the honourable member said that you might as well say that the people of the Kimberleys have a community of interest. If the honourable member did not say that, then I will accept his statement. But apart from that, the fact is that the distribution commissioner said that because it has a grazing industry it has a community of interest. But that does not hold water. This factor was very clearly defined when the proposal was put up by the Australian Labor Party. That proposal was not as unrealistic as the proposal suggested by Mr Weise, but fourteen of the nineteen local authorities in the district of Maranoa, wholly or almost wholly, requested that the commissioners alter the boundaries of Maranoa as little as possible so as to preserve community of interest. The other five local authorities within the area did not offer any suggestions at all. Surely if a person wanted to determine where community of interest lies he could get no better evidence than to take the opinion of the local authorities, and about 75% of them expressed an opinion. Local authorities are made up of very responsible citizens who are elected democratically - we hear much about one vote one value - to represent the people. Surely the opinion of these local authorities proves beyond shadow of doubt that community of interest does not apply to the proposal of Mr Weise which the Labor Party is supporting.
I return to the point I made earlier: I believe that the object of the Australian Labor Party in moving for the acceptance of the proposal by Mr Weise was to enable the Labor Party to have an avenue by which to delay the introduction of the redistribution proposals. Some honourable members - I will not name them - have criticised what will happen later on. It has been suggested that because there will be changes of population in the period before the next redistribution the number of voters in the rural areas should be enlarged to allow for drifts in population. I point out that the greatest drift in population in Queensland has been in the electorate of Brisbane and the next greatest drift has been in Griffith. This point was made by my colleague, the right honourable member for Fisher. This aspect is not peculiar to Queensland. It is a nationwide trend. Those honourable members who suggest that we must watch what happens in the rural areas forget about what happens in the inner city electorates. What is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander in this particular case.
The distribution commissioners had a very difficult task. No matter what they recommended, it was sure to be criticised by honourable members according to the way in which they were affected. I do not say that there is any lack of sincerity in this approach. It is easy to see something from one’s own point of view. It is certainly easy for members representing metropolitan electorates to see all that is needed in those areas but it is very hard for them to see that anything is needed in the rural areas. I suppose it is fair enough to say that the members who represent areas such as mine have a greater knowledge of and therefore a greater concern for the needs of the people in outlying areas. Because of this, and because of the particular problems that I have already illustrated during my remarks, it is very easy for us to be critical of what the distribution commissioners have done. I recognise the difficulty of their task. I recognise, too, that they have done what they have felt is in the best interests of Australia. I do not agree with everything that they have done nor would any honourable member agree with everything that they have done or suggest should be done.
If we send back this redistribution, as the Australian Labor Party wants us to do, what will happen? Members opposite have already commented on the integrity of the distribution commissioners who obviously have ability; otherwise they would not be holding the positions they do hold. Can honourable members opposite guarantee that we will get men qualified to do a better job than has already been done? I think that is doubtful. I said in my opening remarks that this redistribtution was overdue. Whatever faults it may have, the right thing to do in the interests of Australia is to accept the redistribution proposals for Queensland. To do so will move the Parliament a little more towards the ideal that the Labor Party is seeking - the ideal of one vote one value. Honourable members opposite should get on with the job, which they will not do if they send these proposals back to the distribution commissioners.
reminded me of a story I heard a little while ago about a man who was sitting in the buffet car on a train alongside a woman who was a well known temperance worker. When he ordered a drink the lady said: T would sooner commit adultery than drink that.’ He said: ‘Do we have a choice?’ We are left with that position in this instance: Do we really have a choice? I doubt whether the honourable member for Maranoa knows, although the Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon), who is a member of his Party, could have told him that there is a choice. If the amendment proposed by the Australian Labor Party is carried in another place the Minister or the Government would have the choice of referring the proposed redistribution back to the commissioners. The commissioners, in turn, could bring forward another redistribution and we might find as much fault with that redistribution as we find with the present one. Nevertheless I agree with the honourable member for Maranoa that a redistribution is necessary.
I find a great deal of difference between the speech of the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) in this debate and the speech of former Prime Minister Menzies in 1962 - one of the shortest speeches in the history of redistribution - following on that of the Leader of the Country Party. Prime Minister Menzies made that short speech after having found out that his Government, which then had a majority of only one in this chamber, was going to be opposed on the issue by the Country Party. If the Labor Party is being accused of responsibility for depriving the people of Australia of electoral redistribution on this occasion, who was responsible for the same thing on that occasion, when Queensland looked as though it would lose a seat? On one occasion I was in the same position as you, Mr Deputy Speaker, on a first redistribution. My seat was to be abolished. After the second redistribution I felt that I had one of the best Labor seats in Queensland, and it was always my regret that the redistribution was not carried. The honourable member for Maranoa asked what is going to happen. I do not know, and I do not know whether the Minister for the Interior or the Government knows what is going to happen. I believe the answer is that nobody knows what is going to happen, but the Minister and the Government know what they have to do if they want the redistribution carried. If the redistribution for Queensland is not carried, and the redistributions for the other States are carried, the onus will not be on the Australian Labor Party; it will be fairly and squarely on the Government.
The honourable member for Maranoa said that the Government had made a decision and the commissioners should not be criticised because they had used a margin of 20% above or below the quota. This is quite correct. The commissioners had their riding instructions, as has been pointed out by other honourable members on this side of the House. Previously it was for the commissioners to decide whether they took the question of a margin above or below the quota into consideration. The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) said that he will not support our amendment, which reads as follows:
That all words after That’ be omitted with a view to inserting the following words in place thereof: the House disapproves of the distribution of the State of Queensland into Electoral Divisions as proposed by the Distribution Commissioners for the reasons stated in the dissent expressed by the Chairman of the Commissioners, Mr I. F. Weise, Commonwealth Electoral Officer for Queensland, and requests the Minister to refer back to the Commissioners the redistribution of the State of Queensland into Electoral Divisions for a fresh distribution’.
The amendment which has been foreshadowed by the honourable member for Lilley states:
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, and
apply the principles in the separate statement by Commissioner I. F. Weise to the whole of the State of Queensland’.
In effect, the honourable member for Lilley supports the minority report by the chairman of the commissioners, Mr Weise, but he says that the redistribution should have dealt further with his electorate. I suppose this is a natural feeling. But if he believes this, I do not see why he should not support the amendment which was moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) on behalf of the Australian Labor Party. Should our amendment be defeated I am quite prepared to support his amendment. I would be quite happy to help him in his battle with the Postmaster-General (Mr Hulme) who, he believes, has been better treated than himself in the proposed redistribution.
I want to touch on the history of the margin of 20% above or below the quota because the honourable member for Maranoa was not a member of the House at the time of the previous redistribution. I think that the history of this instruction to the commissioners dates back to the time after the 1963 election when the Country Party made a swap with the Liberal Party. It swapped the portfolio of PostmasterGeneral for the portfolio of Interior. I commend the Country Party on its initiative and foresight on that occasion. The honourable member for Bowman (Dr Gibbs) questioned the qualifications of the commissioners. In particular, he questioned the qualifications of the former Queensland Valuer-General, Mr Smith. He asked what Mr Smith knew about redistribution. I do not know what he knows about redistribution, but I suppose that experience always counts. The same Mr Smith happened to be in charge of the State redistribution of electorates in Queensland. I do not know whether, in the eyes of certain sections of the political community, this qualifies him to be a commissioner for a Federal redistribution. The only comment I make in passing about the State redistribution in Queensland is that at the last election 350,000 electors in Queensland voted for the Australian Labor Party and had 2§ members of the Labor Party elected to Parliament; 150,000 electors voted for the Country Party and had 27 members elected; and 200,000 electors voted for the Liberal Party and had 20 members elected. I will not use my own words to sum up the position in Queensland, because I could be prejudiced, so I refer to the editorial of the Courier Mail’ of Thursday, 13th June 1968, which states:
The Queensland Liberal Party has every right to hope for a redistribution of electoral boundaries which could enable it to gain more representation in Parliament.
It is the party which commands by far the greatest non-Labor vote in this State, yet the Country Party dominates in Parliamentary strength.
The Liberals’ case can be put quite simply. It won 25.83 per cent of the primary votes at the 1966 elections, but it has only twenty Parliamentary seats. The Country Party obtained 19.1 per cent of the vote, yet it has twenty-seven members in Parliament
I do not know whether or not the State redistribution in Queensland qualifies Mr Smith to be a commissioner in the Federal redistribution. I leave it to honourable members to come to their own conclusions.
– Did he draw up that redistribution?
– He was one of the commissioners who submitted the majority report on this occasion. I join with those honourable members, particularly the right honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann) and the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) who paid a tribute to Mr Weise. The honourable member for Fisher would have had greater experience of Mr Weise because Mr Weise was divisional returning officer in his electorate for a number of years. I would say that Mr Weise was beyond reproach. He is a public servant of the highest integrity. He has displayed this characteristic on a number of occasions. I believe that he would have the greatest knowledge of Queensland, electorally, of any of the commissioners. I do not take anything from them. But I do question clause 13 of the report of the distribution commissioners which states:
With regard to the objections in relation to Eidsvold and Gayndah Subdivisions being included in- the Division of Kennedy, it was claimed generally that these Subdivisions have a community of interest with Wide Bay.
At present Gayndah is part of the Wide Bay electorate. The commissioners continued:
It is pointed out however that although this may be so, the majority consider that pursuits in these two Subdivisions are largely pastoral as is the case in most of the remainder of the Kennedy Division, even though some of the holdings in the eastern part of Kennedy are smaller than in the western areas.
I submit that these gentlemen are depending on what they learnt when schoolboys 40 or 50 years ago. The situation in the Gayndah subdivision has changed entirely. No longer is grazing the sole pursuit. Gayndah is one of the oldest settled areas in Queensland. A little later this year, in November, the 100th anniversary of the first Queensland derby will be celebrated at Gayndah. I do not know whether Tails’ is an acceptor or not, but I hope he wins. That demonstrates my impartiality. I can say that you can put your money on him. The point is that in the years since the commissioners went to school they have lost touch with the Gayndah area. It has developed, particularly in the post-war years, into one of the largest peanut and grain growing districts of Queensland. It also has citrus fruits. It ls well known for its fruit not only in Queensland but throughout the world. Gayndah navel oranges and mandarins are sold in Germany and throughout western Europe, and also in the eastern countries. It is not correct to say that it is a predominantly pastoral area.
I do not know how many honourable members have read the objections that were lodged with the commissioners, but to do so is an interesting exercise. The various political parties put forward their propositions and we all knew what they were thinking. I do not deny them that privilege. It is only right that they should do so, because they are interested. However, it was up to the commissioners to sort the chaff from the straw. I know the Minister for the Interior recognises that commissioner Weise had no opportunity to put forward his minority report until the proposals were announced. Immediately the redistribution was announced, 42 objections were lodged, as well as petitions from various parts of Queensland. Of that total of 42 objections, 19 dealt with the electorates of Wide Bay, Capricornia and Fisher. They came from all political parties. There was one from the former Country Party member for Wide Bay, Mr Harry Bandidt, of Monto.
I will read through the list of people and organisations who sent suggestions or objections to the commissioners. They include the Junior Chamber of Commerce, Monto; Mr Bruce Best, of Eidsvold; and Mr V. A. D. Morgan, Mr W. R. Dowling and Mr H. N. C. Bandidt, all members of the Country Party at Monto. All these objections suggested that the Gayndah area had no affinity with the electorate of Kennedy and should go to Wide Bay because it had affinity of interest with Bundaberg and Maryborough. The area is linked with those centres by road and rail. Other suggestions or objections came from Mr Louis Bancroft, of Eidsvold; the Queensland Dairymen’s Organisation, Gayndah Branch; the Australian Country Party, Queensland, Gayndah Branch; Mr M. J. Hamilton and others, of Eidsvold, together with a petition from Eidsvold; the Biggenden Shire Council at Biggenden-
– You have them on side.
– It is amazing that the honourable member for Lilley has mentioned this, because my last opponent from the Country Party was the Chairman of the Biggenden Shire Council. I am sure he would vote with me on this particular issue, just as I would find Harry Bandidt voting with me. There were also suggestions or objections from the Eidsvold Chamber of Commerce and from the Gayndah and District Fruitgrowers Association. I am not quite sure whether the Graziers’ Association did so, but those graziers to whom 1 spoke expressed their wish to remain in Wide Bay. I do not know whether they vote for me but I hope they do. However, often I have my doubts about this. I have with me testimonials written to me from people I do not even know. There were objections and suggestions also from the Australian Labor Party, Queensland Branch; the Queensland Dairymen’s Organisation, Monto and District Branch; J. C. Jorgensen; and others from Coalstoun Lakes who supported the retention of the Gayndah subdivision in the division of Wide Bay.
Mr Weise has proposed that because of the affinity of interest, Musgrave, Gin Gin and Eidsvold, which are north of Bundaberg, and which are at present part of the Dawson electorate, should become part of the Wide Bay electorate. If honourable members want to talk about gerrymanders I do not think anybody would disagree that the present Dawson electorate would be the greatest gerrymander ever seen. The shape of the electorate of Dawson looks like a hung, drawn and quartered sheep - a sheep hung from its middle such as the emblem one sees hanging outside branches of the E.S. & A. Bank. That emblem is a replica of the area of Dawson. I think every member of every political party would agree that the Dawson electorate was gerrymandered. I do not want to see that perpetuated. However, I do compliment commissioner Weise on having decided that there should be a western electorate. He is no different in his view on this from the commissioners for New South Wales who decided that the only way to have an equitable redistribution would be to have the western seat of Darling.
– They cut the South Australian electorate of Grey in half. Grey and “Wakefield are now about equal in size.
– Fair enough. That is the position. I would go along with the honourable member for Maranoa who said we should draw lines out from the coast at Townsville and Rockhampton, and west of Toowoomba, and decide electorates in this way. The commissioners have not put this forward as being practicable.
We of the Opposition believe that as far as is practicable votes should be of equal value. The commissioners have had instructions otherwise. The Australian Labor Party has been practical in the propositions that it has put forward. Mr Weise has put forward a statement which is in line with those propositions. He proposed a western seat of Kennedy. If honourable members want to talk about troubles in working through electorates, I do not think any member in Queensland has more trouble than my colleague, the honourable member for Leichhardt (Mr Fulton). If one travels by plane to Thursday Island, the plane returns to Cairns an hour after landing and one has to wait for 2 or 3 days before leaving. If one visits Weipa the same procedure applies. If one wants to visit the islands in Torres Strait - there are a lot of voters there - one has to take a week or fortnight and travel on the ‘Belvedere’ or hire a launch.
The honourable member for Bowman touched me deeply when he referred to his problem about having to get another telephone. If he had obtained it he would have had to get another secretary to manage it. I think he is a practising surgeon - and a very good one. I acknowledge this. I do not know to what extent his business interferes with his electorate. I do know that he was overseas for 6 months on government business last year. He probably came back to Australia with some good recommendations. I wonder whether his colleagues carried his electoral burdens while he was overseas. If it was the honourable member for Griffith (Mr Donald Cameron) I take my hat off to him for being able to manage the job. I would have thought the honourable member for Lilley or the honourable member for Moreton would have given him some assistance.
I support the recommendations of commissioner Weise and I support the amendment moved by the honourable member for Dawson. I think Commissioner Weise came closer to keeping in mind the instructions received from the Government. The differentiation between population and voters on both counts is more equitable in the redistribution proposal put forward by Mr Weise.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I will deal first with the speech made by the honourable member for Wide Bay (Mr Hansen) and come back to deal with the amendment moved by the honourable member for Dawson (Dr Patterson) and what he had to say. First, let me make quite clear again one point. The honourable member for Wide Bay said that the 20% variation in the quota was introduced in 1963 when the Country Party managed to manoeuvre the portfolio of PostmasterGeneral from itself to the Liberal Party and took over the portfolio of Interior. I remind the honourable member of the history of this Federal Parliament by pointing out that the 20% variation has been in existence since 1902. The 20% variation above or below the quota had existed since that time. I can assure the honourable member that no instructions went out to any commissioner as far as the Government was concerned or as far as I, as Minister for the Interior, was concerned on this occasion. When the honourable member makes statements like that, he is challenging the integrity of the commissioners.
– What the honourable member is saying in effect is that the commissioners acted upon instructions because they brought down a certain sort of report. That is a challenge to the integrity of the commissioners. It is plainly not true. The honourable member is the first member seriously to make such suggestions.
– Mr Deputy Speaker, I rise to a point of order.
- (Hon. W. C. Ilaworth) - Order! I will hear the honourable member for Wide Bay.
– I claim to have been misrepresented. I said that the commissioners
-Order! If the honourable member claims that he has been misrepresented he will have an opportunity to make a personal explanation immediately after the Minister has concluded his speech.
– Thank you.
– Let us understand each other quite clearly. As I understood the honourable member - Hansard will show that he said this - he said that the commissioners were under riding instructions. I wrote the words down. Implicit in that statement is that a belief is held by the honourable member for Wide Bay that the commissioners brought down their reportshaving regard to the instructions. I say that it is a challenge to the integrity of the commissioners to suggest that they would dosuch a thing and I deplore the statement made by the honourable member for Wide Bay.
The second point that I make, rather as proof of the pudding, is that in the majority report and in the minority statement by Mr Weise no political advantage is given to the Government. As further proof of that statement, let me quote to the honourable member some figures. I can understand the determined interest shown by the honourable member for Wide Bay in this matter because the only seat that seems to be affected is his own. No doubt, being a true statesman, he is speaking like a selfish politician. But let us look at the political situation and the difference between the majority report and the minority report on the seven seats affected by the minority statement.
I deal first with Capricornia. Based on the majority proposal, the primary votes for the Liberal-Country Party would be 14,527 while the primary votes for the Australian Labor Party would be 19,730. On the Weise plan, primary votes for the Liberal-Country Party would be 16,479 and for the Australian Labor Party 21,024. So, very little change occurs with regard to the Capricornia electorate. I should point out that all figures that I will quote are for primary votes and that these figures are taken out and based upon the voting at the last Federal election. I turn now to the Darling Downs. Based on the majority proposals the figure for the Liberal-Country Party would be 26,654 and the figure for the ALP would be 13,702. This would represent a majority for the Liberal-Country Party of 12,952. Based on the Weise plan, the majority for the Liberal-Country Party would be 11,088. Little difference is to be found in a large majority like that.
Let me deal now with the Dawson electorate. Based on the majority proposals, the Liberal-Country Party would poll 16,415 votes and the Australian Labor Party 22,001 votes. The majority for the Australian Labor Party would be 5,586. Based on the Weise plan, on figures taken out for the last Federal election, the vote for the Liberal-Country Party would be 16,575 and for the Australian Labor Party 22,536, giving a majority to the ALP of 5,961. In the Fisher electorate, based on the majority proposals, 27,757 votes would be cast for the right honourable member for Fisher (Mr Adermann) while the Australian Labor Party would receive 14,537 votes. This would mean a majority for the LiberalCountry Party of 13,200. Based on the Weise plan, the Liberal-Country Party would poll 26,100 votes and the Australian Labor Party 13,763 votes giving a majority to the Liberal-Country Party of 12,337. Again, very little difference is to be found between the two proposals.
Dealing with the Maranoa electorate, I indicate that the Country Party would poll 21,334 votes and the Australian Labor Party 11,735 votes. To save the honourable member writing down these figures, I will give him a copy of them later. The figures that I have just quoted would give a majority to the Country Party of 9,599. Based on the Weise plan, the majority for the seat of Maranoa would rise to 16,617.
The seat of Kennedy is a very interesting example. The Country Party would poll 14,391 and the Australian Labor Party 14,028. The majority for the Country Party would be 364. Those are the figures according to the majority proposals. Following the Weise plan, we see that the Country Party would poll 14,092 votes and the ALP 13,911 votes, giving a majority to the Country Party of 181. There is a vast difference in the structure proposals for that seat. They involve the total amalgamation in area practically of Maranoa and Kennedy. But the only difference in the final primary result is 181 votes. Yet, it should be noted that the area proposed by Mr Weise for this electorate is 357,700 square miles whereas the proposal by the majority is for an area of 247,500 square miles. But I repeat the difference is 181 votes. As the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen) properly and rightly said, at one recent meeting the honourable member for Kennedy (Mr Katter) - delightful member that he is, absent from the chamber tonight because of ill health but no doubt wishing that he could be here to take part in the debate - would pick up the difference.
– They are not true figures that the Minister is giving.
– They are absolutely true.
– Oh, rubbish!
-Order! The honourable member for East Sydney is out of his seat. He will cease interjecting.
– There is a difference.
– Turning to Wide Bay-
– I take a point of order. I would say that I am doing this for the benefit of the Minister because I believe that the totals that he is giving us are not the total number of votes in Kennedy.
– There is no substance in the point of order.
– I am sorry to disappoint the honourable member for Wide Bay. He should do his homework just as I have done mine. I turn now to the electorate of Wide Bay. This is where the honourable member’s hurt expression comes in. One of the reasons why the Leader of the Opposition (Mr Whitlam) was interested in this matter was no doubt to retain one of his friends in the Parliament. In the majority proposals, the Country Party would poll 19,515 votes while the Australian Labor Party would receive 20,924 votes, making the majority for the Australian Labor Party 1,409 votes. But based on the Weise plan, the Country Party would receive 17,214 votes and the Australian Labor Party 22,994 votes. This would give a majority of 5,780 to the Australian Labor Party. So, the only two seats which are significantly different under these proposals are Maranoa and Wide Bay. Maranoa would rise from a majority of 9,599 to a majority of 16,617 for the Country Party and Wide Bay would fall from 5,780 to 1,409 for the Australian Labor Party according to the figures that I have given for the respective proposals. These are the only two seats; there is no political change based on the Weise proposal vis-a-vis the majority proposals brought down by the other two commissioners in Queensland.
So, the argument becomes rather a philosophical one. I have no doubt that the honourable member for Wide Bay and the Australian Labor Party have done some homework on these figures but very little attention has been given to them. Obviously, honourable members opposite have summed up the political situation and know it as well as I do. Whether we should have one large seat in Queensland by the amalgamation of Kennedy and Maranoa, giving us a seat similar in area to seats in Western Australia and New South Wales, or whether we should try to retain three seats each of about the same size, is a somewhat philosophical argument. As I mentioned earlier, in South Australia the commissioners reduced the size of Grey considerably. They have made Grey and Wakefield about equal in size. In Queensland the majority proposals favour having three seats of about the same size but the minority proposal recommends having one very large seat with other seats based around it. As I have said, this is a philosophical argument. Personally I would not like to be the honourable member for Kennedy under the minority proposal. I think it is fairer and more equitable to have three seats each similar in size. However, this is a matter for the commissioners. 1 refute the allegation of the honourable member for Wide Bay that I gave the commissioners riding instructions as to how they should produce their plan.
As for community of interest, who am I to make a judgment? I agree with the honourable member for Moreton (Mr Killen): How can we make a judgment as to whether people living only a few miles from the coast on the border of New South Wales or living on the South Australian border have anything in common with people living only a day’s ride from the Gulf of Carpentaria? I leave the philosophic argument to the commissioners to debate when the future of these proposals has been decided.
The honourable member for Dawson and other honourable members suggested by way of imputation - I say this with some regret because it has not been said before in the debate - that it would have been better if
Mr Lane, who is Director of Posts and Telegraphs in Queensland, had not been appointed as a commissioner. On ten separate occasions the Director of Posts and Telegraphs has been a distribution commissioner for the national Parliament and on four occasions he has been commissioner for the State of Queensland, the occasion under discussion being the fourth. So there is nothing novel about appointing the Director of Posts and Telegraphs to the position of distribution commissioner. The honourable member also said that doubts were raised because of the appointment of Mr Lane. I deplore the imputations behind the honourable member’s remarks, just as I deplore the remarks that were made by the honourable member for Wide Bay. I think they were regrettable and unnecessary.
The honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) has said that he will move a further amendment after the Opposition’s amendment has been dealt with. The Government opposes the Opposition’s amendment and will oppose the amendment to be moved by the honourable member for Lilley. The honourable member based his criticism on the fact that Mr Weise was unable to continue his proposals further into city of Brisbane - that he did not divide all the State as he had divided the seven electorates the subject of his dissenting report. I remind the honourable member for Lilley that Mr Weise could have submitted a dissenting report in respect of all electorates in the State. If Mr Weise felt that what he did in respect of seven seats should have been carried through Brisbane, it was competent for him to continue along his merry way of dissension.
– He agreed with the rest of the distribution.
– The honourable member for Lilley thinks that he should have continued to do what he is supposed to have done with the seven seats. The differences in the variations above and below the quota as contained in the majority report and the minority report are not so great as to excite the imagination of honourable members opposite because, in the case of Kennedy, Mr Weise has been more generous than have the majority proposals. The majority proposals recommended that Kennedy should have 17.95% below the quota. Mr Weise more generously recommends that
Kennedy should have 18.78% below the quota. Having regard to these factors I cannot understand the Labor Party’s attitude to the proposals. In an electorate of 50,000 voters there is very little difference between the recommendations in the majority report and those made by Mr Weise. Capricornia is the one exception.
Having regard to all factors the Government accepts the majority report of the distribution commissioners for Queensland. The Government rejects the amendment moved by the Opposition and will reject, without debate, the amendment proposed to be moved by the honourable member for Lilley.
– Mr Speaker, I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) misrepresented me when he said that I had cast aspersions on the commissioners by suggesting that they were riding to instructions. I point out that under the Act passed in the last Parliament the commissioners are obliged to take into consideration a variation of 20% above or below the quota. Formerly they had the option of doing so. In no way did I cast any doubts on the integrity of the commissioners. Any belief that I did so is solely in the mind of the Minister.
– I wish to make a personal explanation.
– Does the honourable member claim to have been misrepresented?
– Yes. The Minister for the Interior (Mr Nixon) stated that by imputation I questioned the integrity of Mr Lane. In my speech this afternoon I made it very clear that I did not in any way question Mr Lane’s integrity. I implied that the Government was wrong in appointing Mr Lane as a distribution commissioner because the appointment must have been embarrassing to him. After all, he is indirectly responsible to a senior Cabinet Minister whose electorate is in Brisbane. Mr Lane, as distribution commissioner, would be sitting in judgment on that electorate. I did not make any imputation about Mr Lane’s integrity.
That the words proposed to be omitted (Dr Patterson’s amendment) stand part of the question.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Majority . . . . 34
Question so resolved in the affirmative.
– I move:
-Is the amendment seconded?
– I second the amendment and reserve my right to speak.
– The amendment is a very moderate one. It seeks to obviate some of the obvious difficulties associated with the original distribution. The intention of this amendment is to ensure that the weighting to be given to different voters as between different parts of the State in the future will be decreased rather than increased. 1 also commend the amendment on the basis that any discrimination in considering the factors involved in a redistribution should be in favour of uniformity. Uniformity was not considered in this redistribution as much as one would have desired. I will not refer to all the other factors involved in a redistribution. I will not refer to the configuration of electorates or to the electorate of Kennedy, which has always been a large electorate. The electorate of Kennedy has been described as being like an elephant with its trunk reaching down into the honeypot of the Country Party voters in Gayndah. These matters are outside the terms of this amendment. As I said, the amendment is a moderate one, and I commend it to the House.
– I agree with the amendment moved by the honourable member for Lilley (Mr Kevin Cairns) and with the reasons he has given in inviting the House to support it. My position has already been stated, and there is no need for me to occupy the time of the House in re-stating it. But I would tike simply to add the comment that this redistribution is the first bitter fruit of the iniquitous amendment to the Commonwealth Electoral Act in 1965. It is true, as the Minister for the Interior has said, that the 20% tolerance has existed in the Act since 1902. But I would point out that over this long period since 1902, which is over half a century, this tolerance has never been used except perhaps in the four electorates of Kalgoorlie, Kennedy, Grey and Darwin. The limit of 20% may have been used in those cases, but otherwise it has been nearer to 10%. Therefore. we now embark upon a completely new course. We are on a slippery slope that leads to competitive gerrymandering. When I say ‘gerrymandering’ I do not refer to what the distribution commissioners have done but to what this House did in the amendment of 1965. As I have said, it is a slippery slope leading to gerrymander. We have seen it in New South Wales, Queensland and South Australia, and it has meant stagnation in all those States. Governments have maintained themselves in office for many years and then have been replaced by other governments which, by the same means, have maintained themselves in office. This is a bad thing for Australia.
I support the amendment because at least it seeks, within the small space left for manoeuvre under the amendment of 1965, to do the minimum damage. I therefore strongly support it and I am sure the House will support it.
That the words proposed to be added (Mr Kerin Cairns’s amendment) be so added.
The House divided. (Mr Speaker- Hon. W. J. Aston)
Question so resolved in the negative.
Bill presented by Dr Forbes, and read a first time.
– I move:
The main purpose of this Bill is to revise the maximum penalties that may be imposed upon persons convicted of quarantine offences. In addition, the opportunity has been taken to include provisions designed to remove anomalies and to enable a smoother functioning of quarantine administration whilst causing Jess inconvenience to importers and travellers. Honourable members will note that the Bill provides for substantial increases in nearly all the monetary penalties. Many of these penalties have remained unchanged for many years, lt is obvious that in these days of relatively high incomes the deterrent value of most of the monetary penalties is a good deal less than when the penalties were fixed. The revised penalties, however, have not been arrived at simply by using a price index method to increase monetary penalties. They are the result of a careful review, which took into consideration the seriousness of each offence, its relationship to other offences, and, as far as practicable, comparable provisions in other legislation.
There are good reasons for having severe penalties for offences against quarantine legislation. Breaches of that legislation should be regarded as particularly serious in view of the possible outcome. There could be great suffering or loss of life from diseases such as smallpox, plague, yellow fever or cholera, whilst the introduction and spread of certain diseases affecting plants or animals could have disastrous economic consequences. To illustrate this last point, I need only refer to foot and mouth disease, which recently caused havoc and hardship in the English dairying industry. If this disease spread among our herds and flocks there could bc an immediate and substantial drop in our export earnings and complete disruption of our livestock industry. It has been reliably estimated that an outbreak of this disease in Canada in 1952 cost the Canadian people well over SCan 1,000m.
Whilst Australia’s geographic isolation from the rest of the world formerly provided an important quarantine buffer, the tremendous development of air transport both for passengers and cargo over the past few decades, and the great post-war increase in the numbers of immigrants and visitors to Australia, has meant thai there is greater need than ever before to maintain an effective quarantine system. The legislation which provides the framework of that system must be adequate to the task and the proposed revised penalties for breaches have been determined in that context.
I would ask honourable members to take special note of the proposed maximum penalty in respect of offences against subsection (1.) of section 67 of the Act. The offence in question is knowingly to bring into Australia any goods, animal, plant, disease agent, etc., in contravention of the Act or of any proclamation made under the authority of the Act. Offences of this sort strike at the very foundation of our quarantine barrier and call for an extremely severe penalty. It is therefore proposed that the maximum monetary penalty be increased from SI, 000 to 52,000, and that an alternative penally of 5 years’ imprisonment be added.
I turn now to the method of dealing with offences. Certain offences are to continue to be expressed to be indictable and thus could not be the subject of summary jurisdiction. Where an offence is not expressly stated to be indictable, and the penalty provided exceeds imprisonment for 1 year, it will be possible to prosecute either summarily or upon indictment, but whilst a court of summary jurisdiction could commit the defendant for trial, it could not determine the proceedings without his consent. The defendant Ls thus able to insist upon trial by jury in such cases if he so wishes. Where the court of summary jurisdiction does determine the proceedings for an offence carrying a heavy penalty, the maximum fine it may impose will be $1,000 and the maximum prison sentence will be 1 year. Other more minor offences will continue to be dealt with summarily.
Clause 6 of the Bill will amend section 26 of the Act which prohibits a vessel from crosing the quarantine line at the first port of entry in Australia for overseas vessels. An overseas surface vessel arriving in Australia is not permitted to enter a port that is not a first port of entry, and any vessel subject to quarantine is not permitted to enter any part of the port within the quarantine line until quarantine pratique is given, lt is now proposed that, where the circumstances justify it, a vessel be permitted to cross the quarantine line before pratique is granted for quarantine inspection of the vessel at some part of the port that is within the quarantine line.
The new procedure is required to overcome several! problems associated with recent developments. Firstly, port traffic at some ports is becoming so congested that navigational hazards could be created by vessels standing at mooring grounds. In addition, new large tankers of over 75,000 tons are calling at Australian ports. These draw up to 50 feet of water and when stationary settle even further. In some ports they must be kept moving at sufficient speed to prevent settling and to ensure a safe passage across the floor of the harbour. Finally, at certain ports adjacent to mining areas rapid loading techniques have been installed. Ore carrying vessels specifically designed for operation at ports so equipped could be brought close to shore and commence loading before pratique has been granted, subject to other quarantine controls being maintained. The provisions to permit inspection for the granting of pratique to be carried out inside the quarantine line are contained in clauses 6 and 7 of the Bill.
The Act at present provides that in general circumstances goods ordered into quarantine either must be detained on a vessel or removed to a quarantine station. However, experience has shown that goods ordered into quarantine sometimes could be kept without quarantine risk at premises other than a quarantine station. In addition, the best facilities for treatment of the goods often are available in close proximity to the wharves. Because of this the Bill contains provisions designed to permit goods ordered into quarantine to be removed to a place other than a quarantine station with the approval of a quarantine officer. None of the modifications proposed by this Bill will reduce in any way the effectiveness of our quarantine controls.
Section 67 of the Act, to which I referred earlier, is to be amended so that it is quite clear that it is an offence knowingly to remove any goods from one part of the Commonwealth to another in contravention of a proclamation. Such proclamations are made to prevent the spread of a disease that has been introduced into one part of Australia but which does not exist in some other part. The opportunity has also been taken to convert all monetary references to decimal currency terms. I commend the Bill to the House.
Debate (on motion by Mr Luchetti) adjourned.
– 1 present the fourth report of the Printing Committee. Report - by leave - adopted.
Bill returned from the Senate without amendment.
Debate resumed from 19 September (vide page 1258), on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the House of Representatives approves of the redistribution of the State of South Australia into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs A. J. Walsh, H. A. Bailey and A. R. Kopp, 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 ‘Hawker* be substituted for ‘Holder’.
– The only reason I rise to speak tonight is to give some explanation to the House of the reason why the name of the proposed new electorate of Holder has been changed to Hawker. I certainly have nothing against the name ‘Holder’ which is the recommendation of the distribution commissioners. But the Government has changed the name of the electorate to Hawker. T think some explanation is due to the House for this action. The name ‘Hawker’ is an honoured one in our past and in our present. This name is to be given to the new seat in memory of Charles Hawker. Not many honourable members in this House will have heard of him. But many of those who preceded us knew and remembered him with respect and affection. He was wounded three times in the First World War. He lost one eye, returned to the battlefront, was wounded again, in the spine, and from then on was a cripple. He surmounted his physical disabilities with a courage that I think we should all recognise, although he would be embarrassed to hear it now recognised in this House. After years of struggle he resumed what he would have called a normal life. Those of us who have seen him climb on to a horse, crippled as he was, fall off and climb on again and, in pursuit of his determination to live a normal life, ride about his property, will never forget the sublime example he set us all. Later, during the 1930s, he became the member for Wakefield. In this place, his moral courage went in tandem with his physical courage.
I remember clearly many occasions on which he took a view that was opposed to the popular view. I remember his supporting a referendum on the question of whether the Commonwealth should have greater powers in marketing, when most of the electorate voted against him. He said that he stood for what he thought was right. It is a strange thing that the electorate of Wakefield is fated to have a member who seems to be a little queer in his attitude to tariffs. Certainly Charles Hawker had that attribute, if one could call it that. The electorate of Wakefield loved him as I think no member has been loved before or since. I recall going to country shows and seeing that wherever Charles Hawker was to be found people of all classes would be gathered round. This was because he had something that I have never known any other man to have in so great a measure - a feeling of human sympathy for all people.
He was killed in an aircraft accident in 1938. Many people said that he would have been Prime Minister some day. I do not intend to express an opinion on that. I remember reading a quotation of the late Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, who instanced Charles Hawker as the man who had impressed him most. Charles Hawker certainly was the man who impressed me the most. In conclusion, I wish to quote from a speech made by a former Prime Minister, Mr John Curtin, on the occasion of the death of Charles Hawker, lt appears at page 1044 of Hansard of 26th October 1938. He said:
It may be that in the years to come members of this Parliament, reading Hansard, will appeal to the judgment given by the late Charles Hawker on many an occasion. In that way his spirit will endure in this House of Representatives and he will be, as it were, a continuing influence in respect of what has to be done. Thus, his labours will possess the quality of immortality.
For that reason, I am very proud to be able to stand here tonight in the knowledge that the Government has adopted the name of Hawker for a new electorate.
– The House is at present debating a resolution to accept the redistribution proposals in relation to the State of South Australia. The Electoral Act directs the redistribution commissioners to give due consideration to a number of factors, including the community of interest within a division, the means of communication within a division, the physical features of a division and existing boundaries of divisions and subdivisions. If the distribution commissioners are - as they have been - to be likened to umpires their proposals in respect of every State should be accepted. If their recommendations for one State are to be rejected, this House and the other place should respect their recommendations for all States. The Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) said during the debate on the proposed redistribution of the electoral divisions of New South Wales:
But on the whole … the commissioners have done their work conscientiously, and . . . an impartial observer would consider that they had done it without bias, taking Australia as a whole.
He also said:
The Government believes that the decisions ot the umpires should be accepted, and should be accepted throughout Australia.
At a later stage the Prime Minister said:
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.
Although the commissioners may be likened to umpires whose decision should be accepted, there is no reason why we, while accepting their decision as final, cannot express the belief that proposals for a particular State, division or group of divisions, demonstrate the commissioners’ lack of appreciation and understanding of the rules that, as umpires, they should have observed. A total of fifty-five objections were lodged in relation to the proposals for the division of Sturt. Some of these objections were signed by many electors and some were forwarded by representatives of thousands of others. They all opposed the virtual disintegration of the present division of Sturt.
Taking account of the form of this debate, I believe it is my duty as a member of a division which has been so seriously altered in the lottery of a redistribution to summarise the reason why 1 and many others protested against the unnecessary and substantial change in existing electoral arrangements in the eastern suburbs of Adelaide. The commissioners’ proposals involve the transfer from the present division of Sturt of 20,500 electors to Boothby and of 7,500 electors to Adelaide whilst retaining 26,000 electors in Sturt, which is less than 50% of the present enrolment. Other than Bonython, which is considerably over quota, and Adelaide, which is considerably under quota, Sturt is the only existing division in South Australia which will retain less than 50% of its present electors, and those electors will comprise only 55% of the total enrolment of the new division of Sturt.
An analysis of the proposals of the commissioners reveals that all three seats held by the Australian Labor Party, namely, Hindmarsh, Port Adelaide and Bonython, will, after adoption of the redistribution proposals, be comprised to the extent of at least . 80% of the present electors of those electorates. One might well ask why these electorates were given such a high degree of immunity from the impact of the redistribution. I believe that it occurred as a consequence of a flagrant disregard of the criteria of redistribution. The two detailed suggestions submitted with the protests, one by me and another by a resident of the St Peters subdivision, each spread the impact of the distribution more equitably. These suggestions not only recognised the significance of the criteria that. due consideration be given to existing electoral boundaries; they also paid regard to the other criteria seemingly ignored by the commissioners. In any redistribution some electoral boundaries must be altered. In the Adelaide metropolitan area this was clearly necessary because the division of Kingston and the present division of Bonython are considerably over quota whilst the present division of Adelaide is well below’ quota,’ and a new seat had to be located. It is amazing that electors surplus to existing divisions could not be located in a new division or in the under-strength division of Adelaide without the disintegration of a division which needed little change. The present divisions of Sturt and Boothby are substantially’ on quota. Alterations to them should have been marginal only. A redistribution could have been devised which made such marginal alterations to these two divisions without unduly increasing the impact of the redistribution on any other division.
What is the good of Parliament putting guide lines into the legislation if they are to be ignored or applied erratically and irrationally? What is the good - of a right to protest and suggest if com.missioners ignore protests and suggestions based upon the principles specified in the legislation and make amendments to their original proposals by accepting arguments in relation to one division whilst ignoring even stronger arguments, based upon similar principles, in another division? The commissioners have ignored the direction that they should give due consideration to existing subdivisions. There was certainly no justification for splitting as many subdivisions as have been split by them. The Liberal-Country League and the Australian Labor Party in their submissions to the commissioners urged that they should and could make the distribution without a wholesale splitting of subdivisions. If there were compelling reasons for splitting subdivisions one cannot but wonder why in doing so the commissioners did not give due consideration to the significance of council boundaries. Not only did the Liberal-Country League and the Australian Labor Party advocate that these boundaries be used in the event of subdivision splitting being necessary but an independent Acting Commonwealth Statistician, in a submission to the commissioners, drew attention to the desirability of divisional boundaries corresponding with those of local government authorities.
These strong recommendations were entirely ignored so that the portion of Payneham now in Sturt was transferred to Adelaide while most of the balance of that municipality not now in Sturt was moved into Sturt. Five Federal members will now represent portions of the city of Enfield. The municipality of the city of Burnside has been split between two divisions; so also has the municipality of the city of Tea Tree Gully. So I could go on all around the city of Adelaide. Even after the protest had been considered no attempt was made to rectify the position. It would have been relatively simple to locate the whole of Payneham in Sturt and simple also to reduce the number of Federal members representing portions of the city of Enfield. One can well ask why the significance of municipal boundaries was so blatantly ignored. This is the more surprising when one considers the characteristics of the present division of Sturt. It comprises the whole or part of five municipalities and is situated between the Adelaide to Melbourne road, the East Parklands, the River Torrens and the foothills. They as a group comprise the local government administration area and send representatives to a county board. Under the proposed redistribution the honourable members for Sturt, Adelaide and Boothby will represent an area of one or more of these municipalities and, at the same time, will represent other major areas each having its own county board.
The ceremonies of naturalisation at which new citizens become Australians are, as honourable members well know, conducted by municipal bodies. The federal member in a division in which a local government area is located plays an important part in such ceremonies. If council areas are split, as they have been split between one division and another and not wholly contained within one area, except for minor areas, not only are added burdens imposed upon members but more important, new and old citizens alike are confused as to why being in one council area they should not be in one federal division.
Community of interest may be difficult to define but some meaning must be attached to it if a mockery is not to be made of the legislation. Despite the difficulty of definition, this criterion must not be ignored in rural or urban areas. Urban areas may properly be described as residential suburbs, industrial suburbs, foothill suburbs, foreshore suburbs, ports, or lakeside suburbs. The homogeneity of community is influenced by characteristics of the area in which the people live, the centres in which they shop, the municipalities of which they are residents, the community bodies of which they are members, the places at which they worship, the sports they play and the teams they support. A complex of major arterial roads and the nature and general direction of the flow of traffic over them helps to bind a community together. All these factors are to a degree influenced by the geography of an area. An area bounded by parklands and foothills, rivers and main arterial roads develops, as the eastern suburbs of Adelaide have developed, a homegeneity which may properly be described as giving it a community of interest. This has been ignored by the commissioners.
The same homegeneity applies to the present division of Boothby, located in the southern suburbs of Adelaide where community of interest has similarly been ignored by the commissioners. The South Australian commissioners seem to have ignored the criterion of taking account of existing divisional boundaries. In Queensland the commissioner who submitted a minority report proposed to disintegrate two divisions, re-drawing them to create two new divisions of somewhat different shape. The majority commissioners, aware of their statutory obligations, said that it seemed to them that a major operation was not indicated and, furthermore, that it should be possible to comply with all legal requirements without substantially changing the arrangement of existing divisions.
There is no more justification for disturbing the character and boundaries of the existing divisions and sub-divisions on the eastern side of the city of Adelaide than for disturbing those on the western side. If the impact had been more fairly spread, a plan of redistribution giving more weight to all the criteria could have been, and, indeed, should have been devised. The reasons given by the commissioners for making the alterations made by them to their original proposals demonstrate their lack of real appreciation of the principles to be followed in making a redistribution. Firstly they transferred 500 electors from the proposed division of Port Adelaide to the proposed division of Hindmarsh. The map originally submitted by the Labor Party contemplated that this should be done. Though ignored when the original proposal was prepared the change was made in response to two letters received by the commissioners and justified by them on the ground ‘that the area would be better served if located in the proposed division of Hindmarsh’.
On the grounds that the objections had merit, the Blackwood division, transferred to Angas in the original proposals, was in the final plan restored to Boothby, in spite of the fact that the Liberal-Country League’s objection to this course of action was conveyed to the commissioners in its comments on the Australian Labor Party’s original submissions. By restoring the area to Boothby consequential alterations were made to Sturt. None of the principles of redistribution were considered in relation to the alterations to Sturt. The commissioners ignored the powerful and soundly based protests of the people of Burnside, the people of Kensington and Norwood, the mayor and most of the aldermen and councillors of Burnside, the mayor of Payneham and the elector who in a detailed submission opposed the fragmentation of local government areas, as well as ignoring the protests of the member himself.
In relation to other areas the commissioners accepted arguments, to justify their actions - arguments which applied with more force to their proposals for Sturt, but there ignored by them. If the commissioners felt justified in altering the original proposals relating to Hindmarsh and Port Adelaide so that electors would be better served, why did they ignore suggestions that the people of Burnside and the people of Kensington and Norwood would be better served if they remained in the present electorate of Sturt? Why did they ignore the alternative suggestion that the people of Payneham and those people of Burnside living east of the ring road would be better served if left in the division of Sturt? Why did they ignore the significance of municipal boundaries and further fragment the city of Tee Tree Gully when they would have achieved some consolidation of the city of Enfield? Why was this? Because they lacked a real appreciation of the principles they were directed by Parliament to apply in making the redistribution?
When this redistribution comes into force, long established ties between the member for Sturt and 28,000 electors of the electorate of 54,000 people must be broken. I thank the people, young and old, men and women, Liberal and Labor, for the support and assistance they have given me in enabling me to represent them adequately. I will now with vigour and diligence set about creating and strengthening those ties, which are so important to both the member and elector, between myself and those who will now be in the division of Sturt. Despite difficulties created by the commissioners’ lack of appreciation of the principles of redistribution I am sure that the electors of Sturt will consistently confirm that they will be best served by the present member. I give them my assurance that I will do my best to be constantly sensitive to their wishes so that I may adequately represent their point of view and express their aspirations.
– I think that the most unenviable task that can be set any human being would be the task of dividing any State into boundaries which would satisfy both political parties; more difficult still would be the task of making divisions that would satisfy all members. Certainly I think that the task is a thankless one. Speaking for South Australia I believe that, although the commissioners did not see fit to adopt the majority of the recommendations submitted by the Australian Labor Party, the final decisions were good and fair ones which, if looked at in a rational way, would have to be accepted as reasonable. The honourable member for Sturt (Mr Wilson) made written submissions to the commissioners. I compliment him upon the thoroughness of his submissions. They were good submissions but of a kind which 1 think his party - if I may take the liberty of saying this about another political party’s organisation - might very well have made at the beginning instead of leaving it to a member to make at the end of the exercise.
The proposed redistribution demonstrates one point quite clearly. A lesson has been learned by all parties that never again must a party treat the opportunity of presenting original submissions as lightly as the parties did in some States. The proper place and the proper time for a party to make its submissions, and to do it thoroughly, to the commissioners in each of the six States is when the first submissions are invited by the distribution commissioners. If interested parties would take the trouble to direct their attention to this task, and do it in a thorough manner at the beginning, the commissioners would be helped in arriving at a sound decision. Perhaps the parties would receive greater satisfaction in the long run than if they left things to chance and grizzled after the hearing was over. The Liberal1 Party of Australia in some States - at least in New South Wales and possibly in one of the other States - did a first class job. It presented good submissions. I believe that the South Australian branch of the Labor Party applied itself to the task and presented submissions which were a credit to the branch. Personally - and I have always held this view - it is not wise for any political party to leave to its individual members the task of presenting their submissions. The proper way of tackling the problem, we in South Australia believe, is for the parties to call their sitting members together and obtain their views as to what should be done. Then the central executives of the parties concerned should present submissions representing the considered opinions and, in some cases, the compromise points of view. If there is any conflict, the conflicting points of view can be expressed by the sitting members, but only one submission should be presented.
– You had better talk to your leader.
– I am talking about South Australia.
– You said in each State.
– I said that in my own State we hold this view. It could be that we are wrong in this view. We do not believe we are wrong. The South Australian branch of the Labor Party believes this is the proper way. This is the way we did it in 1962 and again on this occasion. The submissions of the honourable member for Sturt were very thorough and businesslike but I think he made one error which could be due to a miscalculation through the split-up of subdivisions, lt is not easy to get an exact figure as to what the voting trends will be once a subdivision is split. Since we have read what the honourable member said in bis submissions to the distribution commissioners we have rechecked our figures. We are satisfied that, in respect of the point he made, the honourable member’s criticisms in his submissions to the commissioners prove that the commissioners have done their job thoroughly. The honourable member for Sturt made an excellent point. It was a valid point to make. He translated the Senate election figures for 1967 to a House of Representatives election based upon the twelve new boundaries.
The honourable member said that whereas the voting for the Liberal Party and the Labor Party was approximately equal in that Senate election, and the Liberal Party by a very small majority under proportional representation had gained 3 of the 5 seats at that Senate election, were the same figures reflected in a House of Representatives election on the twelve new boundaries, instead of the Liberal Party having a slight advantage over the Labor Party, there would be an opposite effect and the Labor Party would have gained one more seat, I think the honourable gentleman said, than the Liberal Party would have secured. I find that this is not true, though either of us could be wrong in trying to assess figures in split up subdivisions. Our figures show that the Labor Party would have won 6 seats and the Liberal Party would have won 6 seats in those proposed electorates, giving in fact a more faithful reflection of the total votes cast throughout the State, even as recorded under the Senate proportional representation system.
I cannot agree altogether with the honourable member for Sturt when he says it is wrong to split subdivisions. It is wrong, if there is an election round the corner, to have to do this, because in the circumstances time does not permit the printing of new electoral rolls. But I think that if one can divorce oneself for the moment from thoughts of an early election, one has to accept the fact that many of the subdivisions throughout the Commonwealth, and certainly in South Australia, are far too large. The larger a subdivision is and the more polling booths are in it, the more difficult it is for the electoral officers to carry out their work. Long after we sit back and reap the rewards of the voting results, these people are working, trying to check on plural voting and on people who have not voted at all. Where a number of polling centres are located in the one subdivision, especially in one with a large number of people living in it, the task of checking on plural voting is made more difficult. This is not to say that plural voting occurs much. But it ought not to occur at all. Those working inour electoral offices are ever alert to the possibility of it and are ready to deal with it when it does occur. But it is that much more difficult to catch on the day of voting if the number of polling centres is great.
I do not criticise the distribution commissioners for splitting sub-divisons. In South Australia, the task of the commissioners was perhaps a great deal different from the task of commissioners in other States. We in South Australia must face the fact that very shortly new electoral boundaries will be drawn up for State elections. No longer will the Federal distribution commissioners be bound by the existing districts for the South Australian House of Assembly. Everyone knows - one would have been foolish if one had not taken note of the fact - that a Bill to appoint commissioners to prepare new State electoral boundaries is before the South Australian House of Assembly now. 1 hope that when that Bill is carried the State electoral commissioners will alter some of the existing boundaries in cases in which all that one has to determine the division in which a voter is living is some notional or imaginary boundary which may represent a municipal boundary but which presents no visible indication of whether a person is in one Federal division or in another. In the case of the alteration to which the honourable member referred, affecting Hindmarsh and Port Adelaide, the commissioners did the only sensible thing they could do. As well as meeting the convenience of the people living there, the commissioners took the first step towards eliminating one of those imaginary boundaries between sub-divisions. I refer to the boundary between the sub-divisions of Brompton and Kilburn. If the commissioners had not taken that step the situation would have been perpetuated even when the new boundaries were fixed for the State, because just as the Commonwealth is obliged to follow State boundaries, so the State in cases like this is compelled to follow Commonwealth boundaries. In acting as they did the commissioners had to depart from the municipal boundaries but I think that this was the correct thing to do.
We now have on the northern part of the sub-division of Brompton a boundary which is one of the best known highways in the metropolitan area - Regency Road. Everybody knows Regency Road. All that anybody living in the sub-division will need to be told is: If you live to the south of Regency Road you are in Hindmarsh and if you live to the north you are in Port Adelaide. Formerly if a person living in Brompton asked whether he was in Hindmarsh or Port Adelaide it was difficult to say, because it was impossible to be sure where the boundary lay between Days Road and the railway line and there was no way of showing it on the map. Some reference has been made to the fact that in our original map we showed a boundary but the honourable member concerned did not say that in our written submissions we told the commissioners that although we had made a boundary we realised that unless they were prepared to disregard Assembly boundaries they would not be able to adopt our recommendations regarding the map. I was glad to notice that the commissioners were big enough to face up to reality and recognise that there will be new Assembly districts soon and made their recommendations accordingly.
The Minister has stated why the Government has accepted the name Hawker in lieu of Holder. I knew the late Charlie Hawker. At the time I was a young shearer in my first shed. I can recall how my comrades in the shearing shed laughed when I sat down and penned a letter to Charlie Hawker complaining about the price of combs and cutters. I asked whether the government could do something to allow combs and cutters, so essentia] to the shearing industry, to come into the country duty free. My comrades in the shed said: ‘What is the use of writing to a member of Parliament? He will throw your letter in the waste paper basket and that will be the end of the matter’. They were as surprised as I was when in the first mail to Blinman in the next week I received a reply to my letter. I got a further reply in the following week, plus an extract from Hansard showing what Charlie Hawker had said on my behalf in the Parliament about the price of combs and cutters. That experience left a deep impression on me. I was not yet 20 years of age - not old enough to vote. It was my first experience of writing to a member of Parliament.
South Australia has produced many great men. Some of us will have to wait until we pass on before a seat will be named after us. I understand that this is the rule. However, there are still many other great men in South Australia whose names could have been used for electoral divisions. I do not suggest that these names should be substituted for the name Hawker, which I accept. I have no quarrel about that. But the name Holder is a great name, and it is the name which was originally recommended by the commissioners. I would have preferred that to Hawker and would have considered it an excellent name for a district. He was the first Speaker of this House of Representatives and was a South Australian. If that is not something to be proud of then surely nothing is. We could have called one of our seats Florey after the late Sir Howard Florey. I hope the day will come when we name a seat Price after Tom Price, the man who gave free education to South Australia. Ours was the first State in the Commonwealth to have free education and it was given by a Premier named Price. I should like to have seen the name Torrens perpetuated in the
Federal Parliament. One could go on mentioning names of very great and famous South Australians.
– Yes, Norman Makin, who fortunately is still alive. If we follow the established practice we will not consider his name during his lifetime.
– What about Playford?
– He is still very much alive, unless the honourable member was referring to his grandfather. Sir Thomas Playford is not anywhere near as illustrious as the Tom Playford to whom I believe he is referring. I have one criticism to offer. It is not a criticism of the commissioners but of the Government. I hope that next time there is a redistribution we will not have to wait as long as we did this time for maps to be published. I hope that in future a complete map of each electorate will be made available rather than a composite map. Perhaps on this occasion time made it impossible. Perhaps the threat of an early election militated against it being done this ‘ time.
– It had nothing to do with an early election; it was the physical problem of getting the materia] before the Parliament.
– I appreciate that. Nevertheless, I hope that next time it will not be such a rush job. We have had since 1961 - 7 years- to do this. I hope that next time we will start earlier in the 7-year period than we did on this occasion so that a map for each division can be presented. In that way we will be able to see clearly defined the subdivisions which are proposed.
– We might have a new Minister for the Interior by then.
– That could be so. I do not think the Government is fair to the commissioners in leaving this distribution for so long and in having such a long time between redistributions.- In South Australia we had to redistribute the State to provide for one additional seat.
– The honourable member suggests that the Government was not fair, but how did he vote in 1962?
– No vote was taken because the Australian Country Party made it clear that its members would support the amendment. The Prime Minister al that time adopted the view that when rape is inevitable one should relax and enjoy it. Apparently, though, he was not prepared to relax.
Mr DEPUTY SPEAKER (Mr Drury)Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) agreed to: That so much of the Standing Orders be suspended as would prevent Orders of the Day numbers 4 and 5, Government Business, being called on.
Consideration resumed from 19 September (vide page 1258), on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the House of Representatives approves of the redistribution of the State of Western Australia into Electoral Divisions as proposed by Messrs L. J. Abbott, H. Camm and J. W. Robson, 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.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Debate resumed from 19 September (vide page 1258), on motion by Mr Nixon:
That the House of Representatives approves of the redistribution of the State of Tasmania into Electoral Divisions as. proposed by Messrs J. M. Windsor, F. Miles and M. E. Young, the Commissioners appointed for the purpose of redistributing the said State into Divisions, in (heir 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.
– Since my electorate is the one most affected in Tasmania, I propose to make a few brief remarks. 1 believe it is only consistent that I should do this in view of the fact that when the commissioners first brought down their report 1 lodged a protest of which I hoped they would have taken some cognisance. I have been somewhat reinforced in the opinion which I hold now by the attitude of the Australian Labor Party and the approach which the Opposition has taken to the redistribution in some of the other States. There have been puerile amendments moved in connection with New South Wales and Victoria, supported by a rather stronger amendment in connection with Queensland. I do not propose to canvass those except to say that it is rather interesting to note that on each occasion the stronger the protest was, naturally enough, the more the Labor Party stood to benefit by the redistribution.
But there has been no quarrel whatever with the redistribution proposals with relation to Tasmania. This is not unusual. This is easy to follow because the distribution commissioners in Tasmania have followed line by line, boundary by boundary, elector for elector, the proposition that was placed before them by the Australian Labor Party.
– They did a very good job.
– It was a good job. It was successful, anyway. Much has been said in this Parliament today about riding orders. The Government has been accused by members of the Opposition of taking steps to influence the distribution commissioners. I believe this is unfair and unjust. lt is a reflection upon men who have done an honourable task. They have had a most onerous task indeed to perform. They have approached it reasonably and, to my mind, despite what some honourable members have said, have performed a reasonably fair task.
Talking of riding instructions, I understand that quite recently some riding instructions were given to some persons in this Parliament. We heard vitriolic criticism from some honourable members from New South Wales, particularly the honourable member for East Sydney (Mr Devine) and the honourable member for Cunningham (Mr Connor) who were scathing in their attack upon the distribution commissioners and the recommendations they brought in.
Yet, under riding instructions, what at best could only be described as the most puerile of amendments were moved.
In the case of Tasmania, there is no objection whatever. That is understandable, as I have already mentioned. But it is still rather difficult for me to understand the manner in which the boundaries of Denison and Franklin have been defined. It is obvious that Franklin is an electorate that will always be cut to ribbons because it is a rapidly growing one. 1 have listened with a great deal of interest to all that has been said about the principle of one man one vote. This does not apply in Tasmania in that the electorate of Denison is reduced by 8.6% in its numerical strength as at the time of the last general election, and now represents but 7£% of the highest electorate that remains. Here is a typical example of the fact that no cognisance whatever was taken of the proposal I made that, because it is such a rapidly growing electorate, it ought to be reasonable that Franklin should stay at about the quota figure. I explained my reasons for the proposal at the time. I explained that the disparity in growth between Franklin and Denison would not be so great in the years ahead as it had been in years gone by. But apparently little notice was taken of the case I made.
It is interesting, however, to note the submission of the Australian Labor Party that the electorate of my honourable friend from Wilmot (Mr Duthie) should remain rural. With this I do not have a great deal of complaint except that I think it would be foolish to suggest that Wilmot is rural now. But surely if one takes the view that Wilmot is entitled to remain rural, why on earth should the suggestion come from the Australian Labor Party and be accepted by the commissioners that yet a third section should be injected into the Denison electorate, that is, a rural section? To my mind this is absurd. It virtually laughs at the suggestion of community interest. While we admit that Hobart is so much smaller than the other major cities, to my mind it is crazy to suggest that any of the major city electorates should take in a farming community. Yet this is what is now being proposed.
We have heard a further suggestion, which has been agreed to, that there is a community of interest among owners of blocks in housing subdivisions and therefore there has been an intrusion into the Franklin electorate to the extent of more than a mile, following no predetermined boundary whatsoever, simply for the purpose of taking in a housing subdivision? There are housing subdivisions in every electorate in Tasmania. Why should this have been done only in Franklin? The line taken has not followed any predetermined conformity whatsoever. lt has not followed any recognised boundary whatsoever, lt seems to me to be absurd. The other argument submitted in respect of this area was that all the people in it barracked for the same football team. This 1 strongly doubt. In any case, what an argument for distribution commissioners to submit! I argued that another area should remain in the Franklin electorate because all the sporting activities of the area are limited to the Huon Valley, but this was considered to have no validity whatever.
We then commence to push southwards, and I have no argument with the proposition that this was the only sensible way to proceed, to take from the north and to take from the south in order to be just and reasonable. But in the process of pushing south we come to a recently defined boundary decided on by the Tasmanian Legislative Council, between Queenborough and Huon, a well defined boundary that I suggested ought to be accepted, lt leaves no possible doubt, and makes provision for future growth of Denison, in the manner I have suggested it will grow and so keep pace with Franklin in the years to come as it has not done in the past. But instead of accepting this predetermined boundary what do the commissioners do? They go to a prominent rock at the end of a beach, a rock that is rapidly being eroded by the sea and which will not be there by the time of the next redistribution. They then follow a most peculiar course along survey lines on the boundary until arriving at two yet unmade roads. They then follow the centre of yet undermined and unmade roads and then take to the bush once more. Then they follow an undefined or a not clearly defined boundary until arriving at a main road. Then they take the sharpest of turns and follow the centre of another road which is going to be completely relocated in the immediate future, and finally wend their way to the pinnacle of Mount Wellington.
One may as well say: ‘Stand on Flower Pot Rock. Look towards the pinnacle of Mount Wellington and take your pick as to whether you are in Denison or Franklin’. In the immediate future this will create many problems for any person who attempts to represent this electorate.
Perhaps the commissioners have had regard to the proposition of the Leader of the Opposition that the honourable member for Reid should live in his electorate. I now manage to keep within my electorate by half a mile. But the logical thing to have done, when only 50 or 100 more votes were involved, was to follow a very well determined and predetermined line and take in a proposed area of Greater Hobart. This was the logical thing to do if the commissioners had to make this great incision into the electorate of Franklin. It was not done. I do not claim that there has been any gerrymander by those people. They have done an honest job. They have done their best, but that still does not deny me the right to criticise what they have done.
I believe that far better boundaries could have been found: I believe that the area could have been apportioned far more fairly and justly as between Franklin and Denison. There has been no real endeavour to preserve community of interest, and there certainly has not been a genuine effort to preserve the principle of one vote one person. Even if there is not an election until the normal election in’ 1969, I believe that Franklin still will be 5% under the proper representation that honourable members opposite have been speaking of today. Those are my. criticisms. 1 believe they are valid and that there was some justification for the arguments that were put forward in opposition to the original boundary delineation by the distribution commissioners. Cognisance was not taken of that representation.
I would hale it to be thought that 1 am squealing. 1 am not. I will accept Franklin on the new boundaries and will win it on the new boundaries. Nevertheless, I still believe a better job could have been done to help any person who may try to work out where the boundaries of Franklin will lie after this redistribution has been completed, lt will take more than a Philadelphia lawyer to work them out. It will be most difficult. An easier course of action could have been adopted. For those reasons I still feci justified in lodging my protest here. I believe I have been consistent because I have protested since the first stupid decision as to boundaries was made.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Motion (by Mr Snedden) proposed:
That the House do now adjourn.
– I shall come very quickly to the matter that 1 wish to raise before the House. I refer to a statement made yesterday by Mr Willis, the New South Wales Liberal Chief Secretary, who is reported on the front page of the Sydney Daily Mirror’ as saying, when putting before the State Parliament legislative measures to control prostitution: 1 hope this legislation will mean an end of these bludgers.
In Sidney J. Baker’s book on Australian slang the word ‘bludger’ is defined as a brothel bully, a harlot’s bully or, in other terms, a ruffiian who lives partly on the earnings of prostitutes. For me to accuse members of the Government of being bludgers would be to use unparliamentary language and 1 would expect you, Mr Deputy Speaker, to cause me to withdraw the remark. Therefore I will not use it. However, I think it must be conceded by every honourable member that each member of the Government parties is a part administrator of the Taxation Branch, a body which receives considerable immunity from criticism by honourable members on both sides of the chamber.
In recent years the Government has caused Sydney taxation officers to launch a blitz on the unfortunate prostitutes of the city of Sydney for the purpose of gaining additional revenue for the Treasury. Therefore 1 ask: Does not the Government come within the definition of the people whom Mr Willis is desirous of exterminating? On 13th October 1966 I asked the following question upon notice of the Treasurer (Mr McMahon):
I might tell the House that the answer was given to me in 2 days. It was answered and removed from the notice paper as quickly as any question has been removed. The answer was:
Available taxation statistics do not disclose the information sought by the honourable member.
The Government did not deny that the Treasury was recouping something from these unfortunate women. No denial was made by the Government that these women were supplementing the coffers of the Commonwealth Treasury. The Government is living off these unfortunate women. Not so long ago it was living off the backs of sheep.
My main reason for rising tonight is to point out to the House that the Government has changed its philosophy from one of deriving money from prostitution to one of directing its attention to the unfortunate bottle-o. At Boolaroo, a part of my electorate of Hunter that you, Mr Speaker, would know well, there has been a blitz by taxation officers against the unfortunate bottle-o and the garbage man. The taxation investigators have intensified their campaign against these unfortunate low wage earners in the community. Yet we read in the papers recently that the late Joe Borg, a bludger–
Mr SPEAKER (Hon W. J. Aston)Order!
– Well, a person who came within the definition–
– Older! The honourable member’s language is not quite parliamentary. I suggest that he withdraw the word.
– I will use the other Australian vernacular - a ‘Hoon’.
– I do not understand the word; so I will give the honourable member the benefit of the doubt.
– Thank you, Mr Speaker. You apparently have not walked the paths that I have walked. Joe Borg left a fortune of $205,000 which he made by running houses of ill fame. I say that the Taxation Branch has fallen down in its duty in this case. It attacks the poor old bottle-o or garbage man while the likes of the late Joe Borg and the late Dick Reilly, who was Sydney’s crime boss, and who left a home worth £50,000, amass fortunes. I want to know why the taxation officers have not intensified their campaign against the likes of these vultures instead of directing their attention to an unfortunate bottle-o in my electorate and intensifying their campaign against the little people in the community. The vulture-like activities of the Taxation Branch in Boolaroo in recent weeks have been unprecedented. It has launched a campaign against people who get a few dollars by collecting bottles and scrap metal from garbage tins. This is an activity or profession that most people will not take on because of the likelihood of contracting disease. People doing this work are surrounded by stench all the time. The Taxation Branch has asked a person who collects empty beer bottles to go along for an interview with its officers. I want to quote a letter that was sent to a constituent of mine by the Branch, which all supporters of the Government in effect administer. The letter is to a constituent of mine in Wallsend and states:
You are requested to attend at the Taxation Regional Office, Commonwealth Offices, 526 Hunter Street, Newcastle on Thursday 3rd October 1968 at 2 p.m. and interview Mr F. Berry of this office in connection with your income tax affairs.
Please produce at the interview all bank pass books (including savings bank pass books), pass sheets and cheque butts of yourself, wife and dependent children, covering the period 1st July 1964 to 30th June 1967, also all your relatives.
– This unfortunate person is a bottle-o or a garbage man. The letter continued:
Should the time be inconvenient, please telephone Newcastle 25181, extension 273 (Mr S. Green), and arrange a suitable time for the interview.
A lot of this man’s mates have given him certain advice regarding what to do with this letter but, Mr Speaker, you can see the texture of it, and I do not think it would be suitable for that purpose. This man has reared a respectable family of four children. One of his sons has now applied to adopt an unwanted child. This gives some idea of the richness of character of this person whom the Taxation Branch is blitzing. I do not deny the Taxation Branch its right to do its job properly. It has exceptional powers, as we all know. Powers, yes but not priorities. An old saying in the British Commonwealth of Nations is that there is a law for the rich and a law for the poor. I have never been prepared to accept that saying. But no-one will ever convince me that there is not an administration of the law for the rich and an administration of the law for the poor. Here, is a perfect example of this.
Rich businessmen can write off to taxation trips overseas for their secretaries and for other officials as advertising costs. Even the Deputy Prime Minister can go on a honeymoon to the South Pacific at some burden of cost to the taxpayers. Members of the Ministry can fly around the country in VIP aircraft. Yet the Government is intensifying the costs to be borne by the poor old bottle-o. What a shame this is. I do not know how any honourable member can support a government that does this. The Colonial Sugar Refining Cp. Ltd, the coal owners and the Broken Hill Pty Co. Ltd write off millions of dollars in taxation and their actions are never queried by the Taxation Branch. These big companies must be indulging in subterfuge and deceit. It is no good saying that their integrity is beyond reproach because as was pointed out in this House in recent times certain companies have registered in Norfolk Island to avoid paying company tax. The lawyers in the House may say that this is legal. They should quickly close the gap on this ‘legal’ illegal practice that certain companies are resorting to of registering on Norfolk . Island. I appeal to the Government and to the responsible Minister to ease up on the intensification of this investigation. The Minister-in-Charge of Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Wentworth), who is at the table, may soon have the Taxation Branch launching blitzes on Aboriginals if they happen to be bottle collectors.
-Order! The honourable member’s time has expired.
– I apologise to the House for rising at this time of night, but the matter I wish to bring to the notice of the Government will not wait till Tuesday week. It concerns Australia’s reputation in the sporting world. I ask the Government to reconsider the decision which it recently took with regard to an international sporting contest. As one who has been very interested in international sport during the whole of my lifetime, I am sorry to see that international sporting events and contests are in danger of becoming a political football to be kicked .around the world arena by a United Nations team picked by a lot of disgruntled .dictators who have never known the rudiments of sportsmanship. I hope that the Australian Government will not follow in that strain.
In 1956 the Olympic Games were held in Melbourne. I was Chairman of the XVI Olympiad Committee. Does anybody think that from the political point of view I wanted to invite, for instance, teams from Communist China to compete in Australia? But it was not a question of politics; it was a question of an international sporting’ contest. The internal politics of a country were not considered when invitations were being sent out. The Australian public rose to the occasion. The Olympic Games coincided with the Hungarian crisis. The Hungarian team received a very warm reception. But the Russians received an equally warm reception. . And so did the Japanese, who were appearing in Australia in a big international contest for the first time since World War II. We were proud of the Australian people and the reputation they gained for Australia throughout the world. Today what has happened? No longer are there free passages. The febrile waverings of the International Olympic Committee have already begun to dig the grave of the Olympic spirit with political spades. Mr Brundage can say what he likes and can make excuses, but he used the phrase that the safety of the South African team could not be guaranteed in Mexico City. It looks as though the safety of some other athletes will not be able to be guaranteed. Not only am I concerned about that situation, but recently a cricketer from Rhodesia was refused entry into Britain to play in an important cricket match.
– Do you approve of that?
– No, I do not, and 1 do not agree with the decision - I do not know whether this was made by the South African Government or by the Marylebone Cricket Club - to abandon the English cricket tour of South Africa. That was a mess of cricket pottage cooked up by people in England in a manner which left the South African Prime Minister in a very difficult position in view of what has happened in his own country and the people with whom he has to deal.
But now this is followed up by the Australian Government refusing- to allow a team of women golfers to enter Australia to play in an international golf game because they come from Rhodesia. I will not go into mandatory sanctions and whether they are legal or illegal, logical or illogical; but if Australians, or people in Rhodesia who have Australian passports, are allowed to come to visit Australia - no names and no pack drill, and I do not want to stop it in any way - why should not a team of women golfers who are travelling on either United Kingdom or South African passports be allowed to come into Australia to play in an international contest? Is there anything logical in the Government’s decision?
– Yes, it was a United Nations decision.
– It was not a United Nations ‘ decision. It goes beyond a United Nations decision. If it were a United Nations decision why can holders of Australian passports who live in Rhodesia come to Australia?
– For that very reason.
Because they hold Australian passports? Why cannot they come here on Rhodesian passports? I have received the following communication from the AustraliaRhodesia Association:
Australian Government have refused entry Rhodesian ladies golf team despite all members holding either UK or South African passports. The Government action goes far beyond letter and spirit UN resolution and UK order. UN resolution confines action to Rhodesian passport holders and other persons believed to have furthered or encouraged or to be likely to further or encourage actions of Rhodesian Government. UK order classifies Rhodesian residents holding non-Rhodesian passports who will be refused entry but sportsmen not included.
I ask the Australian Government to reconsider its decision and to give a lead to this crazy mad world in which we live so that politics and sport are divided, and not to allow the wishes of this or that or the other nation, because it does not like a country’s internal politics, to say that certain persons cannot be invited to take part in international sport. How silly can you get? In England last year at the White City amateur athletic championships a well known athlete from Africa would not take part in the contests because the South Africans were running in those contests. In the first race that I saw there was an African competitor. He was clearly not of European origin. How silly can you get? I believe that the Government is acting in a similar way or is being very ill advised in making its decision. The contest has nothing to do with politics. I ask the Government to give a lead to the world by showing that Australia at least is prepared to divorce international sporting contests from politics. I do not care who a competitor is, where he or she comes from or of what sex the competitor is. When an international sporting contest is staged in Australia and people wish to come to take part in it I- hope that the Government will not continue to ban them.
– I wish to add a few words about the collection of bottles by garbage workers to the remarks already made on that subject by my colleague the honourable member for Hunter (Mr James). Some garbage workers have been assessed by the Taxation Branch as earning $5 a week through the collection of bottles. They have been assessed on that basis for the past 3 years and as a result some of them are paying as much as $200 in back taxes for that period.. Let us examine this matter logically. Garbage workers are not obliged to collect bottles that are not placed in. garbage cans put outside homes. However, they have been collecting empty bottles which, in most cases, have been placed on. the ground or in cartons alongside garbage cans. If in the future the garbage workers decide not to collect those bottles, as they are entitled to decide, what will the streets look like? There will be a great litter of bottles on footpaths and along back lanes.
If the Government is so hard pushed to find revenue to carry on its administration there are many other avenues open for the collection of taxes. Much’ more money could be found but it would be necessary to knock the people who support the Liberal Party funds. I refer particularly to the fact that this Government Kas never implemented the promise to impose a capital gains tax made by Sir Robert Menzies in 1949. Fortunes are being made at the present time by speculators in shares and land development and a great deal of that money is not taxable. The stupid position arises that a person buying a mansion for $50,000 this week and selling it for $60,000 next week is not liable for tax on that capital gain. On the other hand, the Government is looking into the collection of a few pence from bottle sales. What a ridiculous thing it is.
I warn honourable members that what happened at Newcastle could happen in many other municipalities. Garbage workers are not obliged to collect bottles unless they are placed inside garbage cans. Many empty bottles will be littering the streets and back lanes because they will not be picked up by the garbage workers.
– They do not pick up anything else, either.
– If the honourable member for St George has any complaints about the employees of the Rockdale Council he should make them to that body. I am speaking about the garbage workers employed by the Sydney City Council now working in the Northcott ward. I have had no complaints about them. On the contrary, I believe they are doing a marvellous job for the citizens of Sydney. I am not derogating what they have been doing, and 1 do not intend to do so.
I turn now to another matter. Most honourable members have read newspaper reports of an anti-biotic resistant new type of venereal disease which is prevalent in some parts of South East Asia. A warning was issued several months ago before servicemen came to Australia from Vietnam on rest and recreation leave. .
– How does the honourable member know of this?
– It was mentioned in the newspapers. I have been told on good authority by a doctor friend, whose name I shall not mention - I would not have raised the matter at all but for the fact that several cases of the disease have been reported in Sydney - that the time has come when we must have a more thorough and stricter medical screening of any serviceman coming to Australia. Do not get me wrong; I’ am not opposed to the servicemen coming to Australia. Far from it. But it is important to the people of Australia to prevent the spread of the disease before it gets a real hold.
– What is the name of this disease?
– I think it starts with ‘gono’. It is prevalent in some South East Asian countries, particularly Vietnam. Medical authorities have stated that it is absolutely resistant to all antibiotics, which means that until some cure is found it will be a chronic disease among those infected. It is not a joking matter, it is a serious matter. Certain restrictions are placed on people who have other diseases, such as typhoid or cholera, and who wish to enter this country. The incubation period of this disease is approximately 4 days. I have made some inquiries about the disease and I am concerned lest it get a hold in Australia. I am very serious about this. I repeat that I am not opposed to the servicemen coming to Australia on R and R leave. I believe that the Minister for Health (Dr Forbes) has a responsibility to ensure that much stricter examinations of these servicemen are carried out before they are allowed to come to Australia.
– Why pick on servicemen?
– The disease has spread since they have been coming here on R and R leave. I know that for a positive fact.
– Does it not happen to anybody else?
– Anybody else could get it. A member of the Air Force could get it; a politician could get it. I believe that the matter should be looked into thoroughly by the Minister for Health to. ensure that the screening overseas is stricter and more thorough.
– I want to place on record something which perhaps should never have been allowed to go off the record and which we are inclined to forget. I refer to the Communist attitude towards religion This was brought to mind by an incident in the House today when the Reverend David Pope was named. The Melbourne ‘Herald’ of Friday, 19th April last, quoted this gentleman as saying - and 1 quote exactly:
The thing I want to get rid of is religion. A concept of God is meaningless.
The ‘Herald’ said that he went so far as to hold, deliberately, a ‘swinging party’ on Good Friday. This gentleman has had some connection with certain Communist causes. I do not say that he is a member of the Communist Party. Indeed, he claims to be a member of the Australian Labor Party. I am willing to assume that be is not an undercover Communist, but is only something of a fellow traveller. Nevertheless he has a part - perhaps an unconscious part - in the Communist campaign against religion.
To try to show the House the nature of that campaign I rely on the official volume in the Little Lenin Library entitled ‘Religion’, by V. I. Lenin. The Library is a collection which the Communists have made of Lenin’s most significant speeches and writings in this regard. Lenin regarded atheism as an inseparable part of Communism. He said - and again I quote exactly:
Our programme necessarily includes the propaganda of atheism.
Nevertheless, he said this must not be done tod openly by party members for fear of showing the truth to the masses and thus alienating the masses.
Again I quote Lenin directly:
That is why we do not declare and must not declare in our programme thai we are atheists.
There is here set out in the Communist text book a complete system of deliberate deception in this regard. Rather than express their beliefs openly their plan is that, while they do not oppose religion obstensibly, they endeavour to discredit it and to use for this purpose people who are not obstensibly connected with the party. And who better for this purpose than a renegade priest? There is a deliberate plan in this. 1 quote again:
The Marxist must be a materialist, i.e., an enemy of religion. But he must be a dialectical materialist, i.e., one who fights against religion not in the abstract . . . but concretely.
There is, furthermore, a system of deception. Lenin says:
We must not only admit into the SocialDemocratic Party-
That is what the Communist Party was called then:
Again, this systematic campaign of fraud and deception. There is no real let up in this campaign. There is no amelioration of his attitude. Again I quote directly: . . all religious ideas, all ideas about any little god, even of flirting with a little god are an unspeakable abomination and one particularly tolerated (frequently even desired) by the ‘democratic’ bourgeoisie, precisely because it is the most dangerous abomination, the most disgusting ‘contamination’.
That is what Lenin really thinks of religion - Lenin the liar - because Leninism is the science of political lying. He lays down the plan of using other forces, renegade priests perhaps, unconscious forces sometimes, to attack the religion which he hates so much and which he and every real Communist is out to destroy. Yet, there are people who associate with this and still believe that they are not helping the cause of irreligion.
This is not something which is purely academic. Again 1 quote directly the consequences which Lenin himself draws from his position. He says:
We deny all morality taken from superhuman or non-class conceptions. We say that this is a deception, a swindle. . . .
We say that our morality is wholly subordinated to the interests of the class-struggle of the proletariat.
This means, cutting the party jargon, that any lying is approved for a Communist if it forwards the interests of Communism.
This is, 1 think, a situation which should be put before the House and the country, particularly in view of the incident which was mentioned in the House this morning at question time. The Communist campaign is cunning, underhand and based on lies. The Reverend David Pope himsel’f is unimportant. He is at the best nothing more than a Communist cat’s paw or pawn, perhaps an unconscious or unwitting one. But the Communist campaign against religion is not unimportant. It is not a campaign against only the Christian religion; it is a campaign against all religions. When in New York recently I was interested in the way in which the Communists fawned on the Moslem countries, trying to bring them into the Communist order, pretending all the time that the Communists were not the enemies of religion, pretending that the Moslem faith had nothing to fear from Communist infiltration. The way in which the campaign of lies on the subject of religion is being used by the Communist Party in its pursuit of world power is a most important facet of world politics.
I apologise for having raised in the House something which may seem of academic value but 1 must say that we are in danger of forgetting the truth about Communism - that Communism is a system of political lying and that Communists are apt disciples of Lenin the liar, who sets out in his own works the campaign and practices which Communist parties have followed all over the world ever since Lenin.
has imputed to the Rev. David Pope Communist ideas, Communist philosophy and Communist politics. The Minister did not make this allegation in so many words but he implied by his technique of smearing or imputing guilt by association that anybody who shares the religious beliefs of a Communist must be guilty of the political philosophy of lying as exemplified by Lenin. 1 do not want to defend Lenin. 1 have not read the works of Lenin as deeply and as thoroughly as has the Minister, who, no doubt is more competent than I to judge in what respects Lenin was lying. The Minister said that Lenin argued that we must do certain things but we must not do them openly. How strange for a person to record in a book things which he wants to be kept secret. lt is not my purpose to go into what Lenin said, what he meant or whether he was lying when he said those things. My purpose is to point out that a person’s religious belief or disbelief has nothing whatever to do with his belief in the efficacy or correctness of lying as a political technique. The Minister said that there is a deliberate plan afoot but he did not say whose plan it was or what the purpose of the plan was. We are entitled to know who has been guilty of a deliberate plan. The Minister said that the Communists are bent on destroying religion; that they are determined to do everything possible to oppose Christianity, Islam and all other religions.
– Is that not true?
– It is probably true of quite a lot of people. We on this side of the House are often accused of quoting things out of context. I suspect that the Minister has quoted out of context the remarks of the Rev. David Pope about wanting to get rid of religion. I do not know the context in which the remarks might have been made.
– If you do not know why are you talking about it? Why not talk about something which you know to be a fact?
– Because the man is entitled to be defended when he is not here to defend himself, even though we do not know the grounds of his defence. Before levelling at a person, who cannot defend himself a gross moral censure, the Minister should tell us in what context the phrase was used. The Minister suggested in effect that the Reverend David Pope was a liar. I have known some very earnest and sincere people who have led lives just as normal as that of any person calling himself a Christian or a Moslem, but who too have said that they want to get rid of religion and that the idea of God is meaningless. I. do not condemn their moral fibre or their ethics for having said that. 1 consider their statement and discuss it with them. I ask what they mean when they talk about getting rid of religion and say that the idea of God is meaningless. ‘
Very often when I have spoken to such people in rationalist associations, in free thought associations, in humanist associations, in and out of universities and through the columns of journals, their answers have satisfied me that they are not liars, that they are not deceitful, that they are not subversive political agents or cat’s paws, as the Minister has described the Reverend David Pope. I submit that it is purely the Minister’s opinion that everybody who has certain religious beliefs must be a cat’s paw of some violent conspiracy, Communist or otherwise. I think the Minister’s statement was most reprehensible for a member of this Parliament and for one who claims to hold liberal views. I think it was a disgrace to the Party he represents, to the Ministry and to the Government of which he is a member.
– Honourable members will be well aware of the drought that is completely covering almost all the south east corner of New South Wales. They will be aware that the drought goes beyond EdenMonaro into the electorate- of Macarthur, and from the Pastures- Protection Board area of Moss Vale out to Cobar in the central west. Every pastures protection board in Eden-Monaro is affected, from Eden to Bombala and Cooma to Braidwood and Goulburn. The drought is so intense that for the past 9 months in Bega the rainfall has been lower than has been recorded in that area for any 9 months period since recordings began. We nave now seen this week the whole of the top end of the south coast alight, from Bermagui to Milton. The whole district is tinder dry. Bega, which should have green and lush pastures a foot high at this time of the year, is a burnt off dry desert.
The drought is unprecedented, but it is in only a region of New- South Wales; it does not cover the whole State. Nevertheless it covers a very considerable area which is equal to about half of Victoria and almost double Tasmania. This does not mean that the State of New South Wales or even half of it is out of action through drought. There have been, so far, quite good falls of rain and a fairly good season has been experienced throughout the rest of New South Wales. Honourable members will be aware also that starting from the beginning of the week before last the State Government has been putting together a specific submission to the Commonwealth for drought relief for this area. The submission has now been received and considered by the Government. Tonight I place on record my appreciation for the decision taken by the Prime Minister (Mr Gorton) and the Government to come to the aid of the State in this matter. The decision is that the Commonwealth will meet half the cost in this financial year of relief measures which the New South Wales Government may find it necessary to continue in those areas that I have mentioned until the drought breaks. Frankly, when I was looking very closely into this matter over the last few weeks I was looking to both State and Commonwealth sources to find some form of precedent for this particular form of aid in these circumstances and on this scale. I could not discover any such precedent.
As we all know, over the last few years quite unprecedented drought aid has been given to drought affected States. This has certainly been so in New South Wales where, as the Prime Minister has said, approximately $41m has been made available this year; but the same attitude has not been adopted by the Commonwealth in the case of established regional natural disasters as. it has adopted in the case of national disasters. I am sure the State would not ask the Commonwealth to go into a particular pasture protection board area; but the area that I speak about covers seven big pasture protection board areas. This is much more than a localised drought. But in the past the Commonwealth has come in on a $1 for $1 basis with the States in connection with what have been recognised automatically as national disasters. I refer to floods and fires. In such cases it is almost instantly apparent that they are disasters. There is no doubt about the matter, and no time is lost.
Drought is a different matter. I have had quite a lot of personal experience of drought. It becomes a matter of judgment as to when a drought does become a disaster. But there is no doubt about the particular one to which I am referring; it is a disaster. But in this case the judgment is made by the local governing bodies and is conveyed to the Commonwealth Government. I believe it would not be appropriate for the Commonwealth Government to establish liaison with the pasture protection boards throughout Australia, through the Department of Primary Industry, bypass the States and immediately come in on a 100% basis with every regional problem of this nature.
The State was advocating a continuance of the present Commonwealth drought measures, which would have meant a 100% contribution. But this was on the basis that the aid would be for national disasters. The present situation is one which I think the Commonwealth reasonably regards as a natural disaster, but one of a regional nature and not one of the scale of a national disaster.
There is no question but that this continued relief will make a vast deal of difference not only to the day to day living of people in the area in facing the drought but also psychologically in that the people there now feel that they have the support of both governments. Since 1965, fifteen shires in Eden-Monaro have received, for Commonwealth Government employment, about $622,000, or sufficient for approximately 300 man-years of work. This does not include loans for carry-on finance. Today about 300 people received dismissal notices. I hope that, through the State acting quickly in response to this offer from the Prime Minister, it will be possible for those dismissal notices to be revoked by Monday, when the current arrangements with the Commonwealth cut out. I believe that this is a well warranted measure. It appears to break new ground in recognising a well established regional drought as a natural disaster on the same terms as a flood or a fire, which is often regional and much more confined than this kind of disaster the effects of which are just as disastrous to the people who are involved.
Having in mind recent public statements that have been made about differences between the Commonwealth and the States in the matter of finances, I think we see here a good example of co-operation between the Commonwealth and the State of New South Wales in studying a specific problem and finding an answer to it. I would point out that the arrangements now made provide cor the continuation, on a $1 for $1 basis, of those arrangements which, by and large, would have cut out bad this arrangement not been made. This will mean that finance will continue to be provided for local government employment, road transport rebates on stock and fodder, and rail freight rebates on stock, fodder and water. Even water for stock was being carted in the southern parts of the State. The arrangements will also cover the provision of finance from the Rural Bank for re-stocking loans. They will cover the purchase of fodder through dairy companies in drought declared areas. Many of these dairy farms are now relying almost entirely on the feed they buy.
I believe this new arrangement is well warranted and will make a terrific difference to the affected area. It will also provide a. very sound basis for future arrangements to cover drought disasters in other parts of Australia.
- Mr Speaker-
Motion (by Mr Fairbairn) agreed to:
That the question be now put
Original question resolved in the ffirmative
House adjourned at 12.27 a.m. (Friday).
The following answers to questions upon notice were circulated:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
The figures quoted refer to amounts spent on local cabling, including junctions, exchange equipment, private automatic switchboards and subscribers’ instruments.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
How many positions are there in each department and authority at each of the six levels in the Second Division of the Commonwealth Public Service?
– The Public Service Board has provided the following information concerning the number of positions under the Public Service Act 1922-1968 as at 14th August 1968:
asked the PostmasterGeneral, upon notice:
What changes in (a) the beneficial ownership of the shares in television companies and (b) the memoranda or articles of association of television companies has the Postmaster-General (i) been asked to approve and (ii) approved since his reply to me on 27th September, 1967 (Hansard, page 1436)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The attached statement contains details of the applications made since 1st September 1967 for approval of changes in the beneficial ownership of shares in companies holding licences for commercial television stations and in the memorandum and articles of association of licensee companies.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
Have the Commonwealth and State authorities completed their study of the route and costs of the road between Canberra and Tumut (Hansard, 4th April 1967, page 894)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
When this matter was last raised the then Prime Minister, Mr Harold Holt, indicated that the Commonwealth was providing technical assistance for a joint study with New South Wales of possible routes for a road between Canberra and Tumut, without commitment as to the construction of the road.
A technical evaluation of alternative routes has been jointly made by the Commonwealth and New South Wales. This evaluation is at present being examined by Commonwealth authorities and
I am also in touch with the Premier of New South Wales about it.
asked the Prime Minister, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Rice (Question No. 483)
asked the Minister for
Primary Industry, upon notice: 1. (a) Did he reject a 1953 application and later applications by Crest Mills Pty Ltd to export rice without subsidy and to pay the grower at Rice Marketing Board rates or higher? (b) Has he also prevented export on similar terms by this company and others of other grains and stockfeeds? (c) If so, why?
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
Are Australian troops in Vietnam prohibited from using American cushion-soled overshoes as a means of maintaining quietness in jungle movements?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
There is a force prohibition against the use of non-standard items of clothing including footwear, but local Australian commanders have a discretion to allow other than standard items to suit the requirements of a particular operation. The type of footwear referred to is not known. If it refers to the United States pattern nylon and rubber patrol boot, Army authorities believe there is no difference between this boot and the Australian pattern boot when used in quiet jungle movement.
asked the Minister for the Army, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable members questions are as follows:
asked the Minister for Education and Science, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable members questions are to be found in the following table:
asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
-The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Acting Minister for External Affairs, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
Wheat Stabilisation Scheme (Question No. 740)
asked the Minister for Primary Industry:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows: 1 and 2. Details of payments by growers and by the Commonwealth Government to the Wheat Prices Stabilisation Fund are given below, together with total payments to growers against each Pool:
asked the Attorney-General, upon notice:
What classes of persons are liable to serve as jurors in each State and Territory in trials of (a) offences in which the Commonwealth is the prosecutor and (b) actions in which the Commonwealth is a party?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The same classes of persons who would be liable to serve as jurors in each particular State or Territory in trials of offences in which the Commonwealth is not the prosecutor and actions in which the Commonwealth is not a party. In the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory, where I administer the laws governing liability to serve as jurors, the following classes of persons are liable to serve as jurors:
Australian Capital Territory - Each man and each woman whose name is on the Roll of Electors for the Territory is, unless he or she is a disqualified person or is exempt from serving as a juror, liable to serve as a juror, but a woman can cancel her liability to serve by notice to the Sheriff. The categories of persons who are disqualified or exempt from jury service are set out in sections10-1 1 of the Juries Ordinance 1967 of the Australian Capital Territory.
Northern Territory - Each male person whose name is on the Roll of Electors for the Territory and whose real place of living is in the Territory and each female person whose name is on the Roll of Electors, whose real place of living is in the Territory and who notifies the Sheriff in writing that she desires to serve as a juror, is liable to serve as a juror, unless he or she is a disqualified person or is exempt from serving as a juror. The categories of persons who are disqualified or exempt from jury service are set out in sections 10-11 of the Juries Ordinance 1962-1967 of the Northern Territory.
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice:
Is he able to furnish the following information:
What is the capital indebtedness of each of the State railway systems?
What is the annual amount of interest payable on loan money in respect of each of these systems?
What percentage of total’ railway earnings does this interest represent?
What is the capital indebtedness of the Commonwealth Railways system?
What is the annual amount of interest payable on loan money in respect of this system?
– The answers to the honour able member’s questions are as follows:
t Aggregate gross loan expenditure. 2 and 3. Details of gross earnings, interest (including exchange) charged to each State railway system, and the proportion of this interest charged to gross earnings during the year ended 30 June 1967, are as follows:
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice:
What changes have been made in the date of the last payment and the amount of the total payments by each State to the Commonwealth for development projects since his answer to me on 12th April 1967 (Hansard, page 1205)?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
The date of the last payment to the Commonwealth by the States, and the total amount which is estimated the Commonwealth will receive from the States by way of repayments of principal and interest, in respect of advances made to the States up to 30th June 1968, for the projects indicated, are shown in the table below:
asked the Acting Treasurer, upon notice:
– The answers to the honourable member’s questions are as follows:
I have been advised by the Commonwealth Statistician that the only relevant statistics available relate to premiums receivable and claims paid by insurance companies for motor vehicle comprehensive insurance (excluding motor cycles), motor cycle comprehensive insurance and compulsory third party insurance (including motor cycles). Separate details of compensation and damages, legal expenses and medical and hospital expenses are not available. The latest year for which statistics are available is 1966-67.
Details are us follows:
Taxation (Question No. 784)
asked the Acting
Treasurer, upon notice:
Is there an income lax allowance available to invalids with residential qualifications but lacking age qualifications, similar to that which applies to a person who meets the residential and age qualification for the income tax age allowance?
– The answer to the honourable member’s question is as follows:
Residents of Australia who are invalids but who are under the age of 65 years if male, or 60 years if female, do not qualify for the age allowance and there is no similar income tax concession available to them solely by virtue of their being invalids.
Invalid pensions received by such persons are, however, wholly exempt from tax. Moreover, there is no liability for income tax on other income derived by them unless the amount of that income, after taking into account concessional and other deductions, exceeds $416.
asked the Minister for Primary Industry, upon notice;
– The answer to the honourable member’s questions is as follows:
An account of the wool promotion and research activities financed from the levy paid by woolgrowers and from Commonwealth contributions is given in the annual reports of the Australian Wool Board which are tabled in Parliament. The Board’s report for 1967-68 was tabled in the House of Representatives on 12th September 1968 and describes the activities undertaken and progress made in the fields of wool promotion and research during the period in question.
The average price of greasy wool sold at auction in Australia during 1967-68 was, as the honourable member states, 41.75 cents per lb. This price was the lowest annual average since 1958-59 but considerably above the lowest figure on record.
Last year’s fall in wool prices does not mean that wool promotion and research activities have not been effective. Like the prices of many other primary products in international trade, wool prices are sensitive to world economic conditions which, in turn, are influenced by the policies of governments. In 1967 the governments of several major wool consuming countries were forced to adopt measures which dampened the level of economic activity and restricted consumer demand at a time when textile industry in Western Europe and the United States of America was already suffering from a recession. These factors were the principal cause of the decline in wool prices.
Neither the Australian Wool Board nor the International Wool Secretariat can influence the economic policies of governments or the course of business cycles. However, it is widely acknowledged that their wool promotion, research and product development activities have done much to sustain the demand for wool in this difficult period and that without their efforts the wool price situation could have been much worse.
Cite as: Australia, House of Representatives, Debates, 26 September 1968, viewed 22 October 2017, <http://historichansard.net/hofreps/1968/19680926_reps_26_hor60/>.