ELECTORAL DISTRIBUTION DISAPPROVAL BY HOUSE OF PARLIAMENT : WHETHER COMMISSIONERS PREPARING FRESH DISTRIBUTION REQUIRED TO ALTER AS REQUESTED BY HOUSE
COMMONWEALTH ELECTORAL ACT 1902-1911, s. 22
The Minister for Home Affairs forwards for advice the following minute by the Chief Electoral Officer:
I desire to bring under the Minister's notice the terms of the amendment moved by Senator Henderson and carried by the Senate, in relation to the proposals of the Electoral Commissioners for Western Australia; and to suggest that, in view of the provisions of Part III of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902-1911, the Attorney-General's advice be obtained as to the correct legal procedure.
It is presumed that the motion for the adoption of the report may be taken to have been rejected; but there would appear to be some doubt whether the Act contemplates that the Commissioners should, when called upon to prepare a fresh distribution, receive or act upon directions.
The resolution as carried by the Senate was as follows:
That in accordance with section 22 of the Electoral Act, the distribution be disapproved of and referred back to the Commissioners with an intimation that due con-sideration does not appear to have been given to the diversity of interest and the absence of means of communication between the districts of Mount Magnet and Cue and the other portions of the proposed Division D, and that the Commissioners be requested to make the distribution on the basis of existing enrolment and not by way of anticipation, so as to give each Division as nearly as is practicable an equal number of electors.
Section 22 of the Electoral Act is as follows:
22.-(1) If either House of Parliament passes a resolution disapproving of any proposed distribution, or negatives a motion for the approval of any proposed distribution, the Min-ister may direct the Commissioners to propose a fresh distribution of the State into Divisions.
(2) The Commissioners shall thereupon reconsider the matter, and forthwith pro-pose a fresh distribution, but for that purpose it shall not be necessary to cause the action provided by section seventeen of this Act to be taken.
The Senate's resolution is clearly a resolution disapproving of the distribution proposed by the Commissioners and enables the Minister to direct the Commissioners to prepare a fresh distribution.
The Senate, in its resolution, has stated reasons for the disapproval, and has requested the Commissioners to alter the distribution in a certain way.
The Commissioners are not bound to comply with any such request. It is obviously convenient, however, that the Commissioners should be aware, not merely of the bare fact of the disapproval, but of the particular matters disapproved of and the reasons; and the Senate's resolution appears to be designed to that end.
In my opinion the only direction which the Minister should give to the Com-missioners is a direction to propose a fresh distribution. But he should send them, for their information, a copy of the resolution of the Senate, and the debate thereon.
[Vol. 10, p. 255]