Ms CHAPMAN (Bragg—Deputy Leader of the Opposition) (21:08): I rise today to speak on this constitutional reform bill.In respect of this bill, firstly I indicate that the opposition will not be supporting the same. In respect of the other constitutional reform that passed through both houses of parliament today, I am pleased to report to the house, and I hope it has been noted, that we have amended the constitution, originating from a private member's bill which I am proud to say was initiated by me. After some months the government acquiesced to it, and it has been reported back to this house today as having the blessing of the Legislative Council.
In short, it will mean that the names of Reggie Martin and Sascha Meldrum will never again be in state reports as the advocates for the political parties that many of us represent in this chamber. It means that the fiction of a person being a party to proceedings, when there is an appeal on boundary commission redistribution determinations, means that the political party can be the party to proceedings and we do not have to perpetuate this fiction of identifying the name of the chief executive or secretary of that agency to be the party to the proceedings.
It is a small but important reform that was recommended by the Chief Justice in his judgement in the Full Court decision of the Supreme Court in Martin v the Electoral District Boundaries Commission  SASCFC 18, delivered on 10 March 2017. In his reasons for the judgement, he made some overt comments about reforms that he thought were appropriate. The genesis of the bill I just referred to was his recommendation. I thank him for the same and thank the house and the other place for its positive passage through the parliament.
This second tranche of legislation to amend the Constitution Act 1934 is a very different beast. The history surrounding this bill is quite interesting, particularly as what we are currently being presented with tonight is without the process that would normally occur with the notice of legislation being given, as has been outlined by other speakers. We have the rather peculiar determination by the government to progress this on a day when we are recognising respectively the valedictory addresses of those who are departing from parliament. And here we are on the last night, after we heard the Premier some hours ago thank all the people in the parliament for the work that they do, having this legislation brought on to be dealt with. It is concerning, but it just heightens, in my view, the level of arrogance to which the government has now elevated itself, to Herculean portions.
Nevertheless, let us consider what we have before us and where it has come from. Firstly, I want to remind the house that on 28 September this year the Attorney-General issued a press release which stated, in its opening statement, the following:
The State Government will seek a referendum to ensure that 'one vote one value' will be restored as the paramount consideration in determining future electoral boundary changes.
In a Bill to be introduced in Parliament today, the Government will seek to hold a referendum on the issue at the next state election.
Under the current Constitution Act, the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission has determined that it can vary elector numbers by as much as 20 per cent from one seat to another.
This means some votes are worth substantially less than others. This is fundamentally undemocratic.
This Bill requires the Commission to give paramount consideration to achieving equality in elector numbers across all electorates—in line with the principle of 'one vote one value'.
He went on to say:
Since the 1940s the issue of 'one vote one value' has been debated in South Australia. Most people believed that this issue was finally resolved in the late 1960s and early 1970s. A recent determination of the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission has put this settled principle back in doubt. Prior to the 2016 redistribution, the Commission has sought to achieve numerical equality of electors. The proposed change restores the principles that have guided redistribution for the past 50 years. A referendum is required for the change to be successful.
Apart from a number of these statements actually being grossly inaccurate or a distortion of what has actually occurred, there is a notable omission from it, and that is the determination by the people of South Australia in the referendum that they cast in 1991 in which 70 per cent of South Australia's voters determined that, against the history of previous attempts to ensure that there was fairness in elections, the boundaries should be drawn with a fairness principle. That was subsequently not only endorsed by 70 per cent of the people of South Australia voting but also found its way then, of course, into a clause that is now in our constitution and guides, as the principal or paramount factor, in the determination of boundaries after each election.
This press release is disturbing for a number of reasons, when I reflect back on it—firstly, because it is authored, or under the name of, the Attorney-General, who is supposed to be the first law officer of the state. At the very least, we expect from him that, if he is going to give a snapshot of the history and the principles in respect of this area of the law, he would get it right and that he not have notable omissions from it that distort that inaccuracy even further.
But let's move on. After having announced this to South Australians and in particular told them that he was going to introduce legislation that included for them to have a referendum to do what he claimed would be a restoration of principle, an elevation back into what he claimed was to be intended, what did he do? True to the published intention, he actually caused—although I cannot be certain about this—the Hon. Peter Malinauskas in another place to introduce two bills in the Legislative Council. That occurred on 28 September, so shortly after this announcement had been issued on that day. Notice was given and two bills were introduced to the Legislative Council.
The first was the Constitution (One Vote One Value) Amendment Bill 2017 to amend the Constitution Act of 1934 and there was also the Referendum (One Vote One Value) Bill 2017, which was necessary to pass to facilitate, or give effect to, the constitutional reform. If passed, the effect of the bills was that a referendum would occur at the next election in March 2018 to be effective for the next electoral boundaries commission, which would then be expected to take place in 2020.
Yes, the public had an expectation if they were following the announcement on this piece of legislation, that there was going to be some proposed constitutional reform, and that they would again be consulted about what was to occur because they were going to have a referendum. After all, the Attorney-General had said there was going to be a referendum and the then minister for police had introduced the bills to support that.
In considering what these bills were to do, let us first look at the bill to amend the constitution—if I can just refer to that as the act, as distinct from the referendum bill. The principal bill was to amend section 77 of the Constitution Act by deleting the existing section and replacing it with a new paramount principle for the making of electoral distribution. As minister Rau said in his press release, this was:
…to give paramount consideration to achieving equality in elector numbers across all electorates—in line with the principle of 'one vote one value'.
The extension of that was that the new paramount principle in the bill required the commission to apply in making an electoral redistribution. The new paramount principle was that the number of electors in each electoral district should, as at the first polling day for which the order is to be effective, be equal. The second aspect was to expressly provide that the new paramount principle prevail over the provisions of section 83 of the act, which sets out other considerations that the commission was, as far as practicable, to have regard in making an electoral redistribution.
In the Attorney-General's announcement about this bill and its purpose, he said, 'The proposed change restores the principle that had guided redistribution for the past 50 years.' We know that to be patently inaccurate. What had guided the principles in respect of redistribution had never been that the primary or principal consideration was to be an equality of numbers in electorates—never. The concern about that statement is not only its misdescription by the Attorney-General. But, you do not have to take my word for it. The Full Court of the Supreme Court of South Australia in Martin v Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission , to which I gave full reference earlier, again made it absolutely clear.
I do not know whether the Labor Party has too much wax in its ears, or nothing between its ears, or cannot read and have interpreted for them the decision of the Supreme Court, but they made it abundantly clear that that was not the primary consideration. In fact, their reinforcement of the decision that had been made by the commission in fact elevated the fairness principle as being in that superior position, in short.
I will come to that in a moment, but I will make an observation. It seems as though the Australian Labor Party had, and continue to have, by the arrogance of the introduction of this legislation, a misunderstanding or a complete ignorance or just a refusal to accept the decision of the Full Court of what had clearly been the case for decades.
I am quite happy to outline tonight, and I am sure the parliament would be pleased for me to do so, week by week for the last 40 years the development of the history of our laws in respect to electoral boundary redistributions. I will also outline the principles that sat behind that, the arguments that have in fact been debated by the Australian Labor Party and its luminaries in the sixties and seventies and which progressed for decades to demand and ultimately present the argument for the fairness principle to be adopted into law. On the face of it, this contemporary Australian Labor Party in South Australia were prepared to completely wash it away and rewrite it as though it had not existed, or, if it had existed, it had not been applied accurately for the last 50 years.
They asked for it. They drafted it. They argued for it. They purported to want it. They accepted it when it was interpreted at redistribution after redistribution in a way that they viewed was in their favour. They took the advantage of the importance of not having an exact number of electors in each electorate. They took the advantage when there was actually a very low number—under the average number of electors for each electorate—when it was to their advantage, but they cried foul when, finally, in 2016 the commission undertook its task, redrew the boundaries, made some very important statements about that and, in fact, laid to rest the complaints by the Australian Labor Party as to what had happened in the past.
The Electoral District Boundaries Commission made an order on 7 December 2016 affecting the redistribution under section 82 of the act. In that report, they explained the methodology and identified the commission's finding that:
…having regard to election results over the last 40 years, that there is an innate imbalance, against the Liberal Party.
Successive redistributions had resulted in it being possible for the Liberal Party to win a significant majority of statewide votes but not win a majority of seats. That is not my finding: that is the commission's finding.
I hasten to add that whilst the Australian Labor Party was the beneficiary of that circumstance, this innate imbalance, they were prepared to endorse it. They were prepared to be happy with it. They wanted it. They perpetuated it. Ultimately, the events that followed exposed the government for what it is. Obviously, as we now know (it is a matter of factual history), there was an appeal against the commission's determination and the Full Court of the South Australian Supreme Court, which comprised five judges—there can be three for a Full Court but, in this case, the decision was made and the Full Court determined that it would comprise five judges, including the Chief Justice—ultimately heard the appeal against the commission's redistribution order and they dismissed it.
As if it was not clear enough in the commission's report, it ought to have been abundantly clear to the ALP that they were no longer going to get away with clinging on to power with the superficial approach that they presented at the commission; that is, that there ought to be this equality of numbers in electors as some kind of paramount principle against what the legislation and the constitution clearly stated. Then, if it was not clear enough for them at the commission, they thought they would run it in the Full Court. They lost 5-0, with not even a dissenting judgment, not one little scintilla of support from any of the judges towards the Labor Party's claim that the constitution should be interpreted this way.
Not one. It was five-zip, including the Chief Justice who makes it absolutely clear that they were clearly wrong. The Full Court held that the commission was required to have regard to the desirability of achieving a redistribution in which each electoral district has equal numbers of electors but the commission was not required to give paramountcy to that objective. Members can read it for themselves. I have read it. I loved that judgment. I loved it, I read it several times. They can go to page 237, and I invite them to do so, and their position is there. Quite clearly, the government's argument, perpetuated by Mr Rau again as being the restoration of the primary principle—what absolute rubbish he had in that press release—was that that should be the case.
The commission was confirmed as accurately invoking its obligation by the Full Court and that meant that, sure, it needed to consider the question of numbers of electors in electorates. It needed to consider a number of other things in the boundary redistribution, but the paramountcy was actually in the fairness principle. Most members here in the parliament understand what we are talking about there; that is, the fairness clause is there to ensure that the political party that wins the majority of two-party preferred votes should win office. Essentially, that means to give effect to the majority of the votes translating to 24 out of the 47 seats or more.
I want to say at this point that the desire to produce electoral fairness to ensure that, when you get the majority of votes, that translates into getting the majority of seats, is there because the voting system for members of the House of Assembly—that is, the people's representative in this parliament—is based on numbers of seats. But 70 per cent of the voting public in South Australia in 1991, in the referendum, determined that they should require that to win that 24, the majority of seats, they should have the majority of the votes in the state.
There are lots of different ways in which we can elect people but this was the model that we had. We have changed the number of seats in the assembly over the history of the state but this is the model that we had. You can have a number of different types of models, and I will not go into all of those today, but some of them are in neighbouring states and some of them are in neighbouring countries around us, where we have democratically elected parliaments.
However, it is not a situation where it renders an easy way of ensuring that the boundaries are drawn to achieve that; that is, to achieve this principle that the party that has the majority of votes should ultimately enjoy the majority of seats. What it requires is quite a considerable amount of skill in drawing boundaries after each election. We have a set of rules that apply to that task being undertaken by the senior puisne judge and two other members who form the commission.
No-one ever said that was going to be easy. I think it is fair to say that it is not a task that Supreme Court judges have all been clamouring to perform over the years. The senior puisne judge is the person who takes that position. There is power for the Chief Justice to appoint another person to do it, but essentially it is not one that they are all rushing to do because it is not an easy job, but then being a judge is not an easy job anyway.
If we just had a simple rule that said everybody gets to vote if you are over 18 in South Australia and whoever gets the most number of votes is the first past the post, and not have a preferential system, so be it, that would be the rule; that would be the model that we would have. However, the model we have is representative government via electorates, which for whatever reasons the forebears of our state determined was the best form of government that we could have as parliamentary representation in a democratic process.
We are not about to go into changing that today, certainly not in this bill. That model is still there. We still have preferential voting that goes with it so, in a contemporary sense, we are not actually asking to change anything except that, in the initial bill, the government was asking us to change the order of things. So, even though the Full Court of the Supreme Court has said, 'No, Labor Party, you have got it wrong. That is not the way the act is there; that is not the way that that is to be applied; it is to be applied this way,' they decided that they would come to the parliament via this bill through the Minister for Police in the other place to give it that priority. That was the format of reform that was outlined in that bill.
Before I get back to it, can I just go back to the Full Court because one of the pleasurable things about those proceedings was that not only did the Full Court determine five-zip that the commission was right and the Labor Party was wrong, but they also, after further argument, ordered the Australian Labor Party to pay the legal costs of Ms Meldrum. Of course, Ms Meldrum is the Chief Executive of the Liberal Party of Australia SA Division—an excellent director—and because of that anomaly I referred to earlier, she was the party to the proceedings in respect of the Full Court appeal. It was necessary that she do all the instructions and so on, and she won.
I am not sure whether we have got the costs yet, but there was a big bill that the Australian Labor Party have to pay us. It is not surprising, at the end of all that, when the Labor Party has gone up to present their submission to the commission and they have lost, they have put in their review on that and they have lost, and they have gone to the Full Court and they have been smacked down five times, and then left with a huge bill to pay and our bill to pay, that they are a bit testy by this stage. So, in their usual sooky, sooky, crybaby way, they have decided to come to the parliament to resolve this issue. They will not take any notice of what the commission has done. They have rejected that, they have rejected the Full Court and they said, 'We are going to go to the parliament because we want our principled position to have paramountcy above that'.
Remember that at this stage we are at an application, via the Legislative Council, for constitutional reform in the bill, together with a referendum bill. So at this stage the public still expect, even if the Labor Party is going to progress this, that it is something that they are going to be participatory in: they are going to have a say. Well, what happened after that? Obviously, there were a number of commentators around who were interested to get into this space as to the fact that legislation had been introduced. Nevertheless, of course the general commentary confirmed that, if there was going to be legislation passed, there would be a referendum.
I think it is fair to say that we have seen, from our side of the house, that this is a fairly cynical exercise of the government. Apart from their being outraged that their view had not prevailed in the Full Court, clearly they were looking to desperately hang on to power and, in the attempt to cling to that, they would take this action in the parliament. In fact, although there were only minor variations in the numbers of electors ultimately determined by the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission from the 2016 audit, the government wanted to continue on with this superficial principle of equal number of voters in each electorate.
Other commentators included Professor Haydon Manning of Flinders University. Most of us in this forum know Professor Manning because he has had a history of academic work. In fact, his wife has entered the political fray for the next election as a candidate in the seat of Mawson, and that has been fully disclosed. As I am going to refer to him in a moment, I think that needs to be endorsed here.
He has obviously outlined in great detail in commentaries the history of the referendum, the fairness clause, the importance of it and so on, but what he has said publicly is that, really, the commission has made its determination. He notes that the Labor Party is not very happy with the decision, but that the best way to progress this is to see what happens in the 2018 election and, if there is a demonstrable inequity that flows as a result of the commission's determination, then there may be some case that could be mounted to argue for some change. But, no, the Labor Party will not take that situation. They will not accept that there has to be some demonstrated inequity. They just do not want this order to stand and they will do whatever it takes to vary it.
The two bills in the Legislative Council sat there for a while, then this month we saw some interesting developments. This is notwithstanding that, after commentaries and after the determination of the judgement and even going back to the commission, the commission itself had pursued the objective of each district having an equal number of electors. In fact, there was no suggestion by the Full Court of a legislative flaw that prohibited the commission from doing so. So they got an all clear from the powers that be, which was reconfirmed by the Full Court. The government, though, in its petulant refusal to accept the independent umpires, pressed ahead in the parliament.
I also add that, ordinarily, the parliament would not be asked to amend or repeal an existing law unless it had been demonstrated that there was good reason to do so—as I have indicated, in the present case, that the existing law would operate in an inappropriate way. There is no identifiable defect or problem and there is no suggestion that a particular electorate under the commission's determination was so fundamentally flawed in the outcome it would produce. Fail, fail, fail on the appeals, and here we are back to the parliament.
The first interesting development came in the middle of November when the Hon. John Darley publicly confirmed that he would not be supporting this legislation. It was unsurprising to us, I think, that he would see that as being what it was: a desperate attempt to cling to government. The Australian Conservatives also made a public statement to that effect.
In fact, I can recall comments made by the Hon. John Darley publicly—that is, not in another place but publicly—that the government should wait until after the next year's election before changing the way boundaries are drawn. He is quoted as saying, 'I told (Mr Rau) to see how the boundaries go at the election before changing them.' That was his position in mid-November.
At around that time, the Hon. Mark Parnell representing the Greens party then gave notice of amendments. I cannot recall exactly when he made a public statement, but it was in mid-November, that he would introduce amendments which would have the effect, if accepted, of totally gutting the proposal by the government in, if I can call it, the Malinauskas constitutional bill, specifically it would delete sections 83(1) and 83(3) of the Constitution Act.
The effect of this approach with these amendments was not to change the order, as the Malinauskas bill was to do, to bring an equal number of electors in an electorate up above the fairness principle, but to have the effect of abolishing the fairness principle completely. It is a different approach, I accept, but nevertheless it was one that he presented that would effectively relieve the Electoral District Boundaries Commission from having to draw boundaries on the basis of ensuring the party with 50 per cent of the TPP would be able to form government.
In other words, it would make it a lot easier for the Electoral District Boundaries Commission. It would have the effect of completely wiping out the majority vote of 70 per cent in the 1991 referendum that said, 'We want to have that in there.' This amendment, by wiping it out, would completely ignore the wish of the people in that vote at that referendum without any referendum—completely gone. It would also remove the requirement for the commission to make an assessment then of the political stance of the Independent and minor party candidates.
The Hon. Mark Parnell has a view that we do not need the fairness clause at all. In fact, he is very strong on this, that having to do this prediction is really not an appropriate way to progress. He sees it as being discriminatory in respect of minor parties and Independents. He has probably said some even more unkind things. Nevertheless, I think it is a genuinely held view that he sees the current model of how we elect people and the priorities we give in drawing the boundaries of the groups for the seats for the nomination and election of those people as being bound up with the benefits, aspirations and promotion of the two major parties to the detriment of the minorities. I do not think he is right, but I accept that it is a genuinely held view.
Although the Greens party did not exist when this type of issue was raised as to how we develop this model—I am talking about back in the 1960s and 1970s—I do not in any way detract from the fact that it has been a long-held view of the Greens that they have been treated poorly in relation to the consideration and the development of the model that is to apply. They are anti it. They said get rid of it altogether. To do the assessment in respect of the political stance a year out from a state election, before candidates have nominated, there is too much uncertainty in respect of the predicting of their preference and therefore it is an unreliable model and it should not occur. It is certainly prejudiced to his party, he says, and therefore we ought to go down that model.
I for one could not imagine that there would be anything more offensive to the people of South Australia, who had passed in a referendum a very clear commitment to having this in the constitution, than for any member of the parliament to come along individually, or ultimately as a group, and pass a law that wiped out what the public had asked for, what they had said by referendum.
Here is the interesting thing: when the government pulled this issue on for debate in the other place today, I went in to listen to some of their interesting contributions and it became very clear from the deliberations in another place that this was a developing bill on the run. It sounded a bit like there had been some backroom deals and discussions. That is nothing unusual in relation to legislation. I am not going to make any comment about the vote, and it will not, of course, reflect on the vote of the other place, but what I can say is that it became abundantly clear that the whole concept of having a referendum and going back to the people of South Australia to ask them about what they wanted had completely disappeared.
In the course of the contributions in the debate, what I was gleaning was that there had been some legal opinion obtained, apparently by the government—a bit late in the piece, it sounded like, but nevertheless apparently by the government. I think they had gone to the Solicitor-General and got some legal opinion that if the Parnell amendments to abolish the fairness clause altogether were progressed they would not need a referendum, they would not need to go back to the people of South Australia.
For obvious reasons, this new legal opinion was not tabled; I did not expect it to be. What seemed a bit curious was that not only did it appear that that legal opinion had not been provided even to the mover of the amendment, the Hon. Mark Parnell, or to the Hon. John Darley who came into the debates with his amendment to introduce a review clause, but it seemed everybody was under some kind of spell of understanding that they no longer needed to have a referendum because somebody in the government said they had got a legal opinion and they did not need to have one.
I certainly have not seen it. I do not know of anyone on our side of the house who has seen any legal opinion that says that we can wipe out the step that involves the people of South Australia, that we just cut them out of the process altogether and accept what the government says, and not only that we do not have to do it but that we should not do it.
So we have gone from what Mr Rau promised back in September—that is, the people having a referendum to make it their decision on their constitution about the electoral boundary commission rules that should apply for democratically elected parliaments in this state—across to a debate in the Legislative Council today with amendments that had been tabled a week or so ago by Mr Parnell, a new amendment for review by Mr Darley, no-one having a clue what this legal opinion is about, dumping the referendum bill and just pushing it through.
I have heard of legislative progression and lawmaking as being equivalent to sausage making, and I have to say it is a very good analogy for what has happened here today. It is really quite concerning, because it seems on the face of it that not only the government but other members in the other place have progressed under the belief that there is a legal opinion that should legally obviate the need to consult the public but that they also should not.
I find that quite disturbing, because we are being forced not only to deal with this piece of legislation, constitutional reform for the state, but to do so really in a vacuum of information. I think that is intolerable. I think that when the public learn about this they will be as outraged about it, because the constitution, the democratic process, the election arrangements, the model that we employ and even the election procedures are there to protect the people of South Australia. They are there to protect their rights: to ensure that there is a proper process, that there is a protective process and that there is a clear mechanism that will ensure that when they have their say on election day that will translate into the legal election and appointment of their representatives.
We have just seen the retirement of President Mugabe in Zimbabwe. I was in South Africa and Zimbabwe in the 1980s when South Australia used to send prosecutors to Zimbabwe to help them out. There was a fairly newly elected president, Mr Mugabe. He was a very tall man, I recall, and seemed to have an iron grip on his country, except that at the time it was suffering under enormous plagues of AIDS, high levels of crime and massive poverty because of a lack of exportable product from that country.
So it was a very difficult time, but Australia, for example, and South Australia have participated in observing the elections in that country during the Mugabe regime, and we know full well the importance of ensuring that you have not only democratic elections but also safe elections so that people who do nominate and stand are protected. With that example, we see the extreme of what can happen when you do not have a legal framework around the protection of fundamental rights.
The fundamental right we are talking about in relation to this bill and in our state constitution is the laws that protect us in having free and fair elections without blood being spilt. Certainly there will be robust debate and policy presentation and those types of things, but we expect that at the end of an election in this state every four years the candidates will be alive—they may not be politically alive, but they will still be alive—and that we will have had a fair process and importantly that the public, whom we represent, will have had a fair say.
Part of that process is making sure what electorate boundaries there are after each election, which will translate into a voting pattern to ensure that the political party or aggregate of parties with the majority vote will, of course, achieve the majority of seats. That is the process. We know the worst examples in the world. I think we have a good process in South Australia, and I think it is one that we need to make sure is protected.
The fundamental thing which needs to be protected, and which has been completely abandoned today, is the right of the public of South Australia to have a say. I can only assume that the advent of the government bringing on the bill in the Legislative Council was done on the basis that they thought, 'We've locked in Parnell. We'll use his amendments,' and if they had not drafted them, help them be drafted. They thought, 'We'll use that. We don't have to have a referendum. We'll get Darley in because he can easily be persuaded to support this, even though his published position was quite different, because we'll just give him a review period.'
However, in respect of that, can I say that the review that is now in the bill before us requires in clause 4 that there be an undertaking for the review of the operation of section 83 and various time frames and the like. It ought to be patently obvious to members that when you have a bill that has deleted subsection (1) and subsection (3) of section 83 of the Constitution Act, frankly there is bugger all left. So when we have a review of section 83 of the constitution, it is a fantasy. You cannot have a review of thin air. That is the reality of what we are being asked to do now, and I am concerned that perhaps this is not a matter that had been fully explored or considered in the other place.
The Leader of the Opposition has helpfully handed me the act, which I could not locate in my notes, so I thank him very much for his support. The only thing left in section 83, if this bill passes here today, is the subsection that provides:
(2) In making an electoral redistribution, the Commission must have regard, as far as practicable, to—
(a) the desirability of making the electoral redistribution so as to reflect communities of interest of an economic, social, regional or other kind;
There are other matters that I will paraphrase to be population, topography, feasibility of communication and the nature of substantial demographic changes to be taken into account. Members would be mostly aware of these. I can particularly recall section 83(2)(d) in operation, which is:
(d) the feasibility of communication between electors affected by the redistribution and their parliamentary representative in the House of Assembly;
The worst example of that that I can recall was Liz Penfold, when she was the member for Flinders. Some members will recall that the seat of Flinders, as it is known to us now, covers a large slice of Eyre Peninsula, a beautiful part of South Australia. However, some other members will recall that at one stage, when Mrs Penfold became the member, she was also required, under the boundaries, to represent the people of Kangaroo Island.
Section 83(2)(d), which talks about the feasibility of capacity for the electors to be represented by their parliamentary representative, has to take into account that Mrs Penfold at that time had to leave her residence in Port Lincoln and either drive to Port Augusta, because they did not have a ferry across from Wallaroo in those days, and then down to Adelaide and catch a plane to Kangaroo Island to see her Kangaroo Island constituents, or drive all the way down to the end of the Fleurieu Peninsula to catch the ferry to Penneshaw to see her local constituency. It was a two-day exercise for her to get from her home to some of her electorate.
Of course, these are things that bring to mind the importance of that when considering how boundaries are drawn. Anyway, fortunately in that case, as I am sure the Speaker would recall, that was soon remedied and the next boundary commission after that put it back to where it should have been, namely with the Fleurieu Peninsula.
Back to the vacuum of which is to be reviewed, only this part of the clause, which has almost been there forever, is to be capable of being reviewed under the clause which we are being asked to endorse tonight in clause 4 of this bill. Under this bill, sections 83(1) and 83(3) are being removed completely. Therefore, in my view—and I hope that the parliament will agree—it is a completely inadequate form of any review. If the mover of that amendment, or those supporting it in another place, are of the view or the government is able to persuade me that there is somehow a capacity for us to have a review in respect of that, then they will need to be able to speak up.
The alternative is that whatever progresses in respect of this bill, the review is to be undertaken apparently by the Premier, which is even more worrying. Why would the Premier conduct the review? In any event, it needs to be a review far more than in relation to section 83. If the terms of reference are ultimately going to be restricted because of the confines of the operation of section 63, as expressed in that review clause, then we need to change it.
Can I suggest to the parliament that rather than us progressing this bill in this chamber that we should do what everyone else has recommended we do, and that is respect the people of South Australia and the referendum that they passed in 1991. If we want to change it, if we want to override their view and we want to change that, then at least let us have the decency to go back to them and ask them again in a referendum; that is the first thing.
My final point is is my plea to the parliament to resist the temptation to follow the request of the mover of this bill, namely, the Attorney-General, and to blindly follow him to the cliff edge because the public will be at the end of that cliff. They will be down there screaming at you if they are forced into a voting arrangement on which they have not had a say and on which they have historically had a say and on which they have not even been consulted by referendum.
That is a shameful progression of important law, which I can only hope some members will see as being an act of arrogance. In fairness, I have to say that it did not start that way. The Attorney-General started with a press release and bills, including a referendum, but they suddenly evaporated and today we are being asked to deal with this after the debate in the other place.
If I have in any way reflected on the vote in another place, it was not my intention. I know that you would have been listening intently to what I was saying earlier and to reflect on the vote in another place is quite disorderly. I thought I was at pains not to reflect on the vote in another place. I have certainly raised the progression of the development of this bill in respect of the amendments that have been put by two of the members, the Hon. Mark Parnell and the Hon. John Darley. I do not withdraw from the comments I have made in respect to that, but if I have inadvertently reflected on their vote in the other place, then I will ensure that my apology is conveyed to them.