Bill: CONSTITUTION (ONE VOTE ONE VALUE) AMENDMENT BILL


Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (20:01): I am also not the lead speaker. I rise to speak on the Constitution (One Vote One Value) Amendment Bill. The Leader of Government Business sends a note to the opposition of all the bills the government wishes to debate, and this bill did not appear in any form in any of the notes that his office sent the opposition over the past week. That is fine; the government can ignore that. It is possible the leader of the house himself was not kept in the loop.

When there are debates on legislation that has not been introduced into the house before, it is custom that the leader of the house advises the opposition that they want it dealt with in the house. Bills do not necessarily always emerge from the Attorney-General's office in the first instance; sometimes they come from the upper house, and they usually let us know. For years, the member for Playford would send me a note, through his adviser, saying what was going to be debated; this one was not. That is fine, they can do that. It is not against the standing orders, but it is the custom of the house—another custom amongst many that this government has failed to uphold.

In the speech by the Treasurer, there was more name-calling of the member for MacKillop, accusing him of name-calling the Treasurer; it is undignified. The whole presentation by the Treasurer was undignified, but we are used to that as well. What we have here is a bill that will take away from the South Australian people a fairness clause for which the South Australian people voted in a referendum. This government is seeking to suborn the will of the South Australian people through an act of parliament for which there was no real notice given. As the member for MacKillop rightly said, the people of South Australia will be very angry at them about this.

However, it will get lost amongst the anger at so many other things. We currently have a government that about one in four South Australians, at best, are suggesting they might want to vote for, so what is one more issue to make them angry? The reason for the fairness clause is quite simple: the will of the South Australian people should be expressed through the people who form a majority and form the government. Over the last seven elections, the South Australian electoral system has spectacularly failed to deliver that.

This government had no problem with the fairness clause until the Electoral Commissioner, the Surveyor-General and the senior puisne judge decided to apply it, as they did in the most recent redistribution. In doing so, they noticed the primacy of the fairness clause in the provisions identifying what to do in the redistribution. The secondary clause is the one identifying that you must be within a 10 per cent margin of error, and the third aspect is community of interest and other matters that the Electoral Commission might see fit to consider.

Ahead of the 2014 election, that tertiary consideration—other issues of the Electoral Commissioner, the Surveyor-General and the senior puisne judge—was used by the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission to elevate a further consideration that they had. They said that they wanted to not move people out of their electorates into other electorates more than was necessary, which is clearly, under the Constitution Act, a consideration that is lower than the 10 per cent margin of error and that is lower than the fairness clause. However, that Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission decided to elevate that and clearly were not implementing the fairness clause in the way it was supposed to be implemented. That is how we had a result where about one in three South Australians vote for the Labor Party and they form government. That is how that happened: because the fairness clause was not applied.

So, in this redistribution for this election, the commission chose to implement the fairness clause and they noticed the primacy of the fairness clause over the other considerations and therefore used the 10 per cent tolerance in some seats—not the full 10 per cent tolerance, but approaching it—to deliver that fairness outcome that the Constitution Act seeks to achieve, for which the South Australian people voted.

The 2014 election was not the first election at which the will of the South Australian people was not reflected in the make-up of the government. In 2006, the government got a majority; they won a lot of the seats. In 2002, however, there is another example. The Liberal Party won the majority of the vote. They went back and counted every seat between Liberal and Labor and they found that well over 57 per cent of people in South Australia preferred a Liberal government to a Labor government, and they got a Labor government.

In that case, there were challenges posed by the Independent Peter Lewis, who said to his constituents before the election that he would support a Liberal government, and yet after the election he betrayed them and supported the Rann government into office. It was a negotiation that the Speaker claims personal credit for, and well he might, because it was an unfortunate game that was played, but the losers were the people of the South Australian community.

At previous elections, in 1997 it was a close election with a hung parliament, and the Liberals won, which was good. In 1993, it was a 60 per cent to 40 per cent outcome, and that is the last time the Liberal Party was able to win government off Labor: 53 per cent will not cut it; 52 per cent will not cut it; but when we got 60 per cent, that was sufficient to get 37 seats in the parliament, so that was good. Even in 1989, the election that provoked the fairness clause in the first place, John Olsen got 52 per cent of the vote and was not able to form government because of the electoral anomalies identified by the member for MacKillop, so a subcommittee looked at and came up with a suggestion that the people of South Australia chose to follow: to introduce a fairness clause.

The fact that the will of the South Australian people is not primary, secondary or even a remote consideration in the government's thinking is purely because they know that, without the fairness clause, they have been the beneficiaries of the most extraordinary good favour and good luck through winning elections when the people of South Australia do not want them. It has happened time and time again: 1989, 2002 and 2010. The member for Heysen would have been premier in 2010 if the will of 51½ per cent of the South Australian people had been followed in the make-up of who formed government, but it was not. Then it happened again in 2014, which makes it four out of seven elections. Of the others, the Labor Party has won a majority of the vote in only one of the last seven elections: in 2006, and that is the only time.

The Treasurer comes in from time to time to talk about this issue. It is his favourite topic. He talks about how clever they are at campaigning. He says that the Liberal Party spends too much money in seats that we already hold and is very bad at campaigning in their seats. He can judge from his ivory tower how much money is being spent in the seat of Flinders, but it is possible that the people of Flinders just really like the member Flinders. I suspect that is actually true because I know he is very frugal and very generous towards our marginal seats with the money he raises in Flinders, and yet 80 per cent of people of Flinders vote for him. They are South Australians too and just because four out of five of them want to see a Liberal government should not make the individual insights of those 80 per cent of people worth less than the desire of the 51 per cent of people in another seat who might want to see a different party elected.

Ultimately I think the best outcome that can be seen from an electoral system is where a majority of the people in that system get the outcome that they want. It is the whole point of liberal democracy. The liberal part of it is supposed to ensure that there are protections for minorities, that no tyranny of the majority is able to overrule the rights of the minorities. But the democracy part of it, the representative government part, is supposed to say that the government side, the government benches, is occupied by the party or the group of people or the group of parties that the people of South Australia want. That has not happened in four of the last seven elections. It is an outrage, and it is an outrage that after the first of those occasions, in 1989, the response was to put in this fairness clause and the people of South Australia had a say in that. That is a say that the government seeks to abrogate now.

Eighty per cent of the people of Australia recently voted in a postal vote plebiscite—

An honourable member interjecting:

Mr GARDNER: —62 per cent voted in favour and 80 per cent of them voted, and that was in a voluntary vote. The rhetoric from the Labor Party and people across the political spectrum for those members of parliament who seek to uphold a point of view that they hold dear, or potentially in some cases that their electorates did—because I think 17 electorates or thereabouts voted differently to the nation or their states, and the rhetoric from Labor members against those members of parliament for fulfilling what they think is the right course of action has been astonishing.

These Labor members sitting opposite right now tonight would be appalled at those members for voting against their electorates and ignoring the popular vote. And yet, having had a referendum to change the constitution, these same members a few elections on are happy to completely ignore the will of the South Australian people.

We know what the will of the South Australian people is about this clause. Most legislation does not get that sort of treatment; most legislation is introduced into the parliament by a minister, it sits on the table for a week, it goes to the other house after it is voted on and then sits on the table there for a week, and in five sitting weeks, from go to whoa, all of a sudden you have a piece of legislation. Some legislation passes more quickly than that and the people of South Australia by and large never hear about it. This is one of the very few exceptions where we have a test of what the people of South Australia wanted. We know their answer, and it is one that the Labor Party, the Greens I believe, the Dignity Party and whatever John Darley's party is now called have seen fit to completely abrogate, completely ignore.

It turns out that the Labor Party's greatest offence with this fairness clause is that they are concerned if everyone votes the same way they did at the last election—and let's say the Liberal Party does not win an extra vote—they would lose government and the Liberal Party would be elected in a landslide with 27 seats; 53 per cent of the vote on a two-party preferred basis is a landslide anywhere in the world except South Australia.

The Electoral District Boundaries Commission, the redistribution commission, saw that and responded and thought, 'Okay, here is this fairness clause. It is the primary clause in the constitution governing how we should do our job. Let's apply it,' and this is what they came up with, a redistribution which potentially, as I said, if everybody voted the same way they did last time, would actually see the will of the South Australian people reflected in the government that is there to serve them.

'Serve' is an interesting word, because I think what we have seen from the government tonight is a perfect example—along with their antics in question time and their antics throughout the week and throughout the years—of what service is about, and they are here to serve themselves. They are not interested in the democratic principle; they are interested in what might serve the interests of the Labor Party. Their job is not that, though. Their job as members of parliament is to serve the interests of the South Australian people. As I said, this is one of those bills where we have a unique insight into the views and desires of the South Australian people because they told us; they told us with their votes.

The member for Florey has a wonderful opportunity to identify herself as an Independent tonight, and I look forward to seeing her exercise it—I hope she will. I think the member for Waite and the member for Frome have a similar opportunity. They call themselves Independents so this is their opportunity to show that they are not beholden to the Labor Party that they have, up to this point, served. They can instead choose the South Australian people to serve; the South Australian people who have told them how they want to vote, because the South Australian people were asked to fill in a form and vote on it, and they did.

The practical effect of this is very important. The idea that removing fairness from the constitution is the last act of a government before parliament closes before an election is, frankly, a stunning one to me that can only be explained because they are focused on their medium to long-term political interests. I suggest that those members in marginal seats who are allowing this to be done to them should reflect on that because it is clearly not their interests that their party's leadership is seeking to serve tonight, it is only the Labor Party's interests: how can we best get the system right that is going to deliver us another four-term administration into the future? That is what they are thinking about.

We hear it all the time from senior frontbenchers from the Labor Party, swanning around the building, full of testosterone and saying, 'Oh yeah, even if we lose the election we will be back in a term.' It is very unseemly and this bill that we have before us just goes to show that. I do not know what motivated those other parties in the Legislative Council who sought to make these changes. It is disappointing but they have done it and we have the bill ahead of us and now for the next little while we will deal with it. We will sit as long as it takes to do that.

I see members opposite who were paired, had reasonable reasons not to be in the parliament, and the opposition has always said that we would honour those pairs. The government has clearly brought them back tonight because they intend, presumably, to suspend standing orders at midnight and sit until it is done. If that is what they want to do then good luck to them, if we are still debating it at that stage. I say again to those members that I am sorry for what your party leadership is doing to you. If you are ill you probably should not be here, and the opposition has a tradition and always does grant pairs for people who are unwell, and that is on the record. The opposition was not doing anything about that. That is a decision of the Labor Party's leadership and management. Again, more service of the Labor Party and not of the South Australia people.

It is very disappointing that we have to have this debate tonight. It would have been useful for the opposition to have some notice if the government wanted to bring it on this week and we could have managed it in an orderly fashion amongst our other business. I note that we have had the indulgence of the Speaker for several hours this afternoon and yesterday while members gave valedictory remarks. I note that there have been some extraordinary uses of question time, today in particular, for ministers to take up the time of the house—not you, minister—quoting Monty Python and—

Members interjecting:

Mr GARDNER: Not any more. There is a wonderful video that the Minister for Communities and Social Inclusion should check out on the Liberal Party's website right now. The fact is that the government saw fit to do all sorts of things with the time of the house this week. In recent weeks we have seen hours used for debates brought on without notice, since the winter break. These are things that the government has decided to spend its time doing, and now here we are, well into the evening, after 8 o'clock, and debating a bill for which there was no notice given.


It is a bill that is a bad bill. It is a bill that I oppose. It is a bill that I will vote against. I call on members to vote against it. Frankly, I think that all members should vote against it and instead put the needs of the South Australian people first, put service to the South Australia people first, and put the desires of the South Australian people to have a fair electoral system first. I oppose the bill. Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the house.

 

 


Mr GARDNER (Morialta) (20:01): I am also not the lead speaker. I rise to speak on the Constitution (One Vote One Value) Amendment Bill. The Leader of Government Business sends a note to the opposition of all the bills the government wishes to debate, and this bill did not appear in any form in any of the notes that his office sent the opposition over the past week. That is fine; the government can ignore that. It is possible the leader of the house himself was not kept in the loop. When there are debates on legislation that has not been introduced into the house before, it is custom that the leader of the house advises the opposition that they want it dealt with in the house. Bills do not necessarily always emerge from the Attorney-General's office in the first instance; sometimes they come from the upper house, and they usually let us know. For years, the member for Playford would send me a note, through his adviser, saying what was going to be debated; this one was not. That is fine, they can do that. It is not against the standing orders, but it is the custom of the house—another custom amongst many that this government has failed to uphold. In the speech by the Treasurer, there was more name-calling of the member for MacKillop, accusing him of name-calling the Treasurer; it is undignified. The whole presentation by the Treasurer was undignified, but we are used to that as well. What we have here is a bill that will take away from the South Australian people a fairness clause for which the South Australian people voted in a referendum. This government is seeking to suborn the will of the South Australian people through an act of parliament for which there was no real notice given. As the member for MacKillop rightly said, the people of South Australia will be very angry at them about this. However, it will get lost amongst the anger at so many other things. We currently have a government that about one in four South Australians, at best, are suggesting they might want to vote for, so what is one more issue to make them angry? The reason for the fairness clause is quite simple: the will of the South Australian people should be expressed through the people who form a majority and form the government. Over the last seven elections, the South Australian electoral system has spectacularly failed to deliver that. This government had no problem with the fairness clause until the Electoral Commissioner, the Surveyor-General and the senior puisne judge decided to apply it, as they did in the most recent redistribution. In doing so, they noticed the primacy of the fairness clause in the provisions identifying what to do in the redistribution. The secondary clause is the one identifying that you must be within a 10 per cent margin of error, and the third aspect is community of interest and other matters that the Electoral Commission might see fit to consider. Ahead of the 2014 election, that tertiary consideration—other issues of the Electoral Commissioner, the Surveyor-General and the senior puisne judge—was used by the Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission to elevate a further consideration that they had. They said that they wanted to not move people out of their electorates into other electorates more than was necessary, which is clearly, under the Constitution Act, a consideration that is lower than the 10 per cent margin of error and that is lower than the fairness clause. However, that Electoral Districts Boundaries Commission decided to elevate that and clearly were not implementing the fairness clause in the way it was supposed to be implemented. That is how we had a result where about one in three South Australians vote for the Labor Party and they form government. That is how that happened: because the fairness clause was not applied. So, in this redistribution for this election, the commission chose to implement the fairness clause and they noticed the primacy of the fairness clause over the other considerations and therefore used the 10 per cent tolerance in some seats—not the full 10 per cent tolerance, but approaching it—to deliver that fairness outcome that the Constitution Act seeks to achieve, for which the South Australian people voted. The 2014 election was not the first election at which the will of the South Australian people was not reflected in the make-up of the government. In 2006, the government got a majority; they won a lot of the seats. In 2002, however, there is another example. The Liberal Party won the majority of the vote. They went back and counted every seat between Liberal and Labor and they found that well over 57 per cent of people in South Australia preferred a Liberal government to a Labor government, and they got a Labor government. In that case, there were challenges posed by the Independent Peter Lewis, who said to his constituents before the election that he would support a Liberal government, and yet after the election he betrayed them and supported the Rann government into office. It was a negotiation that the Speaker claims personal credit for, and well he might, because it was an unfortunate game that was played, but the losers were the people of the South Australian community. At previous elections, in 1997 it was a close election with a hung parliament, and the Liberals won, which was good. In 1993, it was a 60 per cent to 40 per cent outcome, and that is the last time the Liberal Party was able to win government off Labor: 53 per cent will not cut it; 52 per cent will not cut it; but when we got 60 per cent, that was sufficient to get 37 seats in the parliament, so that was good. Even in 1989, the election that provoked the fairness clause in the first place, John Olsen got 52 per cent of the vote and was not able to form government because of the electoral anomalies identified by the member for MacKillop, so a subcommittee looked at and came up with a suggestion that the people of South Australia chose to follow: to introduce a fairness clause. The fact that the will of the South Australian people is not primary, secondary or even a remote consideration in the government's thinking is purely because they know that, without the fairness clause, they have been the beneficiaries of the most extraordinary good favour and good luck through winning elections when the people of South Australia do not want them. It has happened time and time again: 1989, 2002 and 2010. The member for Heysen would have been premier in 2010 if the will of 51½ per cent of the South Australian people had been followed in the make-up of who formed government, but it was not. Then it happened again in 2014, which makes it four out of seven elections. Of the others, the Labor Party has won a majority of the vote in only one of the last seven elections: in 2006, and that is the only time. The Treasurer comes in from time to time to talk about this issue. It is his favourite topic. He talks about how clever they are at campaigning. He says that the Liberal Party spends too much money in seats that we already hold and is very bad at campaigning in their seats. He can judge from his ivory tower how much money is being spent in the seat of Flinders, but it is possible that the people of Flinders just really like the member Flinders. I suspect that is actually true because I know he is very frugal and very generous towards our marginal seats with the money he raises in Flinders, and yet 80 per cent of people of Flinders vote for him. They are South Australians too and just because four out of five of them want to see a Liberal government should not make the individual insights of those 80 per cent of people worth less than the desire of the 51 per cent of people in another seat who might want to see a different party elected. Ultimately I think the best outcome that can be seen from an electoral system is where a majority of the people in that system get the outcome that they want. It is the whole point of liberal democracy. The liberal part of it is supposed to ensure that there are protections for minorities, that no tyranny of the majority is able to overrule the rights of the minorities. But the democracy part of it, the representative government part, is supposed to say that the government side, the government benches, is occupied by the party or the group of people or the group of parties that the people of South Australia want. That has not happened in four of the last seven elections. It is an outrage, and it is an outrage that after the first of those occasions, in 1989, the response was to put in this fairness clause and the people of South Australia had a say in that. That is a say that the government seeks to abrogate now. Eighty per cent of the people of Australia recently voted in a postal vote plebiscite— An honourable member interjecting: Mr GARDNER: —62 per cent voted in favour and 80 per cent of them voted, and that was in a voluntary vote. The rhetoric from the Labor Party and people across the political spectrum for those members of parliament who seek to uphold a point of view that they hold dear, or potentially in some cases that their electorates did—because I think 17 electorates or thereabouts voted differently to the nation or their states, and the rhetoric from Labor members against those members of parliament for fulfilling what they think is the right course of action has been astonishing. These Labor members sitting opposite right now tonight would be appalled at those members for voting against their electorates and ignoring the popular vote. And yet, having had a referendum to change the constitution, these same members a few elections on are happy to completely ignore the will of the South Australian people. We know what the will of the South Australian people is about this clause. Most legislation does not get that sort of treatment; most legislation is introduced into the parliament by a minister, it sits on the table for a week, it goes to the other house after it is voted on and then sits on the table there for a week, and in five sitting weeks, from go to whoa, all of a sudden you have a piece of legislation. Some legislation passes more quickly than that and the people of South Australia by and large never hear about it. This is one of the very few exceptions where we have a test of what the people of South Australia wanted. We know their answer, and it is one that the Labor Party, the Greens I believe, the Dignity Party and whatever John Darley's party is now called have seen fit to completely abrogate, completely ignore. It turns out that the Labor Party's greatest offence with this fairness clause is that they are concerned if everyone votes the same way they did at the last election—and let's say the Liberal Party does not win an extra vote—they would lose government and the Liberal Party would be elected in a landslide with 27 seats; 53 per cent of the vote on a two-party preferred basis is a landslide anywhere in the world except South Australia. The Electoral District Boundaries Commission, the redistribution commission, saw that and responded and thought, 'Okay, here is this fairness clause. It is the primary clause in the constitution governing how we should do our job. Let's apply it,' and this is what they came up with, a redistribution which potentially, as I said, if everybody voted the same way they did last time, would actually see the will of the South Australian people reflected in the government that is there to serve them. 'Serve' is an interesting word, because I think what we have seen from the government tonight is a perfect example—along with their antics in question time and their antics throughout the week and throughout the years—of what service is about, and they are here to serve themselves. They are not interested in the democratic principle; they are interested in what might serve the interests of the Labor Party. Their job is not that, though. Their job as members of parliament is to serve the interests of the South Australian people. As I said, this is one of those bills where we have a unique insight into the views and desires of the South Australian people because they told us; they told us with their votes. The member for Florey has a wonderful opportunity to identify herself as an Independent tonight, and I look forward to seeing her exercise it—I hope she will. I think the member for Waite and the member for Frome have a similar opportunity. They call themselves Independents so this is their opportunity to show that they are not beholden to the Labor Party that they have, up to this point, served. They can instead choose the South Australian people to serve; the South Australian people who have told them how they want to vote, because the South Australian people were asked to fill in a form and vote on it, and they did. The practical effect of this is very important. The idea that removing fairness from the constitution is the last act of a government before parliament closes before an election is, frankly, a stunning one to me that can only be explained because they are focused on their medium to long-term political interests. I suggest that those members in marginal seats who are allowing this to be done to them should reflect on that because it is clearly not their interests that their party's leadership is seeking to serve tonight, it is only the Labor Party's interests: how can we best get the system right that is going to deliver us another four-term administration into the future? That is what they are thinking about. We hear it all the time from senior frontbenchers from the Labor Party, swanning around the building, full of testosterone and saying, 'Oh yeah, even if we lose the election we will be back in a term.' It is very unseemly and this bill that we have before us just goes to show that. I do not know what motivated those other parties in the Legislative Council who sought to make these changes. It is disappointing but they have done it and we have the bill ahead of us and now for the next little while we will deal with it. We will sit as long as it takes to do that. I see members opposite who were paired, had reasonable reasons not to be in the parliament, and the opposition has always said that we would honour those pairs. The government has clearly brought them back tonight because they intend, presumably, to suspend standing orders at midnight and sit until it is done. If that is what they want to do then good luck to them, if we are still debating it at that stage. I say again to those members that I am sorry for what your party leadership is doing to you. If you are ill you probably should not be here, and the opposition has a tradition and always does grant pairs for people who are unwell, and that is on the record. The opposition was not doing anything about that. That is a decision of the Labor Party's leadership and management. Again, more service of the Labor Party and not of the South Australia people. It is very disappointing that we have to have this debate tonight. It would have been useful for the opposition to have some notice if the government wanted to bring it on this week and we could have managed it in an orderly fashion amongst our other business. I note that we have had the indulgence of the Speaker for several hours this afternoon and yesterday while members gave valedictory remarks. I note that there have been some extraordinary uses of question time, today in particular, for ministers to take up the time of the house—not you, minister—quoting Monty Python and— Members interjecting: Mr GARDNER: Not any more. There is a wonderful video that the Minister for Communities and Social Inclusion should check out on the Liberal Party's website right now. The fact is that the government saw fit to do all sorts of things with the time of the house this week. In recent weeks we have seen hours used for debates brought on without notice, since the winter break. These are things that the government has decided to spend its time doing, and now here we are, well into the evening, after 8 o'clock, and debating a bill for which there was no notice given. It is a bill that is a bad bill. It is a bill that I oppose. It is a bill that I will vote against. I call on members to vote against it. Frankly, I think that all members should vote against it and instead put the needs of the South Australian people first, put service to the South Australia people first, and put the desires of the South Australian people to have a fair electoral system first. I oppose the bill. Mr Speaker, I draw your attention to the state of the house.c

 

A quorum having been formed:

Mr KNOLL (Schubert) (20:21): I rise to oppose this bill in the strongest of terms, and in doing so think that it is important that South Australians, the Labor Party and everybody in this parliament witness the derogation of democracy here in South Australia. What we are witnessing is one step in the removal of fair and free democracy in South Australia. This is the kind of behaviour that exists when a government has been around for too long.

We have seen it in other jurisdictions—in New South Wales, we have seen it in Queensland and we are seeing it here in South Australia. It manifests itself like this: in little things, like earlier today when the Labor Party saw fit to use question time as somehow their joke and their plaything, that answering questions from Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition is no longer as important as insider jokes that only a few who actually understand UK humour will get.

It manifests itself in more serious ways, though, when we look at the Gillman land deal or the mess that is the Festival Plaza redevelopment, where governments seek to thwart normal and proper process, seek to hide away from proper process. We had huge numbers of questions today to the Minister for Infrastructure, who just gently sat there and batted back any suggestion that anything was wrong in the face of mounting evidence, evidence that we have received, evidence that has been outlined in an Auditor-General's Report.

Today what we have seen is the next step in the evidence that exists to show that this government has been around too long and, dare I say, a government that is becoming corrupted in its processes. The step the government is taking today, in conjunction with the crossbench, will do more to take away the democratic rights of South Australians than at any time since the mid-1970s. This is a retrograde and backward step. Why are we taking this step? Why is the government choosing to take this step? It is because of the biggest bunch of sooks and whingers in South Australian political history.

Since 1991, when over 70 per cent of the population said, 'We believe that the party that gets more than 50 per cent of the two-party preferred vote should form government,' an overwhelming majority said, 'This is what we want.' Yet, what we understand is that the government has found some legal advice that suggests that they can take that away without going to the people of South Australia and asking their opinion on the matter. They believe that their opinion is more important than the opinion of South Australians—once again, a dangerous step in the corrupting of the political and democratic process.

Having had unchallenged boundaries for the last two decades, the first time they get an adverse result, they crack the sads and move to change the game. Instead of accepting the result, instead of standing up and saying, 'We're going to cop this on the chin,' what do they do? They circumvent the democratic process to suit themselves. That is not what democracy is about and that is what South Australians are sick and tired of.

South Australia has wanted a change of government since at least 2010. At that election, 51.8 per cent of the population said, 'We want a change of government.' Those cries for a change of government got louder in 2014 when 53 per cent of people said, 'We want a change of government,' and here we are, with the boundaries commission having listened, in a situation where once again the Labor Party would say, 'We believe that our opinion is more important than the opinions of South Australians.' What we have seen is a dodgy backroom last-minute deal through the upper house to get this piece of legislation up, to keep us late to jam this through.

To those who are out the back having end-of-session drinks and clinking their glasses because they believe they have won some great victory, can I say that this victory will be short lived because you cannot get away from the fact that, on 17 March next year, the people of South Australia are going to pass their judgement. They are frustrated and they are angry. They said it in 1991, with over 70 per cent of the vote. They said it again in 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2010. With the biggest cry of 53 per cent of the population in 2014, they have been passing judgement on the Labor Party and the Labor Party has been found wanting.

If a referendum is what it takes to put this clause into legislation, the fact that the government believes it can take away this clause without a referendum is an absolute disgrace and an act of pure cowardice. If they had any sense of decency, if they had any sense of trying to uphold the democratic principles that have helped the Western world achieve the greatness it has, they would not take this step. They are doing everything they can to prop up a party that has been sliding in electoral terms and in its standing in the community for a generation. They are doing everything they can to prop up a dying, decrepit, soulless and valueless party.

I know that there are people of principle who sit on the other side of the fence. The Speaker has shown himself to be somebody who has at times been fair and has sought to have this chamber become a better Socratic place, to have better debate, to have greater levels of scrutiny, yet in this one fell swoop, in this one decision, the government is going back to worse than square one. It is going back to pre 1975. This is no longer the party of Don Dunstan. This is no longer the party of people who stand up for principle: it is the party of people who will stand up and do whoever it takes, say whatever it takes and legislate whatever it takes to keep themselves in power.

I look forward to members opposite standing up and actually saying what they truly believe, instead of smiling like Cheshire cats, sitting out the back having a drink and believing that they have won some sort of great victory. And the Labor Party thinks that this is a good move, but I do not know how many people have to give you the same advice before you start listening. The first piece of advice came during the 2016 boundary redistribution committee's report, a report submitted by two senior mathematicians from Adelaide University, which states:

There were two main findings. First, there is strong statistical evidence that the probability that an election in South Australia is unfair is higher than in the other seven jurisdictions under consideration. The results show that the predicted probability of an unfair election result in the other jurisdictions is [12 per cent], and in South Australia is [44 per cent]. Second, if predicting the proportion of seats that will be delivered to either major party with a given two-party preferred vote in South Australia, it is necessary to know which of the two parties is the subject of prediction. For example, given a two-party preferred vote of 50 per cent, it is predicted that the Liberal Party will win 43 per cent of the seats. For the same vote, the Labor Party is predicted to win 51 per cent of the seats.

That is exhibit No.1. Exhibit No. 2 is this extract from the Supreme Court judgement when the Labor Party challenged. After having suggested to the Liberal Party in previous redistributions to either put up or shut up, we put up. What did the full bench of the Supreme Court find? The commission found:

…having regard to election results over the last 40 years, there was an innate imbalance against the Liberal Party caused by voting patterns in South Australia upon which had been imposed successive redistributions as a result of which the Liberal Party could win a significant majority of State-wide votes but not win a majority of seats.

The commission referred to an argument by the Labor Party that the imbalance was a function of poor placement of resources at the last election but said that there was no evidence that this had occurred.

In the other place today it seems that at least one crossbencher's vote was swayed by advice from the government that said that there was no need to have a referendum and that this was somehow the tipping point at which that crossbencher and others have chosen to change their votes. How is it that not wanting to go to the people of South Australia and ask them the question is something that pushed you over the edge, that that is the bit that got you to say, 'Yes, this is okay; this bill is okay to become law as long as South Australians do not get a direct say in it'?

How is that an argument that is consistent with the principles of Western democracy; the principles that have helped South Australia to be the free and fair state that it is? How is that right? The answer is that it is not. They are hollow, shallow, cowardly arguments used by people who do not want to face the wrath of the electors on this question. They would prefer a deal done in the last hours of the last sitting of this parliament instead of asking the people of South Australia what they think. South Australians want a chance to have that say.

The bill itself does a couple of things. First off, what it does is delete section 83 of the Constitution Act. That section provides:

In making an electoral redistribution the Commission must ensure, as far as practicable, that the electoral redistribution is fair to prospective candidates and groups of candidates so that, if candidates of a particular group attract more than 50 per cent of the popular vote (determined by aggregating votes cast throughout the State and allocating preferences to the necessary extent), they will be elected in sufficient numbers to enable a government to be formed.

It is fairly straightforward. For a Labor Party that stands up and says that they are for fairness, to take away the fairness clause is the biggest piece of hypocrisy in itself. This is no longer the Labor Party of Don Dunstan. In fact, this is no longer a Labor Party. What this is is a group of careerists who seek to hold on to the greasy pole of power for as long as they can using any method possible to continue to do that.

Do you know what? On 17 March next year, the people of South Australia will rip the Labor Party from this greasy pole and not before time. It should have happened in 2010. It should have happened in 2014 and it certainly is going to happen in 2018. This next election will be a referendum on what the Labor Party is seeking to do here tonight. Amongst all the other failures and all the other issues that this government has had, especially over the last four years, this question is going to form the basis of part of what South Australians are going to decide at the next election.

The Hon. John Darley in the other place had the government insert an amendment to review the operation of section 83(2)(c) requiring that this review must commence no later than 12 months after the general election. How can you have a review into section 83 if section 83 does not exist? How can you have a review into a fairness clause that you have just taken out of the Constitution Act? Are we supposed to review thin air? Are we supposed to review an empty piece of paper on the statute book? I do not know how you hoodwinked him, but he has been hoodwinked nonetheless, and South Australians are all the poorer for it. This review will be a farce.

The member for MacKillop said earlier that the people of South Australia should have the right to get rid of the government if they want and have elected to them the government that they want. This is not about us.

What I was excited by in this outcome from the boundary redistribution is that finally every single vote mattered because every single vote counted towards the 2PP, the two-party preferred percentage. A vote in Port Lincoln mattered as much as a vote in Hartley. Every vote was worth it. The reason we know that and the reason that we know that the Labor Party know that is that it is the first time we have seen them in the country for 20 years. Finally, they have the Speaker, the member for Croydon, doing multiple trips and street-corner meetings in my electorate, the first time in decades we have seen anybody out there.

In the 2014 election, I did not see my opponent from the Labor Party once. The poor bloke got no help from central office. There was only his family on polling booths. You could tell by the candidate they put up and the effort they put into the seat of Schubert that they did not care about Schubert voters. This electoral system and this outcome from the Supreme Court meant that every single voter across South Australia mattered.