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2 corrections, most recently by Canley - Show corrections

FEDERAL POLITICS. MR. G. H. REID AND THE GOVERNMENT. THE OPPOSITION LEADER RESIGNS HIS SEAT. A PROTEST AGAINST A "GERRY- MANDERING POLICY." INTERVIEW WITH MR. REID.   Melbourne, August 18. Considerable surprise was manifested in the House of Representatives to-night when the Speaker read a letter from Mr. George H. Reid,. the Leader,of the Op- position, announcing that he had re- signed his seat as representative of East Sydney. Mr. Reid had warmly opposed Sir Wm. Lyne's motion that the division of New South Wales into Federal elec- torates, as recently carried out, should be disapproved of, and, after a division had been taken in favour of the motion by 31 votes to 16, he quietly walked up to the Speaker and handed up a letter, after which he left the House. Some time beforehand, it transpired that Mr. Reid had decided to resign his seat as a protest against what he termed the   '"Gerrymandering policy adopted by the Government". The letter was his re- signation, and it was read by the Speaker at about a quarter-past 11 p.m. Mr. Reid subsequently stated, in an interview, his reasons for taking the step that he did. He said: "I have resigned my seat in the House in order to make a protest against what I can't help regard- ing as an act of unparalleled treachery to our own political institutions. Over a long course of political agitation, the principle of perfect equality of the rul- ing power was embodied the Constitu- tion. No doubt there was a large dif- ference of opinion on the question as to whether the women should have a vote, but that franchise having been adopted by Parliament, it became the franchise, and it was, in truth, the franchise that represented the main plank in the Labour platform— one adult, one vote; one vote, one value.   The action of the Government in setting aside the distribution of seats in order that the approaching elections should be fought out on boundaries not establish- ed by the Commonwealth Parliament, but by the State Parliaments, will have the further effect of depriving tens of thou- sands of voters in Australia of a solemn right. The Electoral Act provided what seemed to me an extravagantly liberal range for necessary differences in con- trasting a country with a populous elec- torate. In fact, there might be a differ- ence of ten thousand votes. Surely this was a large enough quota. The action of the Government, supported by so large a majority of the House, has brought about such a preposterous state   of things that the difference between the town and the country electorates is widely increased. This is a fraud on the Constitution,and it is all the more serious because it is inspired by a self-interest on the part of the Government and its supporters which has led to a combina- tion to secure these unworthy ends. The proposal was kept so secret that I knew nothing about it until the morning of the day that it was moved; I have not light- ly taken this course. I feel that it will   be an evil day for politics in Australia if such transactions are allowed to pass without a severe protest. I can think of   no better way of calling the attention of the electors to the matter than that which I have adopted. I can speak free- ly in addressing my own electors, and I can thus bring the significance of the matter before the people of Australia." Mr. Reid will remain in Melbourne until next Thursday. He expects to address the East Sydney electors next Monday. It is understood that his ac-   tion is endorsed by all his principal sup- porters, and that it was taken after seri- ous consideration.   STATEMENT BY SIR JOHN SEE. HE WONDERED IF IT WERE A CASE OF PLAY-ACTING.   Sydney, August 18. The Premier (Sir John See), when in- formed of, Mr. Reid's resignation, said that he never heard of such a course. He wondered if Mr. Reid were play-acting. He had never before heard of an in-   stance in which a leader of an Opposition had resigned because be could not get his own way. Of course, Mr. Reid might be glad, for other reasons, to resign. He was the best interpreter of his own conduct.