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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 8 Hansard (27 June) . . Page.. 2233..


Mr Moore (continuing):

Having called the attention of the Assembly to the conduct of a Member who persists in irrelevance or tedious repetition of the Member's own arguments or the arguments used by other Members in debate, the Speaker may direct the member to cease speaking.

Mr Speaker, I would ask you to consider that as a possibility.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, on the point of order: Using an argument I used a year ago could hardly be described as tedious repetition, I would suggest. I think Mr Moore recycles his arguments rather more frequently than once a year and - - -

MR SPEAKER: We are talking also about the member's own arguments. There is obviously no case there, because we are not dealing with the member's own arguments or the arguments used by other members in debate. There is no tedious repetition. So far my hearing of Mr Humphries, which I must admit is difficult given the interjections, is that he is not repeating the same argument used by other members. That would be tedious repetition. He is using a series of arguments, so there is no point of order. Proceed, Mr Humphries. We have a lot of business to get through today and tonight, I remind members.

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, Ms Follett also pointed to overseas experience with community-initiated referenda and stated that "an examination of the US record shows that groups such as racist anti-immigration forces and religious right anti-gay forces have all profited from referendums" and concluded that "overseas experience shows that extreme groups can indeed benefit from referendums and have their causes legitimised". In selectively citing the US experience, Ms Follett ignores two fundamental differences between this Bill and the situation in the United States. First, it is well established that the participation rates in some US community-initiated referenda are so low that the results cannot be claimed as representative of the community's wishes. Under this Bill, with compulsory voting, there is no way that highly motivated but unrepresentative minority groups can impose their will on the whole community.

Second, as I pointed out in my dissenting report to the Assembly Committee on Community Initiated Referendums, the notion that laws made by ACT voters would discriminate against minorities is a gratuitous slap in the face for the people of Canberra. Unlike Ms Follett, I believe that the majority of the people of Canberra would never use community-initiated referenda to impose racist or anti-gay laws on the ACT. What is obvious is that Ms Follett has a very poor opinion of the people of the ACT. That is typical of Labor's arrogance that only professional politicians know best and that the community is ignorant and cannot be trusted. Ms Follett also points to the recent New Zealand experience with their firefighters referendum to denigrate this Bill. Again, the New Zealand experience can easily be distinguished from the scheme set out in this Bill. Like the US, New Zealand does not have compulsory voting, so it is not surprising that the turnout for their recent referendum was low. Under this Bill compulsory voting should ensure a meaningful result.


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