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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 5 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 2079..

Saturday, 15 May 2004

Clause 13.

MRS CROSS (12.01 am): I move amendment No 8 circulated in my name [see schedule 3 at page 2121]. This amendment relates to putting Independents on the far right-hand column of the ballot paper. The amendment addresses that by allowing those who choose to stand as Independents to be grouped wherever they are drawn by the Electoral Commission-if, in fact, this goes through-instead of being relegated to the far right-hand side. That was very amusing to me because the Chief Minister said earlier, "Everyone is used to them being on the right side."That is funny because doesn't the Electoral Commission draw out the parties; and don't they go in different places at random on the ballot paper? Isn't that what Robson rotation is about?

Mr Stanhope: No.

MRS CROSS: No, it is not. He is awake. That is good; I got him. I was just testing to see if the Chief Minister was still with us. Given that this debate is obviously about favouring political parties, in particular the ALP, I think it is important that-to quote the Chief Minister's words about fairness and making sure this is handled properly-if we have groups of Independents in a column, they should be accorded the same fairness and drawn out in the draw, go on a particular space on the ballot paper and not be relegated to the right side, just because the Chief Minister thinks that because everyone is used to it therefore that is where they should be. It is a disadvantage and this is something that has been supported by Bogey Musidlak, who brought the Hare-Clarke system into the ACT. Correct me if I am wrong but I think this is a system that the Labor Party fought against-is that right-because they knew that if it were successful they were unlikely to be in government every term. That meant that we had a fairer, more balanced, electoral democratic system.

I can see why they are trying to do all this tonight-it makes sense. They are trying to disadvantage not only those who choose to stand as Independents but also other major parties who may one day be in government again. The purpose of this, again, is to create fairness. This is not about sitting members, it is about those in the community who choose to stand as Independents and want to be treated the same way as those who belong to political parties, which is obviously something the ALP disagrees with.

MR STEFANIAK (12.04 am): We will not be supporting this amendment. Even some experts like Bogey, much mentioned tonight, stated that, as the advantage of getting the column furthermost to the left is fairly slender and some other places may be inferior to the column furthermost to the right, he was reasonably comfortable with the current arrangements. We have looked at this and, whilst I have some sympathy for the position Mrs Cross states, I think people are used to where the Independents are on the ballot paper. They probably have a slight advantage in remaining in the right column, compared with other groupings that will be moved around depending on ballot. So I certainly do not see them as being disadvantaged. Accordingly, we will not be supporting this particular amendment.

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