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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 5 Hansard (30 May) . . Page.. 1243..


MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I simply wish to point out that Mr Osborne made this point very clear and refused to vote on matters that involved poker machines.

MR SPEAKER: No, you did not. I heard you clearly, Mr Smyth. You said that there was a clear conflict of interest. Those are matters under standing order 156 which can only be resolved by the Assembly, so I would ask you withdraw that.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, I withdraw.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (5.57): In the two minutes that are left to me, I will point out some things that perhaps will add to the debate, rather than repeating points. Given that a lot of work was put into this speech, I do want to put some things on the record.

It really saddens me that the amendments that Ms MacDonald refers to are going to affect mostly those people who are already unfamiliar with the processes. It almost seems as though they have been deliberately targeted—new Australians, young people, rural Australians. These changes will make it harder than ever for them to contribute. If the government genuinely values their vote, it would make the process easier, more flexible and more straightforward. Voting is not a privilege, it is a right, and it should be treated as such. I could be cynical enough as to say that you could see these changes as making voting voluntary by default, but I do not suppose we could do that patently and obviously, could we?

It is ironic that we are discussing this motion today, as yesterday, as members will remember, in the adjournment debate I delivered a speech reminding them of the 40-year anniversary of a referendum that opened up Australian democracy by giving the right to Aboriginal people to vote, yet here we are today discussing amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act that will only alienate and disaffect exactly those people whose voting is at the moment not easily done. That is being cynical. How can Mr Smyth stand there and say that this is about reducing fraud? I am surprised that he, with his small "l"liberal connections, is an apologist for the federal government and is actually trying to explain that this is a good thing. It is a backward step for democracy in Australia.

At 6.00 pm, in accordance with standing order 34, the debate was interrupted and the resumption of the debate made an order of the day for the next sitting. The motion for the adjournment of the Assembly was put.

Adjournment

Reconciliation Week

MR GENTLEMAN (Brindabella) (6.00): Today, I would like to talk about Reconciliation Week. Reconciliation Week coincides with two significant dates that pave the way for reconciliation, the first being the 1967 referendum and the second being the watershed Mabo decision in 1992, which overturned the legal fiction of terra nullius and recognised the native title rights of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.


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