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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 5 Hansard (6 May) . . Page.. 1427..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

would suggest that they simply want to pull the wool over the eyes of voters there. They want voters to be confused. Indeed, they probably perceive, and I think maybe wrongfully, that there is a significant benefit to them if voters simply give up. And, of course, they want voters to come back to the political parties. And one could be cynical enough to say that they know that this gives them perhaps the best chance of retaining government.

Michael Moore—many of us probably did not agree with a lot of things he said but agreed with some, and I think he is a respected former member of this place—can see what the Labor Party are up to. If people read his article titled "Labor threat to voters"published only last week in the City News they will see what I mean. He said:

ACT Attorney-General, Simon Corbell, has presented an amendment to the ACT Electoral Act that has the effect of taking power away from the people.

He went on to say:

It is an affront to our democratic process—the amendment is not about the rule of the people but about consolidating the power of an organisation.

Perhaps it is that this Stanhope government now realises that its run in government is coming to an end and this is nothing more than a blatant attack on independent candidates in the next ACT election, as well as in future elections, to try to limit their presence as elected representatives of the people of Canberra.

This Assembly is coming up for its 19th anniversary next week. I think it has served generally the people of the ACT well. Even the much maligned First Assembly, which had about five different groups, managed to get through the job and do it reasonably well. This government is the first majority government the Assembly has had. I do not think it is going to be in that position next year and clearly I think there is an element of panic here from the government to try to shore up its somewhat untenable position.

We can talk about the democratic effect of enhancing our system through having like-minded independents being able to group together. What harm has that done to our system? I submit to you: none at all. In the past, people would criticise, for example, the Osborne independents. I was part of a government that basically had to change its Chief Minister largely as a result of the actions of that particular group. But what is wrong with a group such as that with similar beliefs—two independents in that case who held similar beliefs—forming a grouping and being put on the ballot paper? What detrimental effect can that possibly have on democracy? None whatsoever.

We are seeing a few independent groups starting to put their hands up here—two might-be parties. I think we have the motorist party registered already and another group that is going to be a party. But what would be wrong if the Save Our Schools group, for example, wanted to put up two or three candidates in each electorate?

Mr Mulcahy: They are part of the Community Action Party.

MR STEFANIAK: They might be, Richard.

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