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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 1737..


SCRUTINY OF BILLS AND SUBORDINATE LEGISLATION -
STANDING COMMITTEE
Report and Statement

MR OSBORNE: I present Report No. 12 of 1995 of the Standing Committee on Scrutiny of Bills and Subordinate Legislation and I ask for leave to make a brief statement on the report.

Leave granted.

MR OSBORNE: Report No. 12 of 1995, which I have just presented, was circulated when the Assembly was not sitting, on 4 October 1995, pursuant to the resolution of appointment of 9 March 1995. I commend the report to the Assembly.

ELECTORAL (AMENDMENT) BILL 1995

Debate resumed.

MS TUCKER (3.45): In speaking to this Bill, Mr Humphries talked about taking power away from parties and returning it to the people. If the Government really wants to empower citizens, it should as well adequately fund education programs to inform all Canberrans about their rights and obligations and the processes of government, both locally and federally. Another way of stimulating interest in this area is to involve the community more in the processes of government. This requires a much greater commitment to open government than we have seen so far. Given that, by removing how-to-vote cards, both major parties are likely to run an additional letterbox drop for their how-to-vote cards and take out greater advertising space in print and electronic media, the Greens are not convinced that fewer resources will be consumed. However, this Bill does open a window to the possibility of reducing the use of paper at election time and is still worthy of our support in principle.

Apart from the concerns about party power, there is also a worrying trend occurring at polling booths, where parties are handing out misleading information. That trend would be nipped in the bud should this amending Bill get up. While this material could still be included in letterbox drops, residents would have more time to examine it. While we believe that some of the arguments used during this debate are questionable, the Hare-Clark system without how-to-vote cards works reasonably well in Tasmania, so the Greens will be supporting this Bill in principle.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (3.46), in reply: It is with pleasure that I rise to acknowledge support generally from around the house - although not from our colleagues opposite - to correct the problem that arose in about May of last year through the nefarious alliance between the Australian Labor Party and Mr Dennis Stevenson and which encumbered the Hare-Clark system with how-to-vote cards. They are two concepts that are quite incompatible, and it did not assist people in their initial reaction to the Hare-Clark system at the last election.


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