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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 1746..


MR SPEAKER: Mr Berry raised the matter of the display of a sign in the chamber. I refer members to House of Representatives Practice, Second Edition, page 479, "Display of articles to illustrate speeches", which reads:

Members have been permitted to display articles to illustrate speeches.

The Chair has been of the opinion that unless the matter in question had some relation to disloyalty or was against the standing orders the Chair was not in a position to act but hoped that Members would use some judgment and responsibility in their actions.

The Chair rules that Mr Moore has not displayed any irresponsibility in his action, and therefore I am quite happy to allow that display to take place. There is not much I can do about it now, as it has taken place.

MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (4.14): I was going to move that the document be incorporated in Hansard, Mr Speaker, but perhaps in the interests of Hansard I will not do that.

I want to emphasise the point Mr Moore made that this set of amendments is very poorly thought through. We were told originally that this whole Bill could not be debated in the last sitting period because the Opposition did not have its amendments ready in time for debate in the last sitting period. I note that these amendments are dated 24 August this year, so I am not quite sure why Mr Berry told me that. Perhaps he was confused. Nonetheless, even with the time between the introduction of this legislation back in June, I think, and these amendments now, there is no evidence of much work having been done on the amendments. For example, what is there to prevent material of different sizes being made available? If someone has an A3 size poster and everyone else's is A4 size, that would confer an unfair advantage, I would have thought, on one particular party.

Mr Berry: Would you agree with it if that were sorted out?

MR HUMPHRIES: I would not agree in any circumstance, Mr Berry. Perhaps some people in this place who are thinking about supporting this should ask themselves whether it would be responsible to pass this, even if they supported it in principle, which I do not, because it simply has not been very well thought through. If we have, as we have had in the past, dozens of candidates in a particular electorate - there were 117 in the very first ACT election - are 20, 30, 50, 90 or more how-to-vote cards to be displayed in each polling booth and, if so, how? Do you have a little booklet there to flick through and decide on, like those things in a showroom when you look at carpet squares? Do you have a video loop, perhaps, showing candidate X, candidate Y, candidate Z?

This is very sloppy work on the part of those opposite. What if a how-to-vote card is in breach of the Act? There is nothing here to anchor that back to provisions that deal with material not being in breach of the Act. If material contained extensive comment, for example, or things that were otherwise in breach of the legislation, why would that not be struck out? It would not under these amendments. Is there a limit on how much comment can go into those how-to-vote cards, or their size, or their colour, or whatever else might go into them? In other States where this sort of provision appears for people


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