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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: Week 5 Hansard (14 May) . . Page.. 2062..


MR STANHOPE (continuing):

the Labor Party that there is absolutely no reason why, if candidates for election or persons or organisations involved in the political process engage in this activity for federal elections in the ACT, affecting the very same constituents we service, we should not allow the same opportunity or capacity to people participating in elections for this parliament. There is no reason at all to discriminate between the two.

It is a service that, at times, many constituents, particularly the elderly, the less mobile, the frail and carers caring for people who cannot leave a house with ease, find invaluable. This sort of assistance is invaluable for so many people within the community. It is a service to constituents. It applies currently in the ACT in relation to federal elections. There is absolutely no reason at all not to make the same service available in relation to local elections, absolutely none, and the government will oppose the amendment.

The measures contained in this bill are intended to ensure that the ACT continues to follow best practice in the conduct of its elections. I commend the bill to members.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Detail stage

Clauses 1 to 3, by leave, taken together and agreed to.

Proposed new clause 3A.

MS DUNDAS (10.55): I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name, which inserts a new clause 3A [see schedule 2 at page 2120].

This amendment is actually a consequential amendment to my second amendment, which goes to the issue of postal voting. My second amendment includes an offence under the Criminal Code, but I will talk to my two amendments when debating the first amendment.

At the last election, political parties and others were permitted, for the first time since the introduction of Hare-Clark in the ACT, to induce electors to return completed postal ballot application forms to an address other than the address authorised by the Electoral Commissioner. In its 1999 report the commission addressed this issue in detail:

... this practice introduced two additional steps in the process of applying for a postal vote: the mail from the elector to the party and the mailing of an application form back to the elector. Complaints received by the Commission indicated that some electors missed out on voting because of the additional delay caused by this practice.

....

Parties that send mail to households asking voters to write to them about postal voting are potentially disenfranchising voters. Voters may be disenfranchised for two reasons: the delay caused by the "detour"through the party can mean a voter will miss the postal voting deadline and not be counted; or a voter encouraged to use a postal vote who might otherwise vote at a polling place or pre-poll voting centre


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