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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2007 Week 07 Hansard (Thursday, 23 August 2007) . . Page.. 1903 ..

Thursday, 23 August 2007

MR SPEAKER (Mr Berry) took the chair at 10.30 am and asked members to stand in silence and pray or reflect on their responsibilities to the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2007

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.32): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

This bill provides for a range of amendments to the Electoral Act 1992, the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1994 and the Electoral Regulation 1993. The amendments address issues raised by the ACT Electoral Commission after the conduct of the 2004 ACT Legislative Assembly election and other electoral issues that have arisen since that time.

Changes recommended by the electoral commission after the 2004 election that appear as amendments in this bill include:

simplifying the requirements for authorisation of published electoral material;

clarifying the application of the authorisation rules to electronic publications;

removing the provision for non-party groups to be listed on ballot papers;

providing that an application for registration of a political party that includes the name of a person in the party’s name must include a statement signed by that person indicating their consent to the party name;

repealing the offence of defamation of a candidate, relying instead on civil law defamation procedures; and

making it an offence to take a photo of a person’s marked ballot paper so as to violate the secrecy of the ballot.

Two amendments suggested by the electoral commission after the 2004 election are not supported by the government and so do not appear in this bill. These include reviewing the 100-metre ban on canvassing outside polling places and removing the requirement to show the town or suburb address of letters to the editor. The government considers that the current requirements for both the 100-metre ban and letters to the editor are reasonable and should not be changed.

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