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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1706 ..

Sometimes our experts get it wrong, and sometimes there are other experts’ advice that should be considered as well. I would say that Antony Green is an expert whose advice should be balanced against the commission’s advice, and I thank very much Mr Smyth, and particularly his staffer who found that for us. It is interesting that debates have been conducted about the ACT electoral system. That is because it matters to people. People see our system as one that is extremely democratic, and someone like Antony Green obviously regrets that that democracy may be being eroded.

Even if the commission’s advice in this regard was sound—and, of course, it was said from a perspective of this was their advice; there was probably no agenda—I note that other apparently sound recommendations from that report have not been adopted so zealously in this legislation. So, again, it was, “This is sound,” “That was sound,” but “This is the one that we want to get through.” “Just go form a party,” says Mr Corbell. But to me that is a little bit like Marie Antoinette saying, “Go and eat cake.” I know she did not really say that, but Mr Corbell did say, “Just go and form a party.” But Mr Corbell did not have to form his party.

I had to be involved in forming my party, and, gee, it is a lot of work if you want to do things properly—and of course you do—because the steps for setting up a party are quite extensive and you do not do it in just a couple of months running up to an election. I think the Community Alliance Party has been formed, but I am pretty sure that that process started some time ago. Anyone currently thinking of standing as an independent and now having to go and form a party to stand at this election is probably going to find it really, really hard.

The other thing about parties is that they are intended to be permanent entities. They are meant to have a life longer than the next election and the next period of government. Let us face it: non-party groups are—and they do not pretend to be anything else—temporary, opportunistic, advantageous associations based on common interests, and often they are just the ones to get elected, and appropriate to the political context. In the Hare-Clark political context, non-party groupings are very appropriate.

But forming a party is by definition a long process, which implies a long-term, coherent entity which shares common policies—and they are not easily arrived at, as the Labor Party would know—and solidarity on issues. It is absolutely unfair to say that to stand for election with a chance of being elected in the ACT people have to form a party or join a party. If they are going to join a party, their chances of being preselected compared to the old hands are probably quite minimal. People can feel passion—I am just thinking of the nurses a few years ago—and see an election not perhaps as a way even to win an election but to really get an issue out there, to make it an election focus.

There are so many reasons for forming a non-party group and I believe that it is an indictment of the Labor Party here to use its majority of one to bring in a change that is so far reaching that we will be reading about it on Antony Green’s blog and we will be hearing about it, I hope, on AM and PM, because this is a profound change—and you have got to wear it, mates.

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