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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 1697 ..

MS FOLLETT (continuing):

a personal friendship; that happens too. They decide to help a particular candidate at a particular election. The most convenient and most widely used way in which they can help is at the polling booth on election day. Recent surveys show that an increasing number of voters are actually deciding on election day whom to vote for. So the work of all of those volunteers does indeed make a difference. It is the right to participate in the election process in this way that this Bill attacks. It is the right of the citizens of Canberra that is under threat. If Mr Humphries intended to attack the Australian Labor Party - and I think that is his intention - then he is badly off target. It is in fact the voters he has hit.

This proposal also attacks new candidates who might wish to stand for this Assembly in future. We have a deposit system to discourage frivolous candidates such as some of those we saw in 1989. But until now new candidates have had reasonable access to the electoral process. Having paid the nomination fee, they could then organise their friends and supporters to attend polling booths and hand out their material. They could print or even photocopy that material, their how-to-vote cards, and they could reuse those cards several times during an election day. Indeed, in recent times polling officials themselves have been happy to assist in the recycling of how-to-vote cards.

Under Mr Humphries's proposal such candidates will now be denied that avenue of informing voters who wish to support them. Candidates will now have to pay large sums of money for television, radio or newspaper advertisements, or they will have to print and distribute how-to-vote cards to every household. Mr Speaker, as I am sure you are aware, how-to-vote cards per se are not banned under this proposal, only their distribution on election day within 100 metres of a polling place. The distribution to households which candidates will now be forced into will not only cost the candidates more but also mean more wasted paper, not less wasted paper. Some candidates might turn, as the Liberals' own Mr Dunne did during the last election, to other more intrusive, objectionable and environmentally unfriendly methods such as leaving their leaflets under the windscreen wipers of cars parked outside churches on Sunday morning - an issue about which I had many complaints in the course of the last election campaign.

Mr Speaker, in introducing this Bill, the Attorney-General gave a very short speech. That should be hardly surprising, because the arguments for this proposal are small in number and even smaller in substance. I will, however, address each of those arguments in turn and point out the errors in Mr Humphries's position. Mr Humphries stated that this is part of the Tasmanian Hare-Clark system and that the intention is to reduce the influence of party machines on election and referendum outcomes. Mr Speaker, if that is what he really thought, why did he not insist that the how-to-vote card ban be included in the referendum that was held earlier this year? He did not do that, because he knew that it was not fundamental. Nor was it included in the proposal put to the electorate in 1992. The voters of Canberra have never chosen to ban how-to-vote cards. Indeed, they have never even been asked the question. This is from a government that claims to be consultative.

Mr Humphries has never asked them, Mr Speaker, because I think he suspected the truth. Like the founder of the Liberal Party, Sir Robert Menzies, who found out the hard way that Australians would not ban the Communist Party, Mr Humphries is afraid that the ACT voters would not ban how-to-vote cards, so he has not asked them.

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