Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 1701 ..
MR KAINE (continuing):
The Minister also gave some very reasonable justifications for doing this. I would have thought that the Greens would be interested in this, but I notice that neither of them is here to listen. First is a reduction in wastage of paper. The Leader of the Opposition said, "We will have to mail how-to-vote cards out to everybody's letterbox". I bet they do not, because they cannot afford to. No major party in the ACT can. Of course, we know that the Labor Party has access to trade union funds, but they are not inexhaustible. At the rate of something like $12,000 for every mailing, you simply cannot mail out countless numbers of how-to-vote cards. If they wish to do it, that is up to them. I submit that Mr Humphries's proposition that there will be a reduction in the wastage of paper is valid. There will be. There is no doubt about that. Even if there is not a net reduction, it will not all be left in wastepaper baskets at polling booths where somebody has to clean it up.
There is one advantage that the Minister did not mention, and that is the fact that when people go to polling booths in future they will not have to run the gauntlet that they run now. Have you ever seen the stricken look on the faces of some voters when they turn up at a polling booth and there are 25 people all shoving bits of paper into their hands? Very often they are confused enough without that - and they are confronted with this mad mob of people shoving paper into their hands. It is a terrifying experience for some people. They will not have to do that anymore. They will be able to go to the polling booth in peace and vote without having people shove masses of papers into their hands, which most of them do not want to read anyway. That is an advantage that the Minister did not mention but that I think is worth while.
The Minister talked about the reduction in the cost of running campaigns. I can speak for the Liberal Party. We do not like spending money on this sort of stuff. We would prefer not to. It is an electioneering expense that we could do without. The Labor Party may have unlimited funds from their trade union friends, and they may not mind wasting it, but we do. For the smaller parties and the Independents, the cost of trying to match this kind of advertising by the major parties is an impossibility. They simply cannot do it. The electorate, as well as expressing its preference for the Hare-Clark Robson rotation system, also has a tendency to elect people who do not belong to the two major parties. One of the reasons for the Hare-Clark system is that it gives every candidate a fair go. There is one final step to take to give Independents and minor parties a fair go, and that is to create - - -
MR KAINE: I heard the Leader of the Opposition say a little while ago that she was not going to shout over the rabble. Neither am I, Mr Speaker. This will remove that one remaining impediment to Independents and small parties getting a fair go. They will not have to get out there and try to match it by handing out how-to-vote cards, trying to find enough pairs of hands to man all the polling booths, trying to find the money to print all of this stuff, which most people shove in the wastepaper basket without reading it anyway.
I would have thought that on the simple basis of fairness, which is what the electorate required when they opted for the Robson rotation system in the first place, we have an obligation to take this one last step which the Labor Party seems to have so much trouble with. There are real advantages for the Independents and the minor parties.