Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 1708 ..
MRS CARNELL (continuing):
There is simply no argument here. If people want to vote for the Liberal Party, for the Labor Party or for anybody else, the ballot paper tells them how to do it. What is the Labor Party talking about? They are talking about wanting to direct the people of Canberra where to put the 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. The whole basis of Hare-Clark is to stop that. The whole basis of Robson rotation is to ensure that the people, not the parties, choose. That is the reason we support this approach. That is the reason we believe that this is the most democratic system in the world. I have been to a number of other places in the world, as I am sure Mr Connolly and other members of the Assembly have, and how-to-vote cards are not used there. How-to-vote cards are not used in Britain.
Mr Humphries: This basic democratic right!
MRS CARNELL: This basic democratic right! They are not used in America. They are not used in other countries. Why are they not used in other countries if this is a basic human right?
Mr Connolly: Because there is no compulsory voting.
MRS CARNELL: Interestingly, Mr Connolly says that it is because voting is not compulsory. You would think that would be an even bigger reason to have people at polling booths shoving bits of paper at anyone walking past. The fact is that it is not a basic right. What is a basic right is for people to have in front of them information on how to lodge a valid vote for whom they, not the party machine, choose.
I believe strongly that this is about democracy. Democracy is about giving power back to the people, not to party structures or to the unions. Ms Follett forgot to mention that the system Labor wants gives power not to the rank and file of the party but to the appropriate bits of the party that happen to have the numbers, as some members opposite found out. This Bill completes the implementation of Hare-Clark in an appropriate fashion - that is, with Robson rotation and with power going back to the people and not to the union movement, the Labor Party or the Liberal Party.
MR CONNOLLY (12.14): Mr Speaker, the Labor Party is protecting something that has been a part of the democratic tradition in Australia, if not since the introduction of the secret ballot - the so-called Australian ballot - back in the nineteenth century, then certainly since the early part of this century when the compulsory requirement of citizens to attend a polling place was introduced.
Many of us who have been around politics and been members of political parties for a decade or two or three or four would know that throughout Australia it is the tradition on election day that party members and supporters turn out and distribute how-to-vote cards. We heard a tirade from members opposite about intimidation and harassment. They say that banning how-to-vote cards will remove from voters the fear of being harassed while going from their car into a polling place. The lie to that is the study that the Electoral Commission did. It showed a very low level of dissatisfaction among Canberra voters with procedures at polling places.