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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 1709 ..

MR CONNOLLY (continuing):

Apart from that statistical finding, any of us with any experience in electioneering in Australia would know that, generally speaking, the issuing of how-to-vote cards by members and supporters of the rival parties is regarded with a fair degree of good humour both amongst members and supporters and amongst the general voters. Many of us on this side of the chamber have exchanged pleasantries with members on that side of the chamber handing out how-to-vote material on territorial and Federal elections. On a warm afternoon it is not uncommon for members of the Labor Party and members of the Liberal Party to have a soft drink or a cup of tea together. However, we do not want to take that to extremes. The claim that there is harassment and intimidation in handing out election material is just not borne out either by the statistical findings or by common experience.

I add one caveat. Members opposite have spent some time this morning claiming to be experts on the internal affairs of the Labor Party. We will be frank and honest. We do not claim to be experts on the extraordinary internal machinations of the Liberal Party. We do not pretend to understand the levels of personal rivalry, hatred and bitterness. But I observe that the only public complaint about harassment and intimidation in relation to how-to-vote material at the last ACT election came from that extraordinary internal Liberal Party schism when supporters of one Liberal Party preselected candidate who for whatever reason fell out with other Liberal Party preselected candidates were out and about distributing how-to-vote material and had some form of tete-a-tete - - -

Mr Hird: Do not look at Tuggeranong.

Ms Follett: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I could not help noticing that you, quite correctly, called me to order after I had made one interjection. I would ask that you call the Liberals to order. They have interjected constantly throughout every word I said, every word Mr Berry said and now every word Mr Connolly is saying. You can hardly hear a thing Mr Connolly is saying. Let us have fairness.

MR SPEAKER: That is not entirely true; but I undertake to protect Mr Connolly, although I think Mr Connolly is pretty capable of protecting himself. Proceed, Mr Connolly.

MR CONNOLLY: We do not claim to be experts on the internal affairs of the Liberal Party, but we do observe that there were some complaints from a disaffected Liberal candidate supporter about harassment and the like in relation to the present Attorney-General and an incident at a polling place. Alleged incidents have been known, but at the last election they were extraordinarily rare.

That is borne out both by the findings of the Electoral Commission and by the common experience of those of us who have been around politics for some years. It is generally regarded as a good-natured part of the Australian democratic tradition that supporters turn out and hand out material. Some parties chose not to have formal how-to-vote cards at the last election, but they certainly maintained a strong presence at the polling places. Mr Osborne said that he chose not to have a formal how-to-vote card, but he chose to have a strong and visible presence at the polling places with his garbage bins.

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