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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 1748 ..

Mr Moore: But they are not.

MS TUCKER: They are not; that is right. In essence, this amendment is looking at the possibility of giving voters a choice to seek advice if they want it. Both major parties, or older parties, and Mr Moore, are obviously very concerned one way or the other about the right of a party to say who they think is the best person to vote for. I do not share such concern, nor does Ms Horodny. If the voters choose to look for advice from the party, they should be able to seek it.

The Labor amendment would ensure that minor parties or groups who may struggle to get media recognition are given an opportunity to have information clearly on view to voters in an equitable manner. Without this amendment there is a danger that parties without the resources to display their message prominently through newspapers, television and direct mail may be disadvantaged. We believe that some people are grateful for the opportunity to see the recommendations of the party or Independent of their choice, and should be given the opportunity to do so. Nobody is forcing anybody to take the advice.

MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (4.22): There have been a couple of extremely disappointing aspects of this debate, both on the substance of the Bill and on the amendment I have moved. As Ms Tucker has pointed out, the most disappointing has been the refusal of any of the opponents of this amendment to actually discuss the substance of the amendment. They have resorted to attacking me personally - surely the last bastion of a scoundrel, if you ask me. They have resorted to attacking their version of the practicalities or the style of the amendment. They have resorted to attempted humour. On no occasion have they attempted to debate the substance of the issue before us, and that is because they simply do not have any arguments against it. I believe that there cannot be an argument against providing voters with the option of looking at a party-ordered how-to-vote card.

I would have thought that all of the so-called problems that have been mentioned about the substance or the form of that information could be well and truly addressed by the Electoral Commissioner, who has had to deal with much more difficult problems than this, believe me. I recall that at the last election there was a great deal of material on display that was in breach of the Act. I had some of it removed. We have a capable Electoral Commission, which has the greatest interest in ensuring that the Act is observed and that it is observed fairly and impartially, and I have every confidence that they could do so if this amendment were passed.

I think the Liberal Party in particular are displaying a breathtaking degree of hypocrisy on this matter. The fact is that they have always used how-to-vote cards, and I have no doubt that in the coming Federal election they will again. Unless they seriously want Senator Margaret Reid not to be put forward as their No. 1 candidate, I cannot see how they can avoid using how-to-vote cards, and I am absolutely certain that they will, and in other cases as well. They are outright hypocrites on this matter.

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