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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 1749 ..

MS FOLLETT (continuing):

The amendment I have moved provides additional information to voters which I know for a fact at least 1,000 voters - that is members of the Labor Party - will be seeking. Other voters may also be seeking that sort of information, and to provide it in a central place, I believe, is in the best interests of those voters. Other voters who do not want it are under no obligation to seek it out. Even voters who do read it have no obligation to follow what it says. It has long been a tradition in our electoral systems in the ACT that that information is available, and I believe that the option ought to remain there for voters.

Mr Humphries has not really drawn attention to other issues - recycling issues, the environment, perhaps congested polling booths. He has not mentioned any of those. But, if there had been those issues, they simply do not apply to this amendment I am moving. I can only say that, in opposing this very modest amendment, members opposite are exhibiting blind bigotry on this issue and a determination to provide the voters with as little information as is humanly possible, and I find that absolutely despicable.

MR MOORE (4.27): There are a couple of things Ms Follett raised that, I think, need to be addressed. First of all, she said that there was no substantive argument put by anybody, just a bit of humour and personal attack and so on. I did go through the process of explaining that this was about ensuring that the electoral system, with Robson rotation, works in the way it is intended to work, and the example I used was that Labor Party voters would be empowered by this. So I did put a substantive argument, even if you disagree with it.

Ms Follett further said that this is just blind bigotry. Inasmuch as blind bigotry applies to implementing the results of a referendum, okay, call it blind bigotry if you like. This is about implementing the results of a referendum with a system that is used in Tasmania, and that is how it was presented to the people of the ACT. The Labor Party would, to suit themselves, have us believe that everything that was ever presented to people on this matter was in that booklet. The way I presented the argument in the 1992 referendum, the way it was presented by all parties other than the Labor Party at that referendum, was to say, "We are going to implement the system as it is used in Tasmania". The result we got was a two-thirds majority, and I intend to implement it as it is used in Tasmania, or as close as I possibly can to that system.

There is a reason behind resisting this particular amendment, and the reason behind it is quite clearly that it will enhance the way votes are distributed. It does disempower the party machine, but it empowers voters of this particular party. It allows an even distribution. If somebody wants to vote for the party in Molonglo they write, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7" - in the other electorates they write, "1, 2, 3, 4, 5" - and those votes are evenly distributed. The people who are keen to see somebody out put them at No. 5; those who are keen to see somebody in put them at No. 1, and they carry a great deal more weight because the rest of the votes are evenly distributed. That is the argument that carries most weight. That is how the system is designed and that is how it will work best. It is not just a case of blind bigotry; it is not a case of not putting any substantive arguments. We put those arguments, using a bit of humour to help them along and knocking other people's arguments. Also, as Ms Tucker put it, drawing attention to what I consider to be fairly sloppy drafting was part of it.

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