Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 1752 ..
MR KAINE (continuing):
One is that you are not allowed to tell anybody how to vote for you. That is simply not true. The other is that people are incapable of reading what you put before them prior to election day. There is no way that the Labor Party has convinced me that what we put forward in this legislation today is wrong.
MR WHITECROSS (4.39): Mr Speaker, Mr Kaine has just done the most comprehensive demolition job on the logic of the Government's legislation that any of us could have done. Mr Kaine, perhaps not for the first time, has contradicted his frontbench, which has been saying that telling people how political parties would prefer voters to exercise their vote is fundamentally flawed, fundamentally at odds with the electoral system and fundamentally a problem. Mr Kaine has just said that he is perfectly happy for political parties of all complexions to spend as much time as they like explaining to their voters how they would prefer voters to exercise their votes. He has made it quite clear that he thinks that that is a right and proper thing to do; that it is an exercise of free speech and democracy. That is what the Labor Party has been saying on this issue all along.
The Labor Party's position has been quite clear all along: The Hare-Clark system gives to voters the freedom to choose whom to vote for. In that respect it is a different system to the old d'Hondt system, which did not give voters that choice. This system allows voters to choose the candidates they want to vote for. They may want to pick up the Labor Party's how-to-vote card and reverse the order. Those options are open to them. But the point is that they should have access to how-to-vote information. That is what the Labor Party has been saying. Mr Kaine has comprehensively demolished his own frontbench's argument that this is somehow a problem. It has never been a problem. Mr Humphries - as well as Mr Moore, who has now left the chamber - says that the Labor Party is telling people the way they must vote. Mr De Domenico says that it is show and tell, as if we were looking over people's shoulders in the polling booth and saying, "We have taken down your name. We will be round to smash your windows at 8 o'clock tonight if you do the wrong thing".
That is simply nonsense. It is hyperbole. It is rhetoric from the Liberals to disguise the fact that this Bill has nothing to do with a so-called fundamental problem in explaining to voters the preferences of political parties. It has everything to do with confusing voters by not giving them a source of information at the polling booth as they come to vote. Apart from this spurious argument that somehow or other it undermines the voting system for political parties to put to the voters a point of view as to how they think voters can best exercise their vote, the other argument that has been used is that a huge amount of paper is wasted and that voters are harassed as they come to the polling booth. It is alleged that by the time people get in the door of the polling booth they are so traumatised and their minds are so befuddled that they cannot exercise a vote. We are told that in the interests of peace, calm and good order at the polling booth we should not allow people to exercise their freedom of speech to lobby voters as they come up to the polling booth. The argument is that we should get rid of that practice; that we should not have this scrum at the door; that people should be allowed to go into a polling booth freely without anyone making representations to them.