Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 7 Hansard (17 October) . . Page.. 1753 ..
MR WHITECROSS (continuing):
This is exactly the issue that Ms Follett's amendments seek to address. They agree with Mr Kaine that we have a right to freedom of speech and to put information. They take account of the point that some people do not like the scrum of supporters at the door. Information will be provided in an orderly, calm, peaceful way at the polling booth. Voters will be able to refer to it free from harassment of any kind. They will be able to refer to it or not refer to it as their mood takes them. They will be able to agree with or not agree with what they read about what the Labor Party, the Liberal Party, the Greens or Michael Moore wants them to do. They have all these options open to them, but at least they have the information.
Mr Kaine says, "They have plenty of opportunities to get the information beforehand". Indeed, they possibly will do so. It is interesting that Mr Kaine should say that people will be able to get this information beforehand when his frontbench is saying that providing this information is an anathema. It is also interesting that, in spite of the fact that, according to Mr Kaine's frontbench, if not Mr Kaine, providing how-to-vote cards is an anathema, the Liberal Party have not attempted to bring forward an amendment which will ban them outright. We all know that in Tasmania the Liberal Party are only too happy to have how-to-vote cards. How-to-vote cards are printed all over the place. Although the Liberal Party here will tell journalists and the community that how-to-vote cards are completely at odds with the Tasmanian Hare-Clark system, how-to-vote cards are part of the Tasmanian Hare-Clark system, but they are not allowed at the polling booth.
The Labor Party's argument is that restricting how-to-vote cards is an unreasonable intrusion on freedom of speech. If you think it is unreasonable to have a scrum of people at the door thrusting pieces of paper into voters' hands as they walk past - I have never found that to be particularly odious for most voters - adopt the way other jurisdictions such as New South Wales have addressed the problem of political parties giving voters information on how to vote when they get into the polling place. There is no reason why we should not do what New South Wales does. That is what Ms Follett's amendments seek to do.
In this debate there has been some very bad reasoning by the Liberals. Ms Follett's amendments attempt to make sense of some of that reasoning by putting up a set of amendments which address the only logical argument that I have heard in the debate - which is the one about harassment, intimidation and wasted paper - by allowing how-to-vote cards to be displayed in the polling place. I cannot see why this Assembly should not support these amendments as a reasonable way of addressing the freedom of speech arguments so eloquently put by Mr Kaine and, at the same time, addressing the other concerns that have been raised in this place today.
MR HIRD (4.46): Mr Speaker, let us get right to the bottom line. The bottom line is that the Labor Party want to disembowel the Hare-Clark system. There is no question about that; none at all. In the Second Assembly they had a go at "disbowelling" the Hare-Clark system by trying to introduce above-the-line voting, before they took wise counsel and backed out.
Mr Connolly: "Disembowelling", not "disbowelling".