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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 5 Hansard (2 May) . . Page.. 1340 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

that I do have some concerns about an arrangement or a system that would, in the case of breaches of statements relating to pecuniary interests, see a public official forced into the circumstance of initiating legal action against a politician. The present arrangements allow the public and the Assembly knowledge of members' interests, and allow the Assembly to act if it thinks sanctions are needed.

In regard to the second question-the extent of intrusion necessary to protect the right to know-it is obvious that the reporting requirement has to go beyond the individual member to cover the interests of others that could have an influence, and to cover the manipulation of finances to avoid or distort reporting requirements. On the other hand, family members have a right-some right-to privacy for their affairs.

The current arrangements, where amounts and values of assets and payments are not disclosed-as is currently the case in relation to members' disclosure of interests here in the Assembly-are in the view of the Labor Party a reasonable compromise on this issue. While Labor supports the contention that the public has a right to know the pecuniary interests of members-indeed, it is vital that they do-it does not believe that this bill achieves that. Rather, it blurs the distinction between members and candidates and unnecessarily complicates current reporting arrangements.

The Labor Party is pleased to see that the government is prepared to introduce a further electoral amendment bill to deal with the first part of Ms Tucker's bill. As I said, were the bill more simply structured, the Labor Party may have been prepared to move amendments today in order to support that part of the bill. But this would not be an easy task in the context of the way the bill is structured. In addition, as I said, when the Labor Party sought to pursue the same amendments last September we did not attract any support at all in the chamber and we were not all that hopeful that we would succeed. But having said that, I am very pleased to see that the government is prepared to pursue this particularly important issue.

In regard to the second aspect of Ms Tucker's bill to essentially transfer to the Electoral Act the pecuniary interest disclosure arrangements that apply in the Assembly to members, we are not inclined to accept such a proposal and we will not be supporting the bill.

MR SMYTH (Minister for Urban Services, Minister for Business, Tourism and the Arts and Minister for Police and Emergency Services): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to speak briefly to explain something I said.

Leave granted.

MR SMYTH: Mr Speaker, the amendments that I spoke of are in the government's Electoral Amendment Bill 2001 that is currently before the house. They were made and inserted in the bill before it was tabled so they are on the table already.


(12.01), in reply: Mr Speaker, I understand that obviously members are not going to support my bill. I am disappointed about the drafting errors being pointed out at this point by Mr Smyth. I have said before that clearly it would be reasonable for the government, which has the resources to do so, to communicate drafting errors to any

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