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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1680 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

It seems to me that there is absolutely no reason for not supporting this amendment. Again, it is consistent with the Commonwealth provision and I do not think there is any suggestion at the federal level that this arrangement in relation to postal votes does not work to the advantage of both individual constituents and the electoral system and electoral process at large.

The final issue that I will touch on in the time available to cover each of the issues in the bill is that of maintaining the nexus between the ACT Electoral Act and the Commonwealth Electoral Act in relation to disclosure. The Labor Party will support the amendment that the government is proposing. Again, it maintains the nexus, and I can think of no good argument for not maintaining the nexus. I look forward to engaging in the debate at the detail stage in relation to the issues around disclosure and the maintenance of the nexus, as I do in relation to all other aspects of the bill and each of the other amendments that will be moved.

We support the bill in principle. We think that it is good legislation, but for a couple of provisions which we think are unnecessary and unnecessarily advantage the incumbent Independents. We believe that the provisions that favour the incumbent Independents to the extent that they do detract very seriously and significantly from what is otherwise a good package of legislation.

MR KAINE (5.39): Mr Speaker, I will be reasonably brief at this stage of the debate on this matter. It was not all that many years ago that this place put into effect the current electoral system, that is, the Hare-Clark system with Robson rotation. At the time, it was put in with much fanfare, particularly from the government, because it was an electoral system that encouraged Independents and small parties to stand for election to this place. That was the sole rationale for adopting that particular form of electoral system.

Some years have gone by and the government and the opposition have seen that having Independents and small parties in this place can be a bit of a problem, so now we have before us a bill that removes the advantage and the encouragement that the original Hare-Clark and Robson rotation system provided to small parties and Independents. This bill does nothing but place hurdles that did not previously exist in the way of Independents and small party members who wish to stand for election to this place. That is the sole purpose of it. I was astonished to hear both the government and the opposition praising this legislation and saying that it is good for the electorate. I do not believe that it is good for anybody but the two major parties. This bill, let us be clear, runs counter to the proposition that was put forward when the Hare-Clark and Robson rotation system was put in place.

The intention on the part of the two major parties clearly is to put in place for others-I repeat, for others-substantial hurdles which have not previously existed. How they can laud this proposal and say that they are doing something that is useful for this community is beyond me. What they are doing, let us be clear, is to make it more difficult for Independents and small parties to be represented in this place. The sorts of hurdles that are now being put in place include such things as having minimum membership requirements for registrations of minor parties, providing for minimum numbers of people who must indicate support for an Independent candidate before they can register with the Electoral Office, before their nominations can be accepted.

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