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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1683 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (Chief Minister, Minister for Community Affairs and Treasurer) (5.50): Mr Speaker, there will be a lot of running and hiding in this debate, by the sound of it. I rise briefly to correct a misapprehension Mr Kaine may have had about the provisions of the electoral bill as far as all parties are concerned. There is a difference at the moment, as I understand it, between candidates for parties that are not presently members of the Assembly and those for parties that are already represented in the Assembly.

The effect of the bill which has been tabled in this place is to remove that distinction. Under clause 93 of the bill, the Electoral Commissioner has to refuse an application for registration of a party if it does not have 100 members. There is no distinction between those that are large or small and those that are in the Assembly or are not. Similarly, under clause 98, if a political party ceases to have 100 members, the commissioner must cancel the registration of that party. Mr Kaine is quite wrong. There is no difference in the requirements for parties in this respect, and his party, if there is such a beast, has to have 100 members, the same number of members as a major party such as the Liberal Party or the Labor Party has to have in order to enjoy registration under the act.

MS TUCKER (5.52): The Greens support these bills in principle. With a few exceptions, they represent some significant improvements to the conduct of elections in the ACT. The Electoral (Entrenched Provisions) Amendments Bill and the Electoral Amendment Bill (No 2) are primarily about reducing the effect of the party linear vote, which is a form of donkey voting where people vote 1, 2, 3, et cetera, down a column, regardless of the order of the candidates. In our voting system we have Robson rotation, which rotates the position of candidates within their column and which is effective in evenly distributing the first preferences of party linear votes where people have expressed a preference for a particular party but not for particular candidates in that party.

However, the currently limited number of rotations has given a second preference advantage to candidates who, by chance, end up being listed under a candidate who receives a high first preference vote. These bills address that by significantly increasing the number of rotations of candidates' names in party columns to 60 variations for five-member electorates and 420 variations for seven-member electorates. That will significantly put at random the effect of party linear votes and, consequently, increase the importance of the intentionally directed votes in determining which candidates from a particular party end up being elected.

The Electoral Amendment Bill contains a number of administrative changes to the Electoral Act which, in general, will improve the conduct of elections. There are a couple of significant policy issues in here, however, with which the Greens do have problems, and I will talk to them shortly. The Greens are happy to support the tightening of the disclosure provisions for political donations. Donations of over $1,500 in total from one person already have to be disclosed, but in the past individual amounts under $500 were excluded, which created a major loophole. That has now been changed, so that only amounts less than $100 collected at fundraising events are excluded.

There are also new requirements relating to the recording of loans to parties, which we support. I note that these new reporting requirements have put the ACT out of step with the Commonwealth Electoral Act, but that is all right with us as we believe that the

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