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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1684 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

disclosure provisions in the Commonwealth act are too weak and need to be challenged. I was very disappointed to hear that the government and the ALP are now proposing to change the disclosure provisions back to the weak provisions in the Commonwealth act, thus perpetuating this loophole. I will certainly not be supporting these amendments.

There is also a range of minor changes to the act which we support, such as changes to the authorisation requirements and the definition of "electoral matter". We do not support two changes . The first is the establishment of so-called ballot groups for Independent sitting MLAs, which not only legitimises but also gives a special status to the parties of convenience created by Mr Moore and Mr Osborne as Independents for contesting previous elections. This seems quite inconsistent with a related move to tighten the registration requirements of parties so that they must have 100 members on the ACT electoral roll, regardless of how many elected members they have in the Assembly. Mr Kaine did not seem to be aware of that aspect of the bill. The other amendment we have problems with is the power given to the Electoral Commissioner to exclude candidates with names that have been assumed for a political purpose. We believe that this is a restriction on freedom of political expression and should not be left to the commissioner's discretion. I will talk further about those issues in the detail stage.

I am aware that the ALP is putting up some amendments basically to make it harder for Independent candidates to contest elections-or, should I say, Independent candidates who are not already MLAs? I am very worried about the collusion between the ALP and the Liberal Party to maintain their duopoly over the political system both here and federally. That is not the Greens' view of democracy and we will not be supporting attempts to limit the democratic rights of people to participate in elections.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (5.57): Mr Speaker, I rise to support with great enthusiasm the bill that is on the table. I have to say that I think there was some confusion from Mr Kaine when he said that he was talking about the bill as he was, in fact, talking about proposed amendments to the bill. Everything he said was fine, except that it applied to the proposed amendments to the bill. The bill which is on the table at the moment and which the government introduced some months ago is a bill on which I did not exercise my right to separate myself from cabinet because I support it strongly and wholeheartedly. It takes up the recommendations of the Electoral Commissioner and says, "Yes, we should support those and put them in." The independent Electoral Commissioner has now delivered on that, and I have to say that the bill is an excellent bill.

Unfortunately, there are some in this house who simply could not keep their sticky fingers away from the bill through self-interest, and that has resulted in the range of amendments finally circulated today. The earliest I saw mine was just after lunch and I have not had a chance to go through them in detail, but I will do so because members have been embarrassed enough to postpone the detail stage of this bill until Friday. As members would be aware, there has been a secret deal between the Labor and Liberal parties, made by a couple of members whom most of us would not have a clue what their names are, followed through by members of this Assembly, to their great shame. I say that it is to their great shame because of the nature of the amendments that have been proposed to the legislation. They deal with two main issues. The first is the issue of donations and disclosure. The second is to do with reducing the rights to democracy of other members and other parties.

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