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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1685 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

The argument put by members opposite in almost all of these cases is that we are aligning ourselves with the federal government. The federal government with which they are wishing to align has responsibility for the set of proposals that appear in the Sydney Morning Herald this morning under the headline "Dirty politics: the grab for cash". That is what we are aligning with and that, of course, rather flaws the argument that they have. The dirty little grab for cash will do the very opposite of what members come here and argue for, particularly members of the Labor Party, which has pointed the finger again and again at the government, saying, "But you're secret, you are not open." The very thing that will happen is that the proposed amendments which they have indicated they will support will ensure that they have a system that is anything but open. They intend to do things in a secret way with a minimal amount of notice and a minimal amount of public exposure.

It will be very interesting to monitor the attitude of the community over the next two days to see whether the community thinks the actions of the major parties are on the nose. They are on the nose. Let me take a couple of examples. I will deal with them properly in the detail stage. Let us look at amendment No 3 proposed by the Attorney-General. The sections under amendment No 3 and existing clause 29 will permit parties registered at the Commonwealth and ACT levels to fulfil their ACT obligations by giving the ACT Electoral Commissioner a copy of the Commonwealth returns and permit associated entities to do the same. All they will have to do is to hand in their Commonwealth returns. We already know that a proposal is being considered by the Senate to lift the donation level from $1,500 without the need for disclosure. We have a proposal to lift it from $500 to $1,500. The Commonwealth is saying that it is going to lift it to $5,000, so we will have a $5,000 level as soon as the Commonwealth legislation changes. It will be even worse than we expected today, if you read this legislation carefully. As I say, I have had time to pick that one out.

Mr Rugendyke: It is a scandal.

MR MOORE: Mr Rugendyke says, correctly, that it is a scandal. It is a scandal. It is a scam; it is a rort. That is what we are talking about. It is an attempt to cover up donations so that nobody knows who is making the donations to the major parties. I heard Mr Stanhope say on radio this morning, "We have never had to use this loophole." That takes me to the loophole.

Mr Rugendyke: Do you believe him?

MR MOORE: Why not trust the Labor Party? Why not trust a politician? If they wanted to be open, we would see a preparedness to let people see actually what it is about. The scam which has been available up till now and which the Electoral Commissioner drew to our attention is dealt with in the amendments that the government tabled some months ago. The amendments seek to get rid of the scam that allows a series of $499 donations, ones that do not reach the $500 cut-off, for which there is no need for a declaration, no matter how much they come to. One can perceive 50 times $499 as a donation made weekly, drawn from somebody's bank account and never declared. That is going to change, if the amendment is passed on Friday, to $1,500.

Mr Rugendyke: No, do not raise the bar; lower it.

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