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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (13 June) . . Page.. 1691 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

Mr Speaker, these amendments are a combination of technical amendments, drafting error corrections and some fundamental policy decisions. Of greater interest to this Assembly is a conscious decision to align ourselves more closely with Commonwealth electoral matters. The ACT is too small to consistently be out on a limb on these kinds of issues. Electoral reporting is an important issue and the government is not trying to shirk its responsibility. However, the fact is that it makes little sense to have political parties of whatever hue having to undertake two differing reporting requirements for two different masters.

The government will be supporting the ALP amendments, except the ALP is going to the federal level in terms of the number of people who have to sign a nomination form for an Independent or an Independent person's grouping. The current number is two and they propose to go to 50. The ACT is a smaller entity than the Commonwealth, the Senate is territory and state-wide and the House of Representatives seats are single-member electorates. Whilst in many instances the number of electors might be the same as for our multimember electorates, ours are multimember electorates of five, five and seven, respectively. Accordingly, the Liberal Party feels that 20 is a more reasonable number and a fairer number to reflect that situation. That is something on which we disagree with the ALP, which wants the number to be 50. Obviously, that is something that will assist Independents.

I must admit that I was taken aback initially by Ms Tucker's amendments. We will be opposing them. I will speak on them in greater detail during the detail stage. I think that she is going down the wrong path, certainly in terms of allowing some strange names back in for registered groups and things like that. We have had real problems with that in the past. I will say more on that later. Treating as parties some of the Independents in this Assembly and people out there in the community who want to do the same thing also places unnecessary restrictions on Independents and small groups which want either to seek representation or, in the case of three members here, are currently members of this place. Accordingly, we will be opposing her attempts to do that. I think that in that respect we also differ from the Labor Party, which has a different view there. In terms of the Labor Party amendments, apart from that one where they go to 50 and we say we should go to 20, we have no problems. Again, that aligns us with what the rest of the country is doing.

Finally, we are quite happy, as is the opposition, to have these amendments sit on the table today. Obviously, they need to be passed on Friday, but people will have a chance to look at them before them and it would not have been fair to attempt to debate this bill to its finality today. Members have the amendments and will now have a chance to look at them. I do not think you need to be a rocket scientist to understand them; they are quite basic, really. The matters of principle have been amply stated. Comments have been made on them, rightly or wrongly, by various members across this chamber in the in-principle stage of this debate. The amendments are there for all to see and we will come back to them on Friday.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

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