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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (15 June) . . Page.. 1912 ..

Clause 4, as amended, agreed to.

Clauses 5 to 8, by leave, taken together and agreed to.

Clause 9.

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (8.02): This provision is made in anticipation of the possibility that the Commonwealth will change the arrangements for the witnessing of applications by people seeking to enrol on the Commonwealth electoral roll. As the minister would be aware, the practice in the ACT is to use the Commonwealth roll.

The Commonwealth government has introduced and had passed through the House of Representatives regulations which alter quite dramatically the class of person who may witness an application for enrolment. They have narrowed the class of person who may witness an application to enrol on the Commonwealth electoral roll, in a quite blatant attempt to make it harder, to disadvantage certain groups of people in the community and to seek to ensure that people it perceives to be traditional Labor supporters are less likely to enrol.

Those regulations are currently stalled in the Senate because the Labor Party and the Democrats refuse to accept them. So the regulations have not been proceeded with. Members may be aware of the debate in the federal parliament-it was quite fast and furious-about the Liberal government's desire to narrow the class of persons who traditionally have been able to witness forms. It is a position the Labor Party does not accept or embrace.

We would be inclined to wait and see any changes to the enrolment procedures for the Commonwealth electoral roll before we give carte blanche endorsement of the Commonwealth electoral roll, whatever the rules may be. For that reason the Labor Party will oppose this automatic linkage without an opportunity to comment.

MR MOORE (Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (8.05): Mr Stanhope's argument is an interesting one. I think it carries some weight. It will raise for Mr Stanhope a great difficulty, because the same argument is going to be put later in respect of something I understand he has already agreed to. We have heard him in the media using the argument that it is aligning with the Commonwealth system.

When we come to a later amendment, I will put exactly the same argument-that we ought not to align with the Commonwealth unless we know what the Commonwealth has done. If I am correct, Mr Stanhope, your argument is that we ought not to align with the Commonwealth. Provided you are consistent later, I am inclined to support you. I can see the weight of your argument. I foreshadow that I will put the same argument with regard to a much more serious matter. I am not denying the seriousness of this matter.

Having looked at the act and the amendment before me, I think there is some weight to the argument that we ought not to narrow the ability for people to enrol. If that is the case, we ought to know what the Commonwealth is doing and not give them carte

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