Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .

Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (15 June) . . Page.. 1913 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

blanche. Mr Stanhope, you have put a good argument, and I will be supporting the position you have taken. But I foreshadow that I will be bringing the argument back to visit you.

MR CORBELL (8.07): I rise to support my colleague Mr Stanhope on this point. It is important to elaborate on exactly why this issue is, in principle, a matter of concern for the Labor Party. It is of concern because it restricts the class of people who can witness an application to be put on the electoral roll. In that respect it is a hurdle for people enrolling. In place of the current arrangement, which allows any enrolled voter to witness an enrolment application, this clause will restrict the class of people able to witness such an application.

A witness may be a justice of the peace, a member of parliament or a range of other individuals, but it will be a more restricted range of individuals than currently provided for. Anything that puts a hurdle in front of someone being able to enrol to vote is a matter of concern for us. We should not make enrolling to vote hard. But we are seeking to do that if we allow this clause to take effect, because the Electoral Commission will be able to provide for only a limited range of people to authorise the nomination of someone for the roll.

This particularly affects younger people, perhaps first-time voters. It is hard enough to get first-time voters on to the roll. If we make it more difficult for them to get on to the roll, we are going to see fewer people enrol. That is the in-principle concern the Labor Party has on this matter.

The point Mr Stanhope was seeking to make is that we do not want two rolls. So when Mr Stanhope says that we should wait and see what the Commonwealth does, he says so in the context of saying, "What is going to happen as a result of the outcome of the debate which is currently stalled in the Senate?" If it is the case that the Commonwealth parliament agrees to changes to its enrolment procedures for federal elections, then obviously it is not desirable for the territory to have to maintain a separate roll. It would be silly to have two rolls-an ACT roll and a federal roll. We would prefer to see the one roll, but we would also prefer to see the easiest possible requirements for people to go on to the roll.

Those are the issues at stake with this clause, and they are the reasons why Labor Party is opposing it.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (8.11): This provision ensures that a person who goes on the roll is who they say they are. Voting is a right, a responsibility and a fundamental tenet of living in a democratic society. It is one of the most important things a citizen can do, and we want to make sure that the citizen is in fact who they say they are.

In a number of areas in Australia witnessing a person's signature is restricted to a certain class of persons. It has been expanded considerably over the years. Once a witness had to be a justice of the peace, but statutory declarations and affidavits, for example, can now be signed by all sorts of persons-members of parliament, solicitors, barristers, public servants of more than five years standing, serving military

Next page . . . . Previous page . . . . Speeches . . . . Contents . . . . Debates(HTML) . . . .