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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (15 June) . . Page.. 1914 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

officers, teachers, post office officials. There are about 20 different categories of people who are able to witness important documents.

We devalue the right to vote by having any old person as a witness. This provision is to ensure that people who go on the roll are who they say they are. I think it is entirely consistent with the class of people who have to witness a lot of other documents in this country. It is part of the checks and balances. I understand that the federal Labor Party does not like it, and that is probably why the mob opposite are opposing it. There are some very good reasons why the clause is there, and I think it should remain.

MS TUCKER: (8.12) I am interested in the debate. I am interested in what Mr Stanhope said. As I understand it, this clause is not going to make a significant difference in reducing potential rorting, but it will make it a little bit more difficult for people, because you are setting up another barrier. On reflection, on hearing the arguments, I support Mr Stanhope on this.

MR HARGREAVES (8.13): The Justice and Community Safety Committee participates in a range of forums with other jurisdictions on a thing called template legislation. Mr Moore is aware of this. In fact, to pay him his due, he has championed the cause against the adoption of template legislation because-I think we agree on this-it tends to take away the sovereignty of the various jurisdictions. If you merely pick up a piece of legislation from another jurisdiction and say, "If they change it, then it affects us," you never know, unless they tell you. Also quite often it contains within it-and nobody knows-subordinate legislation which is not changeable through debate in their particular parliament. So that can affect us as well.

Looking at the raft of changes being proposed this evening, this is the only one I can see that would enable me to rest comfortably with the principle of saying no to template legislation and picking up other people's legislation.

The Commonwealth legislation is so intrinsically linked with our electoral roll that we need to be particularly consistent in the processes on who can and who cannot be on the roll and what witnessing qualifications apply. But I have to support my colleague Mr Corbell and remind members that we do not want any action which goes against compulsory voting in Australia. We know that in America and in the United Kingdom people grab the option not to vote, particularly when they think a particular party is a shoo-in. They do not use their vote to cast their critique of the government.

If we provide hurdles for people to register, particularly first-time voters, we encourage people not to participate in the political process. I do not think that is on. We have heard many things said about members in this chamber tonight. We have heard them in the past and we will hear them again in the future. I am not sure whether it was Mr Moore or Mr Stefaniak who said that we are judged through the media on our performance here. The media are particularly critical, then the constituency pick up these critiques and make their own minds up and cast their judgment at the ballot box. If we make it really hard for people to get on the roll, they are not going to do it and they will not participate in the political process.

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