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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (15 June) . . Page.. 1927 ..

MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (8.58): Mr Speaker, I move amendment No 1 circulated in my name [see schedule 6, part 1, at page 1990].

The purpose of this amendment is to alter the requirements in relation to a nomination of a candidate. As the act currently stands a person may nominate to be a candidate for election in an ACT election if the nomination is witnessed by two electors entitled to vote at the election. The proposal I make is that the requirement for the nomination to be by two electors entitled to vote at election be amended to read 50 electors. That is the requirement in the federal Electoral Act. It is the requirement that applies to all members who seek to stand in those circumstances for a federal election.

I think there are very good reasons why a candidate for election to any parliament, and this parliament is no different in this regard, should signify at the outset that they have at least some level of support. Fifty is not very many. Two, I think, is quite derisory. If there are people seeking election to this place, acknowledging that in order to be elected they are going to have to attract a few thousand votes, 3,000 to 4,000 as a minimum to stay in the race, it is not much to ask that they find 50 other citizens who are prepared to nominate them just for that purpose of indicating that they do have some level of support.

There has been some discussion tonight about the regard in which this Assembly is held by the community. Some of the difficulties that the Assembly has suffered over the years go back to its very early days when the Assembly was certainly treated with some real contempt by the people seeking to be elected. They had no intention and no desire, in effect, to be elected. They simply wanted to be a candidate and simply wanted to be involved in the process for the fun of it. They just wanted to see their name on a ballot paper. Their only motivation was just to stir, and perhaps just to have some fun at the expense of the institution, at the expense of the parliament and, ultimately, at the expense of democracy.

That is the purpose of the change-to seek to discourage people with those sorts of attitudes nominating for election in the first place. As I say, to suggest that 50 signatures for nomination is onerous does not stand any real scrutiny. That is the purpose of the amendment, and I commend it to members.

MR STEFANIAK (Minister for Education and Attorney-General) (9.02): Mr Speaker, whilst I suppose the government feels that 50 is not terribly onerous, this is one area in terms of consistency with the Commonwealth where we think the figure should be lower, hence my amendment which I formally move to Mr Stanhope's amendment to substitute 20 for 50 [see schedule 4, part 3, at page 1987].

Mr Speaker, there is a difference between the ACT and the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has two houses, the Senate, which is a state and territory house, state and territory wide, and the House of Representatives, which has single member electorates, many of them the same size as our multi-member electorates in the ACT. I think there is a strong case for a number less than 50. I think 20 is a very fair number. I do not know about the Labor Party but in our own party I can recall once having to get about 30 or 60 signatures to stand for the Senate in 1987, and quite often we required 10 or 20 signatures for-

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