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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 6 Hansard (15 June) . . Page.. 1937 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

If we had applied the 4 per cent threshold to the last ACT election, then none of the Independent candidates who were not already MLAs or in their parties of convenience would have received election funding. The three Independents and one Independent group that received funding mostly only scraped over the 2 per cent threshold. The most successful was Manuel Xyrakis, who got 3.8 per cent.

In the last election only 41 per cent of all candidates got over 2 per cent of the vote, and only 18 per cent got over 4 per cent. Even our Chief Minister got only 2.45 per cent of the first preference votes. The 2 per cent threshold therefore appears quite appropriate to the circumstances of the ACT, and I do not think it should be changed.

MR KAINE (9.46): I agree with Ms Tucker. The statistics speak for themselves. This is yet another one of those hurdles that the Labor Party seeks to impose on individual members. Mr Stanhope is saying that if a party stands candidates the party gets money back if the whole party group gets 4 per cent of the vote. On the other hand, if an individual stands, the individual has to get the same 4 per cent.

Mr Quinlan: No, you have one of those groups so you get a column.

MR KAINE: I am reading Mr Stanhope's amendment, Mr Quinlan. It makes a distinction between a party or party group on the one hand and individuals on the other. Mr Stanhope's amendment says, for example, that a payment under this division may only be made for the votes cast for a non-party group if they are 4 per cent. But proposed subsection (1) says:

A payment under this division may only be made for the votes cast for a candidate in an election if the number of eligible votes cast is ... at least 4% ...

If you are a single candidate, you have to get 4 per cent. If you are a party with 10 candidates, and the 10 of them get 4 per cent, they still get their money back. I do not see any equity in that. It is another hurdle making it difficult for Independent candidates. I do not support it, for the reason that Ms Tucker outlined. I think it is unnecessary and it is unproductive, but there is also another inequity.

MR OSBORNE (9.48): I rise in agreement with Ms Tucker and Mr Kaine. A fellow who ran in the last election as an Independent told me that he spent about $10,000, even though I did not see any ads from him. This amendment is heading us towards the electoral system in America, where you can run only if you have money. One of the strengths of our democratic process is that basically anyone can run. People who want to put their hand up need to spend some money.

This deal done between Mr Stefaniak and the Labor Party is ill conceived and ill thought out and places Independents and others who want to put their hand up in a very difficult situation. They have to decide how much money they can spend, given that now they will have to achieve 4 per cent of the vote. In my electorate that would be at least a couple of thousand votes. This move is regrettable and again exposes the two major parties. I will not be supporting the amendment.

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