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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 13 Hansard (27 November) . . Page.. 4803 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

my approval for matters incidental to the Totalcare transfers and individual determinations; and provide a capacity for regulations to be made.

Mr Speaker, the bill is a temporary measure to facilitate the winding down of Totalcare. The bill provides for expiry in December 2005, the anticipated date for the completion of the winding down. However, the bill also provides that the regulations may specify a date later than December 2005 if the winding down of Totalcare is not completed by that date. Mr Speaker, I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Smyth ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Electoral Amendment Bill 2003 (No 2)

Debate resumed from 20 November 2003, on motion by Mr Stanhope:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (11.48): As I have indicated, the opposition will be supporting this bill. Mr Hargreaves and I, as chair of the Legal Affairs Committee, were unanimous on the bill. Looking through the bill, in my view, it faithfully replicates exactly what the majority of the committee recommended in relation to four-year terms.

The issue of four-year terms has been around for quite some time. To me, this is something that makes eminent sense, especially when one considers that nearly every other state, including the Northern Territory, has four-year terms. Queensland is the only state which does not have four-year terms.

I am not going to repeat myself and go over the debate we had when the committee introduced its report but, in addition, most states now either have or are going towards fixed terms. That is one of the highlights of the ACT electoral system and I think it is a very sensible one. Governments cannot fiddle with election dates to possibly gain an unfair advantage. They go the full cycle, which facilitates a true reflection by the electorate of how the government are travelling. Having fixed terms is something that has served us well.

There could be a lot of people playing politics with something like this. Last Assembly I was disappointed to see the then opposition, the now government, not support four-year terms. At that stage, being in opposition you were probably not thinking long term but thinking as an opposition would think. The Chief Minister has certainly changed his mind on this. I wonder if that is simply because he is now in government or whether it is more than that-that he and other government members have realised the significant benefits of four-year terms. From what I can gather, Mr Hargreaves has been consistent on this one all the way along.

There are a considerable number of benefits in four-year terms. Firstly, four-year terms mean we will not have to worry about Commonwealth elections taking place around the same time as local elections. I believe that is a sensible thing when it comes to better democracy for the ACT.

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