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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Tuesday, 6 May 2008) . . Page.. 1426 ..

Amendment agreed to.

Bill, as a whole, as amended, agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2007

Debate resumed from 23 August 2007, on motion by Mr Corbell:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (12.10): The Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill makes a considerable number of amendments which we will be supporting. However, it also makes a number of amendments that go to democratic principles or that we believe are self-serving to the Labor Party and which we will not be supporting.

I must also say that there are a large number of new government amendments to the bill. I think it would be highly sensible if this debate this week only went to the in principle stage. I would think in the circumstances, given the nature of all the amendments and some of the changes proposed, that a roundtable of the interested parties in the Assembly should be convened and the matter taken up again in the June sittings for finality. I make that suggestion to the government because there are some significant further amendments the government has dropped just recently.

Some of the amendments in the bill from the current act cause us great concern. These amendments are ones that would not go through this place, I would suggest, were it not for the arrogance of this current government. Indeed, some of these amendments actually appear to be a government abusing its privilege of holding a majority of seats in this place. We will be opposing these amendments, and I have put forward some amendments, which members have, that give effect to that position.

I want to deal firstly in terms of this bill with the issue of the government’s attack on our democracy. The bill seeks to remove the ability of like-minded independent candidates to be listed on the ballot paper together as non-party groups. The effect of this will be to shut such candidates in with all other independent candidates, some of whom may have views and philosophies that are completely at odds with their own.

The flow-on effect is quite simple. When the voters get to the ballot box, they will be confronted with a ballot paper that has the names of all the independent candidates mixed up together. Voters will find it much more difficult to identify those candidates who either are like-minded with each other or whose ideals and philosophies align with those of the voters. Some voters may indeed well decide that it is all just too hard to find the independent candidates they may wish to vote for and so revert to the better-known named parties—and I suspect that is exactly what the Labor Party wants here.

Those over there will no doubt bleat and carry on about the supposed inequity of non-party groups compared to registered political parties, but that is a smokescreen. I

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