Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1688 ..
The Commission’s view remains that the provision of non-party groups does not provide voters with any useful information regarding the grouped candidates, unlike a registered party group. The Commission notes that its proposal does not prevent non-party candidates from contesting Assembly elections as ungrouped candidates in the right-hand column of the ballot paper.
For these reasons, the Commission recommends that the provision of non-party groups should be removed, and that only candidates belonging to registered political parties should be able to be listed in groups on ballot papers. All other candidates should be listed in the “ungrouped” columns on the ballot papers.
That is the end of the excerpt from the commission’s review of the Electoral Act. An apparatchik plot by the Labor Party to undermine democracy in the ACT? I think not, Mr Speaker.
The government endorses the recommendations of the Electoral Commission in this regard. It believes they are sensible and well reasoned. It is for these reasons, and not any others, that the government is implementing this recommendation of the Electoral Commission.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (9.13): As indicated on the running sheet, the Liberal Party also will be opposing the clause. That is my amendment No 1, which I will now speak to. Yes, I heard with interest what the attorney said. It is telling that we had the same argument in 2004; it is also telling that we have had non-party groups since the Hare-Clark system started; and it is also telling that the sky has not fallen in. The most significant effect it has had on the ballot paper, as I think you said, was in Molonglo where there were three different non-party groups.
The fact is that removing non-party groups—and I will come back to people being frivolous in a minute—is an attack on democracy. I am sure the commission went into this with the very best of intentions, but it does not get away from the fact that it does affect our democracy. Our democracy, in the short time we have had it, works well and is regarded as a very fair system, a system that two-thirds of Canberrans voted for in the 1992 referendum.
Non-party groups might have some detrimental effect, not only to your party, Mr Corbell, but indeed to my party as well. Probably out of any party in this Assembly we have had more detrimental effects from non-party groups than anyone else. It was indeed a member of the Osborne non-party group, Dave Rugendyke, my old mate—and he is an old mate of mine—who was instrumental in getting rid of the most effective Chief Minister this territory has had to date. He did not get re-elected; he was in a non-party group.
The electors clearly wanted Dave Rugendyke and Paul Osborne as part of the Osborne non-party group to get in and they were duly elected to the Assembly in 1998 on that ticket. In the seat of Molonglo their running mate, a now famous ABC commentator, Chris Uhlmann, of course missed out. That is part of democracy.
We have not seen repeated the farcical situation—it is now comical and might be a bit frivolous, but it was not detrimental to democracy at all—of the Party Party Party, the