Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1690 ..
I have yet to see a ballot paper anything like the joke we had in 1989 when we had a different system, the d’Hondt system. I think the ballot papers since Hare-Clark have been quite manageable in all of the electorates and there is—in my view, with the greatest respect to the commission—no really valid reason that would outweigh the benefits of fairness and democracy in this territory by having non-party groups, rather than get rid of them and lump them in with every other independent. I do not see that as being democratic; the argument is not made, in my view and in my party’s view, to not allow like-minded independents to form a non-party group. I think that is a positive for our democratic system and we will be opposing this course.
MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (9.20): I think it is useful to respond to some of the comments made by Mr Stefaniak. He uses an interesting example to justify why non-party groups should be still provided for. Mr Stefaniak refers in particular to the election of Paul Osborne and Dave Rugendyke as a non-party group. Mr Stefaniak really should do his research. Paul Osborne was first elected from the ungrouped column in the right-hand column at the end of the ballot paper—a clear indication that candidates can be effectively elected as independents from that column. They need to have the standing; they need to have the recognition in the community to ensure that they are elected.
But what is even more interesting is Mr Stefaniak’s next claim that Paul Osborne and Dave Rugendyke were elected through a non-party group arrangement. In fact, they were not. They were elected under a party registered by Paul Osborne as a sitting MLA, the Paul Osborne Independents.
The argument Mr Stefaniak makes is simply wrong, and the example he uses works against his own argument. The first time the high-profile independent Mr Osborne was elected into this place, he was elected from the right-hand column, with all the other ungrouped independents. But he got elected. Why did he get elected? Because he had the profile and he had the standing in the community to win enough votes to get elected.
Then he got re-elected with another candidate, Mr Rugendyke, as a registered political party in the ACT. Even though he was an independent, he established a political party; he established a constitution; he went and got 100 members; he abided by all of the reporting requirements of a political party; and he got re-elected. He got another candidate for his party elected in another seat, Mr Rugendyke.
This suggestion that without the non-party groups Paul Osborne and Dave Rugendyke would not have got elected is wrong. They never utilised those provisions. It is simply another indication of why this is a sensible recommendation on the part of the Electoral Commission, why the government supports it and why the government is going to maintain its support for it as we go through the detail stage.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (9.23): I was interested to hear the two addresses by the attorney tonight. I was originally amazed, after rereading the Attorney-General’s presentation speech, in light of the then lack of justification being given for one of the primary objectives, in my observation, and outcomes of the government’s bill in