Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1693 ..
I do not think we will be any the wiser as to what people necessarily stand for if we tell them to go out and create a political party, find 100 people, have a constitution, comply with the accounting requirements and so on. I do not think it will enhance anything in the democratic process and I think it is an ill-considered change. I share the view of my colleagues Dr Foskey and Mr Stefaniak.
This is probably the worst element of this bill. It is the most significant change; it is the real change here. The rest is, I think, playing around at the edges, but it is certainly an initiative that is very bad. I think it is very bad that in this place we force changes through to the electoral system. I share Mrs Dunne’s view about embedding as much of the electoral system as possible into the legislative framework to make it very hard for people to change it. Unfortunately, these changes are possible with a majority, and I am very much of the view that that does not lead to good government.
MRS BURKE (Molonglo) (9.31): We see in this amendment a provision that removes non-party groups from being listed, separated to one-group candidates. What is fair about this? I have heard all the arguments placed on the record tonight, but you would have to wonder. Mr Corbell remonstrates: “It’s not us; it’s the Electoral Commission.” It just suits you very well.
An article in one of the national papers today gives me further cause to feel very uncertain about the motivation behind this amendment. For example, if people from the Water Our Garden City group want to run on the issue of water security—and I might add that this has been an area of shocking mismanagement and broken promises by this government, for which we are all suffering—the electorate will not be able to readily identify them. The Save Our Schools group would be another such group. Mr Mulcahy alluded to a group that has formed in Weston Creek. And I believe that there are many other groups that will stand up and be counted come this October election.
By not making it easy to identify like-minded candidates who do not belong to a political party, this provision does not promote choice, which is what we should all be about in this place. Certainly that is what we as Liberals believe in; that is what we are about. We are about choice. It is about democracy.
This amendment seeks to shut that down. This government seems very good at that—shutting things down, closing, controlling. It does not promote the community that the Stanhope government professes to believe in. The Stanhope government talks a lot about community, inclusion, openness and accountability, but it does not do that. You hear people say that they vote Labor because they believe in community. That is a slogan that Labor runs on. But it keeps shutting community out. You are actually stopping that free and open democratic process.
The reality is that this government only pays lip service to community. It uses community consultation after it has made the decision—such as with the closing of schools—to pretend there is universal acclamation for its acts. This bill shows yet again that the Stanhope government wants the electorate to be less informed, not more informed. This government has subtly, and not so subtly, eroded the rights of the