Page 1695 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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MRS BURKE: The essence of democracy is a contest in which people form themselves into groups and seek the approval of the greatest number of their peers. That is what the Labor Party is frightened of. We only have to see what was splashed all over a major newspaper this morning to see why it will continue with this amendment, though by disenfranchising a large part of communities that are rising up to want to have their say come October. This bill does not advance the democratic contest or promote genuine representation of the people.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (9.36): This is probably the most important part of the bill; it is the most substantial right being withdrawn by the Labor Party and the most substantial undermining of the democratic system in the ACT.

If we are going to show who knows most about the electoral system, we should look at this. If the Attorney-General is going to stand up here and give people lessons, he needs to get it right. Mr Osborne did form a party called the Osborne Independent Group; he formed that group by virtue of the fact that at the time the legislation allowed that a sitting member of parliament could form a political party. There was not the requirement for signatures and the like that there is now. Mr Stefaniak was wrong when he said that Mr Osborne was elected as a non-party group; he was incorrect. Most of the members in this—

Members interjecting—

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER: Mrs Dunne, take your seat for a moment. Members, the conversation across the floor is not good for our debate. Mrs Dunne has the floor.

MRS DUNNE: Mr Stefaniak was incorrect, which he admitted; he recognised that. Mr Corbell, as the Attorney-General and the minister responsible for electoral affairs, has a very scant understanding of how the electoral laws in this territory work. He showed his ignorance both of the electoral laws as they existed then and of the history of what goes on in the ACT in relation to electoral matters.

When you are in the ALP, electoral laws are the things that get in the way of you getting your own way. Electoral laws get in your way. What you are doing here tonight is bulldozing your way through the electoral laws to the advantage of the ALP, to the advantage of major parties.

The Liberal Party—by comparison, by contrast—has a proud history in the ACT of supporting a wide and diverse approach to democracy in the ACT. That is why at the outset we supported the introduction of the Hare-Clark system.

To do away with non-party groups is to undermine the whole spirit of the Hare-Clark system that the people of the ACT voted for by a huge majority. Back in 1992, in excess of 75 per cent of the electorate voted for an electoral system that gave them a diversity of choice. They did not want a choice between the old parties—just the old parties. They said that they wanted more. There are other systems that allow those choices, but the Hare-Clark system, more than any other system, gave people those choices, with a whole lot of other checks and balances—the Robson rotation system,

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