Page 1697 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008
Mrs Burke: I was going to say—
MR CORBELL: I am sure that he recognises the irony with which that is put. They recommended that non-party groups be removed. It was not the Labor Party, not some sinister group of ALP apparatchiks working behind closed doors in smoky rooms.
I know that Mrs Dunne loves to paint this picture of the Labor Party as an organisation of people in dark, smoky rooms making sinister plans to undermine democracy in the ACT. But it was none of those things; it was the Electoral Commission—not just the commissioner, but the commission. Mrs Dunne turns her back on this argument because she knows that it completely undermines all of her rhetoric. Despite all of her rhetoric, the Electoral Commission has recommended—not once, but twice, after each of the last two elections—that this provision should be removed. The arguments that have been put forward, the arguments which the government supports, are the arguments made by the commission. I simply draw that fact to members’ attention.
Mrs Dunne: You have already done that.
MR CORBELL: Indeed I have, and I will continue to do it for as long as those opposite seek to perpetuate the myth that this is some sinister plot on the part of the Labor Party. It is very important to put on the record that it is not and it is very important to put on the record that the government endorses the view of the ACT Electoral Commission on this point.
Let us have a debate about the specifics of the commission’s recommendations rather than these rhetorical flourishes from Mrs Dunne and others about the evil, sinister motives of the Labor Party. Why doesn’t the opposition just accept that the commission makes valid points? We can debate those points; we can get into detail on those points. That is fine. Mr Mulcahy tried to do that. But those opposite do not. They simply revert to type and seek to portray this as some sinister and evil agenda on the part of the Labor Party.
For the record, I again restate the fact that the government believes that the recommendation by the Electoral Commission to remove non-party groups is a sensible one and that the reason as set out by the commission in its report on the 2004 and the 2001 elections—not once, but twice—remains valid, appropriate, sensible and the way forward.
For those reasons, and not any other—certainly not for the motivations proposed by Mrs Dunne—the government believes that these amendments should proceed.
MR SMYTH (Brindabella) (9.48): It is interesting that the minister is happy to quote the commission when it suits him. I will go to another Mr Green and quote him. It is not the Liberal Party. I know that Simon sees evil and some sort of prejudice over here. This is not the crossbench or the independents; it is Antony Green, the election commentator from the ABC. On 28 March 2008, he posted an article headed “Independents to be disadvantaged by ACT electoral changes”. This is the intent and