Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1700 ..
The approach adopted by the Stanhope government appears to be an attempt to make it harder for Independents to be elected. A fairer approach would be that adopted by Tasmania, setting a higher hurdle rather than banning like-minded Independents from appearing together on the ballot paper.
It is interesting to look at clause 17 of the Human Rights Act, “Taking part in public life”. It says:
Every citizen has the right, and is to have the opportunity, to—
vote and be elected in periodic elections, that guarantee the free expression of the will of the electors …
Today we see the free expression of the will of electors being modified by this bill. We are hurting those that the Labor Party does not want to see have a fair go. The Labor Party that expresses the rights of people to equity, expresses its support for human rights and constantly talks about a fair go is willing to hurt anybody who stands in its way and the way of majority government and put them off to one side. It is as simple as that.
It is interesting that Mr Corbell has signed off on compliance with the Human Rights Act. I note from the scrutiny of bills report that they did not necessarily go through a lot. They did raise the question. They said that the Assembly should genuinely look at this. They are quite right. What we have is an attempt by the Labor Party—in effect it is a gerrymander of sorts. It is most unfair that this is to happen.
The system has worked. It does not necessarily mean that we have all liked the outcomes. We would all like different outcomes at various times. But the system has worked. It is a very fair system; it is a system that was entrenched; it is the system that people think works very well in the ACT. It suits the needs of an electorate that is very well educated and that is particularly well motivated when it comes to the matter of elections.
What we are doing today is unfair. Antony Green’s opinion on these matters—not necessarily his predictions or outcomes—is pretty much respected in many places. He says that this will disadvantage people.
It should be on the record, and it should be on the record in very large letters, that the Attorney-General, the representative of the Labor Party, in this place tonight is putting forward an amendment to a bill on a most fundamental right—a right apparently or supposedly protected in the Human Rights Act, a right to a fair go. This bill disadvantages anyone who wishes to choose to be an independent and not tread the path of those that have joined political parties. That is inherently unfair; it is absolutely un-Australian. I believe it to be a breach of the Human Rights Act. If the minister had any decency, he would withdraw the amendment.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (9.57): I do not always agree with Mr Smyth, as history would tell you, but I have to echo everything he said. I had read the article by the ABC election commentator Antony Green. His concise analysis of this was quite