Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1702 ..
you have never done anything about it is hardly persuasive. The fact that there might be legal deficiency in the way the act is drafted and that there are not adequate legal protections there or that there is doubt about the capacity of a member or a candidate to get an injunction is not an argument to give up the game and make life easy. To me, that would strongly suggest, as would normally happen in all other areas of this territory, that a department would come forward and recommend to their minister that certain amendments were required, they would be agreed to by the cabinet and brought before this place. But it seems that there is another direction that constantly comes through in that report.
I do not want to be critical of officials, because they are not in a position to respond, but I do not buy the Attorney-General’s argument, which is a very convenient one, that you flick through this report, find something that suits your argument and then grab it and run with it.
Mr Smyth made very valid points about the Tasmanian experience. It would have been perfectly possible to offer those arrangements as a sensible reform measure without exposing the voting system to endless lists of frivolous candidates who enjoy no community support. The argument about constitutions being required for political parties, as I said earlier, is simply fallacious; it has no basis whatsoever. I can guarantee that there are plenty of people who are running on tickets on both sides of this house who have rather radical views. I do not think Mr Hettinger and some members of this government are exactly on the same frequency, as we saw in the 2004 election where he masqueraded as a quasi-Green, as I am sure Dr Foskey well remembers. So the constitution means very little. Most of those things are normally procedural. I know that the Liberal Party one was more about the mechanics than about any kind of ideological direction, apart from a bit of a preamble. So that is also a very thin argument for justifying a discrimination against independents and favouring party candidates.
The Human Rights Act, which is trotted out by this government when it suits it, suddenly is not convenient on this occasion. It is very explicit about discriminating against people in this territory. That sentiment is one that I agree with, and I will be saying that in relation to another matter later tonight. But I do not believe that there is any justification whatsoever for discriminating against independents on the spurious grounds that have been advanced. I urge the government to reconsider, but I know that plea is in vain.
MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (10.04): Everyone is being so polite tonight, Mr Speaker; I am sure we will get a bit crustier as the night goes on. It is interesting that Mr Corbell does the usual thing, as someone who is inexperienced and does not know very much about what is going on. What he has done here tonight is to fall back on his usual defence: “I’m just following advice.” It is very selective. We often hear Mr Corbell stand up in the Assembly and say: “Well, what else could I do? I was following the advice of my advisers.” But on this occasion he has been very selective. He is saying, “I’m doing this because the Electoral Commission advised me to do it twice.” The last time they advised him to do it, the government attempted to do it. This time we have a new Attorney-General who has no more feeling or understanding for how the electoral system should work than his predecessor, so what he has done