Page 1705 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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Mr Smyth: Everybody else has treated this seriously. Perhaps he could as well.

MR SPEAKER: Remain relevant, Mr Hargreaves.

MR HARGREAVES: Okay, I will. We are talking about groupings. The grouping of Michael Moore in that election saw him elected, and I agree with the numbers that these folks are talking about. And what did he do? He held the entirety of the ACT to ransom, and this Stanhope government has done an enormous amount of work to undo some of the damage that that man caused while he held this lot over here to ransom. I just wonder what it is about. They have no hope of ever achieving majority government, and they are relying on independents to come into this place and prop them up, because they will never, ever be able to do it. You guys have got the smoky room.

DR FOSKEY (Molonglo) (10.13): I found Mr Hargreaves’s speech particularly interesting because, perhaps without intending to, he revealed the agenda behind this move. Mr Hargreaves’s great fear, the thing that keeps him awake at night, is minority government—being beholden to a group of people over whom the Labor Party has no control. Of course, with the election of parties, there is some predictability. I understand; it is, of course, convenient. I remember that the Australian government’s mission was to go to Papua New Guinea to get everybody running for election from a party perspective, because it provides some coherence. Mr Hargreaves remembers the election of Mr Moore through a grouped ticket. He has not forgotten it and he wants to make sure it never happens again. But the trouble is that it is an anti-democratic move.

I also want to consider this legislation. It seems to me that the more we argue about it—and I have to say that I am enjoying this debate tonight because people are passionately involved and they are not just posturing; or most of us are not—the more it makes me wonder whether we should set the bar higher when we are making decisions like this one. It seems to me most unfortunate that the group that has the most to gain from this getting through can get it through with the number of one. We have been told that a person on the crossbench can hold a government to ransom, but one extra person in the party that is given government can hold the whole territory to ransom if it can pass something like this that reduces people’s democratic rights and to stand for election in such a way that they might get elected without being part of a party. It is okay for them to stand but it is not okay for them to get elected, unless they are part of a party. That is what is being said here tonight.

Mr Corbell has been very pleased to stand up—and I thought he did it with quite a smug look on his face—and deny that this amendment and the consequential amendments are anything except the government following the independent and expert advice of the commission. You cannot stop there. Just because the commission put this argument forward does not mean it is a true or a correct one. In my opinion, the commission’s argument is weak. The argument about democracy here is all about seeing names. We know that is how our system works. But the commission has ignored that element of the debate. Given that the commission spent two pages on this issue—two pages being quite a lot in the context of that report—this is very disappointing.

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