Page 1734 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (12.09 am): I have some sympathy for and I can see exactly what Mr Mulcahy is getting at. I listened intently to the attorney. I recall when the commonwealth changed this provision and I also recall quite clearly people saying, “Written and authorised by”, and it was the same person. I think there is merit in what the attorney said in terms of it being very difficult to prove anything. I think I also heard him say that there are other more appropriate measures if, for example, someone is guilty of an offence under the Crimes Act—theft, fraud, something like that, issues of government property—if you could prove that. The printing itself you could very easily get around.

I am just trying to think how long ago it was that the commonwealth changed it because it used to be “written by”, “authorised by” and “printed by” and you had to have that. Often people would combine all that into one, which probably defeated the purpose. It is not something that we have had to do for probably eight, nine or 10 years—something like that; I could be wrong there but I can recall when we used to do it. Then at some stage it stopped, and I recall the reasons for that being very similar to what the attorney has said.

So, whilst I sympathise very much with what Mr Mulcahy is trying to do, I would have to agree with the attorney. I do not think he is going to have much success this way. There would be better ways of doing it. A substantive offence in the Crimes Act or some relevant act, with the relevant penalty, might be a better way to go than this and might be much more effective in terms of drilling down so that what he is trying to achieve has a lot more legislative force than this particular amendment would have.

MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (12.11 am): There are flaws in the arguments mounted by the Attorney-General. First of all, on the advice he has taken that this would lead to a series of trivial complaints, I do not think there is any basis whatsoever for that. The point of what I am putting forward is that it will provide much clearer identification of the place where printing has occurred.

The minister said, “With home photocopiers and office printers, how would you be able to prove otherwise?” I have taken a bit of time this year to inquire into home office printers and the like and I would challenge anyone in this place to suggest to me or show me where normal office copiers and printers that would be used in a domestic or small office situation could hope to produce the sort of material of the size that one might be generating across some 60,000 or 70,000 homes, for example, in my electorate of some 100,000 voters. Quite clearly, if any candidate were to say they had printed it themselves, it would be very easy to establish that they simply did not have the technical capability within their facilities and that they had in fact had it done elsewhere.

Mr Stefaniak talked about the fraud provisions possibly under the Crimes Act. In fact, defrauding the commonwealth is captured at the commonwealth level and there are provisions where commonwealth facilities are used in this regard. But this does not overcome the challenge that the Electoral Office would have in attempting to establish whether these materials were produced through a commonwealth office, unlawfully, when there is no capacity to identify the source of the printer. Once the disclosure was

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