Page 1735 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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made as to the location of the printer, it would be very easy to identify whether that was within the capability of the candidate’s resources. More importantly, it would serve as a deterrent to these sorts of practices.

I understand the commonwealth government is about to wind back significantly what I believe were excessive provisions and allowances given to commonwealth members of parliament. About $250,000 for printing and postage—an extraordinary amount of money—was made available for senators and members and I believe that until 30 June these provisions will still exist, and the opportunity exists for those to be potentially misused in the context of the ACT election.

But it is not just commonwealth facilities; it is also the capacity of private backers of individual candidates to use substantial corporate facilities to undertake printing on behalf of candidates without disclosing that they are providing high-grade colour printing services to candidates who are under no obligation as the law exists—at least they cannot be identified—in terms of the materials that they are publishing. So I do not accept the argument that it will lead to trivial complaints. I do not understand why massive misuse of potentially commonwealth or corporate facilities would be perceived as trivial.

There is still this undertone all the time that these electoral issues are all too hard. I think the matter is of very serious concern. The argument for disclosing printers is important if we are to put a measure of strength into the disclosure provisions. It is all well and good to run around and say that we want to be more open and transparent and we are lowering the provisions from $1,500 to $1,000. But, when it comes to leaving a gaping hole in this legislation, it makes it very hard for in-kind contributions to be provided by corporations in this town. I am aware of one case where a company have spent $75,000 on printing equipment which I believe they are going to use to help a candidate. If that happens, it will be interesting to see whether that is ever disclosed.

There is enormous potential for misuse of commonwealth facilities in this campaign, despite that being unlawful. This amendment would make it easier for that matter to be examined, rather than the way circumstances are at the moment where we simply require an authorised person to take responsibility for the content.

So I stay with my amendment. I know the government again will use its numbers to crunch this, and I am sorry the opposition have not come to a view to support this. The arguments are very clear cut that it is appropriate and it will ensure fairness in the election campaign. It will certainly make it more difficult for those who want to get around the electoral laws as they are being presented tonight.

Question put:

That the amendment be agreed to.

The Assembly voted—

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