Page 1742 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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which is complex and, I would contend, poorly understood even by many long-term residents.

I recognise that the six-metre as opposed to the 100-metre rule does advantage political parties. The 100-metre rule leads to an increase in political advertising, such as through television and other mass media. In my view, advertising advantages political parties in a less wholesome way in that it is merely a question of money delivering the benefits. Indeed, a well-resourced independent—not that we are going to see too many of those in the future, by the look of it—such as a one-time developer or a major property owner could expect to receive substantial financial support if they were to run in the ACT on, let us say, a pro-development platform, if it were ever necessary to be so obvious.

On a purely practical level, having those how-to-vote stations set up at each booth provides an environment which better supports the fundraising mini-fetes that most schools operate on polling day. They also are, or usually are, conducted in quite a positive tone. The many stalls and posters and the lively debate of the canvassers also help to create a carnival of democracy on federal election day. By comparison, ACT election day is a more furtive, low-key, very dull and embarrassed affair. We should be encouraging involvement in the political process by allowing canvassers as close as six metres, as they are at federal elections.

As an addendum, I had circulated a draft amendment which would have set up a system of supplying how-to-vote advice inside the polling booths to voters, free of the argy-bargy that goes on outside. This could be as simple as supplying a few folders which contain how-to-vote information from any candidate who wished to supply it to the Electoral Commission prior to election day and making those folders available to look at in the polling station. However, I could discern no interest in the proposal from either major party and, while I have no doubt it would be simple enough to find a workable way to do it, I could see that there was no point on this occasion in pursuing the notion. And this one, of course, would have really been a saver of paper.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (12.45 am): I would say to Dr Foskey that brevity is a virtue. The government intends to oppose Dr Foskey’s proposed amendment to remove the 100-metre ban on canvassing at polling places. This change would fundamentally alter the nature of the ACT’s Hare-Clark system, which is intended to combine the Robson rotation method of printing candidates’ names on ballot papers with limits on canvassing at polling places in order to empower voters to elect candidates of their own choosing rather than those that may be recommended through canvassing immediately prior to voters entering a polling place.

All I would say in addition to that is that this really would potentially undermine the use of the Hare-Clark system and it would lead to a situation where we could see a push to reinstate a ticket vote endorsed by parties. The Labor Party does not support that, but we believe that going down this road opens up that prospect and we are not prepared to support that.

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