Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1743 ..
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (12.47 am): My main concern—and I suspect it is a factor in the reason that these laws came in in Tasmania—is the issue of last-minute misleading information. But I suspect the real reason is the fact that under Hare-Clark you have so many candidates in each electorate, and there is the prospect of being mobbed by candidates and all their canvassers. From my experience of 30-odd years in the Liberal Party, part of which has been under the two Hare-Clark jurisdictions, there would be no way in the world that individual candidates would surrender their autonomy to a collective wish of some party official. It is a case of every man and woman for themselves. I am sure the Labor Party has to cope with the same sort of competing issues.
I think that many of our voters, particularly older people, would be quite intimidated by such a large number. It is bad enough in the federal elections when you have the Senate and the Reps together. I saw plenty of altercations in Campbell on federal election day. Dramas go on as it is, presiding officers are dragged out to arbitrate and so on. I cannot imagine what it would be like with potentially 30 or 40 people body-tackling voters so close to the front door of a booth. For that reason, I do not think it makes sense under this particular electoral system.
MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (12.48 am): I thought the Greens were in favour of saving trees; I think of all the paper that would be used in this. I heartily agree with what Mr Corbell and Mr Mulcahy have said about the potential for large numbers of candidates and for candidates’ supporters to swamp electors as they come in. How-to-vote cards do not really work in Hare-Clark. The Labor Party tried it in 1995 and it did not work very well at all. I think they learnt their lesson in 1998.
A lot of people I have spoken to in the electorate think it is wonderful that they can go to a polling booth and not be harassed by people sticking pieces of paper under their nose as they enter the booth. People have gone around it to a certain extent. There are some polling booths where you can strategically be about 100 metres away and you will catch a few voters. I found a lovely little possie outside the Labor Club in Charnwood and got a few people. I might have picked up the odd vote last time. But at least with 100 metres you are going to miss a hell of a lot of voters.
The whole idea of our system is to get away from the how-to-vote cards so that people can go in there, think clearly and vote according to their wishes. That is why we have Robson rotation. It is not just that everyone gets a chance at the top of the ballot; the numbers of people who are second, third, fourth or whatever down are jumbled up. So we do not get the donkey vote we had before we did that.
We have a very good system. The vast majority of people in Canberra appreciate the fact that they can go to a polling booth and not be harangued and harassed. They like that. Some people would always like a how-to-vote card, but they are very much in a minority. We in the Liberal Party are very keen to ensure that the 100-metre rule stays, that people do not get harassed very close to the polling booth and that extraneous material does not go up in the polling booth.
The system is not broken; in fact, it works very well indeed. Until such time as there is a real clamour in the community for change—and I do not detect this—I do not think we need what Dr Foskey is proposing.