Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1747 ..
MR CORBELL: I move amendments Nos 45 to 48 circulated in my name [see schedule 1 at page 1780].
These amendments all relate to undoing the various changes in the bill related to disclosure which the government has agreed to not proceed with.
Amendments agreed to.
Schedule 3, as amended, agreed to.
MR MULCAHY (Molonglo) (1.03 am): In my concluding remarks on this bill, I indicated earlier that I was going to vote against it, and I will vote against it. Central to this whole piece of legislation is, in my view, a rather insidious attempt to make life more difficult for independent groupings to appear on the ballot paper. I think that that is a retrograde step, as I have said earlier, and not one that ought to be supported in a democratic society.
I do not think that it is one that will be well received by the ACT community; that is the feedback I have had. Dr Foskey, to her credit, led the public debate on that, which was then supported by Mr Stefaniak. I am firmly of the view that the people of Canberra expect governments not to start manipulating the electoral system for perceived potential advantage.
I got involved in politics 34 years ago. There is one thing I have observed over the years, and I have worked for a range of governments: when governments start to get into trouble, they do two things in this country, and probably elsewhere. They start tampering with the electoral system because they think that there might be a way they can fool the electorate and beat the system. And they start spending buckets of taxpayers’ money on advertising to say how well they are doing the job. I have seen it with governments when I have worked at senior levels; my experience is that it usually works the other way: it makes the electors nervous; they start to reach a view that things have come to time-on and they usually rein them back in.
I was out at dinner tonight at a restaurant in Canberra. The owner of that said that a remarkable number of customers were coming in saying, “We do not want either party to have a majority in the next Assembly.” People are concerned about absolute majorities and how they can be misused. The other day even Mrs Dunne warned of the dangers of absolute government. I am not sure that she had thought through what she was saying, but it was interesting. Deep down she probably knows what happens. Parties get absolute power; they go crazy and start doing all manner of things that are not necessarily in the interests of the community at large.
I have never been keen on minority governments—I have said that in the past on the record—because too often the balance of power is dependent on people who are single-issue activists, who pursue a very narrow agenda and who basically hold governments to ransom. It is certainly not my intention to be a single-issue person or