Page 1748 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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to be simply wedded to a narrow set of views that may suit a very defined ideology. If I were ever in that position, I would be looking to support things on the basis of what is best for the territory, but with the overriding consideration that stable government is absolutely essential.

If we end up with the situation of a minority government, we cannot go through the carry-on that I witnessed in Tasmania when the Labor Party tried to cut a deal with the Greens. And I think the Liberals did at one stage. It was dreadful for that state; the state paid a heavy economic price, from which it has only started to come back in recent times.

That being said, I do not believe that there ought to be legislative roadblocks put in the way of independent people running. I am sure that there will be people running in this election who are substantially less resourced than I am and there will be people running who find the road to creating a political party a challenging one. I am concerned that this legislation tonight is designed to simply shore up the current government—from the prospect of having to deal with more independents in this chamber. Of course, they will be presented with potentially other, but not minor, parties.

I will conclude my remarks at that point, but I will be voting against this bill in its totality.

MR STEFANIAK (Ginninderra) (1.07 am): I rise to put my party’s position on the record. I note that we had a large number of amendments which were dropped fairly late and which substantially wound this bill back—wound it back to basically the existing bill. In many ways, this bill seems now to be a bit of a holding bill pending further developments at a federal level in conjunction with the commonwealth government and the states. That makes you wonder just how important it is for this bill to go through given that now the Attorney-General himself has wound back a lot of his proposals. Indeed, he has wound back a number of things we had considerable concerns with. At the end of the day, it is not going to hurt democracy in this town if this bill does not pass, because we still have the old bill there, which substantially has not been amended as much as this bill initially proposed.

We do have—I hark back to it—one fundamental change tonight which, in my view, strikes at the very heart of democracy. That is to make it more difficult for independents—like-minded individuals—to have their place on the ballot paper. We can argue semantics about the Osborne group and anything like that. Yes, I made a technical mistake there, but I might say that in those days Mr Osborne could just form his own party without anyone else belonging to it. He did not have to get 100 members. Whilst I was wrong there, he, Rugendyke and Uhlmann were very much in the position that like-minded independents would be in now. Indeed, we regularly see like-minded independents put their names forward. I think a Canberra small business group got about 100 votes each. My old mate Darcy Henry topped the poll with that little group; he had a few customers in his pub. You do get those groups. It is fair; it is part of democracy. It is the beauty of our system that we have a very fair electoral system here.

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