Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 14 Hansard (Thursday, 19 November 2009) . . Page.. 5352 ..
I note that in the year that we celebrate 20 years of democracy—as the bottom of the letterhead shows—it is something that Australia has, in many ways, led the world on for a long time. As Mr Seselja said earlier, going back to the early days, there were limits on expenses of members of the House of Representatives. It was doubled for a member of the Senate. The reporting that went into it is clearly something that may not have been at the forefront of the political process at all times but it has certainly been at the back of the political process. People have been considering our democracy, which is one of the longest continuous democracies in the world, and asking: how can we protect it; how can we open it up and make it more accessible; how can we ensure that everyone has an equal say? That is something that all Australians talk about, aspire to and, I hope, believe in. It is something that I think they do believe in.
Again, I congratulate the leader of the opposition on what he is attempting to do today. It sounds like the motion has broad support, which is great. The only way it can go forward is in a tripartite way when all parties in this place, indeed all parties beyond us—all groups in the community—feel that when this inquiry gets underway they can front up to the committee, have their say, know that they are being heard and see what they said reflected in the final report. Then mid-year or late next year and in subsequent years as we in this place discuss this issue and formulate a way forward we can actually do it with the interests of the voter, the constituent, in mind—because they are the people we are here to serve.
It is a very important day in terms of the maturity of this place. I think it is very apt that, hopefully just by coincidence, it is occurring in the 20th year of our democracy. I think it says quite clearly to other jurisdictions—I note what the federal parliament is up to and the discussions that are occurring in New South Wales—that they should look at what we are doing. As Mr Seselja said, other democracies—Brazil, Canada and the United Kingdom—are working on this. They perhaps lead us at this stage. Perhaps the ACT as a jurisdiction can become the shining light when it comes to electoral reform, honesty, openness, accountability and having elections based on substance. As the elected representatives of the people of the ACT, we can represent their needs and aspirations. By understanding their needs and aspirations we can make good law and govern to meet their needs and their aspirations. My congratulations go to the Assembly on the mature way people are approaching this and also to the leader of the opposition on bringing forward this motion today.
MR SESELJA (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (4.23): To close the debate, I thank members for their contributions and support. I think this is an important step forward. This is the first step that we have taken today as an Assembly towards, hopefully, some very substantial and long lasting reforms in the way that campaign financing occurs in the ACT. This is not something to be underestimated. Our democracy and all of the institutions and laws that underpin it are critical to the wellbeing of all Canberrans, and indeed all Australians as we look nationally.
We have a robust democracy. We have one of the best and most well-functioning democracies in the world. We should never take that for granted. We should never take it for granted that, because we are now a very well-functioning democracy, there are not areas for improvement, there are not things we can do better and there are not things we can reform in order to continue that process. If you are not reforming in