Page 1159 - Week 03 - Thursday, 31 March 2011

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Finally, the bill includes a suite of drafting, technical and consequential amendments related to the changes I have outlined, including amendments to the Road Transport (Offences) Regulation 2005. The drafting and technical amendments include minor amendments dealing with oral fluid analysis statements and evidentiary certificates which will ensure the effective operation of the drug-testing provisions when drug testing commences in the coming months. The amendments outlined in this bill will improve the workability of the current legislation and I commend them to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Hanson) adjourned to the next sitting.

Electoral (Casual Vacancies) Amendment Bill 2011

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Attorney-General, Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Water, Minister for Energy and Minister for Police and Emergency Services) (10.51): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

This bill makes amendments to the casual vacancy provisions of the Electoral Act 1992 to provide that where a casual vacancy in the Legislative Assembly arises and the vacating member was elected as a party candidate, and no unsuccessful candidates from that party apply to contest the vacancy, the vacancy would be filled by an appointment made by the Assembly.

This bill arises from a recommendation made by the ACT Electoral Commission in its report on the conduct of the 2008 ACT Legislative Assembly general election. Mr Speaker, casual vacancies in the Assembly are currently filled by conducting a count-back of the ballot papers used to elect the vacating member. The count-back method of filling casual vacancies serves to preserve the integrity of the proportional representation aspect of the ACT’s Hare-Clark system, as it enables the voters who elected the vacating member to choose that member’s replacement.

In practice, this has always meant that a vacating member of a particular political party has been replaced by a member of the same party, thereby retaining the party balance in the Assembly, which in turn reflects the will of the electorate at the relevant general election. However, the Electoral Commission has noted that the count-back method will only operate as intended to preserve the proportional outcome of the original general election where there is at least one candidate of the vacating member’s party available to contest the vacancy.

Should a party member resign, and at least one unsuccessful candidate from that same party is not available to contest the vacancy, under the current law that vacancy would

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