Page 401 - Week 01 - Thursday, 16 February 2012

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Electoral system

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (6.07): As I promised, Mr Speaker, I will take the time in the adjournment debate to mark the 20th anniversary of the successful electoral system referendum in the ACT and the decision by the ACT population to have Hare-Clark as its electoral system. As members would know, I was fairly closely involved in the Hare-Clark campaign committee. I want to take some time to pay tribute to the sterling work of a range of diverse people who came together, despite their diversity, with one aim, which was to give the ACT a fair electoral system in the face of the proposal from the Labor Party at the time that we should have single-member electorates.

The Hare-Clark campaign committee was an extraordinary demonstration of social capital in the ACT, with a coalition coming together of the Liberal Party, the Democrats, the Proportional Representation Society, the Residents Rally, the Greens, the Business Lobby, the Wilderness Society and noted individuals. They ran a campaign which was supported by a huge number of volunteers and many others over a long period.

We turned—and I say “we”; I was involved and I took time off my work to participate in the campaign—an approval rating for Hare-Clark from something like 25 per cent of the population to close to 75 per cent of the population by the time of the ballot. I think this is something that people can be proud of. It was a fabulous experience for those of us who were involved in the Hare-Clark campaign.

The Hare-Clark campaign was supported by a representative from each of the parties that I mentioned. It was headed by Bogey Musidlak from the Proportional Representation Society and included Miko Kirschbaum, John Gagg, Lyle Dunne, Keith Old and Graeme Evans. One member of the Labor Party, Mr Ken Fry, came on board to give his support to the Hare-Clark campaign. There were other notable supporters—Mr Malcolm Mackerras and the late Professor Arthur Burns, to name the key players.

The committee was committed and worked really hard. It was known for what, these days, would be called electoral stunts. We did not have much money but we had huge amounts of imagination. There was a handicap race outside the Woden Plaza. Mr Hare made a surprise appearance at the Multicultural Festival outside in Civic Square distributing balloons that said simply, “the best” and “fair and democratic”. I will not tell you who was wearing the hare suit at the time, but he was closely related to me. One of his assistants remarked that she tried to give away balloons but some children said, “No, I don’t want a balloon from you; I want it from the rabbit.”

In addition, there was an essay competition and there was a gerrymander wheel. Every day we put out some element. We had a campaign office in City Walk, which is now the Medicare office, I think. We put out some element every day. I pay tribute to one person who was a great mentor—and there were great mentors, Mr Jim Leedman, Mr Tony Hedley—the great Neil Robson, the father of Robson rotation. It was a great outburst of democracy. It was nearly thwarted when the ACT Labor Party introduced

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