Page 518 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 21 February 2012

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was to cap political donations and political expenditure and to increase the level of public funding provided to parties, MLAs and candidates.

As the response to the report states, while the government is committed to supporting reform of reporting of campaign funding for political parties, it does remain concerned about a number of the committee’s recommendations, particularly in relation to the proposed caps on donations and expenditure. This has required careful consideration by the government before finalising the government response. The government is supportive of the principles underlying a number of the recommendations but is wary of over-committing to initiatives if their implementation involves resources that have not yet been made available.

Therefore, the government response that I table today sets out the government’s position on each of the 21 recommendations. In summary, the government is agreeing to six of the recommendations, agreeing in principle to four, noting seven and not agreeing to five.

As the government response indicates, its submission to the inquiry considered six main issues. These were the terms of reference for the inquiry and the relevance of the commonwealth government’s electoral reform green paper, relevant issues raised in the ACT Electoral Commission’s 2008 report into the 2008 ACT Legislative Assembly election, recent legislative changes, the issue of disclosure thresholds, the issue of anonymous donations and related human rights and privacy issues.

Broadly, the government’s submission concluded that any reforms of the current electoral system must achieve an appropriate balance between the need for transparency in our system and the right of a person to engage in political activity, that it would not be appropriate to make changes to the system that result in additional public cost unless there is a demonstrated and pressing need and that it would be appropriate to await the outcomes of consideration of the recommendations of the Australian government’s electoral reform green paper before commencing changes to the ACT system.

The government’s response to the committee’s report reflects the government’s conviction in these matters, but also reflects its understanding that a degree of compromise is necessary given the position of other parties in this place. The government’s response is, in turn, reflected in the approach taken by the government in relation to the various electoral amendment bills currently before the Assembly, particularly the Electoral Amendment Bill 2012. This bill will be a government bill to introduce reforms to campaign financing and disclosure laws and will be introduced this Thursday. I commend the government’s response to the committee’s report to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Older Persons Assembly

Paper and statement by minister

MS BURCH (Brindabella—Minister for Community Services, Minister for the Arts, Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Minister for Ageing, Minister for Women and

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