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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2015 Week 02 Hansard (Thursday, 19 February 2015) . . Page.. 640 ..

As a community we have a compulsory voting scheme and penalties should reflect the fact that we expect members of our community as part of their citizenship to participate. It has not been changed for a long time and I think the committee saw that very clearly. I am surprised that it was not carried through. It is unclear to me what the government’s argument is as to why this would not be supported, given that the committee gave this some thought.

These penalties get updated all the time. We see this through the change in penalty units. I know, for example, that Mr Corbell has increased the level of penalty units consistently over recent years, as is appropriate. With the passage of time these matters should be updated, and that is what the committee sought to do here. I have moved these amendments to reflect the committee’s findings.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Capital Metro) (4.43): The government does not support these amendments. Amendment 2 would double the penalty for failing to vote where the matter is determined in court. Amendment 3 would similarly double the penalty for failing to vote where the matter is dealt with by default. It is the government’s view that the current default penalty for failing to vote is appropriate as it is in line with the penalty applied by the commonwealth for federal elections. This matter was canvassed in the government response to the Voting matters report. So the government has made its position clear previously.

There is no evidence to suggest that doubling of these penalties will change community behaviour. All it will do is make the ACT inconsistent with the commonwealth penalty regime. Quite frankly, if we have to rely on fines to compel people to vote, we have a problem. I would much rather encourage people to vote through education and by building an understanding of the importance of citizens’ participation in the democratic process than by increasing the amount they have to pay if they fail to attend.

MR HANSON (Molonglo—Leader of the Opposition) (4.44): We will not be supporting these amendments. We are comfortable with the rates as they are at the moment. Maybe Mr Rattenbury believes there is some advantage for him if more members of the community are compelled to vote Green or something, but the case for increasing the penalty rates, beyond what I am speculating about, simply has not been made.

MR RATTENBURY (Molonglo) (4.45): I am particularly surprised by Mr Hanson’s comments, because this came through in the committee report. This is not some initiative of the Greens particularly. The committee considered this carefully. I remind members of this place that the committee was made up of a member of the Labor Party, a member of the Liberal Party and me, representing the Greens. It is an interesting question. I would like to have been a fly on the wall in the Liberal party room when these matters were discussed, because clearly there are issues when the Liberal member of the committee was not able to carry the argument with his own party colleagues.

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