Page 5374 - Week 14 - Thursday, 30 November 2017

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Since then there have been a couple more court cases, one with Bob Brown and one with McCloy. Both of these cases make it clear that while there is the right to free speech, there is also the proportionality of ensuring that there is not unreasonable or unnecessary pressure brought upon the electorate.

It is very arguable that our previous restriction would survive a High Court challenge. I note that it was not challenged. I also note that the majority report was happy to support restrictions on electoral donations from property developers. I contend that if we feel that that would survive a High Court challenge, an equivalent restriction to people who can vote in the ACT would also be constitutional. Particularly given that we now have open slather as to who can donate, it is very important to reinstate the cap on donations. I suggest it should be at $10,000, as it was before. Talking about caps, the previous rule which gave independents—one single person campaigning—a $60,000 cap rather than a $40,000 cap was a lot more equitable.

I am disappointed that we did not say something a little bit clearer about the hundred-metre rule. As Ms Cody said, we discussed this at some length and I think it is a bit disingenuous not to give our views on this.

One recommendation that I would like to highlight that no-one else has talked about yet is recommendation 11. I am sorry; I tell a lie. Mr Wall did but he was against it. I am in favour of it. This is the recommendation that the ACT Electoral Commission or another appropriate body provide a service whereby people can actually find in one place information about all the candidates.

Members will recall that there were 141 candidates at the last election. For any voter who wished to do a good job of trying to find out at least something about all the candidates in their electorate, they did not have an easy go of it. There was one organisation, CAPaD—the Canberra Alliance for Participatory Democracy—that tried to provide a website with something about every candidate. I think the ABC also tried to do that.

My proposal, and the proposal of the majority of the committee, would be that the Electoral Commission or someone like that provide a service such as the one provided in every single local council election in Australia. Candidates are asked to provide a set number of words, usually around 200 words, about themselves, and they can provide a link to an external website. In Tasmania there is the additional rule that you cannot mention any other human being in it. That is probably a good rule because it is hard to defame if you do not mention anyone. Both a website and a limited amount of printed material that could be distributed, for instance, in libraries, for those people who are not happy about using electronic means, would be a useful addition to the information available to the public. Apart from that I would agree with the comments made by the two members of the committee who have spoken, and I commend the report and my additional comments to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

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