Page 1493 - Week 06 - Thursday, 2 July 2020

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I want to take the opportunity to thank the Electoral Commission for its valuable contribution to and feedback on the bill, as well as the advice that is presented in its special report on the impact of COVID-19 on the ACT 2020 election, which has informed the early voting amendments.

The independent, fair and transparent conduct of elections is an uncompromising feature of democratic governance and it should be a prevailing consideration in any proposed changes to our electoral laws. The government is confident that the electoral amendments in this bill support those key tenets and that they will help all Canberrans to have their say in the upcoming territory election.

As I also indicated on presentation of the bill, it includes amendments to repeal section 68BA of the Supreme Court Act. This was introduced as a temporary COVID-19 measure. Repeal of the provision means that judges can no longer order that an accused be tried by judge alone, without the accused electing to be tried in that manner, unless the transitional provisions apply. The transitional provisions ensure that when processes under section 68BA have been started or an order has already been made, the section will continue to operate, unaffected by repeal.

I did make it clear at the time that, in the balancing of the various rights—not just one set of rights but the various rights—that are involved in these decisions, it was indeed a matter of an emergency step for the very particular circumstances that we faced at that time. I am extremely pleased that the hard work of the ACT community has meant that we are in a position quickly to repeal this provision that was always intended as a temporary provision. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

Bill agreed to.

Social media posts

Statement by Speaker

MADAM SPEAKER: Mr Parton, I put to you again the request.

MR PARTON (Brindabella) (12.09): I seek leave to make a statement in response to your statement this morning.

MADAM SPEAKER: No. There was just a simple request to you to withdraw, which you did, and then to remove the two offending videos from your social media. You sought advice. I thought that was just a timing matter. It is not for debate. You will either remove them or not.

MR PARTON: Do you want me to tell you whether I have removed them or do you want me to sit down?

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