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Wednesday, 13 March 2013
Page: 1972

Mrs BRONWYN BISHOP (Mackellar) (17:39): I want to make it quite clear that the reasons that we are wishing to see 12 days, not 19 days, for pre-poll has got absolutely nothing to do with nostalgia. It has everything to do with a strong and logical vote, which I put, which is that I want the voters to be well informed when they are casting their ballots. That means having the ability to hear and judge the manifestos given by the political parties as they launch their campaigns later and later in the cycle. It also means that any issues that blow up in that period are taken into account when they are casting their ballot. That is a strong, logical, deeply held argument. It has nothing to do with nostalgia.

With regard to the question of the concept of making a comparison with the voting system of the United States, nothing could be further from an irrelevancy. Our voting systems are entirely and utterly distinct, separate and different, let alone the question of the compulsory nature and preferential nature of our elections. So I do not think that what occurred in the United States elections has any bearing on the debates we are having here.

By maintaining the importance of keeping that certificate with regard to pre-poll votes we are simply reinforcing that the purpose of a pre-poll vote is not that 'I think I will go and vote today because it is easier for me to do so,' but it is because you are complying with the reasons set out in the legislation, and that you are committing yourself to saying in a public way that that is what you are doing. I think those things are important to maintain in the legislation.

So, I would simply say of the amendments we are moving, particularly that very strong argument about the Australian Taxation Office, that I think people are appalled that tax office information is being extended to the Electoral Commission. There may be other legitimate purposes for which information can be shared. I do not believe this is one of them.

To the coalition the whole concept of automatic enrolment, which corrupts the integrity of the roll, is something we will stand firmly against. With those words I am strongly and firmly moving our amendments.

The SPEAKER: The question is that the amendments be agreed to.

The SPEAKER: The question now is that this bill, as amended, be agreed to.

Question agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.