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Wednesday, 26 September 2001
Page: 31451


Mr SLIPPER (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (9:31 AM) —I move:

That the bill be now read a second time.

The Electoral and Referendum Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2001 contains amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 and the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 arising from the government supported electoral reform recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters report entitled The 1998 federal election. The government response to the report was tabled on 1 March 2001. The Electoral and Referendum Amendment Act (No. 1) 2001, containing the technical amendments arising from the committee's report on the 1998 federal election, received royal assent on the 28 April 2001 and was proclaimed on 16 July 2001.

The most notable amendments of this bill include those which will:

· provide for the close of the rolls for an election or referendum for new enrolments at 6 p.m. on the day of the issue of the writ and, for existing electors wishing to update their enrolment, at 8 p.m. three working days after the issue of the writ;

· remove the right to vote for all prisoners serving a sentence of full-time detention;

· amend the multiple voting offence to provide an increased penalty where it can be demonstrated that the offence was committed deliberately;

· increase a number of the financial disclosure thresholds to $3,000, effective from 1 July 2001;

· amend the objection provisions to provide that electors may be removed from the roll by objection if they no longer reside at their enrolled address and have not lived there for at least the last month, rather than the requirement that the objection be based on non-residence in the subdivision for the last month;

· provide that an elector's provisional vote will not be admitted to scrutiny if an election—excluding the election to which the scrutiny relates—has been held since the removal of the elector from the roll or if there has been a redistribution of the state or territory that includes the division since the last election;

· provide that there will be no automatic reinstatement to the roll for electors whose provisional votes have been admitted to the count. Instead, electors will be required to complete an enrolment form to be placed back on the roll; and

· prohibit scrutineers from actively participating in assisted votes.

The government believes these reforms are important. They improve the integrity of the electoral process and I would urge that the bill be given timely passage. I commend the bill to the House and present the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Mr Horne) adjourned.