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Thursday, 14 March 2002
Page: 1305


Mr SLIPPER (Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration) (10:10 AM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

This Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Roll Integrity and Other Measures) Bill 2002 bill contains amendments to the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act) and the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 arising from the government-supported electoral reform recommendations of the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters report titled The 1998 federal election.

The government response to the JSCEM report was tabled on 1 March 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.

This bill was introduced in the House of Representatives on 16 September 2001, as the Electoral and Referendum Amendment Bill (No. 2) 2001, but lapsed when the parliament was prorogued for the 2001 federal election.

The government considers that these are important and urgent reforms to the electoral process, which should be implemented as soon as possible. I commend the bill to the House and present the explanatory memorandum.

Debate (on motion by Mr Albanese) adjourned.