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ELECTORAL AND REFERENDUM AMENDMENT (HOW-TO-VOTE CARDS AND OTHER MEASURES) BILL 2010

Order of the day read for the adjourned debate on the motion of the Minister for Employment Participation (Senator Arbib)—That this bill be now read a second time.

Debate resumed.

Question put and passed.

Bill read a second time.

The Senate resolved itself into committee for the consideration of the bill.

In the committee

Bill taken as a whole by leave.

Explanatory memorandum: The Special Minister of State (Senator Ludwig) tabled a supplementary explanatory memorandum relating to the government amendment to be moved to the bill.

On the motion of Senator Ludwig the following amendment was agreed to:

 Schedule 1, item 1, page 3 (lines 15 to 21), omit paragraphs (b) and (c) of the definition of how-to-vote card, substitute:

 (b) that lists the names of 2 or more of the candidates or registered political parties in an election, with a number indicating the order of voting preference in conjunction with the names of 2 or more of the candidates or parties; or

 (c) that otherwise directs or encourages the casting of votes in an election in a particular way, other than a card, handbill or pamphlet:

 (i) that only relates to first preference votes; or

 (ii) that only relates to last preference votes.

On the motion of Senator Ronaldson the following amendments, taken together by leave, were agreed to:

 Schedule 1, item 6, page 4 (line 6), after "top", insert "or bottom".

 Schedule 1, item 6, page 5 (line 13), omit "10 penalty units", substitute "50 penalty units".

 Schedule 1, item 6, page 5 (line 30), omit "10 penalty units", substitute "50 penalty units".

 Schedule 1, item 7, page 6 (line 2), after "top", insert ", bottom".

Senator Xenophon moved the following amendments together by leave:

 Page 9 (after line 5), at the end of the bill, add:

  

Schedule 3—Amendment relating to misleading or deceptive conduct

 

Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918


 1 After section 329

  Insert:

 

329A Misleading or deceptive conduct

  (1) A person commits an offence if:

 (a) the person either:

 (i) engages in conduct; or

 (ii) authorises another person to engage in conduct; and

 (b) that conduct occurs during the relevant period in relation to an election under this Act; and

 (c) that conduct is likely to mislead or deceive an elector in relation to the casting of a vote.

    Penalty: 

 (a) if the offender is a natural person—$1,000 or 6 months' imprisonment; or

 (b) if the offender is a body corporate—$5,000.

  (2) In a prosecution of a person under subsection (1), it is a defence if the person proves that he or she did not know, and could not reasonably be expected to have known, that the conduct was likely to mislead or deceive an elector in relation to the casting of a vote.

   Note: A defendant bears a legal burden in relation to the defence in subsection (2) (see section 13.4 of the Criminal Code).

  (3) If the Electoral Commissioner is satisfied that, during the relevant period in relation to an election under this Act, a person is engaging in, or has engaged in, conduct that is likely to mislead or deceive an elector in relation to the casting of a vote, the Electoral Commissioner may request the person to desist from that conduct.

  (4) In proceedings for an offence under this section, the court may take into account a person's response to a request under subsection (3) in assessing any penalty to which the person may be liable.

  (5) If the court is satisfied, in proceedings for an offence under this section, that a person has engaged in conduct that is likely to mislead or deceive an elector in relation to the casting of a vote, the court may order the person to desist from that conduct.

 2 Application of amendment

   The amendment made by this Schedule applies in relation to elections the writs for which are issued on or after the commencement of the amendment.

 Clause 2, page 2 (before line 1), at the end of the table, add:

4. Schedule 3The day this Act receives the Royal Assent.

Debate ensued.

Question—That the amendments be agreed to—put and negatived.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

Bill to be reported with amendments.


The Acting Deputy President (Senator Bishop) resumed the chair and the Temporary Chair of Committees reported accordingly.

On the motion of Senator Arbib the report from the committee was adopted and the bill read a third time.