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Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Improving Electoral Procedure) Bill 2012

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2010-2011-2012

 

 

 

THE PARLIAMENT OF THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA

 

 

 

 

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

 

 

 

 

ELECTORAL AND REFERENDUM AMENDMENT (IMPROVING ELECTORAL PROCEDURE) BILL 2012

 

 

 

 

SUPPLEMENTARY EXPLANATORY MEMORANDUM

 

 

 

Amendments to be Moved on Behalf of the Government

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Circulated by the authority of the Special Minister of State,

the Hon Gary Gray AO MP)

 

 

 



ELECTORAL AND REFERENDUM AMENDMENT (IMPROVING ELECTORAL PROCEDURE) BILL 2012

 

OUTLINE

The Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Improving Electoral Procedure) Bill 2012 (the Bill) as introduced, amends the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 (the Electoral Act) and the Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984 (the Referendum Act).

 

Following the inquiry into the conduct of the 2010 federal election, the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) tabled a report entitled The 2010 Federal Election: Report on the conduct of the election and related matters (JSCEM Report).  The Bill implements the Government response to Recommendations 12, 31and 32 of the JSCEM Report as well as making a number of technical and minor amendments. 

 

The Bill contains provisions that will:

·            remove the prescription relating to how postal votes are processed currently set out in the Electoral Act and the Referendum Act.  The amendments will also seek to allow for technological developments over time;

·            increase the sum to be deposited by or on behalf of a person nominated as a Senator from $1000 to $2000;

·            increase the sum to be deposited by or on behalf of a person nominated as a Member of the House of Representatives from $500 to $1000;

·            increase the number of nominators required by a candidate for the Senate or the House of Representatives who has not been nominated by a registered political party from 50 to 100 electors;

·            require unendorsed candidates for the Senate who have made a request to be grouped to each be nominated by 100 unique electors; and

·            make a number of minor and technical amendments.

 

Following the introduction of the Bill on 27 June 2012 it was referred to the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM).  JSCEM considered the Bill and reported on 16 August 2012.  Mr Melham spoke to the JSCEM Report on 16 August 2012 noting that the recommendations made in the JSCEM Report were unanimous.

 

The JSCEM Report does not support amending the Electoral Act to omit the use of the term “unsound mind”.  The basis for the JSCEM recommendations concern was two-fold.  Firstly, while acknowledging that the term “unsound mind” is out-dated, it is of longstanding use in legislation and has an established meaning which provides some certainty.  Secondly, one of the amendments increased the range of health professionals who could make an assessment that a person is incapable of understanding the nature and significance of enrolment and voting.  JSCEM considered that could result in some persons using the change to circumvent the compulsory voting obligations contained in section 245 of the Electoral Act.

In reviewing this matter, the Government is persuaded by the reasoning contained in the JSCEM Report that this measure should have further consideration and not proceed at this time.  These amendments are found at Items 3, 4 and 10 and 11 of Schedule 3 to the Bill and will be omitted.   The Government amendments to this Bill which remove these proposed amendments result in the law remaining as it has been since 1902. 

FINANCIAL IMPACT STATEMENT

The costs associated with implementation of the measures contained in this Bill will be absorbed by the Australian Electoral Commission from existing resourcing.

 

 

The Hon Gary Gray AO MP, Special Minister of State