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Letter regarding the ACT electoral system



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PARLIAMENT OF AUSTRALIA ยท THE SENATE

SENATOR W A R W IC K PARER

LIBERAL SENATOR FOR Q U E EN S LA N D

S H A D O W MINISTER FOR ADMINISTRATIVE SERVICES,

LO C AL G O V E R N M EN T A N D THE ACT

4 April 1991

The Hon David Simmons, MP Minister for Arts, Tourism and Territories Parliament House CANBERRA ACT 2600

Facsimile Number 273 4125

Dear Minister,

Thank you for your letter of March 14th. I am pleased that the Government has decided to abandon its initial proposal to limit preferences in the ACT election to party lists. While

recognising that this would have reduced the time taken to count the votes, it is the Coalition view that the restriction of preferences was too high a price to pay.

As indicated previously we agree with the proposed amendments which would raise the candidates deposit to $250.00, and those pertaining to party registration and registered officers of parties.

While we would prefer a stand alone referendum we accept that the cost, particularly in the current harsh economic environment, would be prohibitive. I understand that by having a referendum at the same time as the election the cost would be minimal, and

therefore we welcome the opportunity for the citizens of the ACT to have a choice as to the electoral system to be adopted.

I note that the choice offered to the people of Canberra will be between Hare Clarke or single member electorates. While this is the recommendation of the Standing Committee (and is generally believed to be the alternatives preferred by Canberra residents) , we would need to be assured that the questions asked and

explanatory information provided will be framed so as to be equitable to both options.

Now that it is agreed that preferences can be distributed across party lines we do not believe there would be any time savirig in closing the receipt of postal votes on polling day. Additionally and more importantly we would not agree to set a precedent such

as this.

COMM ONW EALTH PARLIAMENT OFFICES 295 A N N STREET

BRISBANE QLD 4000

TELEPHONE (07) 225 2413

FACSIMILE (07) 229 1831

PARLIAMENT HOUSE

CANBERRA ACT 2600

TELEPHONE (06) 277 3670

FACSIMILE (06) 277 3871

In retrospect one wonders why the people of the ACT were not given the power to determine their own voting system when they were granted self-government - as occurred in the Northern Territory. We agree with your proposal to introduce legislation

in the Budget session to transfer this power to the ACT Assembly.

While I have no reason to doubt your intent on the matters

outlined in your letter, prudence dictates that we would need to see the proposed amended legislation to ensure that there are no unintended consequences.

Yours sincere!

Warwick Parer