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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2605

Dr KLUGMAN(4.32) —Again we had numerous submissions on this topic and the basic proposition is that the provision does not apply to a person who has been actually convicted to be imprisoned for a year. He may have received a sentence of only six months but the offence for which he is convicted may be one which carries a maximum penalty of one year. The general argument was that, for serious offences, the maximum penalty was usually five years. We could not see why people convicted of lesser offences should not be entitled to vote. People feel that it is a civil liberties issue and that they have already been punished . It could be likened to the position in the Soviet Union where a person may be sentenced to five years gaol and then lose his civil rights for another period-

Mr Steele Hall —Do you think that should apply equally to members of parliament?

Dr KLUGMAN —No, it would require a change to the Constitution.

Mr Steele Hall —Do you think that that should be done?

Dr KLUGMAN —I have no strong views on the matter. Provided the elector knows that a person has been convicted of a certain offence, it could be argued that that person should be not be excluded from standing for office. The electors may want to vote for him even though he has been sent to gaol for a particular offence; it could be justified. My view is that it is the duty of the courts to punish and that the loss of civil rights, such as is common in countries with which we do not usually like to compare ourselves, represents an additional punishment which should not be meted out. That was obviously the view of the Committee. The honourable member may recall that the argument was between those who wanted a 12 months period and those who wanted complete deletion. Finally the compromise period of five years was arrived at.

Amendment negatived.

Clause agreed to.

Clauses 24 to 26-by leave-taken together, and agreed to.

Clause 27 (Claims for provisional enrolment).