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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2610

Mr STEELE HALL(4.57) —This clause contains quite an enormous change in political circumstances concerning the registration of political parties. It is a very large clause. That does not mean that we oppose everything in clause 42. We had already come part of the way before we got to registration which is in Part IXA. I again raise in brief the argument that I put yesterday at the second reading stage that this is the first real manifestation of the marrying together of a political party and the Government of the day. It is the beginning of the march on the public with political parties arm in arm with public administration and the Government. The Government is going to do it by using taxpayers' money.

In the Government's eyes the need for registration is there because of two major departures in the current electoral system. They are public funding and list systems of voting. A few other things may require registration, but they are the main ones in our eyes. These are the two major departures, as I have said which the public does not want and does not approve of. From the polls that have been taken, whether one refers to the poll quoted by the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young) which is more recent than the example I gave yesterday, basically the public does not want a conjunction of interest between political parties and the Government. The simple fact that one registers gives one an advantage. The Government must face this point. The Special Minister of State (Mr Beazley) must face the fact that if a party does not register it will be disadvantaged. He cannot deny that point. If a party does not register, it will not receive any money and its candidates will not be listed on the ballot paper. So if this legislation passes, what will every party be forced to do? They will not have the choice any more. There is no choice about whether they will register, because they are dead if they do not register. It is the offer that they cannot refuse. If parties register and receive more than 4 per cent of the vote they receive all of this lovely money, a great cheque.

Mr Hunt —It is corrupting the system.

Mr STEELE HALL —As the honourable member for Gwydir says, it is corrupting the political system. Corruption may extend from registration through to public funding. Yesterday I heard the Minister-or it may have been the honourable member for Port Adelaide (Mr Young)-say that public funding, providing money to governments, prevents corruption. That amazing member said: 'The only place in Australia which has public funding is New South Wales'. There is no corruption in New South Wales! A Minister has just resigned in New South Wales. His seat is still warm. In fact, it has just been filled-unlike the case of the honourable member for Port Adelaide, whose former office is locked, awaiting his return after the Caucus vote. We are fed this great logic that corruption will be prevented by feeding taxpayers' money to hungry political parties. The most corrupt government in Australia is the New South Wales Government. New South Wales is the only State which has public funding. I have never heard of such a disgrace and such a lack of logic in approach.

Dr Klugman —Madam Deputy Chairman, I raise a point of order. I protest on behalf of the Queensland State Government.

The DEPUTY CHAIRMAN (Mrs Child) —There is no point of order.

Mr STEELE HALL —I do not think we need to become heated about this matter. It is a matter of great principle for the coalition parties. As I said before, we cannot refuse this offer. The coalition parties, in evidence before the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform, said that they cannot resist it. If the Parliament says 'You are dead if you do not register', they will have to register. As I said, it is the offer they cannot refuse and they will be forced at electoral gunpoint to accept it. We do not like this conjunction of the parties and the Government marching together on the electors, and funded by the public-the very taxpayers whose votes they want. It is a bad conjunction, bad principle and bad government. Obviously, instead of making governments free of corruption, it in fact corrupts. As the Ministers march out of the New South Wales Government, which is the only publicly funded government, we need no further example of why we should turn away from it. We oppose this clause because it is the beginning of corruption of the system and we will vote against it.