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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31719

Mr McMULLAN (9:05 AM) —The Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Finance and Administration says what a dubious pleasure it is to be here on a Saturday morning. For those of us who were successful at the last election, what would be worse would be not to be here.

Mr Slipper —At least you got to sleep in your own bed last night.

Mr McMULLAN —If you go back to the English language you'll find I wasn't complaining.

The SPEAKER —I am sure the sentiments are widely shared. The member for Fraser has made a very charitable remark and he has the call.

Mr McMULLAN —That is the end of the charitable remarks for the morning, Mr Speaker.

The SPEAKER —I regret that. I have, nonetheless, recognised the member for Fraser.

Mr McMULLAN —It is quite clear that nobody told the parliamentary secretary what was in the original bill, the merits of which he was defending just now. He quite clearly did not understand it. Several of the things he said the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Enrolment Integrity and Other Measures) Bill 2004 did do it did not do, and several of the things he said it did not do it did. Let us get it clear: the Senate has prevented a great rort here. What was proposed was a shocking antidemocratic rort. The government got rolled in the Senate. They could not drum up a vote in the Senate to support the outrageous proposals they had. The bill now looks dramatically different, and it is one that we are prepared, in this form, to support. As a result of the successful Labor amendments in the Senate, the roll will not be closed early and therefore many young Australians will now have their right to vote. You do not deserve to have your right to vote impaired just because Mark Textor says most people in that cohort are not voting for the Liberals. That is not a case for affecting their right to the franchise.

Secondly, the electoral enrolment regime will be improved but it will not be made unnecessarily complicated in a manner that is clearly designed to disenfranchise the most disadvantaged in our community for whom the nature of our government is most important. Thirdly, the government's attempt to hide many political donations by raising the disclosure threshold for political donations has failed, and a number of other measures which would have made it harder for disadvantaged people to exercise their democratic right to vote have been removed. The integrity of electoral enrolment can only be assured if all Australians can easily get on the roll. If the roll is secure, electoral fraud is deterred.

We support the bipartisan measures that the Liberal and Labor members of the electoral committee supported—that all the members supported—but which the government rolled in a cynical attempt to get some partisan advantage on the eve of the election. We will not support those measures now. They would have restricted or reduced the franchise of those groups whose disadvantage makes their right to vote so important. Opposition members in the Senate have successfully defended the franchise and stopped proposals to make political parties less accountable. Therefore, we support the adoption of the amendments made in the Senate.