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Thursday, 24 June 2004
Page: 31720

Mr ANDREN (9:08 AM) —As I pointed out in my speech in the second reading debate on the Electoral and Referendum Amendment (Enrolment Integrity and Other Measures) Bill 2004, I too welcome the removal of the early closure of the rolls. Many people, including students in my own electorate, do not think of elections until such time as they are called. Many of these people are moving from one place to another, from Sydney to Bathurst and so on, and I think to remove the allowance of that little bit of leeway—

The SPEAKER —Order! The member for Mackellar, who is so fond of the standing orders, might like to consult standing order 55.

Mr ANDREN —It would have been a quite antidemocratic move. I understand that something like 350,000 voters would have been excluded had we gone down that path. Retaining the donation disclosure cap at $1,500 is another wise move, for the reasons I outlined earlier in my speech on the second reading. Not insisting on scrutineers to assist the disabled and the change to enrolment ID to that recommended by the parliamentary committee are very welcome.

I do have a difficulty with the provisions based on the Labor Party amendment in the Senate where there has been an ending, if you like, of the lodging or recording of names of parties that have a like name to that already in existence. As I understand it, this would mean that the terms `democratic' and `democrat' would belong to the Democrats from this day forth. Also, the Liberals for Forests would not have been registered under this process. I wonder what provision there might be for someone wanting to register `Independents' as an entity in the days and weeks ahead. I wonder too whether it might suit the government or the Labor Party if, indeed, someone had been considering setting up a party called `Labor against the free trade deal' or `Liberals against the free trade deal' as a Senate ticket in the upcoming election. That, it appears, would not get to base one and would suit the purposes of the existing system very nicely indeed.

I also understand that prisoners serving a term whose whole term coincides with an electoral cycle would not get a vote. It now depends on the length of the term they serve. It means that the Prime Minister of the day basically determines whether a person can get the vote. Currently, prisoners serving five years or more do not get a vote, and it seems that we may be denying a vote to even more prisoners. As I again pointed out in my speech on the second reading, I have had some of the most moving and passionate letters from prisoners within jails. Koori prisoners often want me to contact their people who may have come down from outback areas and want some issue attended to for their loved ones while they are incarcerated. Given the fact that something like 30 per cent of our prison population are Indigenous—and for many reasons and circumstances they have been brought to that situation—and if prisoners are contacting members of parliament who may be able to do something constructive for them, I think that is a very positive sign that they are using and respecting the system. The more we deny prisoners a vote, the more we deny them rehabilitation and the opportunity to get out of the circumstances that have brought them there. I oppose both those amendments to this legislation. I just wanted to put that on the record.

The SPEAKER —The question is that the amendments be agreed to.

Question agreed to.