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Thursday, 7 June 1984
Page: 2778

Senator HARRADINE(4.53) —I thought I had read the Commonwealth Electoral Legislation Amendment Act backwards, frontwards and sideways. One of the things I said this morning was that the requirement for the letters A, B et cetera be printed before the squares opposite the names of group candidates on Senate ballot papers will be done away with under this legislation. When I said that this morning I understood Senator Macklin to say that the legislation will not do away with the boxes and we will still have, say, group B.

Senator Macklin —No, at the top. It does not have them down the side.

Senator HARRADINE —That is not mentioned on page 21 of this Bill. I want to know what we are voting for. Are we voting to abolish the lettering on the bottom and the top or only on the bottom? Senator Macklin seems to be under the impression that we are voting to abolish it only at the bottom. The Schedule to the legislation, on page 21, suggests that we are abolishing it both from the top and the bottom, so what are we doing? I refer to another matter. The second reading speech of the Attorney-General (Senator Gareth Evans) states:

The Government has accepted an interim recommendation from the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform that the present statutory requirement of printing letters before the squares should be repealed. If in the Committee's final report some form of lettering to identify groups is recommended for Senate ballot papers, this and any other recommendations regarding format can be given effect to by regulation made under the Act.

As I said before, I feel the form of the ballot paper is a very important matter for everybody, including candidates and every member of parliament, irrespective of whether he is on the Committee. I take some heart from what Senator Robert Ray just said, that if there were to be further amendments in respect of the matter that is under consideration they could be dealt with by an amendment to some Act or other.

Senator Robert Ray —Statute miscellaneous.

Senator HARRADINE —If that is the case, I am not unhappy about that, but I would be unhappy about it being done by regulations.