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Monday, 6 September 1993
Page: 975

Senator BELL (9.48 p.m.) —by leave—I move:

1.The schedule, page 4, lines 6 and 7, proposed paragraph 8(2)(b) of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988, omit the proposed paragraph, substitute the following paragraph:

  "(b)such other number of members as is provided for by an enactment, following a referendum to enable the electors of the Territory to choose the number of members to be provided for in that enactment.".

2.The schedule, page 4, after proposed subsection 8(2) of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988, add the following subsection:

  "(3)A referendum referred to in subsection (2) shall be held in accordance with Part 4 of the Australian Capital Territory (Electoral) Act 1988, the provisions of which shall apply, so far as they are capable of application with appropriate changes, as if:

    (a)references in that Part to alternative voting systems and options were references to two or more alternative numbers of members of the Assembly; and

    (b)references to the Minister, the Leader of the Opposition in the House of Representatives and the Leader of the Australian Democrats in the Parliament were references to the members of the Assembly for the time being holding those positions.".

These amendments were not foreshadowed in my speech at the second reading stage. The effect of these amendments would be to address the amendment by the government which seeks to confer on the ACT legislature the capacity to determine the number of representatives in that legislature. The amendments which are proposed by the Democrats would consider that number of representatives in the legislature in terms of a referendum to be conducted in the ACT, by the ACT and responded to by the ACT electors.

  It is the belief of the Democrats that that is a much more appropriate way of addressing the problem than the manner proposed by Senator Ian Macdonald's amendment which seeks to retain that authority within this federal parliament. We believe the ACT electors appreciate the capacity to have within the territory a government which is not overshadowed by big brother here, but rather a government which determines its own future. However, there are some concerns about allowing the executive government unfettered opportunity to determine the number of representatives. With all that in mind, the Democrats propose that such a decision be made by the electors of the ACT in full through a referendum. It is for those reasons that we propose these amendments. I think that explains the amendments sufficiently.

Senator Schacht —It would have been better if the amendments had been moved separately. So far I have not had an explanation of amendment No. 2.

Senator BELL —Amendment No. 2 makes sense of No. 1 because it describes how it will happen. The essential effect is to replace that part of the government's amendment which proposes to grant to the ACT government the capacity to determine its numbers. Having omitted that paragraph, amendment No. 2 describes how that will be done. I do not think any further explanation is warranted.