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Thursday, 10 November 1983
Page: 2613

Mr HODGMAN(5.15) —In deference to the Special Minister of State (Mr Beazley) and the shortage of time I will make my remarks very brief. This Moscow -like legislation will be overwhelmingly rejected by the people of Australia. This legislation is a precursor. I am totally opposed to the provisions relating to public funding, taking the taxpayers' money and paying it to political parties, and the list system. Public funding originated with Lenin in the Soviet Union, was carried forward by Stalin and embraced by Mussolini in Italy and by Hitler in Germany. I will have no part of it and the people of Australia will have no part of it. I suggest that by going down this track the Government is doing something where, in the long run, the chickens will come home to roost and it will not be to the Government's advantage.

Let me tell the Government how undemocratic its registration of political parties provision is. The Government puts a premium on democracy because it will not let a party register unless it has 500 members. I think the people of Australia ought to know this. We could have a party which, in theory, might have 100 members, a first rate candidate in the Senate collecting 15 per cent of the Senate vote in the State, but that party could not be registered because it did not get 500 members.

Further on in the legislation we see the taxpayers' money will go only to the big parties. A party has to get 4 per cent of the vote. If it is below 4 per cent of the vote it will not get a cent of taxpayers' money. I do not support public funding. I suggest the legislation is iniquitous. On the registration of political parties-I appeal to the Minister to pick this one up-the Bill provides that certain party names shall not be registered. If honourable members look at clause 58G (b) they will see that the name of a party cannot be registered if it is obscene, but what about if it is blasphemous? What about if it is sacrilegious? This is not an idle point. I ask the Minister to look at this. I am sure it is an oversight on his part. I am not making it a political point in relation to what he intends to do to the oath of allegiance to God and the Queen , but I ask him seriously why he is not going to make it illegal for blasphemous names to be registered as being the names of political parties.

I will deal with the question of deregistration. This is covered in clause 58Q; these are my concluding remarks. The Australian Electoral Commission will automatically deregister a party if its membership falls below 500. I think that is unjust. I think that is completely undemocratic. Provision has been made for it to be a party operating in one State or territory, it does not have to be national. This legislation discriminates against the smaller States and against the territories. If the number drops below 500 the party is out. In conclusion, the legislation, of which this is the core, is undemocratic, unprincipled and whatever happens in this Parliament the people of Australia will reject it neck and crop.