Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2022

Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2022

(Second Reading Debate, 10 August 2022, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

I make a brief contribution to debate on the Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2022. I will speak further in consideration in detail and flag that I will have two amendments to the legislation that I have discussed with colleagues. I acknowledge that this bill follows a great deal of work from the Government, the electoral matters committees and other reports to get this piece of legislation to the Chamber. I think we will always need to look at electoral law as elections and campaigning continue to modernise. I am concerned that we will not have iVoting at the next election. I understand that that is an opinion that has come from the Electoral Commissioner. However, I represent the electorate which has the most people who are registered to vote who live overseas or who are often travelling and iVote became a way in which they could participate in elections beyond postal votes. It was a convenient way, and also, it was important for people with a disability or other illnesses.

I understand that work is being done to deal with phone voting, but there are concerns there. I hope the Government can address that to make sure that all citizens that are entitled to vote are able to vote. My amendments focus in particular on Independent candidates. As we saw at the last Federal election, there was an independent spring with a number of Independents elected in seats around the country. It is important that when we are dealing with electoral law that we focus on Independents. Independents have a completely different process to all political parties. We are an important part of the political system. The legislation that we are dealing with will allow parties to have logos on the ballot paper. My amendments will expand that provision to include Independents.

Also, while parties are often operated and campaigns can be operated out of a headquarters, Independents can run campaign offices. I acknowledge that for regional members transport is a large expense and that is why the legislation, subject to The Greens' amendments which I will support, removes transport out of the cap, which I think is fair enough. As is the case with campaign office expenses, if one has to run a campaign office and one's campaign is in metropolitan Sydney, as mine is, campaign office expenses are more expensive than they are in other places. To create an even playing field, I think it is important that a limited amount of campaign office expense is taken outside the cap. I acknowledge the concerns that The Greens have raised with me on that. We do not want people to manipulate an expenditure item being taken out of the cap. Therefore, we have put a limit of $20,000 on that. I thank the Government for bringing the legislation to the Parliament. It is something that we need to ensure is passed before the next election to deal with various decisions and advice from the Electoral Commission. I thank all members for their contributions.

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