Mrs Armitage (Launceston) - Madam Acting President, I support the bill before us. I do not see any problems with it that cannot be overcome. I take note of the member for Murchison's comments about a party called the Independent Party. As it says in the second reading speech, it gives candidates the option of having the word 'independent'. If you think you are going to be confused with the party, do not put the word 'independent'. You do not actually have to do it. I do not see a problem there. It is not a problem either to have a definition of 'independent'. It might be quite a good idea.
I am a little concerned about the proposed amendment to section 81, where it says that the word 'independent' is to appear on the ballot paper provided he or she wants the word 'independent' to appear and he or she is not a registered member, that is, a person whose name does not appear in the party register as a registered member of a party. So what really is there to stop people resigning? From memory, mention has been made previously about whether a person should not have been a member of a party for three years or four years or for a certain number of years before they could actually class themselves as an independent. Otherwise, it really makes a bit of a mockery of it. It is no different to being independent Labor/independent Liberal, if you are going to resign from the party but still hold that ethos and those values, and vote according to those. I see that as a little bit of a problem.
I will support the bill. Everyone should have the option of having Independent under their name if they are standing as an independent member. As I said, if for some reason a party calls itself the 'Independent Party' and you do not want to be associated with it, you do not have the word under your name.
Mr Valentine - It also raises the question about whether the Electoral Commissioner has access to party registers to know whether someone is independent.
Mrs Armitage - 'Yes' is the answer to that.
Mr Valentine - They do have access?
Mrs ARMITAGE - I would imagine that it would almost be an honour system -
Mr Farrell - In the party I am closest to - if you are running in an election and someone is running as an endorsed candidate, and you want to run in that election, as happened in the Windermere election, you have to leave the party. You cannot be a half-member or anything. You are either in or out if you are running against an endorsed member.
Mr Valentine - Is that the same for all parties? We do not know, I suppose.
Mr Farrell - I do not know. I have not been to a lot of Liberal Party meetings lately.
Mrs ARMITAGE - On the question of whether the Electoral Commissioner has access, if there is a question on the form and you answered it dishonestly, I would have thought it would be a reason for you to not be elected if you were elected. There is usually a penalty for telling falsehoods on such forms, if someone were to disprove it or prove otherwise.
I will be supporting the bill before us because it is a move in the right direction.