SPEECH: DELAY TO THE BY-ELECTIONS
*CHECK AGAINST DELIVERY*
Thank you, Speaker. On indulgence I would like to note a few things about the decision, respecting the fact the decision is not only made by you in terms of the advice that you've received from the Australian Electoral Commission, and ask that my comments be seen very much in that context.
There are a number of by-elections which have occurred since you took the chair. In North Sydney, the writs were issued in three days, Bennelong, two days, New England, the same day, in Batman, six days. It will now be for these by-elections a delay of 14 days, and instead of the people going to vote 35, 36, 44 days later, they will go to vote 79 days later.
I also respect the decision is now made. The letters that you have tabled... You said were on the 17 May and the 23 May, had the decision been made within the time the other by-election decisions were made, it would've been made before those letters were even received from the Australian Electoral Commission.
The Australian Electoral Commission have claimed they want all candidates to know the new rules, I think anyone running for these by-elections, if they don't know by now what the High Court has decided, there is nothing that will help them. There's nothing that will help them.
Thank you, Mr Speaker. The AEC would normally not recommend a date, as you have said, but on this occasion they have recommended a date and they have used the fact they want this new recommendation as the reason. Now, they appeared before the relevant inquiry months ago. They had their in the in with the relevant inquiry through appearing last year. The regulations and discussions with the Opposition happened more than a week ago, and we have a situation now where that 79 day delay, which is not applied anywhere else, is on the basis the Australian Electoral Commission, which, if the Prime Minister went down to Yarralumla and called an election today, they would be able to conduct it with 150 seats in 33 days' time. For 150 seats!
Instead they say it has to be delayed all this period and it just happens to be on the day of the Labor Party National Conference. It s a ‘what a coincidence’ moment. What a coincidence on the Australian Electoral Commission.
I raise one final point, Mr Speaker. Because of the way the Australian Electoral Commission have written to you and the arguments they have put, and because of the initial delay waiting for their letters, it means Parliamentary representation in communities around Australia that could have a representative on the 16th of June, had the writs been issued immediately, instead will not be represented in this place and what was allowed to happen in the other by-elections, including members on that side, now means that there will be a delay in Parliamentary representation, which could have been avoided and would not occur in the circumstances of a general election.