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Local Government – Electoral Reforms

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 26 November 2020

Tags: Electoral Reform, Local Government

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, in May 2018, then premier Will Hodgman announced there would be a review of Tasmania's Electoral Act to canvass issues including the introduction of state-based donations disclosure. The final review report was due to be released in late 2019, but still hasn't been made public.

Just recently, you announced that the local government elections bill would not be considered by parliament until the second half of next year, 2021, and that the draft bill is only going to be made publicly available in the first half of next year.

Minister, you have continued to kick the can down the road on this important donations reform. We are the only state in Australia that doesn't require local government candidates to disclose campaign donations. Who are you trying to protect by refusing to fast-track that reform?

Mr SHELTON - We are not trying to protect anybody. What we are doing is making sure that the emphasis, of course, is on the local government review, and not the electoral processes. As you have mentioned, the Government will be releasing the public consultation draft for the new local government bill in early 2021. We've split it, of course, so there's no confusion between the electoral side and the local government review. It's about timely working on priorities, and making sure we can concentrate on the legislative reform processes and the division can concentrate on that.

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, why are you the only minister who's not capable of having the timeliness for the priority legislation in your portfolio? Mr Ferguson is on the record skiting that the Government has had 37 pieces of legislation pass through parliament just this year - the COVID-19 year. You are on record for saying that it was because of the COVID pandemic that you hadn't been able to act on this legislation.

Don't you accept that making sure that we have good governance in Tasmania is a critical issue? You are renowned for being the most secretive government in Australia. You could turn the corner on this and make an announcement to -

Mr SHELTON - I reject your assertions.

Dr WOODRUFF - The facts are there - the right to information.

CHAIR - Do you have a question, Dr Woodruff?

Dr WOODRUFF - Will the minister turn the corner and bring that important reform forward and not kick it down to next year?

Mr SHELTON - We have a work program in place to talk about COVID and so forth and how it's affected the division. I will hand over to Mr Healey.

Mr HEALEY - We are working very hard on what is a very significant piece of legislation - the new local government bill. It's being actively drafted as we speak, and we expect it to be in the order of 500 to 600 pages. It goes, as you quite rightly said, to the good governance of an entire sector within this state. We need to make sure we get that legislation right, and into the parliament within an appropriate time frame.

We are also, of course, focusing on the second piece, which is the electoral provisions, and we will give them attention, as we can in our program, to get them both into parliament at the first opportunity.