Senate debates

Tuesday, 24 August 2021

Questions without Notice

Electoral Legislation Amendment (Party Registration Integrity) Bill 2021

2:41 pm

Photo of Simon BirminghamSimon Birmingham (SA, Liberal Party, Minister for Finance) Share this | Hansard source

[by video link] I thank Senator Lambie for her question. We have a robust democracy in Australia in which competition is freely and fairly encouraged. But it needs to be freely and fairly encouraged in ways that ensure voters make informed choices, have all the information to make informed choices and are supported and empowered in their choices. Sometimes people will decide to go and start other political parties. Senator Lambie indeed is an example of that. But Senator Lambie has always made sure that she has stood very clearly, very identifiably, in relation to her political parties, whether as a Liberal Party member at one stage, as a candidate and a senator for the Clive Palmer Party or indeed now, when she is identifiably the Jacqui Lambie Network. That's as it should be: clear, obvious to the voters.

The practice that has been increasing in recent times—some sort of political astroturfing by some individuals—is unhelpful to voters. It has been shown in terms of voting trends across some states to create confusion, especially when it comes to Senate voting tickets, so, yes, it is reasonable for political parties to be able to have their name protected, just like any other trademark has its name and brand protected under legal practices. That's a commonsense approach, and it's all that the government seeks to do, not to prohibit or to prevent anybody else from having the opportunity to contest an election vigorously but also fairly. And that's the intent of these laws.


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