Senate debates

Wednesday, 22 March 2023


Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Amendment Bill 2022; In Committee

6:42 pm

Photo of Jane HumeJane Hume (Victoria, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for the Public Service) Share this | Hansard source

On the Greens amendment: I want to put on the record that the opposition will be opposing that amendment. I have great respect for your position, Senator Waters, but the opposition has the very strong view that changes to the enrolment procedures should be considered by the bipartisan Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters rather than done on the fly in the chamber. The voting franchise is the bedrock of the Australian electoral system, and changes to it should be considered in a thoughtful and deliberate manner under existing and established processes, including that joint standing committee. So we will be opposing the amendment.

While I'm on my feet, and for the sake of clarity in the chamber, I should inform the chamber that the opposition will not be moving the amendment on sheet 1803 because that issue has already been dealt with through government amendments. But I will be moving the opposition's amendment on sheet 1804. It which creates official 'yes' and 'no' campaigns and ensures that those campaigns have equal funding. I think that the reasons for this amendment have become very clear throughout this committee process. I have stated in many speeches, as have my colleagues on this side of the chamber, that the creation of official 'yes' and 'no' campaigns will dramatically improve the integrity of the referendum and will increase trust in the integrity of the process. Having official 'yes' and 'no' campaigns will make things much simpler for the regulatory environment and for the proper conduct of the referendum. It will make life so much easier for the AEC and make it so much easier for our intelligence agencies.

The amendment will ensure that once these two bodies are established and appointed by the government, that equal funding is also provided to each side to ensure that neither side is advantaged. These amendments, brought on by the government to the machinery bill, will ensure that they can comply with the disclosure and regulatory regimes and be adhered to at the referendum. I move:

(1) Page 63 (after line 2), at the end of the Bill, add:

Schedule 9 — Campaign organisations

Referendum (Machinery Provisions) Act 1984

1 At the end of subsection 11(4)


; (d) a body nominated under section 11A.

2 After section 11


11A Campaign organisations

(1) Where a proposed law for the alteration of the Constitution is to be submitted to the electors, the Minister must, within 2 weeks of the passage of the proposed law, by writing nominate:

(a) a body (the Yes campaign organisation) to campaign in favour of the proposed law; and

(b) a body (the No campaign organisation) to campaign against the proposed law.

(2) The Minister must ensure that the Yes campaign organisation and the No campaign organisation are allocated equal amounts of money for the purposes of the administration and operation of each campaign organisation.

(3) Payments under this section shall be made out of moneys appropriated by the Parliament by another Act.

(4) A body nominated by the Minister under subsection (1) ceases to be a nominated body the day after the voting day of a referendum.

3 After subsection 89(4A)


(4B) A body nominated by the Minister under subsection 11A(1), or a person authorised by the body to act under this section, may appoint persons to act as scrutineers during the scrutiny at each counting centre, but the number of scrutineers for each body must not exceed the number of officers who are engaged in the scrutiny at each counting centre.


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