Parliament: Parliament

Constitution (One Vote One Value) Amendment Bill

The Hon. K.L. VINCENT: Let me start by saying that I hope the eardrums of poor Hansard are alright. May I also say that, quite frankly, it would be nice to see the Hon. Mr Lucas speak so passionately about issues that were not only about his perceived election chances, but I will leave that there for the time being. The Hon. Mr Lucas does raise a valid point, though, about the need for consistency in this and indeed all the debates where possible.

I am not going to go into any great detail, given the time and given that this is an issue that has been before us for four weeks, as we have now been reminded in regard to this amendment. The Dignity Party’s basic position is that we support the one vote one value amendment bill but we are not attracted to the idea of a referendum. My understanding, through recent discussions with the government, is that the position the government has now reached after consulting with crossbenchers and other parties, will result in exactly that outcome—this bill passing but without the need for a referendum. That is why I am attracted to it on behalf of the Dignity Party.

I can also very much see the merit in the Parnell amendments in their own right. As other members have already said, Mr DeGaris—the architect and designer of what is known as the fairness clause—has admitted that it does not work in practice and we can ascertain from that, I think, that that is because it was designed at a time at which the rise of minor parties and independent voices in parliament could not be foreseen, so I think we do need to move forward with amending that.

It was put to me that the clause had not been previously taken out in previous parliaments because a referendum was required and the complexities that come with that. If a referendum was not required to remove that clause after all, it would have looked better if the government had sought legal advice from the Solicitor-General and not at the end of this parliamentary sitting.

Notwithstanding that, I am told that the advice is sound and, indeed, when I met with minister Malinauskas last night about this bill, I asked him to assist me with securing my position knowing that I was doing it based on evidence, if I could see that advice and, if that was not possible, if someone from the government could write me a letter basically outlining the advice and what the impact of it would be. Obviously, the position that has been landed upon is that the advice from the Solicitor-General itself is privileged, but I do have a letter from the Attorney-General with today’s date on it. It states:

Dear Kelly,

I write in relation to the Constitution (One Vote One Value) Amendment Bill 2017 (the bill).

As you are aware, the Hon. Mark Parnell MLC has filed amendments to the bill (the Parnell Amendments).

I have sought legal advice in relation to the Parnell Amendments. After considering the advice, the Government has determined that a referendum would not be required to give effect to the bill in amended form.

Given that this essentially achieves what the Dignity Party would have liked to have seen from the outset, and that we have had these amendments before us for four weeks, I think we have had ample time to have become more informed and maintain our consistent position, which is to support the bill in its current form.