Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) (15:27:55) — I would like to take the opportunity of speaking in the third-reading debate of the Electoral Legislation Amendment Bill 2018. I do find it somewhat surprising to think that the coalition has been so morally opposed and adamant about their opposition to this bill when there was no doubt that there was complete support from the coalition for the increase in funding to their parties. One only has to read the second-reading speeches in the other house to gather that. In fact from a small party perspective I actually felt that we were completely locked out from any discussion of the development of this legislation. I truly think we were locked out of it, because there was no need for our vote on this until, at some surprising moment, the coalition changed their position and all of a sudden opposed this bill.
I do not apologise in this third-reading debate that we do have development funding for parties, that we do move to electronic voting for vision-impaired people and that we will move to the capping of electoral spending. I make no apologies that those changes have happened during the process of this legislation going through this house, because the minor parties actually had an opportunity to have some influence on this legislation.
I have been pilloried outside this place for somehow benefiting financially from these changes. I can tell you my party does not benefit from these changes, but I think what we have managed to amend in this legislation does make it fairer. I know Mr Rich-Phillips was making great fun of the Basics Rock’N’Roll Party. I happen to know the Rock’N’Roll Party and I happen to know their policies, and I fully appreciate the work they wanted to do on improving the arts community in Victoria and improving Indigenous rights in Victoria. They actually had quite a suite of policies, and I think a small amount of money for small developing parties to work on policies is to the benefit of our community, not to the detriment.
To think that in the 21st century we are going to continue with a duopoly of major parties is not understanding the will of the electorate. It is not understanding that the will of the electorate is not to continue this duopoly and is not to continue providing taxpayer funding to a duopoly, but it is actually to create a fairer system. I think during the committee stage and during this process, where I agree there have been a number of amendments made, we have got to the point where we may actually see electoral capping. We may actually see a saving in money. I would hope that in the review of this, when the minister must consider the capping of spending on elections, we will actually see less money being spent on elections — less money from the community but also less money from the taxpayer being spent on elections. That is my true wish, and that was certainly my goal in negotiating to see this bill come to fruition.
We see development funding for small parties in other jurisdictions, and it is not to the detriment of democracy, I can assure you. New South Wales, New Zealand and many countries in Europe allow for the funding of developing parties. I see nothing wrong with that.
Why should the taxpayer pay millions of dollars, as they currently do, to the Labor Party and the Liberal Party and not encourage small parties to start developing — small organisations to start getting political, small organisations like me to start developing policy and to play a role in our democratic process? I was speaking to a homeless person on the street just this afternoon who congratulated the work that the Reason Party had been able to bring to this house. I do not apologise for requesting, if there is going to be electoral funding and taxpayer electoral funding, that small parties are recognised in that and recognised for the important role that they can play in representing the community and the diversity of the community.
I support this bill, as I have throughout this debate. I have certainly heard many phone calls on talkback radio suggesting that I have sold myself out. I can assure everyone in this house and assure anyone listening that I am far more expensive than that. I did this because I had the opportunity to bring in the notion, the hope and the aspiration that we will actually see a cap on electoral spending, we will see electronic voting for vision-impaired people, we will see electronic voting being developed in this state and we will see development funding for small parties. I commend the third reading.