Local Government Amendment (disqualification from Civic Office)BILL 2020

I note the member for Holsworthy's comments at the suspension of my contribution. This is not a matter of any specific political party—in the past, there have been Independents, Liberal, Labor, The Greens, whoever. This is not about any individual. This is not an attack on any particular political party. This is about providing certainty to community and councils, as well as clarity and protection for councillors and candidates. That is it. But, yes, I am critical of this Liberal-Nationals Government for not taking appropriate action. I understand that The Nationals, in principle, understand and appreciate the importance of having these changes in place. I understand that, as members of the Coalition, they have consistent positions as such. I also note, as I previously did, the deep concerns within the Liberal Party itself, as its members have publicly raised. So there is no secret around this. The Liberal Party has been very vocal and I commend those members of the Liberal Party who have—

Minister Kean and Minister Elliott. And there are others. They were well noted at the Liberal Party conference. It was nearly split down the middle. I commend those members who have a principled position and understand the importance of providing integrity and certainty for communities. Again, this is not a swipe at anything. This is just about fixing an anomaly in the Act to provide clarity and certainty. We do not want matters that we previously have seen, and that we are currently investigating, to continue. If this bill were passed, we would not be seeing unfortunate stories in local media about individuals. Those individuals may not have even been aware that they were in a compromised position. This bill seeks to amend that and have provisions in place that provide safeguards for those candidates and councillors so it is very clear—"If you are this, you cannot do this." It is as simple as that. I know that there will be some people in this place who want to be theatrical about this, to play games and carry on with their politics. I have no time for that.

But what I will do is everything I can to ensure the integrity of the local government sector. I note the Minister is in the Chamber and I acknowledge that the Minister has a long and honourable history of representation in local councils at different levels—as a councillor, mayor and, I think, administrator—and a fine record. So I know the Minister herself understands that there are problematic matters that have to be resolved. This is the Minister's opportunity to amend them. There has been much said—and I will let those on the other side carry on—but I will conclude by saying to each and every member in this place that the local government sector and local councils are the closest level of government to community, and they play a vital role in our democracy. The integrity of democracy matters. That is why I urge members to support the bill.

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