What a fascinating 24 hours in Federal politics!
As suggested in yesterday’s post, Bob Brown’s Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Amendment (Disallowance and Amendment Power of the Commonwealth) Bill 2010 has been referred to the Senate’s Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee with a report date of the 21st of March.
There seemed to be some confusion in the press about this bill inasmuch as some journalists were talking about it affecting the ACT and the NT and Norfolk Island (the territories that have limited self-government by way of acts of the Commonwealth) when the original bill was only about the ACT. Today it became clear that Brown would amend his own bill to include the NT and Norfolk Island.
Details about the Bill and the Inquiry can be found HERE (Parliament of Australia website).
Depending on which newspaper you read today, the Prime Minister has either completely back flipped from supporting Brown’s new initiative or is about to do so. Either way, this is a victory for common sense. And we have a courageous group of Labor Senators to thank for this welcome change! Their work joining with Coalition Senators is a very unusual move that displayed great character and resolve on both sides.
This afternoon, Mr. Swan admitted that claims that our concerns about Brown’s bill being about same sex unions is ‘entirely legitimate’ (and euthanasia into the bargain). Of course, we need to remember that the territories will still have no rights to legislate on euthanasia as the amendments passed in 1997 courtesy of Kevin Andrews’ bill at that time still hold force. But, of course, Brown has indicated that he would again attempt to remove this impediment later in the year; so this new initiative is another step in that direction.
Ms Gillard’s volte-face may well result in Brown’s bill failing with votes aligning for the most part with what would have taken place had Brown’s original bill been debated in full (repeal of Andrews’ amendments). Achieving this outcome will require effort.
Some things you can do.
- Write to Labor Senators Don Farrell, John Hogg and Steve Hutchins and thank them for their courage and that of their colleagues. (Click here and follow links for email addresses)
- Write a submission to the Inquiry (see link above). A submission can be as simple as a letter.
- Drop Ms Gillard a thank you note via the online form on her webpage: http://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm