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Assembly fails to show unity on Commonwealth veto.

By johnboy - 18 June 2009 17

The Canberra Times reports on an epic fail in the Legislative Assembly’s efforts to present a united front in their efforts to convince the Federales we’re grown up enough to not need a precautionary hair trigger veto kept in the top shelf.

It started with the Greens wanting to include a bitch and a moan about gay marriage vetoes in the request to end veto. Local Labor wanted to take all that stuff out as an airing of grievances is rarely a good way to ask someone to do you a favour.

The Liberals, despite being nominally in favour, tried to push the whole issue out into the never never of a committee examining all aspects of the Assembly.

In the end the motion in favour of ending the Commonwealth’s ability to veto ACT laws by way of disallowable instrument was passed, without the “remonstrance”, on Green and Labor votes.

This has not been the best week in the history of self-goverment.

What’s Your opinion?


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17 Responses to
Assembly fails to show unity on Commonwealth veto.
PM 4:53 pm 18 Jun 09

Clown Killer said :

The size wouldn’t be relevant as much as the measurement of the volume – like if NSW had a diferent interpretation of how much a litre was. That asside I just wish they’d make it illegal to call a schooner a schooner if it’s not 425ml

Can’t they say a pint is x number of mL, schooner y number of mL, etc, the way 1000 mL = 1 Litre?

I reckon they should ban the schmiddie because it’s so misleading!

Oh why can’t federal parliament makes laws for good not evil?!

johnboy 4:28 pm 18 Jun 09

The last veto had to survive a disallowance motion.

caf 4:00 pm 18 Jun 09

I’m not sure either – as I recall there’s a difference between different kinds of executive actions, some are “notifiable instruments” and some are merely “disallowable instruments”. One must be put before the Senate and needs a positive vote to continue, but the other defaults to going through unless the Senate actively blocks it – I’m not sure which kind the Kanberra Kybosh is, though. And of course I could be completely wrong.

Harry Jenkins would know…

johnboy 3:28 pm 18 Jun 09

Except the Government has to bring the motion on for debate within (IIRC) 14 sitting days and defeat it otherwise it is automatically carried.

As I recall it the president of the Senate can’t vote in the division to bring on the debate, depriving the Government of one vote.

It’s why smart Government’s never put anything contentious through regulation.

Been a few years since I played with this stuff so happy to be corrected.

caf 3:22 pm 18 Jun 09

johnboy: Really? I would have thought it was the other way around – a disallowance motion has to pass (50% + 1), whereas to prevent the Government passing a bill it just has to fail to pass (50%).

Clown Killer 2:54 pm 18 Jun 09

the Commonwealth has power over weights and measures, yet different states and territories have different drink sizes (eg schooners, pints, pots, middies, schmiddies, crown pints, etc) because nobody’s thought of standardising them 🙂

The size wouldn’t be relevant as much as the measurement of the volume – like if NSW had a diferent interpretation of how much a litre was. That asside I just wish they’d make it illegal to call a schooner a schooner if it’s not 425ml

johnboy 2:44 pm 18 Jun 09

Bear in mind that it’s very slightly easier to knock off a disallowable instrument in the Senate than it is a Government Bill.

jackal 1:30 pm 18 Jun 09

PM is correct too, which is one of the points the Assembly makes in its request to the Commonwealth, that the Fed Parliament would retain the power provided by the Constitution. That ought to (in theory) allay concerns that the Assembly would, if the veto power was removed, legalise euthenasia etc.

frontrow 12:44 pm 18 Jun 09

The libs won’t admit the real reason they don’t want to support this.

They have to weigh up the benefit of being able to stop a federal labor government squashing actions of an ACT liberal government against the cost of a federal liberal government being unable to squash the actions of an ACT labour government.

Since one of these possibilities depends on there ever being another ACT liberal government, it’s a bit of a no-brainer.

PM 11:56 am 18 Jun 09

Jackal and Caf are correct – can’t force the use of the power, and can amend the current acts.*

HOWEVER, and I think this is LegalNut’s point, one can’t abolish the power of commonwealth per se without constitutional amendment.

* the Commonwealth has power over weights and measures, yet different states and territories have different drink sizes (eg schooners, pints, pots, middies, schmiddies, crown pints, etc) because nobody’s thought of standardising them 🙂

caf 11:10 am 18 Jun 09

It is a massive, massive legal reach to claim that a part of the Constitution that gives the Federal Parliament the power to make laws for the territory actually forces the Federal Parliament to include an Executive veto power in their law.

Point to one High Court precedent where a head of power has been used to force the Federal Parliament to legislate on the matter. Heads of power give the ability to legislate, they don’t make it a necessity.

jackal 11:09 am 18 Jun 09

The proposed changed would not be unconstitutional, they are separate things. The Constitution gives the Cth the power to makes laws with respect to the territories. The Self-Government Act gives the G-G the power to invalidate any piece of territory legislation within six months of its enactment. The removal of this provision (s35(2) of the Act) would not affect the operation of s122 of the Constitution. When exercising this power the G-G is instructed my the PM alone, so it is not a decision of the Cth Parliament.

PM 10:58 am 18 Jun 09

LegalNut, I think most agree with you. Many comments in a previous post inidcat that removing the federal executive’s discretionary power would be a step in the right direction, but that parliament would still have constitutional (and practical) power to veto.

Primal 10:24 am 18 Jun 09

In which case the alternative solution of changing “veto by executive order” to “veto by ordinary bill” would work better…

LegalNut 10:09 am 18 Jun 09

One of the biggest issues to be considered here is that there is a very strong argument that removing the veto would be unconstitutional.

Under the Australian Constitution, the Federal Parliament has the power to make laws for the territories. The ACT Legislative Assembly only really makes laws as a delegate, subsidiary body of the Federal Parliament.

To remove the veto would remove one of the key elements of the relationship between the Federal and ACT Parliaments that keeps the relationship constitutional. The removal of the veto would create the potential for a strong argument that the Federal Parliament has abdicated its legislative powers over the ACT, something which would make the amendment to remove the veto invalid.

Unfortunately, it is arguable that the only way to actually remove the veto is an amendment to the Constitution either making the ACT a state (and changing the provision requiring the capital to be in a Territory) or the change the provisions of the Constitution that give the Federal Parliament power to legislate for the ACT.

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