Skip to content Skip to main navigation

Lifestyle

We mean business
Contact us today to get results

Gay marriage an early test for Abbott

By johnboy - 20 September 2013 41

By Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

boats and gays

Tony Abbott had hoped he wouldn’t be confronted with the gay marriage issue for quite a while. Now, just a day after the new government’s swearing in, it’s potentially posing a major challenge for him.

The ACT government introduced legislation today to legalise same sex marriage there. It will be passed next month.

Does the Coalition government let it be, or try to overrule it?

Abbott declared today: “Obviously the ACT is entitled to do what it wants within the law …. the Attorney [George Brandis] will be seeking legal advice on precisely how far the ACT can go on this”; he added that “under the constitution the Commonwealth has responsibility for marriage.”

If the government wants to go down the override path it could be fraught for both sides of politics.

Once it was just a stroke of a ministerial pen. But a Greens bill, eventually backed by Labor, went through the last parliament which means that an override would require legislation.

Liberal senator Cory Bernardi (who lost his shadow parliamentary secretaryship because of comments he made in a parliamentary debate on gay marriage) says the government should bring in legislation. “The marriage act is a responsibility of the federal parliament. It’s wrong for states and territories to allow something that is inconsistent with Commonwealth legislation. It’s incumbent on any federal government to protect the responsibilities of the Commonwealth.”

The Australian Christian Lobby said the same sex marriage lobby was using the ACT to pursue an issue which affected the nation and was a matter for the federal parliament. It also urged action to override.

But such legislation would cause some unhappiness in Liberal ranks where is division on the same sex marriage issue.

With Labor and the Greens controlling the Senate until the end of June, such a bill would seem doomed for the time being – if the ALP had a bound vote.

But would Labor MPs be bound? Shadow attorney-general Mark Dreyfus says it would “depend on the terms of the bill – literally. If it squarely raised the same sex marriage issue we would have a conscience vote. If it was somehow more technical, we could have a party vote”.

Greens Sarah Hanson-Young is worried about the possibility of a Labor conscience vote. She called on both contenders for the ALP leadership, Anthony Albanese and Bill Shorten, to guarantee Labor would vote as a block against any attempt to override the ACT.

ACT deputy chief minister Andrew Barr, one of those in the forefront of the successful effort to have the 2011 ALP national conference change Labor’s platform to support gay marriage, told The Conversation there definitely should not be a conscience vote if there were such legislation, because the issue was the territory’s right to make its own decisions.

The other route for trying to knock out the ACT law would be a High Court challenge.

The bill applies only to people not covered by the federal marriage act, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman. The ACT some years ago had advice from Stephen Gageler, now on the High Court, that such an approach could stay within the constitution. But ultimately, no one can be sure how the court would rule.

Meanwhile Canberra is looking forward to a marriage-led boost to its pre-Christmas economy. There are no residency requirements under its proposed law. “There are a number of places around Canberra that would provide a beautiful venue for a wedding,” says Barr, who has tourism among his ministerial responsibilities.

Postscript: Gay marriage has intruded into a Labor battle over who succeeds Bob Carr when he quits the Senate. (Carr has just been re-elected for six years but is expected to leave soon – they are already dealing with the succession even before any Carr announcement. That’s Labor’s NSW right for you.)

The Australian Workers’ Union’s Paul Howes had been touted for the spot. But Howes today pulled out. Joe de Bruyn’s Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees’ Association is backing SDA- aligned Deb O’Neill, recently defeated in the seat of Robinson.

The pro-O’Neill forces are promoting her on gender grounds but Howes clearly believes his pro-gay marriage views are a factor in the opposition to him within the right. “Maybe it would have been a different kettle of fish if I had a different view,” Howes told his news conference.

Listen to the Politics with Michelle Grattan Podcast below, subscribe on iTunes or via RSS. This episode Michelle speaks to Deputy Chief Minister Andrew Barr.

Michelle Grattan does not work for, consult to, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has no relevant affiliations.

The Conversation

This article was originally published at The Conversation.
Read the original article.

What’s Your opinion?


Post a comment
Please login to post your comments, or connect with
41 Responses to
Gay marriage an early test for Abbott
Diggety 1:28 pm 20 Sep 13

voytek3 said :

Diggety said :

voytek3 said :

If you have an opinion on this meaningless, obsolete, useless and stupid “tradition” you shouldn’t have been allowed to vote in the recent election. Anyone or anything dumb enough to want to get married should be allowed to do so. If you think otherwise – you are wrong.

Asylum seekers – the other total non issue used to get votes from morons. Process them onshore and be done with it. This, like “gay marriage” is a complete and utter non issue that was used to get votes from stupid people. The fact that these are main “issues” to people is testament to just how dumb the average person is in this pathetic country.

Just started uni, eh?

Is there anything more laughable than a person that views other people who are educating themselves in a negative light? You are exact type of person I originally referred to – the dumbest of the dumb. To answer your question – no I’m not at university.

Try to calm down and have a think about why such topics are the ‘main issues’ and whether their prominence is a bad thing or not.

To me, it is indicative of a nation without many problems if such menial things are at the top of the agenda. Which is a good thing.

Gungahlin Al 1:16 pm 20 Sep 13

joingler said :

Few questions

a) Why did the ACT wait til after Abbott is elected to use this bill? Surely Russ/Gillard would be less likely to overturn it than Abbott?

This legislation was planned and in process long before the election.

joingler said :

b) Isn’t marriage a federal issue? If so, what will this bill achieve apart from political point scoring?

The Coalition Government made the “Federal issue” a marriage that is between a man and a woman. The Labor Government was complicit by not correcting this.

The new ACT law specifically legislates for a marriage that is between same sex couples, therefore doesn’t cross over the federal law. At least that’s the argument, and it will no doubt be tested in a higher court.

joingler said :

c) As was hinted in the article, is the ACT government doing this in the hope of attracting tourists (like that episode in The Simpsons?

If it does, there is a problem where exactly? Noosa businesses have been a roaring annual trade in pink dollars after every Mardi Gras.

thebrownstreak69 12:57 pm 20 Sep 13

voytek3 said :

If you have an opinion on this meaningless, obsolete, useless and stupid “tradition” you shouldn’t have been allowed to vote in the recent election. Anyone or anything dumb enough to want to get married should be allowed to do so. If you think otherwise – you are wrong.

Are you a bastard?

Robertson 12:53 pm 20 Sep 13

wildturkeycanoe said :

voytek3 said :

If you have an opinion on this meaningless, obsolete, useless and stupid “tradition” you shouldn’t have been allowed to vote in the recent election. Anyone or anything dumb enough to want to get married should be allowed to do so. If you think otherwise – you are wrong.

Asylum seekers – the other total non issue used to get votes from morons. Process them onshore and be done with it. This, like “gay marriage” is a complete and utter non issue that was used to get votes from stupid people. The fact that these are main “issues” to people is testament to just how dumb the average person is in this pathetic country.

So, what [in your opinion] is a real issue that is worthwhile? .

Collecting rubbish, repairing roads, improving school discipline, catching criminals.

If the ACT Government has time for pointless grandstanding on fringe issues, then they can clearly afford to take cuts and thus reduce the rates, rego and other taxes we pay.

Holden Caulfield 12:42 pm 20 Sep 13

Baggy said :

As to the move itself, well I see it as nothing more than a transparent attempt to score political points against the new Government.

Like HiddenDragon said, Gillard’s view was inconvenient to the cause, and so the sleeping dog was left to lie. Now though, it’s a different matter…

I tend to agree. It will be interesting to observe the Feds’ response if nothing else. Perhaps this is one way to get fireworks back in Canberra.

Baggy 12:23 pm 20 Sep 13

As to the move itself, well I see it as nothing more than a transparent attempt to score political points against the new Government.

Like HiddenDragon said, Gillard’s view was inconvenient to the cause, and so the sleeping dog was left to lie. Now though, it’s a different matter.

Regardless of where you stand on the matter (I’m ambivalent myself, I think if homosexual people want to endure the suffering of marriage, then may the schadenfreude follow), the timing reeks of political opportunism and it has lowered my own view of the ACT Government even further.

voytek3 12:22 pm 20 Sep 13

Diggety said :

voytek3 said :

If you have an opinion on this meaningless, obsolete, useless and stupid “tradition” you shouldn’t have been allowed to vote in the recent election. Anyone or anything dumb enough to want to get married should be allowed to do so. If you think otherwise – you are wrong.

Asylum seekers – the other total non issue used to get votes from morons. Process them onshore and be done with it. This, like “gay marriage” is a complete and utter non issue that was used to get votes from stupid people. The fact that these are main “issues” to people is testament to just how dumb the average person is in this pathetic country.

Just started uni, eh?

Is there anything more laughable than a person that views other people who are educating themselves in a negative light? You are exact type of person I originally referred to – the dumbest of the dumb. To answer your question – no I’m not at university.

voytek3 said :

If you have an opinion on this meaningless, obsolete, useless and stupid “tradition” you shouldn’t have been allowed to vote in the recent election. Anyone or anything dumb enough to want to get married should be allowed to do so. If you think otherwise – you are wrong.

Asylum seekers – the other total non issue used to get votes from morons. Process them onshore and be done with it. This, like “gay marriage” is a complete and utter non issue that was used to get votes from stupid people. The fact that these are main “issues” to people is testament to just how dumb the average person is in this pathetic country.

So, what [in your opinion] is a real issue that is worthwhile? NBN? Foreign debt? Unemployment? If this issue is important enough to be all over the news and people have made their electoral voting decisions based on this issue, it is no more stupid than voting for the sex party because you want fireworks. We all have our own agenda and it isn’t wrong just because you say so. If I didn’t care less about our foreign debt, why would my vote be worth less than yours because I wanted to get a speedway in Canberra? Obviously the stupid people have some sway in things or we’d not be going down this road. This is democracy, get used to it.

You totally miss the point. I cannot be bothered with you.

Baggy 12:18 pm 20 Sep 13

voytek3 said :

The fact that these are main “issues” to people is testament to just how dumb the average person is in this pathetic country.

And yet, here you remain.

How perplexing.

HiddenDragon 12:09 pm 20 Sep 13

There wasn’t sufficient federal parliamentary time to embarrass Tony with this during Kevin’s brief Restoration, and prior to that, Julia’s public view on the subject was highly inconvenient – so now is the earliest opportunity to cause discomfort, and get it through while there is still a sympathetic Senate.

If it survives, the TV advertisements for same-sex-friendly wedding venues will be a welcome break from compensation lawyers spruiking their services.

wildturkeycanoe 12:01 pm 20 Sep 13

voytek3 said :

If you have an opinion on this meaningless, obsolete, useless and stupid “tradition” you shouldn’t have been allowed to vote in the recent election. Anyone or anything dumb enough to want to get married should be allowed to do so. If you think otherwise – you are wrong.

Asylum seekers – the other total non issue used to get votes from morons. Process them onshore and be done with it. This, like “gay marriage” is a complete and utter non issue that was used to get votes from stupid people. The fact that these are main “issues” to people is testament to just how dumb the average person is in this pathetic country.

So, what [in your opinion] is a real issue that is worthwhile? NBN? Foreign debt? Unemployment? If this issue is important enough to be all over the news and people have made their electoral voting decisions based on this issue, it is no more stupid than voting for the sex party because you want fireworks. We all have our own agenda and it isn’t wrong just because you say so. If I didn’t care less about our foreign debt, why would my vote be worth less than yours because I wanted to get a speedway in Canberra? Obviously the stupid people have some sway in things or we’d not be going down this road. This is democracy, get used to it.

Diggety 11:12 am 20 Sep 13

voytek3 said :

If you have an opinion on this meaningless, obsolete, useless and stupid “tradition” you shouldn’t have been allowed to vote in the recent election. Anyone or anything dumb enough to want to get married should be allowed to do so. If you think otherwise – you are wrong.

Asylum seekers – the other total non issue used to get votes from morons. Process them onshore and be done with it. This, like “gay marriage” is a complete and utter non issue that was used to get votes from stupid people. The fact that these are main “issues” to people is testament to just how dumb the average person is in this pathetic country.

Just started uni, eh?

schmeah 11:07 am 20 Sep 13

voytek3 said :

… The fact that these are main “issues” to people is testament to just how dumb the average person is in this pathetic country.

Couldn’t have put it better myself. The political energy and money wasted on these ‘issues’ is breathtaking.

Solidarity 11:02 am 20 Sep 13

I don’t think democracy would work very well if you were only allowed to vote if you felt a particular way about an issue…

joingler 10:59 am 20 Sep 13

Few questions

a) Why did the ACT wait til after Abbott is elected to use this bill? Surely Russ/Gillard would be less likely to overturn it than Abbott?

b) Isn’t marriage a federal issue? If so, what will this bill achieve apart from political point scoring?

c) As was hinted in the article, is the ACT government doing this in the hope of attracting tourists (like that episode in The Simpsons?

d) Does anyone else find it slightly ironic that the Christian lobby as well as Sarah Hanson-Young are both opposed to a conscious vote?

voytek3 10:47 am 20 Sep 13

If you have an opinion on this meaningless, obsolete, useless and stupid “tradition” you shouldn’t have been allowed to vote in the recent election. Anyone or anything dumb enough to want to get married should be allowed to do so. If you think otherwise – you are wrong.

Asylum seekers – the other total non issue used to get votes from morons. Process them onshore and be done with it. This, like “gay marriage” is a complete and utter non issue that was used to get votes from stupid people. The fact that these are main “issues” to people is testament to just how dumb the average person is in this pathetic country.

1 2 3

Related Articles

CBR Tweets

Sign up to our newsletter

Top
Copyright © 2017 Riot ACT Holdings Pty Ltd. All rights reserved.
www.the-riotact.com | www.b2bmagazine.com.au | www.thisiscanberra.com

Search across the site