ACT Treasurer Andrew Barr Delivers 2014-15 Budget

The Australian Capital Territory Treasurer, Andrew Barr, has delivered the government’s Budget for 2014-15.

BarrBarr told the Legislative Assembly that the Budget invested in Canberra’s future. He said: “There’s no doubt the Territory faces a big economic challenge because of the Commonwealth’s budget cuts.”

Barr said the Budget “provides a record amount of funding for health”. He said $2.5 billion over four years has been allocated for infrastructure projects. The Budget cuts stamp duty, payroll tax and insurance duty.

Barr said: “The Government aims to balance the Budget over the economic cycle. While acknowledging the budget is in deficit this year, the Government has taken a specific policy decision to support the economy and our community ahead of returning to balance sooner by imposing harsh austerity policies.”

Budget Downloads

All documents are in PDF format.

Budget Speech delivered by to the ACT Legislative Assembly by Treasurer Andrew Barr.

Investing in Canberra

Canberra is facing a significant economic challenge. [Read more...]


Premiers Rebel Over Federal Budget Cuts; Demand COAG Meeting Before July 1

The States have rebelled over Federal Government Budget cuts, claiming that the impact will be felt on July 1, and demanding Prime Minister Tony Abbott convene a COAG meeting before then.

Newman

The State Premiers and Territory Chief Ministers met in Sydney today at a meeting called by the Queensland LNP Premier, Campbell Newman. The Western Australian Premier, Colin Barnett, was the only leader not to attend.

Newman said the meeting “firmly and unequivocally rejected” the Budget cuts. The political leaders demanded an urgent meeting of the Council of Australia Governments before July 1. Newman said: “Contrary to what the PM said today, there are immediate impacts to frontline services.”

He said the $180 million cut to hospitals would be felt immediately with about 1200 sub-acute beds being cut in hospitals. “There was a national partnership on preventative health – we all received letters saying that is terminated.” [Read more...]


High Court Invalidates ACT Same-Sex Marriage Law; Decision Unanimous

The High Court has thrown out the Australian Capital Territory’s same-sex marriage law.

In a strikingly definitive decision, the Justices voted 6-0 to invalidate the ACT’s Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013 (ACT). They said: “The whole of the ACT Act is of no effect.”

The court found that the whole of the ACT Act is inconsistent with the Commonwealth’s Marriage Act 1961 (Cth).

The court found that the Commonwealth has the power under Section 51(xxi) of the Constitution to define marriage. The Marriage Act (1961) was amended by the Howard government to define marriage as solely between a man and a woman. Today’s decision permits that definition to include same-sex couples.

Politically, the High Court’s decision upholds the Commonwealth’s power under Section 51. It denies states and territories the power to legislate for same-sex marriages but clears the way for the Commonwealth to do so. Whilst proponents of “marriage equality” may be disappointed with the decision, in fact it also removes a potential challenge to any future decision of the Commonwealth Parliament to legalise same-sex marriage. The next step lies in the hands of the government, the House of Representatives and the Senate.

Statement from the High Court of Australia.

THE COMMONWEALTH OF AUSTRALIA v THE AUSTRALIAN CAPITAL TERRITORY [2013] HCA 55

Today the High Court decided unanimously that the Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013, enacted by the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory, cannot operate concurrently with the federal Marriage Act 1961. The Court held that the federal Parliament has power under the Australian Constitution to legislate with respect to same sex marriage, and that under the Constitution and federal law as it now stands, whether same sex marriage should be provided for by law is a matter for the federal Parliament. [Read more...]


AEC Delays ACT Redistribution But Capital May Get Extra Seat

The Australian Electoral Commission has delayed a scheduled redistribution of electoral boundaries in the Australian Capital Territory but the nation’s capital may get an extra seat in time for the next election.

Redistributions must take place every seven years in each state and territory. They also occur when enrolments in more than one-third of all divisions, or one seat in the territories, deviate from the average by more than 10%. Redistributions also occur when the number of representatives to which a state or territory is entitled changes due to population increase or decline.

The last redistribution in the ACT took place in 2004. The AEC has deferred the next redistribution until the end of 2014 when the next determination of membership entitlement is due. It is expected that the determination will increase the ACT’s representation from two to three seats. [Read more...]


Zed Seselja Topples Gary Humphries For ACT Liberal Senate Preselection

Senator Gary Humphries has lost preselection for the Liberal Party’s ACT Senate ticket to Zed Seselja.

SeseljaIn a preselection ballot today, Seselja defeated Humphries by 114 votes to 84.

Seselja’s win is a victory for the conservative wing of the Liberal Party. Humphries has always been regarded as a small-l Liberal.

Humphries, 54, has been an Australian Capital Territory Senator since 2003. Previously, he was Chief Minister of the ACT (2000-01). Elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly in 1989, he held various portfolios in Liberal governments, including Attorney-General (1995-2000) and Treasurer (1999-2001).

Seselja, 35, was elected to the ACT Legislative Assembly in 2004. He served as Leader of the Opposition from 2007 until earlier this month.

Territory senators serve concurrent terms with the House of Representatives. Assuming the September 14 election proceeds as announced, Seselja will enter the Senate at that time. New Senators elected from the states will not take their seats until July 1, 2014.



Seven Former Politicians Awarded Australia Day Honours: Downer, Uren Receive AC

Tom Uren, Alexander Downer and five other former politicians have received awards in the Australia Day Honours list announced today.

UrenUren and Downer both become Companions (AC) in the General Division. It is the highest honour that can be awarded. Two other men, The Reverend Professor James Mitchell Haire AM and Professor Brian Paul Schmidt also received an AC.

Alexander Downer was Foreign Minister in the Howard government between 1996 and 2007. He was the Liberal member for Mayo in South Australia, serving in 9 parliaments between 1984 and 2008. In 1994-95, he was Liberal leader and Leader of the Opposition, a position he relinquished to John Howard in January 1995.

Tom Uren (left) was Minister for Urban and Regional Development in the Whitlam goverment between 1972 and 1975. In 1983 he became Minister for Territories and Local Government in the Hawke government. From 1984 until 1987, he was Minister for Local Government and Administrative Services. He served in 13 parliaments as the member for Reid between 1958 and 1990.

Uren is one of 12 surviving ministers from the Whitlam era. At 91, he is the second oldest of the surviving ministers. Whitlam is 96.

Four former politicians received an AM, a Member in the General Division.

John Aquilina, the Labor member for the NSW Legislative Assembly seats of Blacktown and Riverstone between 1981 and 2011, served as a minister in the Wran and Unsworth governments between 1986 and 1988. He was also a minister in the Carr government from 1995 to 2003. He became Speaker of the Legislative Assembly in 2003 and served until 2007. He retired at the 2011 election.

Robert Fordham was the Labor member for Footscray in the Victorian Legislative Assembly between 1970 and 1992. He was Deputy Premier from 1982 until 1989. He also served as Education Minister and later as Industry Minister.

Jane Lomax-Smith was the Labor member for Adelaide in the South Australian House of Assembly from 2002 until 2010. She held the Education ministry and a number of other portfolios in the Rann government. She lost her seat in the 2010 state election.

Bill Wood was a Labor member of the ACT Legislative Assembly between 1989 and 2004. He held a number of ministerial portfolios in that time. He was previously a member of the Queensland Legislative Assembly.

One former politician has become a Member (OAM) in the General Division.

Malcolm Kerr was the Liberal member for Cronulla in the NSW Legislative Assembly between 1984 and 2011.

This is the complete list of recipients of Australia Day Honours.

ORDER OF AUSTRALIA

COMPANION (AC) IN THE GENERAL DIVISION

The Honourable Alexander John Downer, SA. For eminent service to the Parliament of Australia through the advancement of international relations and foreign policy, particularly in the areas of security, trade and humanitarian aid, and to the community of South Australia.

The Reverend Professor James Mitchell Haire AM, ACT. For eminent service to the community through international leadership in ecumenical and interfaith dialogue, the promotion of religious reconciliation, inclusion and peace, and as a theologian.

Professor Brian Paul Schmidt, Sutton, NSW. For eminent service as a global science leader in the field of physics through research in the study of astronomy and astrophysics, contributions to scientific bodies and the promotion of science education.

The Honourable Tom Uren AO, Balmain, NSW. For eminent service to the community, particularly through contributions to the welfare of veterans, improved medical education in Vietnam and the preservation of sites of heritage and environmental significance. [Read more...]


Gillard Claims Progress On NDIS And Power Prices Following COAG Meeting

The Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, has claimed progress on the National Disability Insurance Scheme and reform of the electricity market following today’s meeting of the Council of Australian Governments.

Julia Gillard

Gillard and the state and territory leaders reached agreement to establish a new Standing Council on Disability Reform. Gillard said: “The Agreement provides the foundation for all governments to work together to develop and implement the first stage of these important reforms.”

On electricity market reform, COAG agreed to: rule changes to ensure no over-investment in networks; giving consumers a voice in the electricity market; a strengthened independent regulator; more choice for consumers; actions to reduce electricity peaks; and to provide for greater demand-side participation to make it easier for consumers to reduce demand, particularly at peak periods.

  • Read and download the COAG Communique
  • Listen to the COAG leaders’ press conference (46m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Earlier in the day, state and territory leaders spoke to the media before attending the COAG meeting.

  • Listen to NSW Premier Barry O’Farrell (7m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Listen to Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu (5m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Listen to Queensland Premier Campbell Newman (3m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

  • Listen to Northern Territory Chief Minister Terry Mills (2m)

    Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Text of media release from Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

COAG Progresses The National Disability Insurance Scheme

At the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) meeting in Canberra today, all governments took a major step towards giving people with disability the care and support they need over their lifetimes by signing an Intergovernmental Agreement for the first stage of the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).

The Agreement provides the foundation for all governments to work together to develop and implement the first stage of these important reforms.

The Agreement also sets out shared roles and responsibilities for working collaboratively on the policy for a full scheme and establishing arrangements for the review and evaluation of the first stage.

The Agreement will be overseen by a new Standing Council on Disability Reform, which will have representation from Ministers and Treasurers from all jurisdictions. The Standing Council will be responsible for making decisions and formulating advice on matters arising from the launch and the transition to a full scheme. [Read more...]