COAG Discussions Focus On Terrorism, Federation And Taxation

The Council of Australian Governments met in Canberra and discussed a range of issues, including terrorism, reform of the Federation and the taxation system.

COAG

The Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, held a joint press conference following the meeting. He was accompanied by Premiers Baird, Napthine, Newman, Barnett, Weatherill and Hodgman, as well as the Territory Chief Ministers Gallagher and Giles. Felicity-Ann Lewis represented Local Government.

The State have agreed to introduce legislation to support federal laws covering the arrest, monitoring, investigation and prosecution of domestic extremists and returning foreign fighters.

COAG also agreed that the Federation and Tax Reform White Papers need to progress together. [Read more…]


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…]