The Australian Capital Territory’s Liberal government is in crisis following the defeat of its budget in the House of Assembly on Thursday.
The constitutional situation is uncertain because the Assembly has a fixed term which does not expire until October next year.
The ACT Assembly has 17 members. There is no upper house. The budget was defeated because of its provision of $800,000 for trialling a heroin injecting room.
The ALP’s six members voted against the budget, even though they support the drug trial. They were joined by the Green member, Kerrie Tucker, who also supports the trial, and the two “Osborne Independents”, Paul Osborne and Dave Rugendyke, both of whom oppose the trial.
By Westminster convention, a government that cannot secure the passage of money bills through the lower house resigns or calls an election.
The Liberal Party’s Chief Minister, Kate Carnell, has refused to resign.
Interestingly, earlier legislation for the heroin trial was only passed with the support of the ALP, Ms. Carnell and the Urban Services Minister, Brendan Smyth, who crossed the floor.