Legal Recognition of same sex relationships

The federal government’s decision to overturn the ACT government’s law allowing civil recognition of same sex relationships is also causing some concern in Liberal ranks. To date, the main public concern has been voiced by ACT Senator Gary Humphries. Senator Humphries is usually seen as being more on the morally conservative side of the spectrum, but his concern appears to be based as much on the principle of defending the ACT’s right to determine its own legislation, as it is about the issue of civil unions. As he is a former Chief Minister of the ACT, this is understandable. However, his vote alone won’t be enough to defeat the government’s move. We can assume that the Family First Senator will support the government’s move, so there will need to be three Coalition Senators crossing the floor, which will be a tall order I think.

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16 Comments

  1. The institution of the Governor-General is not supposed to be an adjunct to the executive, it is supposed to stand on its own in our democracy (one of the pillars). This Governor-General has missed a golden opportunity to reassert the role of the GG.

    He totally had the legal power to support the ACT’s request, and considering the ACT government was elected partially on its promise to enact civil unions of gays, he had a clear mandate from the people to accept the ACT request.

    I bet he’s feeling pretty bad about it – especially considering he’s from the defence forces and they actually seem to have a pretty good record of equal rights for gay serving members (compared to other branches of gov)

  2. “The institution of the Governor-General is not supposed to be an adjunct to the executive, it is supposed to stand on its own in our democracy (one of the pillars).”

    Yeah, right. Tell that to Gough Whitlam and the Labor Party.

  3. Still looking for that mandate dodgy.

    “More than 400 submissions were received, divided almost equally between those who supported recognition and those who were opposed.”

    Now that’s hardly a mandate. 400???? what’s the pop of the ACT?

  4. Well, if a party goes to an election promising to introduce recognition for same-sex couples, and then they win that election by quite a lot – in this case, the first time there is a majority government in ACT’s history – I would argue that as far as a mandate might exist, that party could possibly claim one.

  5. Rubbish dodgy.

    So was that their only policy? or do you think elections are won on more than single issues?

    The facts speak for themselves dodgy. Approx 400, almost equal for and against, ain’t a majority.

  6. LOL, now that is funny.
    Considering the condition the ACT is in I don’t think they’ll be voting the same lot back in again.

    No majority dodgy. Just a very small minority with access.

  7. The mandate argument is grossly overused. I don’t know enough about the ACT, but at federal level John Howard claimed a mandate for the most radical workplace law changes in our nation’s history, despite not mentioning it in the election campaign at all.

    He has also now overturned the ACT’s law recognising civil unions. Not only did he not indicate in the election campaign that he was prepared to do that, his government specifically stated that legislation regarding civil unions was a matter for the states.

    Given that ACT Labor went to the election quite clearly saying they were going to legislate to allow civil recognition of same sex relationships, there is certainly more scope for them to claim some mandate – particularly as they were elected to govern in their own right for the first time in ACT history (not that I was very happy about it).

    Anyway, it’s all academic now, as the ACT law has been overturned.

  8. Yes Andrew unless you get 51%+ of the primary vote you can’t claim a mandate on anything.

  9. Well that’s one definition Geoff. There seem to be a myriad. Personally, I think a full mandate can’t be claimed unless a specific question is passed by referendum.

    Off the top of my head, I suspect it’s a fair while since any state or federal government has been elected with over 50% of the primary vote (although the ALP got more than this in the most recent NT election).

  10. Yes the mandate issue (wondeful word relatvie to this post) is grossly abused to suit. I tend to agree with Andrew that a mandate can really only be claimed by way of refernedum. Probably the only recent electoral result close to a real mandate, was the GST election – and as we know wide sections of the parliament opposed that mandate – claiming their own mandate to oppose. So like everything in politics the pendulum swings and people jump on when it suits.

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