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Wednesday, 29 September 2010
Page: 302

Senator BOB BROWN (Leader of the Australian Greens) (4:15 PM) — I present the explanatory memorandum and I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

This bill was introduced by the Australian Greens in the 42nd Parliament. The following second reading speech reflects the debate at the time of the bill’s original introduction.

At the election in 2008, 220019 voters in the Australian Capital Territory elected a legislature.  Its laws should not be overridden by the federal government, in particular, the executive of the federal government.

The Commonwealth Parliament’s power to make laws for the territory comes from Sections 52 and 122 of the Constitution. Notably, the Constitution gives this power to the Parliament. In 1988, the Parliament delegated the power to the elected Legislative Assembly of the ACT through the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988. However, the Self-Government Act provided for the Commonwealth Parliament or the Executive to disallow or amend any act of the ACT’s Legislative Assembly.

This bill removes that power from the Executive. It leaves no doubt that any disallowance or amendment of an ACT law should be by legislation of the Parliament as a whole. The Executive can and does meet in secret, without the direction or agreement of the Parliament. The provision for the Executive override of the ACT’s laws leaves Parliament, and its consultative committee system, diminished and reactive. This is not in the spirit of the Constitution.

This bill removes this anomaly and restores the Parliament’s exclusive power to wield or constrain Constitutional authority over the territorial assembly.

I commend the bill to the Senate.