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Government blocks constitutional reform: Bill fails despite 36/24 win.

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Bob Brown, Senator for Tasmania

15 May 2003

Government Blocks Constitutional Reform Bill Fails Despite 36/24 Win

The Government tonight blocked constitutional reform with which it agrees, Greens Senator Brown said today.

Senator Bob Brown’s bill was for a referendum to change section 44 of the Constitution which currently disallows 5 million Australians (who are public servants, pensioners or who hold dual citizenship) from standing for parliament.

“A series of parliamentary committees since 1981, and the present government, have supported amending section 44. But using the excuse that the bill ought to have been more comprehensive, government members tonight voted against it,” Senator Brown said.

“The Senate voted 36 to 24 for the bill. But as constitutional amendment bills need an absolute majority of 39 and pairs do not count, the bill failed.

“The government is stuck at 1901 as the nation moves through 2003. The Constitution is a vital, living document and people, not least the millions cut out of their right to stand for parliament should get to vote on essential change such as this,” Senator Brown said.

Further information: Ben Oquist 02 6277 3170 or 0419 704 095

Category: Senate Office

Author: Ben Oquist