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The Forum > Article Comments > Reconsidering recognition > Comments

Reconsidering recognition : Comments

By George Seymour, published 27/7/2012

Local government is a fundamental component of our system of governance, yet it goes unrecognised in the constitution.

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The thrust of Georgeís opinion is sound but we are considering recognition in the national constitution, so how important is national consistency in local government? Two inconsistencies stand out.

First, voting in local government is compulsory in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria Ė optional elsewhere.

Second, Queensland and New South Wales offer a (second) property vote to those who own property within a local government area without actually living there. Other states donít.

There are sound arguments for and against these two conditions. I know what I think, but thatís unimportant.

The question that should be addressed is whether these inconsistencies are acceptable for local government recognition in the national constitution.

Graeme Gibson
Posted by g3, Friday, 27 July 2012 8:39:31 AM
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Hopefully this referendum will pass next year - it has been a long time coming. It is simply astounding that the sphere of government with which the population has the most contact and which has the most direct impact upon our lives falls outside of the constitution.

Because of its status as a creature of state government legislation the states are able to force amalgamations (as seen recently in Queensland by Beattie and earlier in Victoria by Kennett). It is not a healthy and robust relationship when one side holds all the cards.
Posted by oakland, Friday, 27 July 2012 9:28:21 AM
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The experience of 111 years of federation indicates that there are only two areas that are likely to receive approval from the people in a referendum.

These are proposals to reduce the salary of politicians, and proposals to reduce the powers of the Commonwealth Government.

The Commonwealth Government was established in 1901 as a second class, second grade sovereignity with limited and strictly enumerated powers, and the people have demonstrated in referendum after referendum that that is how they would like it to stay.

Note that the name of the country is the "Commonwealth of Australia", (as stated in the Constitution) and that the name of the federal government is the "Commonwealth Government", not the "Australian Government".

Of course the activists on the High Court have repeatedly interpreted the Constitution in such ludicrous ways that we now find that our Constitution is in force on ships of a foreign country. They have even discovered implied clauses that were never approved by the people.

The people have been conned several times in referendums, with the most notorious being the Aboriginal referendum of 1967, which was to permit aboriginals to be counted in the census. The way that has been misrepresented as establishing aboriginal rights is appalling. At least least the people took the bait and not the hook, as they voted down the nexus referendum put at the same time which was the one the politicians really wanted.

The best referendums, such as the conscription referendum, where anyone opposing the referendum was liable to be prosecuted under the War Precautions Act, are often supported by almost all the political class, the media, and business and other interests.

And then the people vote "NO".

This referendum proposal risks increasing the power of the Commonwealth Government and must be opposed on that account alone.
Posted by plerdsus, Friday, 27 July 2012 3:04:02 PM
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g3 - I hadnt heard about councils giving a second 'property vote' before, if that is the case it seems very undemocratic, and the sort of thing a national discussion and referendum on the role of local government should examine and make a decision on.
Posted by grisham, Monday, 30 July 2012 2:27:42 PM
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