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The Forum > Article Comments > Democracy's hidden wiring > Comments

Democracy's hidden wiring : Comments

By J R Nethercote, published 10/7/2013

Inherent in thus exalting party leadership, even leadership lacking assured support in the House of Representatives, is a perceptibly limited view of the vice-regal role and responsibilities.

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Additional prerogative matters may have arisen since this article was published. They surround the question as to whether the Constitution Alteration (Local Government) referendum could be deferred until after the upcoming Federal elections, elections both Parliament and public have long been told would be happening on 14 September 2013, and in the full knowledge of which date the Parliament passed the necessary legislation on ... June 2013.

Section 128 of the Constitution provides that:

"The proposed law ..... not less than two nor
more than six months after its passage through
both Houses the proposed law shall be submitted
... to the electors ..."

Interestingly, I have seen no reference anywhere as to the date upon which the proposed law received the Royal Assent, and trust me, I have been looking.

My vain search may have been in any event a search for a red herring, for the wording of Section 128 is unequivocally clear that the Governor-General SHALL cause the proposed law to be submitted to the electors within the time constraints imposed, with that duty seemingly being one entirely within Her Excellency's prerogative as to ensuring its discharge, independent of any advice received that might otherwise purport to operate to frustrate or delay the holding of that referendum. The Constitution's time constraints are anchored in the facts of the passage through Parliament and the date thereof, not any attempted modifications thereto by executive government, with Royal Assent effectively, by the provisions of the Constitution, to be presumed in relation to the proposed law.

With general elections required to be held no later than 30 November 2013, it might on the face of it appear that it could be proposed that the Constitution Alteration (Local Government) referendum be held separately from the approaching Federal elections, but still within the Constitutional time frame.

Would not such an attempt at deferral constitute a pre-emption of the incoming Parliament that ought not be permitted to materialize? Equally unacceptable, that the will of the present Parliament that there shall be such a referendum could be frustrated by a constitutionally sub-ordinate Executive Council?
Posted by Forrest Gumpp, Friday, 12 July 2013 3:33:01 PM
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