Debate in the Parliament
The debate in the House of Representatives over
changing the Constitution to give the Commonwealth the power to grant financial assistance to any State, or to any local government body formed by a law of a State
was left very late indeed.
Adversaries? - not this time - 2 protest votes
And there was hardly a fight. The Bill was introduced [11:55] Wednesday, 5 June 2013, a limited debate occurred on that day and the House divided [19:04], as it is required to do, to record a required 'absolute majority'. Two members voted against the Referendum. The rest (133) voted for.
AYES - 133
Attorney General The Hon Mark Dreyfus QC, MP Mark Dreyfus (Labor)
NOES - 2
Dr Dennis Jensen MP (Liberal) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AfByeiNO4KA
Alex Hawke MP (Liberal) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I8gqW2W9yHA
To see who spoke, & what they said, click on their name here - http://www.bloggerme.com.au/comment/14026#comment-14026
For a detailed government account of the change, go to http://www.regional.gov.au/local/crlg/
At first glance one might think that with this kind of support, all major parties and independents, with just two mavericks who are promoting a personal response of 1, that the outcome is assured.
History of voting since 1901
But Australians don't go for Referenda. There have been 44 referenda to date, only 8 have been Carried.
When one examines the results, there is not a lot you can say, at first glance. There has been a huge amount of work done in universities to understand these results and it's best just to say here, there are no simple answers. It's complex.
Current problems getting together a positive message
But I think it is fair to say that, at present, both main sides of politics are too coy, by far.
Labor - do the work to prepare for a referendum but don't tell anyone
We, as [the public/ the elector], didn't know whether the Referendum was going to happen until 9 May 2013, when the PM launched the campaign, although we knew she had no choice because of the ruling June 2012 by the High Court that made failure to resolve a disaster waiting to happen. In fact we now know that the Government itself has done a huge amount of work to make it happen, but has preferred to keep Abbott (and therefore us) guessing and so has received no positive results from the work done to date.
Coalition - negative 'no policy'
And we, [the public/ the elector], had no way of understanding Abbott's position or what would be the policy of the Liberal Party or the Coalition virtually until the day of the vote. Abbott had a real opportunity to put his hat in the ring on the day of the Budget 13 May 2013 when he was asked directly for a policy response. His answer was completely devoid of any policy commitment and he preferred to keep Gillard (and therefore us) guessing, and preferred to answer with a nothing statement rather than say anything positive about any step performed by Gillard. It is not until 16th May 2013 "doorstop" Barnaby Joyce indicates that "we will support this" but in the most negative commitment possible, devoid of any positive statement, saying generic negatives such as "within the Coalition there will be no case mounted", "local government won't be able to do anything unless the states allow it", "fears about the usurping of states’ rights by local government", and on and on. See the timeline http://www.bloggerme.com.au/comment/14025#comment-14025
Could this possibly result in a YES?
The playing out of a completely negative campaign to date, focussed on the 'failure of the other', is definitely not the circumstances we expect, based on past experience, necessary for the Carry-ing of a referendum. Carry-ing usually coincides with detailed and extensive explanation and argument and a generally optimistic electorate. Both sides are expecting local government to step in and make the case for them. It is yet to be seen; but based on past experiences with referenda, the prospects are poor. And what nobody is saying, at present, although this was a key factor in Barnaby Joyce's doorstopper, what happens if the local governments come out strongly "FOR" only to be undermined by bad press by state governments, who have everything to lose. At present, this seems like a very strong prospect.
This page http://bit.ly/19jWMxF
Senate - more protest votes
Senator Brandis moved the following amendment:
At the end of the motion, add "but that further consideration of the bill be made an order of the day for the first sitting day after the Government puts into place financial arrangements to provide for equal funding for both the `yes' and the `no' cases, to ensure that the Australian community is properly informed about the arguments for and against the proposed change to the Constitution." Defeated.
After debate. As no division was called for, the President drew attention to the constitutional requirement that the bill must be passed by an absolute majority and directed that the bells be rung.
Question agreed to by an absolute majority (46-8) of the Senate, as required by the Constitution.
For who voted AYE & NO see http://www.bloggerme.com.au/comment/15097#comment-15097