It’s now over 22 years since the ACT Legislative Assembly’s first elections, and the Assembly has shown itself to be a mature debating chamber; the equal of any other state or territory parliament.
So I’m chuffed that today, Federal Labor made the decision to back an important piece of legislation that will make it harder for the Australian parliament to veto ACT legislation. The veto power will still remain (removing it would require changing the constitution), but it will now be exercised by the parliament – not the executive.
As Simon Crean has put it, the bill strips the commonwealth’s right to veto “at the stroke of a ministerial pen”. Vetoing an ACT law should be only undertaken in extreme circumstances, and it’s appropriate that all federal parliamentarians should have the chance to speak on such a debate.
My ACT colleague Gai Brodtmann and I took the unusual step of making a submission to the Senate inquiry into the bill. Federal Labor’s decision to back it is subject only to some technical tweaks (this AAP report has a pretty decent summary of the amendments).
I’m hoping that the Coalition and minor parties will now get on board, and support this important bill.