Thursday, June 28, 2012

Legal  warning on same-sex "marriages"

Referendum may be needed

Senator Gary Humphries is warning that future legislation allowing same-sex marriage could be struck down by the High Court, leaving gay couples devastated.  The ACT Liberal says the Gillard government should not act "irresponsibly" by allowing gay marriage to become law.

"I think it is particularly dangerous to be proceeding on constitutionally shaky grounds," he said last night.

"Somebody who has been married in the belief that they are legally entering into an enforceable arrangement only to find a year later or whatever, the High Court strikes down that situation, is an incredibly difficult position.

"It seems to me that the Commonwealth should go to every possible length to avoid that occurring.

"It's utterly irresponsible to potentially put people in that position."

Senator Humphries is deputy chairman of the committee which has released its report on the private members bill of Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, of the Greens, on the issue.

He is personally opposed to gay marriage but another Liberal on the committee, Sue Boyce, backed the majority report in favour.

The committee received an unprecedented 79,200 submissions, 46,000 of which were in support of same-sex marriage.

The six-member committee voted 4-2 in support of recommending changes to the Marriage Act to accommodate same-sex marriages and that the bill pass with minor changes.

Last week, a cross-party lower house committee inquiry into two private members bills on same-sex marriage tabled a report but declined to support or reject the legislation proposed by Labor backbencher Stephen Jones and Greens MP Adam Bandt.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard is opposed to legalising same-sex marriage and will not move a government motion to allow debate on the issue. But Labor MPs are allowed a conscience vote on the private members' bills.

Section 51 (xxi) of the Constitution gives the federal government power to make laws over marriage.

Senator Humphries said proponents of same-sex marriage should push for a referendum.

"They assert that there is strong support for same-sex marriage, then they would have little doubt they would get change through a referendum, but in the absence of that, I think it's very unsafe to proceed," he said.

"The committee heard strong legal argument that you can't assume the power over marriage assumes a power over other relationships we might like to call into the definition of marriage.

"When the Constitution was put together, marriage was assumed to be between a man and a woman.

"Suddenly that question is in doubt, but that doesn't alter the fact that that's a strong traditional understanding of what the word marriage means.  "To now argue that it may mean something else and we can use the power for that defined purpose for other purposes is I think quite inappropriate.

"It's either one thing or it's not.  "The Commonwealth can't acquire a power over schools by defining the section of the Constitution to give it power over 'lighthouses' to mean 'schools'."


Qld.  Government warns of real firings of surplus public servants

PUBLIC servants whose positions are abolished under Newman Government reforms will be retrenched if another job can not be found for them in six months.

A draft directive submitted to unions by the Government has outlined the plan to help whittle down the public service, despite the Premier's assurance he is doing all he can to save jobs.

Under the directive, if another position does not become available within six months, the employee will be retrenched. Alternatively, the worker can accept a redundancy and leave within two weeks of their position being abolished.

Currently permanent employees affected by workplace changes or "Machinery of Government" are given a "priority placement" across the public service.

Concerned public servants who contacted The Courier-Mail about the changes, said the directive was a clear breach of Campbell Newman's election promise there would be no forced redundancies.

"He's long intended to sack public servants," said one public servant.  "When there's a freeze on recruitment and no new positions being created, there's not much chance of getting another job if the one you're in is abolished."

Alex Scott, from public sector union Together Queensland, said the draft directive represented a further "watering down" of employee conditions.  "We have until Friday to respond to the draft directive, and we will be relaying those concerns," Mr Scott said.

Last week Premier Newman said there were 20,000 more public servants than the state could afford and he was doing all he could to save their jobs by offering modest pay rises in enterprise bargaining negotiations.

He even took to the small-screen on Sunday night to repeat his appeal for all to "tighten their belts".  Unions were unimpressed by the advertisement and yesterday Together Queensland released its own one-minute ad online in response.  Mr Scott said more ads would follow in the 12 months ahead, at a cost of $1 million to the union.  "We need an ad to make sure that the community understands there is nothing of substance behind the Commission of Audit," he said.

"The black hole that they've identified is the same black hole that existed in 2009 when the LNP announced their election commitments and all that we've seen is changes to accountancy practices rather than changes to reality."


Retailers weary of carbon tax

Retailers say they are nervous about becoming the "meat in the sandwich" when the carbon tax is introduced.

The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) say stores are in a vulnerable position as the middle man between customers and the supply chain.

"It’s plain to see retailers are the meat in the sandwich, caught between consumers’ inability to justify discretionary spending and supply chain manufacturing unable to remain price competitive," ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman said.  "This is a dangerous position to be in and will cost jobs."

In a survey of the ARA’s members in 2011, 83 per cent said they expected consumers to spend less after the introduction of the carbon tax.  Fifty-six per cent said they would have to pass on their increased costs onto customers.

Retailers are also worried the government’s proposed household assistance packages will not be enough to cushion the effects on household budgets.

"This will no doubt just be absorbed by the soaring cost of living," said Mr Zimmerman.

Australia’s $240 billion retail industry believes the carbon tax will only add to their financial woes.

"Retailers are already experiencing tough trading conditions and poor sales," said Mr Zimmerman.

"Now they are facing the introduction of a carbon tax which will hit business and consumer confidence at a time when relief is needed on both sides."


Hundreds have broken out of Australia's immigration detention centres

ELECTRIC fences, razor wire and security guards are no barrier to breakouts from Australia's Immigration detention centres.  Hundreds of visa over-stayers and asylum seekers have scaled fences, fled on day release programs or simply vanished after being released into the community on bridging visas.

For the first time, the Sunday Herald Sun can reveal 524 people have escaped Immigration detention in the past decade. Nearly one-third - 154 - remain on the run from authorities.

The Department of Immigration also revealed that 11 asylum seekers released into the community on bridging visas since November have absconded in breach of reporting requirements.

But this is only a fraction of the 4052 people approved for community detention since the program was expanded two years ago.

Refugee Action Collective spokesman Ian Rintoul said the escapees were desperate and often sustained injuries while doing a runner.

"They have anti-climb fences with sheer cladding so they end up with cuts from the barbed wire and injuries if they have to jump from the fences. People do get electric shocks," he said.

"They are fearful of being deported. The detention centres are hellholes."

Immigration Minister Chris Bowen said that, while escapes were "rare", the private company that ran immigration detention in Australia had incurred million-dollar fines in the past.

"Escapes from detention, and especially from community detention, are very rare," he said.

A spokesman added: "Nonetheless, we take any escape from detention extremely seriously."

The new figures confirm the vast majority of escapes were from traditional detention centres.

Of 98 in 2010-11, only one person was from community detention and had since been found.

Last month, Immigration official Kate Pope told Budget estimates that 13 clients had absconded from community detention since October 2010.

"Eleven are Vietnamese, of whom two claimed to be adults and were living in Victoria at the time ... nine claimed to be unaccompanied minors," she said.

"Of those, eight absconded from community detention in Victoria and one in Western Australia. Six of those Vietnamese have been relocated. Four claimed to the unaccompanied minors, all now identified as adults, two of whom are in custody pending court appearances."

In February, three Vietnamese asylum seekers fled over a northern immigration detention centre fence in Darwin at 4.06am.

Last year, authorities foiled a suspected mass breakout of almost 20 inmates at Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney.

The department said the one Malaysian and 16 Chinese nationals had overstayed their visas and were not asylum seekers.

Two years ago, 10 inmates climbed a fence at low-security Inverbrackie Detention Centre to pick fruit.

Since the Rudd-Gillard Government was elected in 2007, 18,949 asylum seekers have arrived on 329 boats - 12,397 on 189 boats since Julia Gillard became Prime Minister in 2010.

Opposition immigration spokesman Scott Morrison said alleged people smuggler Captain Emad recently being allowed to flee the country was a further sign the system was a mess under Labor.

"Increasing numbers of escapes are the result of a system under stress, created by the unprecedented failure of Labor on our borders," he said.


1 comment:

Paul said...

I knew many months ago (said so here) that gay Marriage was a potential Constitutional issue. If I knew it then, you can be sure as sure that Gillard, the Greens, the Turnbull Traitors et al knew it too.....

However, how else were they going to get Graig Thomson out of the news cycle so effectively (as they clearly have)? Works every time.