Following an announcement by the Australian Christian Lobby that they would be campaigning for the federal government to overturn any law passed in the territory, the ACT Labor Government has called on its colleagues in the federal parliament to block any such attempt.
Changes made in 2010 to federal jurisdiction over ACT law mean any attempt by the Abbott Government to overturn marriage equality legislation in the territory would have to be approved by a majority in both houses of the Australian Parliament.
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell told The Australian newspaper the Labor Party should not grant its federal MPs a conscience vote if the laws are challenged in parliament.
“I would take the view that my federal colleagues should do what they have previously done, which is recognise that these are matters for the territory to decide for itself,” he said.
“This is not about same-sex marriage—this is about the ability of the territory to legislate for its own affairs.”
Corbell said his government had not discounted the possibility the federal government could initiate a High Court challenge if parliament blocks an attempt to overturn ACT law.
“There is certainly discussion about whether or not they’ll end up in the High Court…and if there is a question about the constitutionality of the law, that’s a matter for the High Court to determine,” he said.
In keeping with their election promise to the LGBTI community, the Australian Greens have said they would vote against any measure in federal parliament to overturn an ACT marriage equality law.
The ongoing posturing between the newly-minted Abbott Government and their ACT counterparts follows the Australian Christian Lobby’s (ACL) announcement of a pressure campaign for the federal government to overturn any marriage equality law passed by the ACT.
In a statement, ACL Managing Director Lyle Shelton called the proposed changes “radical,” couching the group’s arguments largely in terms of constitutionality.
“It makes no sense for the ACT, a small legislature without the checks and balances of state parliaments, to be legislating on something as radical as changing the definition of marriage,” Shelton said.
“There should at least be a public inquiry with the ability for residents to make submissions and give evidence. The ethics of denying children the right to a mother or father should also be part of the debate.”