Thursday, 13 September 2007
Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Democratic Plebiscites) Bill 2007
Debate resumed from 12 September, on motion by Senator Scullion:
That this bill be now read a second time.
upon which Senator Lundy moved by way of amendment:
At the end of the motion, add “but the Senate:
(a) expresses its support for a referendum to extend constitutional recognition to local government in recognition of the essential role it plays in the governance of Australia; and
(b) notes that the Australian Labor Party believes communities are entitled to express a view on the location of 25 nuclear power plants and the nuclear waste facilities that the Howard government wants to impose on the Australian community”.
I will conclude the remarks that I was making last evening in summing up the debate on the Commonwealth Electoral Amendment (Democratic Plebiscites) Bill 2007. My remarks were in reference to some of the Senate Standing Committee on Finance and Public Administration’s recommendations in respect of this bill. The committee noted that in 2006 both houses of the Australian parliament passed a resolution recognising local government as an integral part of the governance of Australia. The committee also recommended that the Senate Standing Committee on Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport conduct an inquiry into the social impacts and other impacts of the amalgamation processes at a suitable time after the council amalgamations are implemented. This, however, is a matter for the Senate. That said, the government notes that the structure and regulation of local government are the responsibility of the states and territories and that the states and territories are responsible for addressing the impacts of any amalgamations that they pursue.
Local government itself has the opportunity to draw any adverse impacts to the attention of the state and territory governments through its close relationships with the respective state local government associations. Local government is also represented through the Australian Local Government Association, the Local Government and Planning Ministers Council and the Council of Australian Governments, COAG. In addition, COAG has agreed to consider local government funding agreements in 2008 once the Productivity Commission has reported on the results of its study into local government revenue-raising capacity. The House of Representatives Standing Committee on Economics, Finance and Public Administration carried out an extensive inquiry into local government and tabled its report Rates and taxes: a fair share for responsible local government in November 2003. The government is still in the process of implementing the initiatives it agreed to in response to the committee’s recommendations. I commend the bill to the Senate.
That the amendment (Senator Lundy’s) be agreed to.
At the end of the motion, add: “and the Senate is of the view that the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights be introduced in full into Commonwealth law”.
At the end of the motion, add: “but the Senate:
(a) requires the Government to report to the Parliament prior to 31 December 2008 on ways in which review processes can be guaranteed throughout Australia where they are lacking in state or territory legislation; and
(b) should refer the question of ways in which direct democracy can be advanced in Australia to a committee for report by 31 December 2008”.