BREAKING – Court Rejects Injunction

Rejects Injunction

The High Court has ruled that the government’s same-sex marriage postal survey is legal, throwing out both cases seeking to stop it.

The full bench found no issues with the government using the ‘Advance to the finance minister’ to pay for it, and asking the Australian Bureau of Statistics to conduct the survey was acceptable. Due to the rushed nature of the case, the High Court will publish its full reasons at a later date. The decision means that the survey will go ahead.

Survey forms will be sent to households from September 12. They must be returned by November 7. The result will be released on November 15 at 11:30am. If the majority vote is ‘yes,’ a conscience vote will be conducted through the parliament, via a private members bill. If the majority vote is ‘no,’ there will be no parliamentary vote.

Postal Vote Court Challenge Day Two

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 Chief Justice Susan Kieflel will hand down its decision regarding the same-sex marriage postal survey tomorrow at 2:15pm. During question time!

The government defended their case firstly by arguing that Independent MP Andrew Wilkie does not have ‘standing’ (you must demonstrate that the case effects you, thus having standing).

The government noted that the ‘advance to the finance minister’ has paid for many things in the past, such as arts programs and sporting facility upgrades. They argued the survey in this case is no different.

The government’s distinction between the legality to use the advance to the finance minister and the legality of Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) to collect this type of information was also argued, designed to establish a potential scenario to fit the survey if it all falls over. 

If the High Court rules that using the advance was illegal, but collecting the statistic isn’t the government could continue its plans to conduct the survey, but find the money to fund it must come via the ABS. 

The government could create a smaller (thus cheaper) sample size if electors, or even reduce the services of the ABS for the financial year to fully pay for the survey. The later is unlikely, as the $122 million dollar survey would swallow a third of the ABS budget.

Another odd argument from the government was the definition between a ‘vote’ or ‘survey’. The government considers this is a ‘survey’ because it ‘lacks the ability to direct any particular outcome’. This is a difficult to argue, considering that the government is arguing that the outcome of the survey is a free vote in the parliament. 

High Court Challenge day one

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Here’s a quick update of the High Court challenge to the postal survey. For most of today, the court discussed whether the survey was ‘urgent and unforeseen’.
The government argued that it requires an answer to the survey question by November 15 (a self imposed deadline), thus fulfilling the ‘urgent’ requirement to spend the money.
The opposing argument was that ‘urgent’ refers to whether the parliament was available at the time to pass the appropriate law to spend the money. Parliament was sitting.
The government argued that the survey was not allocated for in the budget and together with the fact that cabinet approved the policy in early August, it was ‘unforeseen’. The challengers highlighted the fact that the survey was being considered by some ministers since March.
There were also more technical aspects debated, such as:
– Can the Finance Minister use his advance to pay for the plebiscite? It was argued that the advance pays for departmental expenses, not policy expenses.
– Does the Australian Bureau of Statistics have the power to collect opinions on such a large scale?
– Can the Australian Electoral Commission give the information of silent voters to the Australian Bureau of Statistics?
The hearing will continue tomorrow. The court will rule before the end of the week.

Same-sex postal survey faces high court hurdles

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This week the High Court will hear two challenges to the same-sex marriage postal survey. 

The government is paying for the survey via a special ‘advance to the finance minister,’ which enables Mathias Cormann to spend up to $295 millions dollars, but only if the matter is ‘of urgent need’ and is ‘unforeseen’, meaning that it wasn’t factored into the budget. 

This is the key question the High Court has to answer: Is the spending for the plebiscite ‘urgent’ and ‘unforeseen?’

Historically, the Court has been very strict on spending money. The golden rule is that government’s must have parliamentary approval before spending money, which to date has been impossible to obtain in the form of a plebiscite. 

It will be difficult to argue that the expenditure is ‘unforeseen’. Money has been allocated for a plebiscite in the last two federal budgets. A ‘postal plebiscite’ was raised by Peter Dutton in March. 

The High Court will make a decision on the temporary injunction by the end of the week.

Government commences welfare drug testing

Government commences welfare drug testing

Should you be able to buy illegal drugs with welfare payments?

The government will trial random testing of 5,000 job seeking welfare recipients for the drugs cannabis, ice and ecstasy. If an individual returns positive test, 80% of their Centrelink payments will be quarantined to a cashless debit card, which can pay for food, rent or childcare. Those who test positive will also undergo rehabilitation courses.

The trial begins in January in Bankstown NSW, Logan QLD and Mandurah WA.

Citizenship Cases set for October

Citizenship Cases set for October

Stories are changing!

Senator Matt Cannavan now says he was a citizen of Italy since the age or two, as opposed to his mother signing him up as an adult without his knowledge. Senator Malcolm Roberts has also conceded that he did not begin the formal processes of renouncing his UK citizenship until after the election.

It appears the central argument from the government for the Joyce, Waters and Canavan cases is that their respective countries changed the law retrospectively. Whether the High Court respects that argument is another matter.

The dual citizenship debacle will drag on for months – the High Court will formally hear these cases in the second week of October.

Enrolments surge for plebiscite vote

The results are in! 

After a lightening fast enrolment campaign, the AEC has confirmed that 675,000 voters have updated their details on the electoral roll and an astonishing 90,000 people enrolled in two weeks, with tens of thousands enrolling in the last 24 hours. 

The next step for the postal plebiscite is to hear from the High Court, who will decide if the Government have acted legally by asking the ABS to run the survey. The case will be heard on September 5 and 6.