Tuesday, 13 June 2006

A Legal Farce in Three Acts

Or rather, two letters, an act, and a disallowance.

Act One, Scene 1 :

A letter from the attorney-general, Phillip Ruddock, which read in part as follows :
As you have stated in your letter, the legislation in the States and Territories which provides for a change in the birth registration for appropriate individuals who have changed their gender can only be used by people who are unmarried. Registration of births is a matter for the States and Territories and it is not appropriate for me to comment on their legislation. You may wish to raise your concerns with the ACT Attorney-General, Mr Jon Stanhope MLA.

Act One, Scene 2:

A letter to Andrew Barr, Chief of Staff, John Hargreaves MLA which read, in part:
To remind you of the relevant section of the ACT Births, Deaths and
Marriages Registration Act 1997 : A1997-112

24 Application to alter register to record change of sex
(1) A person may apply to the registrar-general for
alteration of the record of the person's sex in the registration of the
person's birth if-
(a) the person is at least 18 years old; and
(b) the person's birth is registered in the ACT; and
(c) the person has undergone sexual reassignment surgery; and
(d) the person is not married.
In view of this clarifying letter, and the inconsistency, I urge that as a matter of urgency, ACT Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1997 Part 4, Section 24, 1 (d) be repealed in its entirety.

Act Two :

Schedule 1 of the ACT Civil Unions Act 2006 which reads in part as follows:
Part 1.4 Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1997
[1.16] Section 24 (1) (d)

Act Three :

This latest news :
The Governor-General, Major General Michael Jeffery, has agreed to disallow the ACT's civil union laws.
Attorney-General Philip Ruddock says in a meeting of the executive council this morning, the Governor-General agreed to overturn the law.
The Governor-General had heard a request from the ACT Legislative Assembly Speaker, Wayne Berry, that the laws be upheld.

In an address at Government House, Mr Berry told General Jeffery that the Civil Unions Act was within the ACT Government's law-making powers.

"The Federal Government has decided for partisan political reasons to intervene on a law which removes discrimination," he said.

But Mr Ruddock says the Federal Government respects the rights of the ACT to make laws, as long as they do not exceed the Territory's powers.

"We have no quarrel with the Territory's legislating in those areas in which it has responsibility, and we accept the decisions that they make supported by their electorate," he said.

"Except when they provocatively and deliberately seek to intrude into areas in which they have no responsibility."

The disallowance of the whole, rather than part, of the Act speaks for itself. "Colateral Damage" is not a term that should be applicable in lawmaking, and especially not in disallowance.

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