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Articles on Constitutional law

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The High Court has ruled the ACT’s same-sex marriage law invalid, citing its inconsistency with the federal Marriage Act. AAP/Alan Porritt

ACT law delivers neither marriage nor equality: the High Court’s verdict

The ACT’s Marriage Equality (Same Sex Act) 2013 produced neither a marriage nor equality. Instead it produced inconsistency, leaving the law completely inoperative. Those who exchanged marriage vows last…
The High Court will this week begin deliberating on whether or not the ACT’s same-sex marriage bill is consistent with the Constitution. AAP/Alan Porritt

Same-sex marriage and the High Court: previewing the arguments

This week, the High Court will begin hearing the Commonwealth’s challenge to the ACT’s Marriage Equality (Same Sex) Act 2013. But don’t expect lofty rhetoric about equality; the case is really about the…
The legislation prohibits protests within 150 metres of an abortion clinic that are able to be seen or heard by a person accessing the clinic. AAP/Mariza O'Keefe

Tasmanian ban on abortion clinic protests may not be constitutionally valid

Tasmania’s abortion law reform bill, which passed late last week, decriminalises abortion and obligates medical practitioners with a conscientious objection to abortion to provide information about access…
Should it be the role of the Constitution to protect individual rights from being trampled on, such as by Queensland’s newly-introduced anti-bikie legislation? AAP/Dan Peled

Bikies crackdown: did the Constitution fail Queensland?

Last week, Queensland’s state government introduced a number of tough new law and order measures targeting serious sexual offenders and bikies. Under the new laws, bikie gang members in Queensland face…
What are the constitutional and political issues for Tony Abbott to consider around double dissolution elections? AAP/Alan Porritt

Explainer: what are double dissolutions and how do they work?

Prime minister Tony Abbott has indicated (again) that he is willing to set in motion the procedures necessary to call a double dissolution election, in order to force the repeal of the carbon tax through…
It all comes down to matters of interpretation, and the interpretation that counts is that of the High Court. Image from shutterstock.com

Explainer: can the Commonwealth override the ACT on marriage equality?

The ACT’s Marriage Equality Bill, which is expected to pass parliament later this month, has revived the controversy about who can legislate for same-sex marriage, with the Commonwealth proposing to challenge…
Opposition leader Tony Abbott plans to move a motion of no confidence in the government - but he faces constitutional and conventional hurdles in his attempts to hold an early election. AAP/Lukas Coch

Would a no confidence vote in Julia Gillard create even more confusion in Canberra?

Opposition leader Tony Abbott has confirmed he plans to move a motion of no confidence against Julia Gillard’s government in the next two parliamentary sitting weeks. But in the event a no confidence motion…
Embattled federal MP Craig Thomson has been granted bail after being charged with fraud. AAP Image/Quentin Jones

What next in the Craig Thomson case?

The Craig Thomson case will take over a year to work its way through the Victorian courts and is unlikely to result in the…
Local Government minister Simon Crean is set to dump a promised referendum of constitutional recognition for councils. AAP/Alan Porrit

Constitutional recognition for councils: a better governed Australia

Few oppose constitutional recognition of local government as a concept. Indeed, while the current debate concerns recognition in the federal constitution, local government has been readily accepted in…
The final pieces of the historical puzzle around the 1975 Whitlam dismissal are not as sensational as they first seem. Image courtesy of National Archives of Australia. NAA: A6180, 13/11/75/33

Mason’s role in the 1975 dismissal ‘unprecedented’? Hardly …

Much hyperbole has been generated by the recent revelations concerning Sir Anthony Mason’s involvement in the 1975 dismissal, but for the most part it shows ignorance of the past. Earlier this week, The…
It’s not time to break out the confetti yet; Tasmania faces legal hurdles before it can allow same-sex marriage. AAP/Tracey Nearmy

Explainer: can Tasmania legalise same-sex marriage?

Does the Tasmanian Parliament have the power to pass a law permitting same-sex marriage? The short answer is yes. But the more difficult question is whether that law will be effective or whether it will…
Fortescue founder and current non-executive chairman, Andrew Forrest has been a prominent critic of the federal government’s mining tax. The company has finally launched a much anticipated High Court challenge to the tax. AAP

Fortescue launches High Court challenge to mining tax

Perth-based mining giant Fortescue Metals Group has launched a last-minute High Court action against the mining tax, planning to argue the legislation - due to start on July 1 - breaches the Australian…
If Australia is to set an example in the region, we need to clean up our constitution and abolish the race powers act. AAP/Courtesy of Traditional Owners and Rio Tinto Alcan/Peter Eve

Australia will need a strong constitution for the Asian Century

AUSTRALIA IN THE ASIAN CENTURY – A series examining Australia’s role in the rapidly transforming Asian region. Delivered in partnership with the Australian government. Here, Dr Matt Harvey argues that…
The High Court decision against Palm Island rioter, Lex Wotton highlights concerns about how little our constitution does to protect us. AAP Image/Ian Hitchcock

Silencing Lex Wotton: Palm Island riot decision a blow for freedom of speech

When a prisoner has served their time, it’s difficult to understand why they would be stopped from engaging in public debate or communicating with the media. But a new precedent has been set by the High…
The leadership spill could lead to constitutional confusion if Rudd wins next week’s ballot. AAP Image/Alan Porritt

What happens if Kevin Rudd wins the leadership spill?

Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced this morning that she will hold a leadership ballot at 10am on Monday, to “settle once and for all” Labor’s escalating leadership crisis. Kevin Rudd has not formally…
Tony Abbott says the end is near for the government, but can he bring it down? AAP/Alan Porritt

Explainer: motions of no confidence and the constitution

After declaring the Gillard government was entering its “endgame”, opposition leader Tony Abbott is believed to be preparing to table a motion of no confidence. Since Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie…

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