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We’re keeping up the great tradition of Aussie ‘weird’

Thursday, August 31, 2017

We commented recently about dysfunctional politics. But with the chaos that’s developed over politicians being constitutionally ineligible because of dual citizenship, things have become weird!

Now we know it’s probably just a bit ‘weird’ for ‘normal’ people to sit and read the Constitution and constitutional rulings, but we couldn’t help it! In fact, being Aussie ‘weird’ is a great tradition. Check this YouTube video of the 1966 movie They’re a weird mob. You’ll either groan with embarrassment or laugh out loud. Or take lessons on how to ‘Aussie’ behave!

But what’s caught our weird interest is the stoush over the GST mess. Poor old Western Australia is nearly broke because the Eastern States keep stealing WA’s GST money. That’s weird! But this week the WA Liberal Opposition announced its intention to launch a constitutional challenge to the WA GST rip-off. Good on 'em! Robert Gottliebsen (The Australian) explains the issues really well.

The Australian Constitution says that the Commonwealth government can’t discriminate against any State (section 99).  Section 51(ii) says the Commonwealth can tax “…but so as not to discriminate between States or parts of States”. However, in a sneaky 1926 six-line ruling, the High Court said the anti-discrimination parts of the Constitution could be ignored. That’s the legal basis upon which the Commonwealth rips off WA today.

Here’s the ruling. It’s a weird read. It was all about whether the Commonwealth could give money to the States to control where roads are built. Apparently, back then, Canberra reckoned State Governments were so dumb that they couldn’t work out where to build roads! Um... What’s changed? Canberra knows everything of course!

But the Commonwealth’s reasons for this were (can we say it again?) weird! It wanted to control road construction to:
  • ensure immigration from Great Britain (and)
  • have enough ‘persons’ to defend Australia (and)
  • help Great Britain maintain the Imperial Navy (and)
  • enforce the White Australia policy
Here’s the Commonwealth’s own self-justificatory words in 1926. Canberra said it’s a “…matter of importance and urgency…to have roads…” to address issues
  • “…arising and/or connected with the Great War (WW1) and/or the defence and/or the need for the immigration in and settlement of the people of Great Britain in Australia”;
  • to “…increase the number of suitable persons available to defend Australia…” and “…maintain trade between Australia and Great Britain and assist Great Britain to maintain the Imperial Navy…”; and
  • to support “…what is usually known as the White Australia policy is now the avowed objective of the Australia Parliament…”
Sorry but we don’t get the logical link between the White Australia policy, for example, and who controls road building!

But this is the legal basis upon which Canberra says it can ignore the anti-(State) discrimination provisions of the law (the Constitution) under which Australia is supposed to be governed.

What has this got to do with our commitment to self-employed people in Australia? If Canberra says it can ignore the plain and clear anti-discrimination wording of the Constitution, what do you think Canberra’s attitude to the rights of self-employed individuals might be?

Yep! We’re a weird mob!
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