BTRWe need to oppose Council Recognition, writes Brant Rippon

The Gillard Labor Government has announced a referendum on the recognition of Local Governments within the Constitution of Australia to be held in conjunction with the election on September 14.

As Michelle Grattan highlighted on Friday, there are those on both sides of politics that do not want to see the referendum held – at least, not on September 14. ALP power brokers think it is an ‘extra burden in an election where Labor has almost nothing going for it’.

Back on the ‘right’ side of politics, Tony Abbott has begrudgingly inherited backing for the change, which has been Coalition policy for some time. Many Coalition members and supporters have highlighted the fact that a referendum on September 14 will muddy the proverbial waters. For September 14, Coalition supporters should want the second Saturday in September to be solely a vote on Government. A vote to get the nation back on track. A vote of no confidence in this inept Labor Government that has broken so many promises and left Australians with a mountain of debt and increased costs of living. The Howard era certainly was the halcyon days.

Strategically, the Coalition will want the electorate focused on the negatives and broken promises of the Rudd/Gillard Governments, and not be distracted with a referendum. As Coalition campaign advisors have said, the Coalition should and will be 'campaigning at the election to change the government, not the constitution'.

To borrow a Boswellian phrase, the Australian Monarchist League will be 'manning the barricades' for the NO campaign. You might at first think, 'why would an organisation whose main ethos is to protect the Crown be involved in a referendum on council recognition?'

The League's mission statement is 'Australians protecting the Australian flag, the Australian Crown, and the Australian Constitution.' The primary purpose of the Australian Monarchist League is to educate and inform the Australian public on Australia's history and particularly on the Australian Constitution.

Established in Australia in 1943 as a pressure group for upholding the educational and cultural aspects of our constitutional monarchy, AML has today morphed into a significant and effective 'not-for-profit' voluntary organisation which lobbies State and Federal governments to reverse decades of 'republicanism by stealth'. We consider the appropriate recognition of our Sovereign, Royal Family and traditional institutions, the upholding of the principles of the Westminster System and the maintenance of the concept of competitive federalism on which the Commonwealth was founded, as essential aspects of our system.

The League will be opposing the referendum on two fronts:

(1) Lack of time: According to reports, the Australian Electoral Commission has indicated that it requires a minimum of 27 weeks to properly prepare the arguments for YES and NO cases. There are fewer than 15 weeks remaining to the election and the Constitution Alteration (Local Government) 2013 Bill, although drafted, has not even been introduced into the parliament. Our main hope is that the Coalition will conduct a well-funded NO case and this is what we are lobbying for. However, whatever happens, the League will be there doing its best to protect the integrity of our Australian Constitution.

We are also in touch with other organisations to co-ordinate our activities. With the shortage of time, every hand to the wheel counts.

(2) Centralisation of Power: There is clearly a divide over the referendum and whether to support it within the Coalition.   WA Liberal Senator Dean Smith said last week that recognition would "distort the federal structure, give rise to unforeseen and unintended consequences and will lead to an eventual eclipse of the states and their eventual irrelevance as a balance against the centralist power of the Commonwealth".

The Australian Monarchist League echoes Senator Smith's views. A YES vote could result in undermining the very existence of the States. It has long been Labor Party policy to erode the viability of the states by slowly centralising power to Canberra via years of scope creep, much like the 'republicanism by stealth' campaign that has existed over recent decades. It should be noted however that the Howard government was no better in regards to the 'Canberraisation' process.

The League has proceeded to lobby members of the Federal and State parliaments very successfully with a number of politicians coming out to pressure the Federal Coalition party to oppose the referendum. A leading member of the Coalition front-bench has written to the League to say: "May I take the opportunity of personally encouraging you in this campaign."

A member of the Newman Government wrote to AML saying, "I certainly note that there is divided opinion in the community on this issue. With respect, there are much more important issues at stake for the nation in this election. I cannot speak on behalf of the Coalition, however I know that I, and many others do share your view." Queensland Local Government Minister David Crisafulli said the state is not sure whether the wording would allow a federal government to go beyond simply funding. "If it comes with the ability to control, I'm scared".

At this stage, both the Western Australian and Victorian Liberal Councils have voted to incorporate a NO vote in their HTV cards on 14 September.

The League is in the process of setting up a referendum website which should be operative in coming days. We call on all conservatives to lobby their local Coalition member, Senator or candidate to not support the passage of the Constitution Alteration (Local Government) 2013 Bill through parliament.

Not only has there been a serious lack of public consultation from the Commonwealth Government over recognition of councils, but if there is one thing that this inept Labor Government has proven over the past six years is that the last thing Australians need is more power gifted to Canberra.

Brant Rippon is the State Chairman of the Australian Monarchist League’s Queensland Branch

Bryan Pape: Why I Am Running For The Senate

Bryan Pape, an independent candidate for the Federal Senate, writes why he is running for Parliament

My aim in seeking a seat in the Senate is to ensure that the Commonwealth Parliament makes laws which comply with the Australian Constitution. If necessary, as a Senator, I would bring proceedings in the High Court to have laws struck down which overreached the Parliament’s powers.

Some parliamentarians and citizens misunderstand the role of the Commonwealth Parliament. Asserting that some activity is in the national interest does not attract the lawmaking power of the Parliament. Its powers are limited to those given to it by the Constitution. For too long the Parliament has invaded activities which are the peculiar responsibilities of the States. Prime examples are in education and in health. More recently the Commonwealth has bypassed the States by granting money directly to local councils. There are too many other illustrations to mention. All of this has involved duplication, waste and ineffective implementation of programmes.

It should be not overlooked that most of the day to day domestic governmental activities are the responsibilities of the States. About 90 per cent of the physical assets in Australia, such as schools, universities, hospitals, roads, railways, ports, courts, power stations etc. are owned and operated by the States or their instrumentalities. The major assets owned by the Commonwealth are defence assets, like warships and submarines, aircraft and tanks. On the other hand more than 80 per cent of all taxation in Australia is levied by the Commonwealth. This is a fundamental mismatch of spending and taxing. As Professor Geoffrey Sawer once said: “those who spend, don’t have to justify the taxation and those who tax don’t have to justify the spending”.

These difficulties can be overcome by the States re-entering the field of levying personal income tax. Each State would be responsible for fixing its own rates but the Commonwealth would have the responsibility of collecting the taxes on behalf of the States. This would also work to promote competitive federalism.

The key question more often than not, is not what’s the problem, how do we solve it, but, here’s the problem, there’s the solution, what’s stopping us apply it?

 Last year I sustained what has been called a ‘pyrrhic defeat’ in challenging the validity of the Tax Bonus legislation. The High Court upheld this law by a bare majority of 4:3 which allowed the Rudd Government to supposedly stimulate the economy by paying up to $900 to eligible taxpayers amounting to $7.7 billion. While the Commonwealth was successful in its argument that the use of the so called Executive Power and the Incidental Power supported the legislation, it unanimously lost its primary argument based on the misnamed appropriations power. It is this power which the Commonwealth has been using to usurp the responsibilities of the States, particularly in making direct grants to local councils..

My career has included practice as a barrister at the NSW Bar for over 20 years, practice as a Chartered Accountant for several years and for the last 10 years as a legal academic in the School of Law in the University of New England. I have been a full-time member of an administrative tribunal responsible for adjudicating taxation disputes, namely the Taxation Board of Review No 1 (Cth) and in setting accounting standards as a part-time member of the Australian Accounting Standards Board.

Roughly a quota of 700,000 votes is likely to be needed to be elected to the Senate. For an independent candidate who is listed below the line requiring 84 boxes to be numbered maybe an insurmountable task. My position is akin to that faced by the United States forces in Iraq. To borrow the words of US Commanding General David Petraeus, "that whilst it will be hard, it is not hopeless".

For further information, you can Bryan Pape's website at Menzies House wishes to remind everyone that it does not endorse candidates.

Bryan Pape, Independent Senate Candidate for NSW

I read today on Institutional Economics that:

UNE law lecturer Bryan Pape is an independent Senate candidate for New South Wales in this year’s federal election. He is perhaps best known for his High Court challenge to the constitutional validity of some of the Rudd government’s stimulus spending in Pape v The Commissioner of Taxation. The case was described by George Williams, another law academic and would-be ALP candidate as ‘a major victory for the states in the reasoning, it’s one of those very rare High Court decisions you get that’s going to change the way government operates.

An opportunity to vote for a federalist and champion of states' rights in the Senate.

I can't say I know anything about him or his views in general, but from this he certainly seems like one of the good guys and worthy of a vote or high preference! 

(Posted by TVA)