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To appropriate appropriations appropriate proportionate provisions apply

To appropriate appropriations appropriate proportionate provisions apply
by Malcolm B Duncan

On 22 September 2008 the Coalition in the Senate introduced wedge legislation to corner the Government by introducing the Urgent Relief for Single Age Pensioners Bill 2008. It was passed by the Senate as properly, it should have been. Its effect would be to give an immediate increase to certain pensioners of $30 a week.

It was a nasty piece of politics (I always like those) which was made nastier by the Speaker of the House of Representatives refusing to allow it to be put to the House on the grounds that it was unconstitutional.

Passed by only one House of Parliament, it cannot be submitted for Royal assent.

The Bill can be found here.

Now, legal opinions differ but, with great respect to Mr Speaker, I think he fucked up. Naturally, the Bill would still have been defeated in the Reps on the voices but let’s just examine the Constitutional question.

The bill was introduced by Senator Coonan for whom I have great respect as a lawyer. She is senior counsel, an experienced commercial lawyer, and no dill. One might have expected that she would produce legislation that had legs (she has too). She did. This was not an Appropriation Bill. It was an Amendment Bill designed to amend the Social Security Legislation to increase benefits.

As such, it is eminently arguable that is does not offend ss 53, 54 or 56 of the Constitution.

It is not a money Bill, it is not an Appropriation Bill, and it is not a Bill dealing with taxation.

To the extent that I am a politician, I try not to let politics make a bastard of me, but it makes bastards of us all.

The Ruddy Government should have supported the measure with open arms.


Tell your pensioner friends, if, that is, they can still afford to eat.

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Can't agree Malcolm B.

There is no doubt Coonan  is a clever lady which makes this bill show what an opportunist she is . Past experience with her media laws also show she is craven to pandering to special interests which paid back media companies for their support of the hideous Howard government.

An example of that support  was in this week's dreadful Daily Telegraph with that utter idiot Glenn Milne trying to get a story out of the Rudd's government decison ( as promised) to retain "work for the dole" whilst informing Centrelink to quit the utterley inhumane breaching of dole recipients for silly infractions of the rules.

If Milne could remove his permanently glued lips from the collective backside of the Liberal Party he may have weaved into his tale the extraodinary comparison of the $700 billion handout to the richest in the USA whilst struggling job seekers are harrassed for not complying with rules designed to be incapable of being complied with and the total unfairness of them. But no, Milne decides it's an "election backdown" when it's no such thing.

Coonan is no better than Milne and shows what a shambles and joke the Liberal Party now is and how they will stumble from disaster to disaster under Malcolm Turnbull who now doesn't even know if he's a gentile or Jew ! ( next week, expect the Wentowrth Courier to carry the earth shattering tale of Malcolm and how "some of my best friends are gays and lesbians and any other minority group you can name".

Any respect I had for the lady has flown out the window. She is the worst of the worst-an intelligent and learned person who will use any method for pure partisan politics. She had no interest in pensioners with this bill. That dope Senator Fielding deserves more respect-he's a fool who believes what he is doing is right even when he's wrong.


It was a disgusting bill. The reality is that the vast majority of older pensioners are not doing it tough - it is the younger disabled pensioners and single parents who are having problems.

And raising the pensions of just a few is discriminatory and unconstitutional under the anti-discrimination act.

The vast majority?

Marilyn Shepherd, I think you should read the Constitution before you comment on it.  You should also read the Bill before you comment on it.

From today's reports it appears that the Clerk of the Senate (a well known and long respected independent public servant) agrees with my view of the Constitutionality of the Bill.

Lawyers in parliament lose their prestige

G'day Malcolm,

Parliamentary privilege is as exploitable to lawyers as deregulation is to merchant bankers in big business. Wall Street is a case in point.

Apart from not liking Senator Coonan's "New Order" methods of talking over any person who is trying to make a point I have to say that the lady did in fact abuse her position in parliament.

I refer to her reported avoiding land tax, when she was Minister for Revenue. She was then exposed and forced to resign as a registered director of an insurance dispute resolution company operating from her own home.

These were found by me in research into the decline of honesty in the Howard 1996 government, which convinced the leader that dishonesty was the best policy.

Therefore Malcolm, even though I have not read her Bill, I would have to be cautious as to the value of such a document to the majority of Australian people. What is the old saying: "Leopards do not change their spots"?

Cheers Ern G.

Bound to happen

While Fielding, Xenophon and the Greens are working out the power-plays of the Senate balance, everybody's keen to demonstrate their "clout", and the issues, the effects on peoples' lives, are secondary to keeping the status quo in a state of flux until appealing consolidations coalesce.

No matter how good a legislator Coonan might be, or how badly not just single but all pensioners need relief, can anyone tell me that this hasn't been a stunt to demonstrate that those who generated the budget surplus have ability to take it away?

This is the sort of stuff that puts many younger people off politics. Playing kick-to-kick on the oval using peoples' heads (and well-being) as political footballs is an unforgivable daily fact of political life.

If Coonan had introduced law to give all pensioners a reasonable quality of life I might not be doubting her integrity as much as I am now.

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