A common response to any suggestion that the Constitution needs reform is “if it aint broke, don’t fix it”. But the fact is that the document is broke, and increasingly so.
The latest example concerns the School Chaplain program, started by the Howard government, and retained and extended by the Rudd and Gillard governments. This clearly offended one Queensland parent, who managed to find sufficient support for a High Court appeal against the whole program.
He put two arguments against the Chaplain program funded by the federal government. He claimed it interfered with a principle of separation of church and state. The High Court unanimously rejected this.
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When Labor goes to the High Court, it has on critical occasions been condemned by sod’s law, and that is why the Government is trying to deal with sea arrivals by asylum seekers without its preferred option being available.
It’s a heavy burden for Julia Gillard. However, Tony Abbott, too, is not in as strong a position as he might think as demands grow this week for a compromise on asylum seekers between the Government and the Opposition.
The Greens would never help the Government revive asylum seeker processing in third countries, and the alternative to a Labor/Liberal unity ticket could be more wholesale drownings of people trying to get here.
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In the lottery that is (public) life, being appointed Governor-General is akin to winning the jackpot. Candidates for the job – none of whom are struggling for a quid in the first place – receive a generous $394,000 a year and, as today’s investigation in the Sunday newspapers shows, enjoy lavish pensions which follow them to the grave.
It’s not a bad arrangement for a position which, under our funny constitutional arrangements, requires that you don’t really do anything.
The job rarely invites too much scrutiny, save for those rare moments in our history when the appointee is accused of exceeding their constitutional role, or finds themself mired in an unrelated scandal which leaves them unable to do their job.
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