June 16, 2006

EU Constitution

Posted in constitution, EU, globalisation, law reform, politics at 7:16 am by thelawthoughts

Why can't the EU leaders work it out?

Yes, it is probably a good idea for the EU to have a constitutional document. Yes, it is probably in the interests of the EU to centralise lots of Executive functions.

However, the lack of explanation being provided, and the seeming lack of connection between the Executive, the European Parliament, and people on the street means that a Constitution will never be passed as the current requirements stand.

In a union of 25 members, who ALL must pass the Constitution, whether in Parliament or by referendum, it takes a hell of a lot of explaining by political leaders before people on the street are willing to concede power over taxes, criminal law and defence policy to some ethereal EU Parliament and even worse, some back-room EU Commission.

The leaders might be all friends, but they need to remember, they are asking Poles to allow Germans to run their defence; ex-Soviet satellites to give up their new found independence and the UK to allow taxes to be raised elsewhere, when they won't even join the Euro.

It is just not going to happen. 

June 12, 2006

Payday

Posted in constitution, funny law, judgments and transcripts at 9:52 am by thelawthoughts

I, along with lots of others, have previously noted Inchoate's invaluable service of providing High Court transcript humour.

This is the latest piece of verbal acrobatics of Mr. Bennett, in arguing that murders in lighthouses should be able to be dealt with under the lighthouses power. This would, of course, bring extra criminal legislative power into the hands of the Commonwealth, at the expense of the States.

However, it is the Special Leave application in the same post that got my attention. Go and read the Hich Court transcript here. Mr. Walker from the other side didn't even need to speak, save for his 'we seek costs, your Honour'. Payday. What would he and his learned junior picked up for that court appearance? $1000 each?

The easiest money they ever made. 

June 8, 2006

Centralised Water Management

Posted in constitution, federalism, politics, water at 8:45 am by thelawthoughts

Although Malcolm Turnbull hosed down suggestions that water management might be taken over by the Commonwealth government, why would this be such a bad idea? Even if limited to major water systems that cross state borders, I can't see why it is a bad thing for a central agency to determine the best way to manage water in this country.

Western US states like Utah, New Mexico and Colorado have terrible problems because they all assert rights over the one river, which of course is diverted upstream by those states through which the river runs first. This is inevitable, regardless of any agreement that might be reached and results in lower states being without enough water.

If states didn't control the distribution of the water in major river systems, to some extent these problems could be reduced. States should not need to fight each other to assert their water rights. If water really is a resource for us all, then its management and oversight should be centralised. 

The problem becomes more difficult when dams and power stations, rather than just rivers, are involved. However, I don't think the states were putting up a fight against privitisation, it was a populist reaction that caused the sale to fall through. The decision to privatise an asset like this would have been passed by the current Federal government if not for that movement, but the states would equally have been happy to see the sale go through.

If the point of having states is to ensure there is adequate discussion and opposition to moves like this from the central government, the question becomes whether the states actually have any power to provide that opposition. VSU, IR laws and terrorism laws have all been pushed through recently by a central government which has had the backing of state governments, even though one might expect the natural positions of said state governments would be opposed to the legislation being passed.

US Gay Marriage Follow Up

Posted in constitution, politics at 7:55 am by thelawthoughts

The first serious shots were fired in the gay marriage constitutional amendment debate. The President was blocked in the US Senate from beginning proceedings to amend the Constitution.

He is not fazed, though. He recognises it often takes a few tries to get these kinds of things through. Why not just get on with running the country? Crazy Iranians are playing with their uranium toys, why not deal with them?

I know this is a political issue which plays well with his base. But at what point does a person become a leader and deal with the things that are important to world security and wellbeing, rather than pandering to people who found their beliefs staunchly on religion?

I also know that this is really important to President Bush. He genuinely cares about this, as does our own PM. Still, there are some personal crusades that simply do not need to be waged whilst more important things are going on.

June 4, 2006

Gay Marriage in America

Posted in constitution, politics at 1:45 pm by thelawthoughts

Being a country that supposedly values freedom above all other values, the United States sounds utterly hypocritical when its President spouts ideas such as a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. To amend the Constitution is a HUGE deal. Australia has done it 8 times in over 100 years and the US has made 27 in the history of the country, and only 3 since 1967.

Whose freedom is important to Americans? Everybody’s, or just ‘my own’? How can a country based on liberty tell people with a straight face that they can’t marry whoever they damn well want?

Now, I know this is a political move that probably won’t go anywhere. Further, I know that people will say they aren’t telling people who they can and can’t have a relationship with, but I don’t believe such assertions. It is all about trying to oppress people in such relationships.

I find it incredible that the conservative base will get revved up by this. Is this a tactic like the Republicans used at the last election, where they put these kind of Propositions on ballot papers to ensure conservatives voted, or do they really believe this crap?