PHILIP Davis (Gippsland Times 9/7) has now played the ‘fiddling with the Constitution card’.
The proposed change to S96 of the Constitution was approved by a majority vote in both Houses of the Federal parliament and has been carefully considered.
To add the words “or to any local government body formed by a law of a state,” is not fiddling with, but is making a change which authorises the parliament to pay moneys directly to local government, something both sides of the political divide have been doing for many years.
It has been previously understood that the parliament had the Constitutional authority to do so.
But, the recent High Court decision has raised a doubt that that authority does not exist.
And our founding fathers, as practising politicians and not demi-gods, gave us, the citizens, the sole power to approve such an amendment, realising, as they did, that circumstances would change.
Mr Abbott, who has previously stated his support for a yes vote, is now, having hunted with the hounds, appearing to be trying to run with the hares, by casting doubt on the change rather than explaining it to the people.
It was, after all, the Howard Coalition government which instituted some of the direct payments to local government, hence it is to the Coalition’s advantage to be able to continue that policy.
This change is one which is to the advantage of ratepayers.
Now that doubt has been cast on the constitutionality of federal funding, it is inevitable that sooner or later, some group will challenge such payments in the High Court.
And then the direct funding will dry up.
In that event it is certain that the resultant financial burden will fall on ratepayers.
So, to fail to support local government by voting yes in this referendum is, it seems to me, self defeating.