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Australia Senate upholds federal override of capital district civil union law

[JURIST] The Australian Senate [official website] on Thursday narrowly voted down [official record] a motion to disallow a regulation approved by Australia Governor-General Michael Jeffrey [official website] allowing the federal government to effectively veto the Civil Unions Bill 2006 [text], recently passed by the legislature in the of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) [official website] federal district. The ACT bill would have placed civil unions on equal legal footing with marriage. Australian Attorney General Phillip Ruddock said [press release] Thursday that the ACT government passed the bill knowing that it would be invalidated, and that it was intended to attract media attention away from unpopular ACT budget cuts that were implemented at roughly the same time.

The federal government overrode the civil union law [JURIST report] earlier this week under a provision [text] in the ACT Self-Government Act of 1988 permitting federal government vetoes of ACT bills. Thursday's Senate vote means that the bill is permanently quashed. ACT Attorney General Simon Corbell condemned the federal government's override [press release] on Tuesday, saying that the ACT has the right to enact laws governing its people, and that the burden is now on the federal government to tell ACT how the law should be rewritten so that it may be re-introduced before the ACT parliament. The Sydney Morning Herald has more.

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