Amendment XXII – A Debate

Amendment XXII gives a two-term limit on presidency, and only allows a vice-president who takes over a president with other 2-years left in office, one more term.

41 of the 48 states agreed to ratify the proposal, with only 2 rejecting the amendment. It was made clear in the amendment that it would not affect those already in office, and so made it an easy choice for many states. Roosevelt had an unprecedented four terms in office, and so he had 16 years to make many major changes. The idea of having limits goes deep in US politics and delegates to the constitutional conventions considered the issue because of the fear of a leader maintaining too much power for too long.

There was an original plan from the 1787 delegates that the president wouldn’t have term limits and would be elected by congress, but saw the possibility of “corrupt bargains” where a President could give favours to congressmen in exchange for election. F. H. Buckley says term limits are America’s version of Britain’s motion’s of no confidence, and therefore brings British Prime Minister’s terms down to a similar length. Term limits install a level of protection from having too much power for too long, as it prevents a president from gaining too much experience and therefore learning how they can game the system to get their own way, such as learning which senators will vote a certain way and therefore in their own favour.

The role and power of the president has increased significantly since the Amendment was introduced, and if the power reached into the wrong hands, the damage could be even more detrimental than in the 40s.

In exchange for term limits and the protection of a leader with too much power, we lack the benefit of experienced leaders. In 1940, before the amendment, American’s faced a problem. Would they want to vote to give a leader with 12 years experience, Roosevelt, a 4th term in office or give it away to an unexperienced Wendell Willkie. This is the heart of the debate, what they gain in political freedom, they lose in experienced leaders. There is evidence to show that major mistakes and flailing occurs within the first 2 years of office – particularly with foreign policy – and with the 22nd amendment these occur far more often. For example with Obama’s Afghanistan Policy in 2009.

Repealing the 22nd amendment would lessen the possibility of stumbles and would remove the opportunity of having to constantly choose an unseasoned president. It wouldn’t require presidents to run again, or even immediately after. But if the opportunity was presented we would allow slightly more democracy in terms of who can become president.

 

What Are Rights, How Well Are They Protected in the UK, and How Will Brexit Affect This Protection?

This question can be broken down into three key components, which will make it easier to answer. One, ‘What Are Rights?’ Two, ‘How Are Rights Protected in the UK?’ and Three ‘How Will Brexit Affect This Protection?’

It seems that ‘What are rights?’ should be a simple answer, but what we see as societal rights and what the law sees as our rights are something that can be quite different.
In terms of the law, our rights are protected by the Human Rights Act 1998 (or simply, the HRA) which came into force in 2000. The key aim of this was to integrate the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR) into UK law, which in turn makes it possible for breaches of the ECHR to be dealt with in the UK courts as if it was an issue of UK law. This would be instead of having to visit the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR). This can be quite commonly confused with the European Court of Justice which is a body of the EU. The ECtHR is maintained by the Council of Europe, which again is separate from the EU and so when Brexit goes through, there aren’t any expected changes to this aspect of UK Courts – although Theresa May has stated she is unhappy with the HRA.

Now the basis of UK Human Rights is established it’s worth looking at who protects these. You could jump the gun and say ‘The Police do that’ – but they aren’t there to protect our rights, but instead to enforce the law (which in turn protects many of our rights indirectly.) The UK Courts system is made up of a range of institutes and at the top of all civil cases is the Supreme Court alongside all criminal cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The Supreme Court bases its findings on interpretations of UK law, the enforcement of the HRA, the dealings of conflicts between EU and UK law, and legal precedents. A key requirement for a case arriving at the supreme court is that it should be of key public interest and so this limits the court’s caseload. For most instances a lower court can deal with most issues, it is usually only very specific cases that require the supreme court.
How well rights are protected really comes down to the law enforcement bodies for criminal cases, and for civil cases how easy it is to access the court systems. In general, there are many checks and balances for what is fair and to be applied to someone. One key principle is the Rule of Law which all courts adhere to: No one is to be punished without a fair trial, no is above the law and should be subjected to the same justice, and constitutional issues are resolved from judges’ decisions rather than statute.

The imminent Brexit process will have some effect on the rights of citizens in the UK. Unless Theresa May, or any successor, withdraws the HRA, the ECHR is here to stay as it belongs to another institute than the EU. Because of the removal of the European Court of Justice, they will no longer have jurisdiction and so the Supreme Court will become the highest court, which will enhance the status and authority of the judges. A proportion of the current caseload to the Supreme Court is relating to EU law and as this will no longer have jurisdiction, or precedence due to the withdrawal from the Treaty of Rome, these issues won’t be discussed – although for some time they may still need to deal with conflicts because all EU law becomes UK statute under secondary legislation.

 

Who was the most successful post-war prime minister?

If I were to be cynical, which would come as no surprise, I could say Tony Blair was the most successful war criminal; or Margaret Thatcher was the most successful at selling local authority housing. But, I feel it would be nice to write dichotomously compared to the rest of blog, and say who was the most successful at making the most happy, and uncontroversially doing the best for the country.

I looked at a few surveys surrounding this issue – they’re all from a little while ago, so some of them don’t include Cameron, and all don’t include May. [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_rankings_of_Prime_Ministers_of_the_United_Kingdom] But three names are always near the top, two of which previously mentioned. Thatcher, Blair & Attlee. No prime minister has made everyone happy, but I think our two earliest prime ministers, Churchill & Attlee stick out to me. The main problem being, Churchill’s first and second ministry were the ones he made the greatest effect – which gives me one left: Clement Attlee.

It is claimed in the 2010 University of Leeds survey, ‘Clement Attlee is highly rated for his post-war leadership and social reforms.’ I even posed the question to an ex-politics A-level friend, and she said ‘Definitely Attlee – social welfare and that [sic].’

Attlee was born into a middle-class family in Putney – Then Surrey, now London. In 1906 he volunteered to help at a working-class boys club in Stepney. Up to this point, his political persuasion was rather conservative, however, he was shocked by poverty in the slums. His view was that private charity would never sufficiently stop this and only direct action and ‘income redistribution’ provided by the state would have any large scale useful response. He was still willing to serve in the First World War, even though he was originally rejected due to his old age of 31. Labour won the 1945 General Election with the theme of ‘Let Us Face the Future’ purporting to rebuild Britain after the Second World War.

Attlee’s government was committed to rebuilding society after the war, and utilising public ownership to abolish the extreme ends of wealth and poverty. This was in vast contrast to the Conservative ideology. He was not too focused on economic policy and allowed the cabinet to handle the issues.

Attlee’s Government formed the NHS, in a fight against the disapproval of the medical establishment. They formed a public funded healthcare system, that was free of charge for all at the point of use – meaning when you need it you don’t pay, rather through taxation. In 1946 National Insurance was introduced. Workers paid a flat rate and in return, they gained a pension, sickness pay, unemployment benefit and funeral fees. Other benefits were introduced and became exempt from tax in 1949. Attlee fundamentally introduced systems that protect us at our lowest points either through health or economically, and both of these systems ring through today.

Housing was also a big deal and instructed county councils to prepare development plans. Councils had to provide emergency and temporary accommodation to those who were found homeless through no fault of their own. Local authorities were empowered to provide people suffering from poor health to subsidised rents. He also introduced many large house-building programmes. Many were left homeless after the war, and this process allowed housing to be affordable in a time of economic instability.

Nationalisation was perhaps his middle name. The bank of England, civil aviation, coal mining, the railways, road haulage , the canals were nationalised by 1947, in 1948 electricity and gas, and then by 1951 the steel industry. At this point, 20% of the British economy was under public ownership. It didn’t increase a greater say for workers, but increased wages, reduced working hours and significant changes to Health & Safety requirements. There weren’t smiles all round during this, as they appeared to be communist views, and with the Cold War brewing, some didn’t appreciate the move.

Attlee made education easier to access, increased the school leaving age and grew the economy by 3% each year. He was focused on forming the United Nations and decolonisation. He also feared the Cold War and worked towards his views of post-war Europe.

He was defeated in 1951, after him and his cabinet started to run out of new ideas, and people wanted something fresh. He received peerage in 1955 and spoke in 1962 against the UK’s application to join the EEC (common market)

Clement Attlee had a difficult job to do: Sweep up post-war Britain. He made some revolutionary changes, some of which are discussed every day in modern politics. The introduction of the NHS, national insurance and a proper welfare system means he cared for everyone, not just those who could fund his government. I think his upbringing and involvement in the war aided this, and it was fairly new to politics at the time, which lead to some disapproval. But in general, I think he did a good job at the impossible task; and has a lasting impact.

 

Winners & Losers of the Autumn 2017 Budget

The Times went to Hammond’s own seat of Runnymede & Weybridge, to ask the people of the high street how they felt about the budget. I summed it up to: It’s ok, but nothing spectacular. Reading this reminded me of iPhone 8 launch: Loads of rumours into the run-up. The liveblogs surrounding the announcements. The presentation is over and everyone feeling a little annoyed as all the rumours were right, and nothing major was new.

Who won?

No one really wins, more who loses the least – but that’s being pessimistic. I suppose, most people’s lives will improve, even if only by a small amount in a minor part of their life.

Millennial

According to the Conservatives giving 1/3 off rail fares for 26-30-year-olds will bridge the gap between their income and whats needed – although I’m sure it’ll be appreciated by some. Students who are on plan 2 of student finance (Post-2012 reform) will have to earn £25,000 before they start to pay back their loan. It appears that the government realise they’ll only get a small proportion of the loans back, so this change only reduces income a small amount for the government, but will be appreciated by many students.

First-Time Buyers

Stamp duty is open to much controversy, and this change seems to be fronting the budget as it’s one of the most major changes. There are changes for first-time buyers: Houses that are valued under £300,000 will not have any stamp duty applied to them, which represents 80% of first-time buyers and houses worth between £300,000 and £500,000 have their stamp duty cut by £5,000. They also plan to expand the highly controversial help-to-buy scheme.

Drinkers

The duty on alcohol hasn’t been touched – I hear a cheer from the commons. The only change is on White Cider, which I can’t imagine there are many people who will refuse to drink white cider due to the change. The chancellor gave in to pressure from the Scotch Whiskey Association to scrap the planned 3.9% duty increase on whiskey.

Maths A-Levels

Finally! Change to the education budget – well, not really. The only change is an increase of £600 per student who studies maths A-level. The government is alarmed at the lacking of young mathematicians, and they hope this will encourage schools to make maths look more attractive – but it comes down to students will-to-do maths, and giving the school money won’t make a pupil suddenly want to change life plans.

Brexiteers

A wholesome £3bn was added to the budget for leaving the EU, which will impress 52% of the voters and dismay the rest. This is in addition to the already existing £700m in the pot – which leads to us asking, who’s losing out to fund this.

Losers

Universal Credit Claimants

A win and a loss: The loss being universal credit hasn’t been scrapped, which hasn’t impressed too many people. The win, from January claimants, will be able to apply for an interest-free payment advance and to receive this within 5 days.

Diesel Drivers

Although the fuel duty on both unleaded and diesel hasn’t been moved, the taxation isn’t too pretty. From April, diesel vehicles who don’t meet the latest clean air standards will have their tax band increased by one. This looks like an attempt to strangle diesel drivers into giving up their cars and move to cleaner cars – either from government peer pressure (unlikely) or from the inability to afford them (likely). (Although that’s an oversimplification, some diesel cars give out much less CO2 than petrol cars – but it’s not the time to debate that.)

Smokers

From the evening of budget day, duty rates increased 2% above inflation and hand-rolling tobacco a further 1% – this is planned to continue until the end of this parliament session.

Education

For education, he mentioned maths and computing and then let everyone else down, including core funding. This didn’t settle well with many unions and teachers alike.

The Growth Forecast

It isn’t always greener on the other side.

2017: 1.5%, down from 2% in Spring

2018: 1.4%, down from 1.6%

2019: 1.3%, down from 1.7%

2020: 1.3%, down from 1.9%

2021: 1.6%, down from 2.0%

At least if you drew it, it would be a fairly decent curve.

Empty House Owners

The council tax for empty houses can now be doubled – an attempt to prevent empty houses. But I feel if you can afford another empty house, then you could probably afford that little bit extra council tax.

I missed a lot out – but I feel this is the important parts of a very important document. More information can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/autumn-budget-2017-25-things-you-need-to-know

 

Government Defeat in the Lords (National Health Service Regulations 2017)

The September 6th the Lords defeated an amendment to the Regulations. This amendment would remove the statements requiring NHS England to treat patients within 18 weeks of referral, 92% of the time. Instead, the Lord’s asked the government to publish the legal advice they had sought in making this amendment. The Conservative Peers consistently voted for passing the amendment, while all labour and Liberal Democrat peers voted in favour of blocking.

This amendment seemed to be a ‘Get out of jail free’ card being played by the government. It was only a matter of weeks later, where it was announced that NHS England had met none of its targets in the year 2016-17, and this is what was expected by the government.

One of the lords main roles is to keep the government accountable to what it does. This is a key example of them doing it and thus preventing the government going back on its promise of a short referral time. I think most people would agree that the government should work on reducing waiting times, rather than making it okay to have extra long referral periods. Many would agree that the NHS is in crisis, but measures like this continue to ensure that the NHS has a goal to attempt to reach, and will hopefully lead the government to see what is expected of them.

 

Should the UK adopt a codified constitution?

One of the most hotly contested matters in UK politics is whether the UK should move to have a codified constitution. From pressure groups on one side of the argument and other people asking what purpose it would serve, and some more extreme campaigning to keep a codified constitution out of the public eye.

The United Kingdom’s so-called ‘constitution’ is a combination of many documents, and what is perceived as common law – a law that isn’t statute, but is generally accepted as practice due to the length of time the ruling has been followed. This wouldn’t be allowed to happen in a constitution, as common law’s interpretation is as up to the individual enforcing it, as much as it is to the next person. Constitutions detail out what should happen when there is no law to cover specific situations, such as judges being accountable for the actions. The many documents that make the ‘constitution’ date back to 1215, and a few other documents detailing the power of parliament, and removing power from the monarch. This, unfortunately, doesn’t tell the government how things should be done, and as such has led to very important governmental documents being left to be written in statute law – such as the fixed-term parliament act of 2011 – or just being ‘general practice or policy.’ Most constitutional changes in foreign countries require a 2/3 majority, but as there is no constitution, very large changes can be made by the largest party with a simple 50% majority vote.

A constitution would also install safeguarding into this country. This means the government would be told what they can and can’t-do, and it would be written down in black & white and therefore not up to be debated like common law is. It would also require a mass agreement to change any of the rules. Having a lack of this safeguarding means there is a higher potential of a large party agreeing. For example, if the conservatives wanted to pass through a change to constitution in the current situation, they would only need their MPs and the DUP MPs, to agree and then the law would be written to statute law – with some limitations such as monarch approval and the house of lords, but both of these powers are limited either by general practice or statue law in Parliament Reform acts. In a constitution, it would be more than likely to require the 2/3 majority to change any constitutional document.

Power to the people is a phrase thrown around a lot with constitutions, but in some cases that is quite literally what happens. One example of this is freedom of speech. In the UK we have laws to protect our freedom of speech, but they’re not inclusive and can cause problems when comparing what is freedom of speech, and what is just offensive. The US has the First Amendment, which gives them freedom of speech and is always referred to when a court is looking at a case of potential hate crime. This also makes it easy for Americans to know what they can and can’t say. It also gives them reassurance that this freedom can’t be easily taken away from them because of the lengthy requirements to change the US’ constitution.

Although, an uncodified constitution like the UK’s is quite an attractive option considering how fluid or adaptable the constitution can be particularly in effect to the modern era. Although the lack of change in constitutions can be useful especially when protecting from extremist views, or even those trying to work against the people of a country – this can have the opposite effect. For example, the US’ constitution really doesn’t have answers for modern issues such as same-sex marriage, and the constitution was up for discussion in 2015 when the Supreme Court passed legislation, based on states banning the marriage is unconstitutional. Although, this was vastly debated. When it came to the UK’s decision on same-sex marriage, there was no constitution to refer to, or to check whether its in-line with expectations – It was purely down to normal debate, and usual procedure in voting for the motion. Entrenchment is another reason for lack of fluidity. Entrenchment means due to the nature of that part of the constitution its either very difficult or near impossible to change it, meaning its relevance can vary because it can’t be updated. Therefore the uncodified nature of the UK’s constitution was more appropriate when discussing modern issues.

Many people see parliamentary sovereignty as key to how the UK runs. This principle says parliament can make, remove or change any law it wishes as long as the rule of majority is followed. This is unlikely to happen in a constitution because of the high chance of a bill of rights to be introduced, which then limits parliament. This is because the constitution would be seen as a part of higher law. Therefore, the constitution would undermine one of the key principles in which the UK is run, and which is the backbone to how the Westminster model works. People would then have less trust in parliament because they would be unable to change law that is affecting citizens – and in some circumstances, this could leave the citizens in more danger than they were before.

There is a good chance that the constitution would mean the accountability of lawmakers and parliament would be lost. In the UK, supreme authority is vested in the elected house of parliament and there for change happens due to democratic pressure. Currently, MPs are kept accountable by the public, especially if no law already exists. This can happen in many forms, mainly in elections, but also by contacting their representative. In most constitutions, it is up to judges in courts to police the constitution and to keep the government responsible for what they do. Some see this as undemocratic because the judges are rarely elected, and are paid for what they do. The constitution is also up to interpretation of the judge, and their own personal bias may change. They also don’t show a range of socioeconomic profiles, and as such don’t represent a large range of views.

 

US Constitution vs. Iran’s Constitution

As an Islamic republic, Iran’s constitution can vary quite differently to that of the US’. The Iranian constitution is of a much younger age only being codified in 1979 following a referendum and thus replacing the 1905 constitution. The US’ however is the grandfather of all, being ratified in 1788.

Being a country under is Islamic rule the constitution has a difficult and confusing position. It has been described as a hybrid of theocratic and democratic. In the first two articles, it states that sovereignty is vested in Allah (God) while article 6 it mandates popular elections for presidency and parliaments. All laws have a final decision by the Supreme Leader who has a life tenure – unless dismissed by the ‘Assembly of Experts’ who also appoints the supreme leader. The Assembly of Experts is democratic, although confusing. In summary, 88 elected members – who have to be approved by the supreme leader – sit to make decisions on the Supreme Leader. Another important party is the Guardian Council who is a 12-member body who supervise elections, approve candidates and ensure the constitution is abided to. A majority of the constitution stems from Islamic law and so is quite similar to other Islamic countries each with key differences in their earthly sovereign rule. Chapter Eight (Articles 107-112) spell out the powers of the supreme leader. Article 146 dictates there should be no foreign military bases in Iran – even for peaceful purposes. Although Article 175 guarantees freedom of expression in Radio & Television, it almost contradicts itself by then creating an organisation who will help keep media to Islamic criteria and to the best interests of the country.

As stated the US Constitution is the grandfather of many constitutions as its the first that still remains in use today. There is very little to say about religion in the US constitution which vastly contrasts the Iranian constitution. The US constitution also lays out a very different operation in terms of the bodies used in government. The government is lead by a president who is elected every four years by a nationwide popular vote using a controversial voting system named the electoral college. The first 10 ‘amendments’ are known as the bill of rights that give protections to liberty & justice and rules to place restrictions on government. The remaining 17 amendments expand on individual civil rights. The constitution still remains on 4 pages of parchment paper as which it was originally written on. Unlike other codified constitutions the US’ amendments are appended (attached to the bottom) to the original document rather than changing it. The first three words are ‘We the people’ and many take this as an affirmation that the government’s main purpose is to serve the citizens.

 

General Election 2017: What was that?

It was just after the May 2015, and 13-year-old went to his friends ‘We can all vote in the next general election’ – Oh, how I was wrong.

How did it happen?

Theresa May became prime minister in July 2016, and her position was as usual hotly debated because there wasn’t another general election to put her in her position. 1 She called the snap election on April 19th, after it being ratified by the House of Commons with a vote of 522-13. (They needed a 2/3 majority – or a supermajority) It is believed she called this to one, affirm her place as prime minister, particularly after the ‘undemocratic’ election of position. But secondly, because she planned to deliver the ‘Brexit letter’ a few days after the polling day. When she called the election, opinion polls swung in her favour – but this all changes as the election campaign continues.

What happened?

It all happened very quickly. The opinion pollers went outside, the voting computers were fired up, and everyone got sick off ‘This is a party election broadcast from’ after every episode of Eastenders. The expected TV debates looked like they were off to a rocky start when some party leaders refused to appear with some other leaders in articular, and some refusing to appear at all with others.

Polling day soon arrived, and the media were in a bit of a frenzy. For the first time, ITV, BBC, and Sky News, would be working together to publish the same exit poll – an indication to what analysts think the result may be, based upon survey data taken throughout the day. This is how they looked (followed by the actual result):

  • CON 314 (318)
  • LAB 266 (262)
  • SNP 34 (35)
  • LD 14 (12)
  • PC 3 (4)
  • GRN 1 (1)
  • UKIP 0 (0)
  • OTH 18 (18)
  • DUP N/A (10 incl. in OTH)

With a sharp intake of breath, the whole of the UK exclaimed: ‘Coalition’

Analysis

The question really is, who won? For a majority of parties it was the same old result as just 2 years ago. If you’re quick to the mark you’ll say the tories won because they were the biggest party and the government (with the help of the DUP) – but Labour gained 30 seats. That is massive for just 2 years. What caused it? The answer has never been more unclear. It seems with all the promises to students and young professionals, it made the Labour Party extremely attractive. But were the tories the biggest loser? After all SNP lost 21 seats and a majority of them going to labour. But tories lost the government, the biggest prize of all. They’ve now had to go into coalition with a party not many people had heard of, and now many people fear. Will this term last 5 years? I doubt it – but it’ll be a nice surprise not having to go through all those party election broadcasts.

  1. http://politics.aidanbeaumont.com/archives/2017/08/31 ↩︎
 

Weimar Germany: What it is and What it Taught us

Weimar Germany. Oh, how it reminds me of GCSE History, where it was such a big part to me. It gives a very real visualisation of how constitutions don’t really work and why proportional representation is good in theory, but in practice just prevents anything from happening.

How and when did the weimar constitution come to be?

Just after the First World War, the Kaiser of Germany (Basically, the king), Kaiser Wilhelm II, fled to the Netherlands in 1918. By February 1919, the most popular party’s leader, Friedrich Ebert from the ‘Social Democratic Party of Germany’ (SPD) formed the Weimar Constitution in Weimar, Germany because Berlin was too dangerous from the spartacists involvement in the German revolution. They set up parliament in the Reichstag in central Berlin after the revolution was dampened.

How did the constitution work and why did this go wrong?

The members of the Reichstag were elected using proportional representation, meaning the % of votes from the citizens equaled the % of seats the party was offered in the Reichstag. In principal most citizens would be happy. It truly represents the wishes of the country and this would always show in the Reichstag where the laws are made. This started causing problems almost immediately. For anything to effectively happened it would require 50 percent of the votes, which would imply requiring a party having 50% of the seats or at least those with a similar view – hence coalitions became a thing. Coalitions in general don’t work too well because the government parties don’t really agree, and only do it so that they can actually form a government.

At its peak the Reichstag contained 41 different parties, which meant the weimar government never had a non-coalition government. The use of proportional representation allowed extremist parties into the Reichstag because of the low numbers of national votes required to get at least one seat. Because of the large variety of view expressed, the government would rarely make ‘proper’ non-watered down laws. This would also lead to annoyed leaders abusing Article 48, ‘Powers for the Protection of People and the State’ – which means when active they could pass any laws without passing them through the Reichstag. This is what Hitler later uses to become as powerful as he did. Elections were also particularly common, sometimes multiple happening in the same year. Because of the increase in debate because of the number of parties, it allowed the Nazi Party alongside others to cause a ruckus and to effectively force the government to make decisions, (such as Hitler becoming chancellor.)

Was there anything good as a result?

During the weimar Germany years, there was: although rarely anything because of action from the Reichstag. A majority was from the Foreign Minister Gustav Stressemann who was able to reform the international relations lost during the First World War; which would be later lost again because of the Second World War.

Weimar Germany taught us the ineffectiveness of Coalitions, and still stands as a major fear during elections, as seen in the 2017 United Kingdom General Election.

 

Australia & Same-Sex Marriage

Australia’s history of equal marriage is somewhat rocky, and we’re soon to reach a pinnacle moment.

Marriage equality has been hotly debated, especially in recent years. A major turning point was the US’ decision to unanimously offer same-sex marriages to couples in all 50 states, but that still hasn’t changed many countries positions on the issue:

1

The key is available in the footnote, but in general, the deep blue colour is where same sex marriage is legalised.

How The Vote Came to be

The then Prime Minister, Tony Abbott held a six-hour emergency meeting in August 2015. The policy was quite vague then, wether it would be a plebiscite, referendum or survey. Turnball, Australia’s current Prime Minister had previously voted against it, but adopted the policy in September 2015 when he became leader. After a lot of arguing and debates, the idea of having a legally binding plebiscite was scrapped in place of a simple ‘postal survey’ where the government are simply asking all citizens how they feel on the issue.

The Vote

Should the law be changed to allow same-sex couples to marry?

The question is fairly simple. As with most votes there is a yes and no campaign running in mainstream media, each with political parties and celebrities backing them. Legally, this is only a survey because it is run by the ‘Australian Bureau of Statistics’ and not by the AEC (Australian Electoral Commission).

This means the postal survey is not legally binding. A yes vote win will allow MPs to vote on a same-sex marriage bill, and if a no vote wins, they won’t be allowed to vote on it.

What next?

Survey forms will be sent out on September 12th, with the latest return date being November 7th. The result will be announced on November 15th, with the vote, if any, will be expected shortly after.

You can be sure there will be a high level of media coverage.

More information

Same-sex marriage in Australia in general: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recognition_of_same-sex_unions_in_Australia
The referendum: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Marriage_Law_Postal_Survey
Buzzfeed has many answers: https://www.buzzfeed.com/lanesainty/email-me-your-questions-please?utmterm=.inJNqnar2
Main yes campaign: http://www.equalitycampaign.org.au/home
Main no campaign: https://www.coalitionformarriage.com.au/

Personal Response

This is an ‘issue’ that shouldn’t be an issue. Many people have somewhat reasonable reasons for not support same-sex marriage, but in almost all cases, these people have never been in the shoes of a gay person and have never witnessed what the campaigning against their love is doing to them. That said, I am intrigued to see the survey response, as I say about many foreign nations, every country is different and so their citizens are different. We may see a different response to that we would expect from a British parliament.

  1. Used with permission from https://commons.m.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:World_marriage-equality_laws.svg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Kwamikagami ↩︎