[JURIST] Australian Prime Minister John Howard [official profile] and his Cabinet have announced [AG press release] that the federal government will set aside legislation allowing same-sex civil unions in the Australian Capital Territory [official website], the federal district that includes Canberra. Speaking Tuesday at a press conference [transcript], the prime minister said:
Well I can indicate that the legislation by its own admission is an attempt to equate civil unions with marriage and we don't find that acceptable. Our view is very simple and that is that the founding fathers in their wisdom gave constitutional authority in relation to these matters to the Commonwealth. We legislated in a bipartisan fashion to define marriage and we are not prepared to accept something which is a plain attempt to equate civil unions with marriage and we don't agree with that. ...The ACT legislative assembly passed the Civil Unions Bill 2006 [legislative materials] last month. Under a provision [text] in the ACT Self-Government Act of 1988, the federal government may disallow any ACT enactment within six months. The Cabinet's decision will take effect Aug. 1 unless the federal Parliament [official website] overrides it. ACT officials condemned the action [AAP report] and said they would ask Governor-General Michael Jeffery [official profile], the Queen's representative in Australia, to reject it. The Australian has more. AAP has additional coverage.