The Australian has framed news that the Commonwealth will have less power over vetoing state and territory laws as a win for Greens’ Leader Bob Brown on euthanasia and in particular gay marriage, with the headline — the lead story on its website — declaring “Green’s gay marriage victory’.

As Matthew Franklin and James Massola write:

Julia Gillard has opened the door to the nation’s first legal same-sex marriage laws, removing obstacles to the social agenda of the Australian Greens despite her personal opposition to gay unions.

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And the Greens, whose support the Prime Minister relies on to maintain her minority government, are also pressing Labor to facilitate a conscience vote aimed at reversing a 1997 bill that outlawed Northern Territory euthanasia laws.

However, both gay marriage and euthanasia are only a possibility from this and remain dependent on each state’s laws. Previously both Kevin Rudd and John Howard used the power of Commonwealth veto to push down plans by the ACT government to legalise same-sex marriage.

Dennis Shanahan sees the move as further evidence that the Greens control the Labor Party.

Once again the Gillard government is seen to be following the lead and policy agenda of the Greens – this time on “territories’ rights”, which is code for euthanasia and same-sex marriage. The Greens have extracted Labor backing for their own agenda on issues that Labor MPs have been denied the chance to express views – or been given detailed briefings in return for one vote in a minority government.

Labor’s agenda is being distorted by the Greens, and Julia Gillard’s authority is being diminished as business fears grow she is losing control of the formulation of a carbon price.

But the issue of gay marriage goes a lot further than the amount of control Bob Brown does or does not wield in parliament. It’s Mardi Gras time this weekend in Sydney. Unsurprisingly, gay marriage is expected to be the most dominant political theme of the festival.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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