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Australia federal government nixes civil unions law in capital district

[JURIST] Australian Attorney General Philip Ruddock [official website] said on Tuesday that Australia's national government has overturned [press release] the recent Civil Unions Bill 2006 [legislative materials] enacted by the legislature in the Australian Capital Territory [official website], the federal district that includes the capital city Canberra. The government of Australian Prime Minister John Howard [official profile] and his Cabinet announced plans to overrule the law [press release; JURIST report] last week, saying that the law's attempt to equate civil unions with marriage is unacceptable. Under a provision [text] in the ACT Self-Government Act of 1988, the federal government may disallow any ACT enactment within six months.

The government's decision to override the civil unions law takes effect at midnight. Governor-General Michael Jeffrey [official website], meanwhile, is considering a request [ABC report] from the ACT government to stop the federal government's efforts to overrule the law. Reuters has more. From Australia, the Daily Telegraph has local coverage.

6:16 PM ET - ACT Attorney General Simon Corbell said Tuesday that the territory recognized that there was "only an outside chance" that the Senate would overrule the federal government's decision to overturn the civil union bill. Corbell said that the ACT legislature would consider reintroducing similar legislation, but called for Ruddock to identify specific clauses the federal government found unacceptable so that the ACT's second try at a civil unions law would not similarly fail. The Sydney Morning Herald has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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