Court sitting in Melbourne will hear the government’s defence of its proposed postal survey that could lead to legislation on marriage equality

Now to the unforeseen argument, which the plaintiffs argued thusly: given that the Turnbull government has been talking about running a plebiscite on marriage equality since 2015, attempted to get the enabling legislation past the senate in 2016, and had ministers publicly speculating about a possible postal survey in March 2017, the postal survey cannot be unforeseen. That argument was accompanied by references to finance minister Mathias Cormann’s press releases of 8 and 9 August, which referred to the postal vote as a “plebiscite” and said it was delivering on the government’s election commitment, indicating a continuation of policy.

Because schedule one is listed by entity, the foresight is therefore linked to the entity.

That would be a most surprising, to say the least, approach to government appropriations… to appropriate hundreds of millions of dollars at least on a speculative possibility.

Donaghue says that the “urgency” and “unforeseen” criteria act as “bookends” in the Appropriations Act.

In our submission it was open on the ordinary meaning of the words for the finance minister to be satisfied that it was urgent in the meaning of the Act.

Donaghue cites urgent funding for sports stadiums and arts centres as evidence that surely money for the postal survey could also be urgent.

Donaghue arguing that if gov didn’t have to go to parliament for ‘urgent’ funding for arts and sports, then why should it for postal survey?

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