Whilst many commentators will be focusing on the how’s and why’s of the Labor leadership change, I would like to focus on the implications for security of essential funding for Local Government into the future. That certainty of funding is dependent on a successful referendum, a referendum booked to coincide with the Federal Election on 14th September 2013. That date is now under question. Kevin Rudd may choose to bring that date forward to early August to capitalise on his success in the leadership challenge, or the Federal Opposition may, and probably will, move a motion of no confidence in Kevin Rudd as Prime Minister. If that motion is tabled independents Rob Oakeshott, Tony Windsor will again be put into the position of kingmakers. Will they support Kevin Rudd as they did Julia Gillard? If they do give that support, Kevin Rudd will become Prime Minister until the election on 14th September, or until the date he chooses. If they do not give that support the no confidence motion will probably succeed, resulting in Tony Abbot being offered the opportunity to govern the country. Given his constant calls for an early election one can assume he will not take up the offer, choosing instead to force an early election.
Either way, if the election is held before the end of August the Referendum on Constitutional Recognition for Local Government cannot be held on the same day, as the Constitution demands a minimum 2 month gap between the referendum bill being passed and the referendum being held. Not being able to run the referendum along side of the Federal Election would probably see it being dropped or postponed on grounds of additional cost, which would be significant.
I think we will know soon enough if the Federal Election date will be 14th September, or if it will be earlier. But if it is changed to be before the end of August I think Constitutional Recognition for Local Government, and the subsequent security of funding for Local Government, will be a victim of the wars in Canberra.