Federal Register of Legislation - Australian Government

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Disallowances of Territory Law as made
This is an instrument made under subsection 35(2) of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 to disallow the Civil Unions Act 2006 (ACT).
Administered by: Infrastructure and Regional Development
Registered 13 Jun 2006
Tabling HistoryDate
Tabled HR14-Jun-2006
Tabled Senate14-Jun-2006
Date of repeal 01 Oct 2016
Repealed by Sunsetting
This Legislative Instrument has been subject to a Motion to Disallow:
Motion Date:
Expiry Date:
Resolution Date:
Resolution Time:




Issued by the Authority of the Attorney-General,
for the Minister for Local Government, Territories and Roads


Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988


Instrument of Disallowance



Subsection 35(2) of the Australian Capital Territory (Self-Government) Act 1988 (the ACT Self-Government Act) provides that the Governor-General may, by written instrument, disallow an enactment made by the Legislative Assembly for the Australian Capital Territory (the ACT Assembly) within 6 months after it is made. An enactment is made when it is notified in the Australian Capital Territory Legislation Register. 


The ACT Assembly passed the Civil Unions Act 2006 (ACT) on 11 May 2006.  It was notified in the Australian Capital Territory Legislation Register on 19 May 2006.  The Civil Unions Act 2006 (ACT) would have enabled two people, whether of the same or opposite sexes, to enter into a civil union.


The disallowance of the Civil Unions Act 2006 (ACT) supports the fundamental institution of marriage.  The Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) makes it clear that marriage is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others voluntarily entered into for life.  This is the definition of marriage inserted into the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth) by the Parliament in the Marriage Amendment Act 2004 (Cth).  The unique status of marriage is undermined by any measures that elevate other relationships to the same or similar level of public recognition and legal status.


The Civil Unions Act 2006 (ACT) created a statutory scheme for the recognition of relationships which bore a marked similarity to the Commonwealth’s scheme for the regulation of marriage.  This legislation appeared to undermine marriage, attempted to circumvent the Marriage Act 1961 (Cth), and may have created ambiguity between civil unions and marriages. 


The ACT Assembly made an Address to the Governor-General on 8 June 2006.  Notwithstanding statements made in that Address, the power of the Governor-General to disallow an enactment under section 35 of the Act is at large and is not constrained by the policy considerations set out in that Address.  The ACT Self-Government Act specifies no conditions that need to be satisfied before the power to disallow an enactment may be exercised. 


The disallowance instrument is a legislative instrument for the purposes of the Legislative Instruments Act 2003.  The instrument commenced on the day after it was registered on the Federal Register of Legislative Instruments.  The instrument has the same effect as a repeal of the Civil Unions Act 2006 (ACT).