ACT self-government is under attack again.
It is several times now in this term of Parliament that feds have felt they should get up to their elbows in ACT matters.
There was the issue of territory rights over assisted dying laws for both the national capital and the Northern Territory that was resolved last year in the Federal Parliament. A conscience vote with impassioned voices and conservative opposition.
There was the Calvary Hospital compulsory takeover with the Queensland LNP Senator Matt Canavan's "Plan B" push to force an ACT government inquiry.
Now there is another plan to try to override. The federal Coalition, led in this case by WA senator Michaelia Cash, has zeroed in on local drug decriminalisation laws that passed the Assembly last year as a harm reduction measure and are poised to come into effect.
These are drug laws for small quantities of drugs (cocaine, ecstasy (MDMA), ice, heroin, LSD, and amphetamines) that were introduced with "quiet" tactics that the ACT Health Minister was caught awkwardly boasting about at the recent national Labor conference, adding "mandate" petrol on Canberra Liberal embers.
They are laws, with the funding for the Viking Park redevelopment, that were a preeminent local issue that the former Liberal senator Zed Seselja campaigned on in 2022, but ended up losing the ACT Senate race.
- Opposition Leader Elizabeth Lee 'very concerned' at Coalition's attempt to overturn ACT drug laws
- Territory rights: Federal Coalition seeks to overturn the ACT government's drug laws
- 'This is really the last resort': Bill introduced to force ACT Calvary inquiry
- Elizabeth Lee distances ACT opposition from Zed Seselja's 'hard drugs' push-polling
Now Canberra is being cast as a burgeoning "drug capital" with concerns drug tourists will come from other cities to party and cause trouble.
It comes again down to whether the ACT is a mature enough jurisdiction to make its own laws.
Labor senator Katy Gallagher insists the ACT is mature and there is no way for the ALP to support this move. But even if it heads to the same defeat suffered by the attempt to interfere with the Calvary decision. It is still that: interference.
The ACT is a too-easy target and this is not being done for an ACT audience. The federal Opposition appears to be looking around for culture war fires to inflame after referendum day when Parliament resumes.
It has nothing to lose federally in the territory and would be looking to bolster its "strong man" standing in other parts of the country. "Red meat to the base," as the Chief Minister saw it. Radio host Ray Hadley from way over in Sydney lapped it up.
However, it is telling that ACT Liberal leader Elizabeth Lee was not included in the override plan and is less than amused.
Anyone seriously looking at election or re-election prospects would know that Canberrans of various political stripes hold firm to territory rights. ACT voters clearly voted against federal interference at the 2022 federal election and anything else is a willing misreading of local sentiment.
David Pocock, who won in large part on a territory rights platform, thinks Coalition success on drug laws would lead to challenging the ACT's voluntary assisted dying laws, whenever they are introduced.
As Ms Lee puts it, the best way to overturn laws is to let voters do the talking at the 2024 territory election.